by Sarah Rose
Hearing the haunting sound of the crystal bowls seems to awaken an ancient remembering, touching the essence of the soul. How can we explain what it is? Is it the crystal from which the bowls are made? Is it a refrain from the ethers? Is it our connection with the source of our creation?
Let's explore a few questions. Undoubtedly, more questions will arise for you, inspiring you into your own study of sound and vibrational healing.
What is sound?
Everything that moves vibrates, from the smallest molecule to the universe itself. As long as it is vibrating, it is making some kind of sound. We may not perceive the sound, as it may be below or above the threshold of our hearing. The human ear can hear sound vibrations between 20 and 20,000 cycles per second, although we also perceive sound by skin and bone conduction, ingesting and consuming it with the whole body.
Many cultures and religions revere sound so deeply as to believe it called the universe into being. For the Hindus, all was dark and quiet in the universe, until the first movement in the universe created the sound "AUM." It is the mother tone, containing the frequencies of all other sounds.
Scientific studies show that sound can produce changes in the autonomic, immune, endocrine and neuropeptide systems. Every atom, molecule, cell, gland, and organ of the human body absorbs and emits sound. The entire body, as well as our brain waves in a relaxed state, vibrates at a fundamental frequency of about 8 cycles per second, literally entraining and attuning us to the basic electromagnetic field of the earth itself!
The late Dr. Hans Jenny, a Swiss scientist, rendered vibrations into physical forms, using sand, iron filings, and other materials, creating a multitude of kaleidoscopic images. This study of patterns and shapes is called cymatics.
Many modern scientists and doctors are translating this work into medical practice. Mitchell Gaynor, M.D., director of Medical Oncology and Integrative Medicine at the Strang-Cornell Cancer Prevention Center, and author of the new book, Sounds of Healing, uses crystal bowls and Tibetan bowls in his practice with cancer patients. He chronicles a thorough study of sound healing and a holistic approach to mind-body healing.
Dr. Gaynor refers to others who are using sound to complement their medical practice. Among them are Sir Peter Guy Manners, M.D., an English osteopath, who uses cymatic therapy to achieve a near-ideal metabolic state in a cell or organ and Jeffrey Thompson, D.C., who practices a technique called "Sonic Induction Therapy", using primordial sounds and sounds of nature to promote healing at the cellular level.
What is music?
Music is organized sound. Virtually all cultures have used the powers of music therapeutically. For several hundred years, the role of music became one of entertainment. Only recently has the use of sound and music reappeared as a valuable healing mode in our western culture. Some of the most powerful music does not have a particularly pleasing melody. The goal of music therapy is to reduce stress and pain, promote deep relaxation, develop self-awareness and creativity, improve learning, and clarify personal values.
What is color?
"There is more energy released in Sunrise and Sunset and times of rainbows than perhaps in any other way." Ronald P. Beesley, Creative Ethers
Sound and color are both forms of energy, which vibrate. As the vibration of sound becomes higher and lighter, the sound is transmuted into color. Steven Halpern gave a graphic example of the sound/color relationship:
"Vibrations at 1000 cycles per second are easily audible. If you double the vibrations to 2000 cycles per second, that is one octave higher. If you double it again to 4000 cycles per second, that is another octave. A normal piano spans a bit more than seven octaves. If, hypothetically, we could extend the piano keyboard another 35 to 50 octaves higher, the keys at the higher end would produce colors, rather than audible sounds, when played." (Sound Health - The Music and Sound That Makes Us Whole, p. 182-183).
An interesting side note is that if we were playing this keyboard 35 or so octaves below audible sound, we would be playing Chi, life force energy!
What are chakras?
