I feel impelled at this time to cast an eye over the work some of us are doing with sound and music, and just remind ourselves, and others who may not really understand yet, why we are doing this incredibly rewarding work..
I think it is being recognised now, more than ever before, that sound plays a huge part in our lives, either for good or otherwise. We can be adversely affected by unpleasant sound in subtle ways Â? our nerves can be jangled by roadworks or noisy building works, or loud music in shops. In contrast, the pleasure of sitting down and listening to a great piece of music on CD or at a concert is difficult to surpass. It takes us to a different place in consciousness. We all know how relaxed & rejuvenated we feel after such a pleasurable listening sensation.
So for years we have been using harmonious music and sound as self-therapy when we feel the need to relax and de-stress after, for instance, a hard day at work. What we are doing is bringing our subtle energy system back into balance with music.
Sound Healing is one step further than that Â? Sound healers are deliberately using certain known-beneficial sounds to consciously impact our being in a positive way, on all levels Â? physical, mental, emotional and spiritual. To do this we use the voice, gongs, singing bowls, tuning forks, violin, and other instruments which appear to have proven healing and stress-relieving properties Â? some of which have been in use for thousands of years in many different cultures. I think we are just starting to realise that the ancients had a lot more knowledge and wisdom than, in our ignorance, we previously gave them credit for!
As a classically-trained musician, with a mother who was a gifted professional pianist, I have always been aware of the positive effects of good music played well Â? I was brought up on it from an early age. And I have always enjoyed my work in the classical arena, both teaching and performing. But it wasn't until I came across Sound Healing some years ago, that I discovered my true vocation and realised that the application of certain types of sound could be used so simply and effectively for healing on all levels, and for the relief of stress, which I believe is at the root of all dis-ease.
My work has taken me, via a series of synchronicities, into the world of gongs. An odd world, you may think, and not, as yet, very well-known. I think it will become much more widely-known in the years to come because of its' obvious effectiveness in the growing field of Sound Healing. I now use the highest quality large gongs as my principal Sound Healing tools. When I first heard the gong, played by Don Conreaux, I was completely blown away by the soundand the effect it had. It was totally compelling & turned out to be life-changing for me..I knew I had found the ultimate Sound Healing instrument. Since then, I have immersed myself in Sound Healing and particularly in this world of the gong.
If you haven't yet had a direct experience of the gong, you may not understand what I am talking about here. The gong needs to be experienced Â? you can read about it, and hear about it from other people, but as with other things, until you have actually had the experience, you don't totally understand. The gong contains an awesome power but we rarely use the full volume of the instrument Â? only occasionally at certain key points in our work. It is just not necessary Â? played well and in certain ways, the gong works its' magic using the huge variety of tones and harmonics available, at lower levels of volume. We always approach the gongs with respect & humility, without ego, and act as channels for whatever sounds need to come through the gongs at any given moment. In effect Â? you don't play the gong Â? the gong plays you! It is a great privilege to work with these instruments in this intuitive way.
Gongbath recipients normally lie down in order to get the full benefits of the gong sounds. We call it a "gongbath" as you are literally bathed in the sounds of the gongs. The Om or Aum sound made by the gong has the effect of timelessness; you become immersed in the sound, and time as we know it disappears. It also has the effect of de-materialisation Â? people usually lose all sensation of the physical body, and often have the experience of floating in space, or in an ocean. Going deeper, the Universal quality becomes more apparent; many people report feeling at One with the Universe and everything. I have some clients who have descended to the causal layer and had previous life experiences. A few people may have visions or see colours. Some people become so relaxed that they go into deep sleep Â? it is not unknown for people to sleep right through a gongbath! The usual effect of the gong is to take you into a state of deep meditation Â? this is the state where healing can more readily occur, as the mind is still, so that the body can concentrate on drawing in the sounds it needs to re-align and harmonise itself on all levels. Most people emerge from a gongbath feeling extremely relaxed, re-energised and refreshed, as though after a good nights' sleep. It is not unknown for old aches and pains to have disappeared. And the silence which settles after the gongbath has finished is very profound, as the sounds of the gongs have cleared away old energy and created a sacred space and high vibrational energy in the room. Most people want to remain in that wonderful energy space as long as possibleÂ?
A good way to experience the gong for the first time is to attend a group gongbath session. Then you can decide whether you want to continue with one-to-one therapy sessions, which are, of course, personally tailored to your every need in the privacy and comfort of the therapists treatment room.
So now, in a roundabout way, we have come back to the question at the head of this article Â? Why Sound Healing..? I've answered my own question - the answer is : BECAUSE IT WORKS..! And it has worked for thousands of years, but we forgot, somewhere along the way... Now we're beginning to realise and recall the wisdom of our ancient ancestors, and we're learning to apply sound consciously for the benefit of mankind in therapeutic ways. I think in the next few years, Sound Healing will become known the world over, and it's the right time now. We need as much help as we can get during this turbulent period on Earth, while we transition into a new age of peace, joy and love. But that's another story for another time..
Copyright Sheila Whittaker 2009
About the author:Sheila is a musician, Sound Healer & gongmaster with over forty years experience of teaching music in one form or another. She is a classical musician, having originally studied at the Royal College in London, and had a mainstream classical music career for many years before re-training as a Sound Healer some years ago. At this time, Sheila felt she wanted to use sound and music in a more directly healing way. She is gong tutor for the College of Sound Healing, and authored the Gong Practitioner training course for the College. She also teaches Chant/Mantra and Harmonium. Sheila has recorded three gong CDÂ?s and written a book : Â?Sound Healing with GongsÂ? which was published in 2010. She runs a private therapy and teaching practice from her home in east Devon, UK.
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