The Healing Power of Sound and Overtone Chant

Since the dawn of time, human beings have used sound to receive information from their environment, to communicate with each other, and to heal and transform.
Almost all ancient cultures and indigenous peoples believed, and still believe, that sound is the creative, generative force which brought the Universe into being. In the New Testament it is written: “In the Beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (John 1:1) “The Word” quite clearly refers to sound, which is the God-force or creative force of the Universe. In the Hindu tradition the word AUM, which most of us know as Om, was the sound that initiated the Creation.

Origins of Sound Healing

origin of the soundOur modern day scientists, in a typical show of one-upmanship, have a “Big Bang” theory of creation, no doubt the loudest of all the sounds we are likely to encounter. Indeed, it is our modern, Western science that provides the most convincing evidence of the power of sound to shape and transform matter, which is the basis of its healing potential. We now know for certain, as did the ancients, that everything in the Universe is made up of atoms. Every atom consists of a nucleus (neutrons and protons) and electrons which spin rapidly around the nucleus. The number of each of these particles differs according to the nature of the matter. The spinning motion of the electrons initiates a pulse, which creates a wave, and this wave we perceive with our human perception, as form, or matter. Whenever pulse, wave and form are present, there is Sound. This is called “The Law of the Three”. And, as I’m sure you’ve noticed, this coincides with the “Holy Trinity” deities not only of Christianity, but of other cultures and religions. If we compare the proportional distance of the electron/s from the nucleus of an atom, we find that it equals the distance of the Earth from the Sun (approximately 220 million kms). In other words, that which our human senses perceive as matter, is no more than resonant electromagnetic fields, interrelated and interpenetrating, yet certainly a dense manifestation of SOUND. All matter is sound, and emits sound, although these sounds are mostly beyond our limited physical sense of hearing. Our physical bodies, therefore, are also resonant electromagnetic fields, as are our auras, both generated by the atoms of which we consist. The science of cymatics most visually demonstrates the way that sound shapes matter. Cymatics is the study of wave phenomena, and was “discovered” by German scientist Dr. Hans Jenny in the 1930’s. His experiments showed that fine powders, sand and iron filings, when placed on a flat metal plaque and vibrated with soundwaves, arranged themselves into intricate patterns. The various substances concentrated themselves in the troughs of the soundwaves, thus highlighting the areas where the sound was most dense. These wonderful patterns, also known as Chalynadi figures, are often, in the case of harmonious sounds, geometrically symmetrical mandalas. In some cases they are not symmetrical, yet are nevertheless fascinating to behold.

We are in constant vibration

Every molecule, cell, tissue, organ, gland, bone and liquid in our bodies has its own specific rate of vibration. So too does each chakra and layer of our electromagnetic field or aura. These energy points and fields are of equal importance to the physical body, though less dense. In a sense they reflect the state of the physical body, but more importantly, the physical body reflects the state of the aura.

  1. The science of cymatics proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that sound anywhere near the human organism will create a physical change within the organism and its electromagnetic fields. This change may be only temporary, but while it lasts certian very powerful, magical things may also take place. This is the moment of healing.
  2. Sound therapy is based on this principle of “sympathetic resonance”. Resonance is the vibratory rate of an object, and sympathetic resonance is when one vibrating object causes another to vibrate in harmony with it, or match its rate of vibration. This is how cymatics works, and it is also how opera singers may break glass with their voices, or how passing vehicles may rattle your furniture.
  3. We’ve already established that every part of the body and its fields is vibrating. It is only logical then, that each part of the body, whether organ or chakra, must have its optimum, healthy frequency (rate of vibration). When we are ill, it is because some part of us is not vibrating harmoniously with itself, the other parts, or its surroundings. This dissonance, or illness, may be healed with sound and intention, restoring the afflicted parts to their healthy frequency. By directing the correct sound toward ourselves, or toward a person wishing to be healed, we are able to return to an optimum, healthy vibration.

