Whole Life Times – October 2001
A symphony of water cascades over rocks. A soothing flute begs the wind to pour through trees. Bells chime ubiquitously, surrounding my soul, calming my mind, silencing my internal dialogue. A voice guides me to release each muscle in my body, starting at my toe and moving through the crown. Release comes easily when the cushion is nature’s music and it sounds this divine. “Let go,” says the soothing voice again and again as it fades away. It is the voice of Guru Singh, a Los Angeles based Kundalini Yoga instructor and sound therapist. I am in the midst of a Sahaj Shabd treatment session, where one’s energy is balanced and disease (be it physical, spiritual, or psychological) is overcome through the use of sound. I have come seeking resolution. Not long ago I began coming to grips with an angry memory of childhood abuse that for years lay dormant in the dark alleys of my subconscious. My hope is that Guru Singh can help me forge a path of soulful reconciliation. The bed on which I rest is lined with thirteen transducers; speakers without baffles. In this case the body is the baffle and the sound waves only become audible when they reverberate off me. The transducers are balanced and fed by an electronic keyboard, two computer terminals and no less than seven amplifiers. A movable speaker rests on my solarplexis. I can see none of this currently as my eyes are covered with an aroma therapy eye pillow. My body is wrapped warmly in a hand-woven blanket and my hands are full with two 5 pound crystal globes that act as weights might for the beginning diver, allowing he or she to sink comfortably into the depths of discovery. A blast of bass rips through my solarplexis. The bass notes come alive like waves, one after another, spaced evenly and consistently. Each time it splits me open and I ripple like water when a stone breaks its surface. I can feel the energy in my core spiraling outward in all directions.
For centuries sound has been utilized by indigenous healers all over the world. Medicinal songs and sacred instruments are still used to cure the ill in Panama, Tibet, Haiti, even in the United States. Each healer’s success can be judged by the sheer demand for their ageless craft. Thus, it stands to reason that in today’s health renaissance sound healing has been adopted by westerners. Using time tested tools like mantra, toning, instrumentation, meditation and yoga and braiding them with state of the art technology, American born sound healers are building a bridge of wellness that spans centuries and eventually leads their patients, clients or students to the wellspring of healing that lies within.
The science behind sound healing is based on the String Theory. In 1968 the world’s most respected quantum physicists adopted one universal perspective that all life, when distilled to its simplest form, is energy. Humans, animals, trees, earth, sky, water – everything is energy, atoms vibrating at various frequencies. All vibration can be reduced to sound. There is a sonic frequency for every color in the spectrum, one for every human emotion. Sound can open us up or shut us down. For example, the Earth vibrates at 7.83 Hz, mathematically this equates with the musical note “C.” The human vibration equates with the note “G.” When “C” and “G” harmonize we get the perfect fifth, the perfect harmony. This is the reason why human beings feel open and uplifted in a natural environment. Somewhere beneath our immediate perception our energy is balanced. Conversely, sound can also provide discomfort and pain. Almost two years ago there was a series of demonstrations in France that threatened its establishment. To disperse the large crowds the police began projecting sound frequencies at them. These frequencies caused stomach pains, nausea and diarrhea. The passionate crowd fled in minutes in search of the nearest latrine. Thus, it stands to reason that illness, like all life forms, is merely a vibratory pattern and if a healing energy can replace the ill then health and balance can be restored through the use of applied sound.
Pat Moffet Cook is a sound healer and founder of the Open Ear Center based in Bainbridge Island, Washington. She is a teacher, clinician, author and musician with a doctorate in music. She studied six years with an Indonesian master of martial and healing arts and has traveled the globe documenting the work of a generation of indigenous sound healers who claim to interrupt the course of illness on a cellular level. “They inject a different vibratory pattern into patients and re-direct the ill vibration,” she says. The Open Ear Center boasts a variety of programs to train doctors, nurses and psychotherapists in the use of sound in a healing environment. Cook trains Oncologists and hospice professionals in the use of music as meditation. “Our students use music and guided imagery to help their patients sleep better, control pain, conquer the boredom of a long hospital stay and even improve communication between family members.” When patients are in serious pain they are taught to hum and exorcise the pain through the use of their voice. In addition, she teaches the technique of toning – using vowel sounds at prescribed pitches and directed at specific body parts – to reduce pain and improve the flow of energy in a patient. She teaches voice work and promotes a musical repertoire to heal chronic headaches, immune deficiency and to clear up skin disease. “Music,” she says “creates a container for healing to take place.”