As the universe is composed of spinning wheels of energy, we too, at the inner core, spin seven wheel-like energy centers called chakras. They are measurable patterns of electromagnetic activity, centers for the reception, assimilation and transmission of life energies. Each chakra reflects essential aspects of consciousness, forming the master programs that govern our lives, loves, learning and illumination. Anodea Judith, in her book Wheels of Life, delivers a comprehensive treatise that is scientific, cultural, psychological, and esoteric. She writes:
"Chakras can be open, closed or any of the various stages in between. These states may be basic aspects of someone's personality throughout most of their life, or something that changes from moment to moment, in response to a situation. An ailing chakra may be unable to change its state easily, being "stuck" in either an open or a closed state. Then the chakra needs healing, by uncovering and removing whatever is blocking it." p. 23
"The seven major chakras are all inseparably interrelated. A block in the functioning of one chakra may affect the activity of the one above or below it. For example, one may have trouble with personal power (third chakra) because of a block in communication (fifth chakra) or vice versa. Or perhaps the real problem may lie in their heart (fourth chakra) and only manifests in these other areas because it is buried so deeply. In examining the theoretical System as a whole.and applying it to your system (lower case) as it uniquely occurs within you, one learns to sort out these subtleties and patterns and make self-improvements according to their goals." p.25
There are times when we desire our chakras to be open, when we are receiving information or healing. There are also times, as when we are in traffic, that we want some of them to be closed!
Color is visible sound, and sound is auditory color. Both light and sound affect the chakras, especially when used in conjunction. Each of the energy centers is associated with a specific tone of the musical scale and with a specific color. Red, the color that vibrates the slowest, corresponds to the root chakra. The colors follow a rainbow progression, with violet as the highest vibration, corresponding with the crown chakra.
Following is a simple correspondence chart of chakras, colors and notes.
What is healing?
Healing is the state of coming into balance and harmony with our highest purpose. Steven Halpern, composer of healing music states:
"Our bodies are genetically pre-programmed to be self-healing instruments-if we give them a chance.In my opinion, certain music heals by assisting the body to come into its natural state of balance and harmony. At this stage of research and development, it is both politically incorrect and legally irresponsible to state that a specific selection of music will heal a specific physical disease. The common denominator in the vast majority of approaches acknowledges that the body heals itself most effectively in a state of deep relaxation. Using music to evoke "the relaxation response" is one of the simplest and most effective ways of all-but you must choose the right music. our responses to music are far more complex, subtle and far-reaching than we imagined." (Notes on Sound, www.innerpeacemusic.com)
Dr. Larry Dossey, well known for his studies on healing with prayer, points out the primary characteristics of "healers" by stating that they make use of a prayerful, meditative state of awareness, adopting a dispassionate, loving, and compassionate attitude toward the person in need. They go beyond the individual self-feeling united with each other and with the All. They have an immense caring and empathy for the person needing healing.
"During this state the healer most often does not consider himself or herself to be the source of the healing, but only a conduit through which the healing flows from a higher power." Healing Words, p.198
What is sound healing?
When an organ or body part is healthy, it creates a natural resonant frequency in harmony with the rest of the body. When the vibration of a part of the body is out of harmony, we have dis-ease. With dis-ease, a different sound pattern is established in the affected part of the body. When sound is projected into the dis-eased area, correct harmonic patterns are restored.
There are many methods of healing with sound. Mantras and chants have been used for thousands of years. Many acoustic instruments are used in a variety of ways to effect change. The human voice is perhaps the most powerful musical instrument.
Fabien Maman, in his book, The Role of Music in the Twenty-First Century gives dramatic accounts of the effects of sound on cancer cells, using various acoustic instruments and notes, as well as the human voice. He has incorporated the use of sound, color and movement in his work, addressing the subtle bodies, where dis-ease is created.
What is crystal?
Crystals are fossilized water, formed when water combines with an element under certain conditions of pressure, temperature and energy. As a crystal, the element is able to express itself as a more unified and ordered being.
Silica sand, combined with water becomes quartz crystal. Quartz crystals have many physical properties. They amplify, transform, store, focus, and transfer energy. We see the results in microphones, radio and television equipment, timepieces, laser tools, and computers to name a few.
Our bodies, too, are crystalline in structure. When working with crystals, there may be profound effects on the organs, tissues, and cells, as well as the circulatory, endocrine, and metabolic systems. Thoughts are energy forms. When thought energy interacts with a crystal, those thoughts are changed to more harmonic forms, which change brainwave frequencies, showing possible alterations in consciousness. Thus, the power of positive intention or affirmation combined with the use of crystals provides remarkable healing results.
What are crystal bowls?
