Friday, April 04, 2008

Eight Healing Sounds Qigong

Listen right now. What do you hear, and how does it make you feel?

The sounds of traffic outside?

The radio or television or video game playing?

Your favorite CD?

A jackhammer ripping up the street?

You don't even need to hear the sound to this one….we all wince just reading the words: the sound of nails on a blackboard.

You know that sounds can be good or bad, cause relaxation or anxiety, can make you feel terrific or bring on the Grandfather of all migraine headaches.

Today there are many sound and brainwave entrainment products that claim to relieve all sorts of conditions and complaints from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder to insomnia, and many more promise personal and spiritual enhancement. (Programs to increase your luck or powers of attracting money are especially popular right now.) All claim they are safe and effective.

My opinion is that some are not all that safe or effective for certain people. Just like a diet for bodily nutrition, your personal brainwaves and body/brain chemistry need to be taken into account to determine what programs are safe and best for you. To tell the truth, without experimenting with them first-hand, it would be difficult (if not impossible) to determine which audio and brainwave entrainment products would be safe and effective, and which you should avoid.

About a year ago, a friend and I downloaded the same entrainment product and listened to it daily for several weeks. She was fine with it thought it did not deliver the mental focus, full potential, or attract the luck and wealth it promised. It evoked depression in me, and I had to stop listing to it. But then, a few weeks ago, I spent some time listening to a different product and had a wonderful, empowering experience.

The lesson learned is that these pre-packaged products can be great for some people, but you won't know if any particular product is good for you until you try it.

However, there is one "sound program" that is 100% safe and effective because the sounds aren't electronic, they don't come out of the environment, you don't download them to play on your computer, iPod or burn to a CD. You create them yourself. They are the Eight Healing Sounds of Yin Style Bagua.

Like many facets of Chinese medicine, the Eight Healing Sounds complete practice enhances your total health and wellbeing at the same time each of the individual sounds works directly upon a particular organ or energy channel in your body. As a self-healing qigong (energy practice), it combines sound and the vibration it creates, movement, breathing, and visualization to heal disease and injury.

I don't believe I am any more sensitive to sounds or other environmental vibrations than you are, but I have taught myself to carefully "listen to my body," to observe and to follow-through with understanding the causes and effects that are going on with the integrated mind-body systems that we all enjoy. (I call it the Ecosystem of You!) That follow-through is the first step toward self-healing.

Observing is like watching a baseball game. Follow-through with understanding is like getting out there on the field and playing. Forgive the pun, but it's a "whole different baseball game" when you are playing instead of just observing. Different muscles are involved, different emotions are involved, and different areas of life are involved from financial rewards to relationships.

Put into medical terms, observing is like going to the doctor, reporting what you are feeling, and letting him or her treat your symptoms with drugs or surgery. Follow-through is bypassing the treatment of symptoms and committing yourself to making those lifestyle changes that you know you need to be truly healthy. . . addressing the cause of the symptoms which may include lack of exercise, eating processed foods, and not getting outdoors to spend time in that sunshine!

If you are interested in using the healing power of sound and vibration as a component of your personal, holistic health system, one of those lifestyle changes should include the practice of the Eight Healing Sounds Qigong.

(As I have mentioned before in writing about qigong, the practices often have many variations. Sound is no exception: there is a popular practice called the Six Healing Sounds, too.)

The Eight Healing Sounds Qigong is 100% safe and effective because you are making the sound yourself with your breath, your healing visualization, and your intention. The energetic vibration you create is uniquely yours.

Even when vocalizing the same syllable, AH for example, my AH is going to be different from your AH due to (at least!) the differences in lung capacity and vocal chords. It may also be different due to energy level when practicing, amount of enthusiasm at the moment, and emotional state, all of which profoundly affects breathing and concentration.

Even with all those variables, the vibration you create with the sound you make through the practice of proper breathing techniques, the flow of energy created through the accompanying movements, and your intention will be a sound that is beneficial and healing for you just as any sound that I make under those circumstances is good for me.

It is the same principle that can be observed in the function of the immune system, the digestive system, the respiratory system….any body system you can name. Your systems and mine work slightly differently depending on our immediate needs and our general health, but when we are perfectly healthy, my systems work exactly right for me just as your systems work exactly right for you.

