The Power of Sound

     Today I was listening to Tom Kenyon, a sound healer based in Seattle, WA. Oh my, how moved I was.  I was not surprised by this. The first time I listened to him was about 7 years ago and I lay on my massage table weeping. Which is to say, he speaks to me.
     That is the power of sound.
     It is likely that you have experienced the power that music has to support or change your mood or feelings. When we are sad, we play a certain song. It is a different song than the one we play when we are happy. There is a concept known to music therapists called the ISO principle. This is a concept according to which a patient's musical mood can be matched to help them become aware of thoughts and feelings. The aim is to meet the person where they are and then gradually work to redirect them towards a different feeling state.
     I worked with a client who was quite sad. For 15 minutes, I played a series of pieces on the piano, starting with one that I believe was entitled Melancholy. I ended with a rather upbeat beautiful piece and by this time, the client was smiling. It would not have worked if I had started right in with the upbeat piece we ended on.
     The bowls are quite adept at helping client's access their feelings. During a bowl session a client began crying and retrieving childhood memories and feelings and was able to get in touch with some long standing emotional content. During the post session, she talked about how the bowls sounded like church bells from her childhood which prompted her exposure to these deep seated memories.
    At this point, I want to address that everyone is different. What sounds good to one person may or may not sound good to another. I have started listening to music or sounds that were marketed as "calming, meditative sounds" and couldn't get my headphones off fast enough. When I give bowl concerts, I can sometimes watch someone who is actually being annoyed by the sound of the bowls, while the rest of the room is sinking into alpha and theta brainwave states. I had a person come up to me after one who said, "Oh my gosh, when you played that crystal bowl, I wanted to get up and leave. But I sat through it and then felt so much better when you played the singing bowls."
     These are just a few examples of the therapeutic use of sound and music. But, we are surrounded by sound all the time. It is speaking to you on some level, whether it is at a conscious or subconscious level. So if we look at how powerful the effects of sound are, it behooves us to become conscious of our sound environment and how we can utilize it to promote positive sound space in our lives.
     I think of the sounds of my home, my old dog settling down on his bed with his grunts and sighs. It makes me smile. At night, I sleep with an old box fan - for several reasons. I grew up in Florida and there was no air condition then, so everyone had a fan in their room. As an adult living in noisy metropolitan areas, I have found the hum of a fan not only a lovely childhood memory, but a way to block sounds that may keep me awake. I live about 3 miles from a railroad track and enjoy the sounds of trains clacking along. Something about that sound just makes me happy and content feeling.
     Last week I was hiking and I passed quite a few people with earbuds in. I understand that music can "pump you up," and so these people were definitely creating their workout mode. When I hike, I prefer to access a different mode. I am getting in touch with nature, I am grounding with Earth and accessing her voice. I heard a loud rustling of leaves and told my hiking partner, who was able to then see several deer run across the path and into the woods. She was so delighted to have seen them.
     We can't control the sound environment when in public places. I have left places because the noise or the music grated on me. But I have also spoken with restaurant owners and other places of business about their music and what soundscape they are wanting to create.
     Take the time to listen to your environment. Does it please you? Does it irritate you? Is there something you can change to help you feel better, happier, peaceful.  Can you play music instead of having the television on? Can you open the windows and hear the sounds of nature?
      Right now I'm thinking of a Beach Boys song - Good, good, good, good vibrations. That one will be in my head for the rest of the day. Go ahead, find your favorite song and feel the good vibrations of your own soundscape!