Sounds for sculpting your mood
Talented musician Tim Wheater enjoyed an amazing career recording and performing with bands like the Eurythmics before falling badly ill after a water poisoning incident in 1988 which left him severely paralyzed.
Tim visited my home and we talked about what many would call his tragedy, but what he actually saw as being a major positive turning point in his life. When he fell ill, his love of sound led him to totally immerse himself in its healing properties and he credits it with playing a big part in his eventual recovery and inspiring him to move in an entirely new life direction. He still composes, tours and records today, but his passion now is for what he firmly believes is the ability of sound to heal and transform. Since that time, the list of names of people he’s worked with or performed for reads like a who’s who of mind body and spirit greats – everyone from Deepak Chopra to the Dalai Lama.
When he visited my home he set up racks of his gongs in my kitchen to demonstrate what he was talking about. It was one of those moments in my life that I’ll never forget. Outside, the sky was lit by a perfect moon. I sat on the floor between the racks of gongs and Tim began weaving his own personal magic, coaxing out sounds that moved through my body like powerful waves. It was a truly amazing experience when I could feel any stresses melting away and being replaced by a feeling of total tranquillity.
Sound healing enthusiasts explain that each sound emits a certain vibration or frequency. In a nutshell, consciously choosing sounds that emit specific frequencies are said to bring loads of benefits.
Mitchell L. Gaynor lists a number of studies in his book, The Healing Power of Sound, that show how music can boost our moods, lower our bloody pressure and help the body produce natural opiates. Other studies show that certain types of sound and music have a distinct effect on plant growth.
The transformative abilities of sounds is something that has long been recognised and used by ancient cultures. Shamanic practitioners use drums to help them enter into altered states in healing journeys, chanting particular sounds at certain pitches plays a big part in many meditation practices and certain sounds are said to resonate with specific energy centres or chakras of the body.
The use of therapeutic sounds is being explored in our modern day hospitals, such as Nevill Hall Hospital in Abergavenny where volunteers and musicians worked together using gongs and Tibetan singing bowls to create walls of sound. A BBC radio report described how patients and visitors gathered to enjoy mini performances.
If you’re interested in finding out more, you can look around to find colleges where you can study sound healing or look for a qualified practitioner in your area. Or if you just want to use sound to boost your mood in your everyday life, here’s how.
1/Join a meditation group to learn how to chant or find a choir in your area. If that all feels a bit formal, lift your spirits by blasting out tunes that make you feel great.
2/You don’t have to get tied up in knots about learning the science behind different sounds. Research has shown that listening to music that you like is as effective as being exposed to sounds that are shown to have particular effects in terms of boosting your mood or lowering your blood pressure.
3/Get conscious about the different effects that different sounds have on you. It’s not about telling you what you should do, it’s about you deciding how you want to feel and choosing and using sound accordingly. There are times when it’s fun to get through housework powered by drum & bass, and other times when you might want to sink into a hot, candlelit bath listening to a CD of harps.
4/Make time for silence! This might seem a bit odd in the context of sound healing, but studies have also shown that being constantly exposed to a wall of sound can bring its own particular stresses, as anyone who’s had the builders in to where they live or work will tell you.
Loads of love,
Tim Wheater – Om Sri Rama
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