You may safely practice the Eight Healing Sounds and trust that your body is going to automatically do what is beneficial for your health when you relax into the practice and do it naturally.

Here are the sounds and their correspondences and benefits as outlined when practiced in the standing position; the movement in this case is the raising and lowering of the arms in various positions, and slight bending at the waist in two of the practices. (The Eight Healing Sounds may be practiced standing still, walking, seated, and lying down, and the benefits of each are similar but not exactly the same.)

Ahhhhhhh is a steady and smooth sound, the one you might make as you relax into your favorite easy chair at the end of a long day. This sound benefits the Lung, and respiratory illnesses such as asthma, bronchitis, and colds.

Hhhhhhhh is a silent sound, like a sigh. That sounds funny, doesn't it, a "silent sound!" But, that is what it is, just a quiet Hhhhhhh upon exhale. The Hhhh sound benefits the heart, circulation, heart palpitations, chest discomfort (however, if you think you are having a heart attack, call Emergency Services immediately!), shortness of breath, heartburn, and irritability.

Heng is a short fast sound, almost like the sound you might make if you are trying to stifle a sneeze. The e is short as in the word hen, and the ng rhymes with hang. This sound benefits the kidneys, and is beneficial for lower back pain, prostate illness, some reproductive system conditions in men and women, and ringing in the ears. (The ears and kidneys are of the same energetic element: water.)

Hu is a long, deep droning sound pronounced Whooooooo. This sound benefits the stomach and treats conditions of excessive or suppressed appetite, also abdominal gas.

Mer is another long, low sound that resembles a cow performing a long Moooooooo with an rrrrrrr on the end: mmmmeeeeerrrrrrrrrr. This sound benefits the spleen (companion organ to the stomach), and improves poor digestion.

Xu is a quiet and extended Shhhhhhhh sound. This sound benefits the liver, lower back, some intestinal problems, E. D., and problems with urination,

Yi is the sound of long E as in Easy; Eeeeeeeee. This sound controls the flow and storage of qi throughout the body and can, therefore, build qi to proper and harmonious levels that will protect against illness and disease. It can be beneficial in case of headache, soreness in the back (including vertebrae problems), and some intestinal conditions.

Hong is a long, low sound that rhymes with "long;" hhooooonnnnng where the "n" is a bit nasal. The bouncing movement that accompanies this sound stimulates the lymph system, so it is beneficial for eliminating used materials and wastes from the body. It can also be beneficial for asthma and shortness of breath.

I did not describe the motions that accompany the sounds because a few are not as simple as the rest and would require a sequence of photos (a short video would be even better!) to explain them properly. Doing the motions properly is important because the qi of the hands aids in directing the qi of the body in this practice. It is best to find someone with whom you can take a class, or at least a few private lessons so that you can learn the correct hand and body motions.

However, practicing the sounds even without the movements can be beneficial, so don't let the lack of postures keep you from using this health-restoring practice!

To practice the Eight Healing Sounds Qigong, settle into a comfortable position and let your mind become quiet.

For each of the sounds, breathe into your belly; as you exhale, make the sound slowly and clearly (except heng, which is a short, fast sound). You should feel the vibration throughout your body. Don't hold your breath while you make the sound and then exhale; do exhale and make the sound at the same time. Visualize the organ or body area you wish to improve as completely healthy and functional.

You should repeat each sound several times so that the practice lasts for fifteen to twenty minutes. I practice eight repetitions of each sound because I combine it with another qigong practice; you might want to do twelve, sixteen, or even twenty-four repetitions of each of the sounds to improve your health. The more you do, up to repetitions of fifty of each sound, the more you will benefit!


Geraldine said...

I don't think most people really think about the impact that sounds make in our lives. I think they can be very powerful, some destructive and some very constructive. Thanks for a thought-provoking post.

Michelle said...

It's true that noise doesn't get much press these days, but it adversely affects many people.

I really do like the Eight Healing Sounds, and one of my friends, a tai-chi instructor, is taking private lessons with me to learn it because she did a demo class and just loved it, too! :-)