Thursday, June 19, 2008

Eight Healing Sounds qigong: how it works

Whether it's Six or Eight, the Healing Sounds Qigong is one of the most powerful of the healing qigong practices, but there is very little written about the way in which it works. There is usually mention of vibration and harmony, but what (besides the vocal chords) vibrates, and how does that create harmony and health in the body?

We can talk about qi and energy channels, but that doesn’t satisfy the thirst of Western Medical science to understand the process of healing sounds.

Recently, I found two especially enlightening papers on the topic of sound and healing. One concerned itself with how sound waves travel through the body, and the other expanded upon the healing power of your own personal sound-making ability.

The sound wave transmission article was especially interesting.

Controversial New Idea: Nerves Transmit Sound, Not Electricity

By Robert Roy Britt, LiveScience Managing Editor

posted: 14 March, 2007 1:00 pm ET

In this article, the author tells you that Thomas Heimburg, a researcher with the University of Copenhagen and expert in the intersection where biology meets physics, said: "The physical laws of thermodynamics tell us that electrical impulses must produce heat as they travel along the nerve, but experiments find that no such heat is produced."

I guess that if it did, our nerves would be warmer, eh? So, if it isn't electrical impulses that travel from the brain to the body, not warming our nerves and sending messages of movement to knees, elbows, fingers, and toes, what is it?

Sound! Or so believes Thomas Heimburg.

Here is a quote from the article:

"Nerves are wrapped in a membrane of lipids and proteins. Biology textbooks say a pulse is sent from one end of the nerve to the other with the help of electrically charged salts that pass through ion channels in the membrane. But the lack of heat generation contradicts the molecular biological theory of an electrical impulse produced by chemical processes, says Heimburg, who co-authored the new study with Copenhagen University theoretical physicist Andrew Jackson.

"Instead, nerve pulses can be explained much more simply as a mechanical pulse of sound, Heimburg and Jackson argue. Their idea will be published in the Biophysical Journal.

"Normally, sound propagates as a wave that spreads out and becomes weaker and weaker. But in certain conditions, sound can be made to travel without spreading and therefore it retains its intensity."

The possibility that a sound wave retains its initial intensity as it travels from one end of the nerve to the other is something you may be able to use to your advantage in your practice of Healing Sounds.

But, how do you know the sounds you make are Healing Sounds?

Here, we consult our second expert, Dr. Jeffrey D. Thompson, D.C., B.F.A. of Bio-Tuning®, the process he pioneered that is "the process of using one’s own voice to facilitate self-healing." He may be the modern pioneer of this process and the use of technology to employ it, but the Chinese had it several thousand years ago. Healing Sounds were written of in the Yellow Emperor's Classic, the book on Chinese medicine, written in the third millennium B.C.E.

I appreciate and am very grateful for Dr. Thompson's research and bringing the possibility of this alternative health method to the attention of the modern patient and healer.

In his article, "Using the Sound of Your Own Voice to Facilitate Self-healing," he says:

"…I knew I needed to use a person's own voice singing this fundamental note. This would release a unique set of harmonics and overtones, which only one’s own vocal cords can produce - a voice vibration fingerprint. This voice vibration fingerprint is an exact pattern match of a person’s essential vibratory template - the one used by a person’s own "Biological Organic Intelligence," the Intelligence used to form one’s body from two cells and to maintain it moment by moment thereafter. One also experiences a profound sense of subconscious recognition of the vibration frequencies of one’s own voice. [Bold emphasis added by Michelle]

"Using this voice-tone-frequency to the exact cent for balancing and healing, through a special Neuroacoustic Sound Therapy Table, one’s body is kinetically resonated to the cellular level. The Sound Table has speakers built into it, so that one becomes one with the sound itself, as it were. Using this technique, it literally becomes difficult to distinguish where the body ends and the sound begins. There is a sense of melting into the vibration of one’s own sound and one’s own voice.

"To me, this is what the Mantra really was. A person would go to a great master who saw the entire world as vibratory patterns of energy and light. He was able to see the individual also as a unique vibratory pattern in the universe. The Master would sing the unique acoustic octave of this sound to the person, who would sing it back until known and memorized. The person would then meditate and chant this sound to him/herself - resonating from the inside out and balancing him/herself right down to the core of consciousness.