Crystal bowls are made from 99.992% pure crushed quartz and heated to about 4000 degrees in a centrifugal mold.
They are available in clear or frosted bowls in a variety of sizes, ranging from 6 to 24 inches in diameter. The bowls emit a powerful, pure resonance. The larger bowls are much more reverberant, with the tone lingering longer, simply because of the size and amount of crystal. The clear bowls, somewhat more expensive, are more readily available in smaller sizes.
The size of the bowl does not necessarily determine its note, although the larger bowls sound lower octaves and notes. Each bowl is tested with digital technology to identify its sound. One will have a sense of which tone "feels" most congruent with individual needs or desires. The notes C, D, E, F, G, A, B correspond with one's energy centers or chakras.
Some bowls harmonize with other bowls, and when both are played simultaneously, the effect is exquisite and synergistic.
What is intention?
As thoughtforms are energy, the intention with which one approaches healing work is of utmost importance. Intention is a clearly formed thought, a prayer of sorts, and is the real healer. Of course, group intention is even more powerful.
Jonathan Goldman, in a letter to Renee Brodie, writes:
"Perhaps because we are all unique vibratory beings, our chakras may all resonate to different frequencies depending upon our level of development (physical, emotional, mental and spiritual) and our intention. Indeed, it seems that if our intention is clear enough, we can balance or activate chakras with intent alone.
Thus, any sound might be useful for chakra resonance when coupled with clear intention. This may account for a number of existing systems which utilize different notes for the chakras and work."
It is said that Tibetan singing bowls are forged with a prayer in every hammer blow, infusing them with a million prayers of pure intention for the highest good.
Crystal bowls, too, containing the qualities of amplification, storage, transfer, and transformation, are powerful tools in effecting change in one's life. It is important to approach the use of the bowls with a reverence for the potential contained in combining intention with the properties of crystal.
How to use crystal bowls:
One should "clear" the bowl, using whatever methods are used for clearing other crystals.
An invocation at the beginning of a session helps create sacred space and affirms intention.
Using the bowls in combination with voice or other instruments is dynamic and very effective
Fabien Maman, in Healing With Sound, Color and Movement, suggests setting up the bowls in harmonic fifths for healing in the subtle bodies as illustrated below:
Singing Bowl Set-up Photo
Renee Brodie, who uses crystal bowls and color therapy in her healing practice, is the author of the book, The Healing Tones of Crystal Bowls. She has studied exhaustively and makes reference to the history as well as the leading research in sound and color therapy. She offers several suggestions on using crystal bowls. She has also created a CD and audiotape entitled, The Healing Tones of Crystal Bowls: A Journey Through The Chakras To Heal Yourself With Sound and Color. She offers many suggestions for uses of the bowls.
Rubber-ball mallets or suede-covered wands are used to sound the bowls. The effect of each is different, and personal preference will determine the choice.
One should strike the outside of the bowl, in an upright position, giving about half the length of the wand to the bowl surface near the top rim, then "follow the sound around the bowl" with the wand or mallet, enhancing the duration and loudness of the tone.
Each practitioner has a unique style of sounding the bowls. Some will move the wand or mallet clockwise for specific intentions, while others prefer a counter-clockwise motion, or a combination.
No medical claims are made about the use of crystal bowls to replace the need for medical advice. If you experience any health problems you should always consult your regular physican.
Do not place a person's head inside a crystal bowl while playing it.
Do not strike or play bowl too loudly, especially near a person's head.
Place bowls at least 12 inches apart, or the vibration may shatter a bowl.
Bowls may also shatter if several are playing in a small room.
Some have noted discomfort or pain if they have metal pins or stainless steel balljoints. Ask before sounding the bowl.
"Let us remember that although to all outward appearances, music seems to be over as soon as the last chord has sounded and the celebrants have dispersed, this is not the case. It has also been created on a subtle plane and remains like an exquisite flower hovering over the sanctuary. No musical vibrations are ever lost, even though they are dispersed, they will go on vibrating through the cosmos for eternity, because the subtle effects of sound linger after the audible sound has died out, so that any results are long-lasting." The Healing Tones of Crystal Bowls, Renee Brodie, p. 48
Prepared by Sarah Rose, ©1999