Principles of Sound Healing

Most illnesses begin in one of the subtle bodies. Our negative thoughts emotions, and programming take on denser form as crystallised patterns of energy in our etheric fields. These crystallised patterns gradually work their way inward, eventually and ultimately manifesting as physical illness in the body, our densest electromagnetic field.

sound healingSound is able to dissolve these crystallisations of potentially harmful energy long before they reach the physical body. This is pure preventative medicine. Soundhealers, in which category I include shamen, sangomas, certain monks, and everyone who regularly uses sound to feel better, or to help others feel better, have many tools at their disposal. Western sound therapists use a combination of voice, and acoustic and sacred instruments from different cultures. A working knowledge of sound, intention, intuition and energy will effect powerful changes on every level of one’s being. It is an holistic therapy operating on physical, emotional, mental and spritual levels. One of the most powerful sound healing tools known to man is the ancient technique of overtone chant. It’s origins are in Central Asia where it has been practiced for centuries by shamen of the Turkic races of Mongolia and Tuva, in South Africa where it is practiced by the Xhosa women, and in Tibet, where it is used exclusively by the Lamas. It has also become a beautiful form of musical expression. Known as hoomï or khoomeï in Asia , Nqokolo by the Xhosa or Overtone chant / vocal harmonics in the west , it allows a single person to sing two, three, or even four simultaneous sounds. By means of focussed intention, and employing as many resonators as possible within the body and cranium, one is able to amplify the harmonics (the partial tones of which the voice is made) or overtones of the fundamental tone being sung. These overtones are perceived as clear, flute-like or bell-like tones above the lower drone of the voice.

healing bowlsThe “deep voice” chanting of the Tibetan monks and Mongolians, which only a few Westerners* have mastered, creates a second fundamental drone either in the pharynx or false vocal chords, which allows a second overtone to be amplified, a total of three or even four simultaneous sounds. This is not simply a form of vocal acrobatics. A very powerful, mutidimensional waveform is created which operates on several levels. The fundamental, or base tones of the voice work mainly on the physical body, while the overtones, which are the pure, rainbow colours of the voice, work mainly on the subtle bodies. Like laser beams, these overtones dissolve and disperse cystallisations of potentially harmful energy in the aura, thus preventing them from reaching the physical body. Acoustic instruments such as didgeridoo, Tibetan singing bowls, gongs, monochord and tampura, will work in much the same way as the voice, as they are all rich in audible overtones. The voice, however, is far more powerful as it transmits intention far more directly than through an instrument. Electronic instruments and machines do not have the full spectrum of harmonics, and are therefore limited in their therapeutic potential.

Through the regular use of sound combined with intention we may begin to vibrate faster at a cellular or molecular level. This what is meant by “raise your frequency”. The higher rate of vibration creates larger spaces between the cells, making us less dense, and preventing negative or intrusive energies from sticking to us easily. In the 1930’s the medium Edgar Cayce predicted that sound would be the medicine of the future. That future is now. So let’s all raise our vibration to harmonise with the energies of this New Millenium!

Important points to remember:

You do not need any previous musical knowledge to learn the techniques of sound therapy or overtone chant.
You do not need to be ill or in need of therapy to receive huge benefit and transformation through sound.

Some of the ways that sound and overtones can aid healing:

  • Relief from stress and anxiety
  • Improved concentration
  • Enhanced creativity
  • Improved vision (physical, mental and spiritual)
  • Brain hemisphere balancing
  • Restoration of equilibrium in the endocrine system by vibrating the pituitary
  • Relief of sinus congestion and headaches
  • Induction of alpha brainwave activity or deep meditation
  • Increased energy through stimulation of the cerebrospinal fluid (possibly the physical form of kundalini energy)
  • Chakra and aura balancing and cleaning (and corresponding organs and glands)
  • Space clearing
  • Easier access to intuition and higher consciousness

The healing of serious illnesses such as cancers and tumours may also be achieved with dedication.

*The author is one of these Westerners, and is in fact the only Westerner to have performed Overtone Chant and “Deep Voice” overtone chant with both the Tibetan monks (Gaden Shartse Monastery – World Tour 2000) And also the Xhosa Woman’s Ensemble (Parliament of World’s Religions, Cape Town, 1999)