"The imbalances one may experience physically, emotionally, or mentally, for example, are only external projections of the only real imbalance that can exist – an imbalance in consciousness itself. Reaching this place and coming into balance - me with my Self - is the only way I can heal the real cause of my pain and suffering." [Bold emphasis added by Michelle]

I would like to return for a moment to the second paragraph of Dr Thompson's quote: "The Sound Table has speakers built into it, so that one becomes one with the sound itself, as it were. Using this technique, it literally becomes difficult to distinguish where the body ends and the sound begins. There is a sense of melting into the vibration of one’s own sound and one’s own voice."

If you have ever mindfully practiced the Eight Healing Sounds, you know that you experience that exact same sense of "melting into the vibration of one’s own sound and one’s own voice" without need for table, speakers, or any other device outside of your own self.

In my observations from a previous article of my own, "Eight Healing Sounds Qigong"

I point out:

"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.

". . . 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 our bodies are responding to our needs, 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."

In some ways, I am disappointed that Dr. Thompson advocates the necessity for the use of technology after telling you right up front that you are your own best sound system (to requote from above: The person would then meditate and chant this sound to him/herself - resonating from the inside out and balancing him/herself right down to the core of consciousness.), and that the vibration of self-generated sounds are much more powerful than sounds that come through the ears and flow through you from outside by playing a CD and listening through a headset. (See "Normally, hearing involves sound waves. . ." below.)

In his article, "Clinical Use Of Sound," he says: "Research projects in major universities across the country have explored the neurophysiology of meditation, deep relaxation states and mind/body interactions during healing. In one study a simple meditation technique used for 20 minutes a day caused profound changes in blood pressure, stress handling ability, immune response and feelings of well being - never mind using any kind of high-tech approach which could bring consciousness to very deep levels of relaxation." [Bold emphasis added by Michelle]

Furthermore, he says: "Our first sensory experience in life as a fetus in the womb is of sound and vibration. We float in body temperature amniotic fluid - weight-less. We have fluid in our nose and mouth, which eliminates the senses of smell and taste. We have our eyes closed and are in the dark-no sense of sight. We have fluid in our ears pressed right up against the eardrum - but sound travels through water fives times more effectively than through air, therefore our sense of hearing is actually amplified. The symphony of sound patterns we experience at this time will be deeply imbedded in our subconscious mind for the rest of our lives - water swishing sounds, arterial pulse sounds and voice sounds. These are our first experiences of 'Primordial Sounds.'"

This really made me stop and think of each of the Eight Healing Sounds and what primordial sound they could represent! A variety of connections came to mind that I may expand upon at a later date.

Meanwhile, here is further evidence from Dr. Thompson on the efficacy of personally-generated sound to facilitate healing. He writes:

"The obvious stress reduction benefits of listening to relaxing music have been proven through numerous research projects in hospitals, universities and private clinical practices over the course of many years. Normally, hearing involves sound waves pushing air pulses against the ear drum, moving the mechanical joints of the middle ear bones which amplify these vibrations to the inner ear, which pushes fluids into wave pulses, which move tiny nerve endings, which fire signals through the 8th cranial nerve directly into the Temporal lobe of the brain, which interprets these impulses as 'sound'."

Here is where the practice of the Eight Healing Sounds appears victorious over all outer contenders (i.e. sound machines or CDs) and makes an effective and holistic treatment out of self-generated sounds. Yes, machines of his "Vibro-Tactile Induction" variety may deliver the right sounds and be effective, but are they as perfect and harmonious for your body as the sounds you yourself create?

Here is the result he claims of the delivery of sound through the body via technological means:

"By delivering these sound frequencies through the body directly, an entirely different system of the body - spinal cord and areas of the brainstem and brain - are brought into play, with the possibility of a much deeper whole-body response. With this delivery system we have the possibility of direct cellular stimulation. Direct stimulation of living cellular tissue using sound frequency vibration has shown marked cellular organelle response with a corresponding measurable increase of cellular metabolism and therefore a possible mobilization of a cellular healing response. Since the human body is over 70% water and since sound travels 5 times more efficiently through water than through air, sound frequency stimulation directly into the body is a highly efficient means for total body stimulation, especially at a cellular level.

"Sound frequency pulse waves played directly into the body also has a profound effect on the nervous system. The entire posterior 1/3 of the spinal cord consists of nerve tract bundles whose sole purpose is the transmission of vibration sense data to the Brain Stem, Cerebellum, Pons, Medulla, Hippocampus/Limbic System (emotional processing areas) and various areas of the Cerebral Cortex." [Bold emphasis added by Michelle]

The mechanically-generated sounds seem to be pretty effective.

However, can you just imagine the level of power and regenerative healing stimulated by your own personal sound system on your own living tissue when you create the sounds yourself as you practice the Eight Healing Sounds Qigong? It must be positively amazing!

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