Psychologists, therapists and teachers flock to Cook in droves because she has enjoyed such an overwhelming success with those suffering from Attention Deficit Disorder and various learning disabilities. Her Open Ear Listening and Learning Program is based on the discoveries of Dr. Alfred Tomatis, a French ear, nose and throat specialist. Tomatis proved how the physiology of the ear has a direct connection to one’s voice. The program is an auditory stimulation program which helps patients to train their inner ear, thus, improving their listening and communication skills. Over 78% of children and adults who come to the center with ADD or other learning disabilities experience substantial improvement. “We use sound as a replacement for drugs like ridilin. Sound becomes the stimulus, but in addition we train the patient how to self-stimulate, ” Cook offers. “If more people could access sound therapy it would replace years of psychological and drug therapy.” The state of Washington is duly impressed with Cook’s program. They awarded her a grant last year to work with illiterate women on welfare. The mission is to help these women develop valuable communication skills. In less than a year more than 3/5 of the women are reading, working and off the welfare rolls. Cook has trained more than 1,000 health care professionals and over 90% of them are using their skills in the field. When asked if sound healing is spreading, Cook points to training programs in operation at Harvard, Stanford and the University Medical Center in Seattle. “A lot of people are opening up,” she says “ and it’s just a matter of time before we will have the research to back up our success.”
“Disease,” says Guru Singh, “no matter the form, is a blockage. Create ease and flow in a person and these things (blockages) will wash away.” Guru Singh is an American Sikh born in Seattle. He is an authority on Kundalini Yoga and an accomplished musician who once abandoned a record deal to pursue a spiritual path. His therapy is a replica of an ancient practice known as Sahaj Shabd, which combines specific applications of sound with the Vedic teachings of the seven chakras. According to Guru Singh, “each chakra governs different glands and organs. Glands and organs emit emotions which create thoughts and attitudes. When working with someone,” he continues, “I can see what thoughts and attitudes are present in their life, leading me to see what chakras are active, over-active or under-active and I set the tones in the treatment accordingly.” Each chakra has a pitch. The root chakra responds to “C”, the sacral chakra is “D”, the naval is “E”, “F” denotes the heart, “G” for the throat, the third eye is “A” and “B” triggers the crown chakra. The goal of Sahaj Shabd is to inspire peace in the client through an energetic balance in the chakra system. The treatment begins with a thirty minute one on one counseling session. Guru Singh uses this time to diagnose a patient’s energy. “People create patterns in their lives,” he says. These habitual patterns can effect a person emotionally or if neglected over a lifetime can lead to serious health complications. For example someone who is either unable to control their anger or bottles their emotions could face a liver condition as they age. Guru Singh’s solution is to open the throat chakra, improving communication and healthy forms of expression. Someone who has trouble making a commitment has an overactive second chakra (located near the genitals) and this problem, when acute, may manifest in kidney troubles. In this case he would work to strengthen the heart chakra, enabling a patient to enjoy increased compassion and self-acceptance. Childhood abuse can often lead to an overactive second chakra.
Sahaj Shabd is most effective when there is a succession of treatments. One experience is not enough to achieve lasting harmony. A daily yoga or meditation practice also helps. “Yoga allows the treatment to last longer,” Guru Singh says, “the treatment is intense and you need to sustain it or there will be hills and valleys. The goal is a continuous pattern of growth. It is important for a person to understand that it (healing) is happening inside them. Sound opens the chakras, but this is not Guru Singh healing them. All healing happens internally.”
As my treatment progresses I feel as though I am in a lucid dream. I see myself as a wish flower in the hand of a beautiful, innocent child projecting an aura of gold. She blows and my seeds are scattered into a nearby river, and now I am the river and the trees that shade it. A canoe floats down stream and I am the paddler, exploring my internal wilderness. I morph from human to spider to frog to a hawk soaring to the sun. Toward the end of this hour long journey I glimpse segments of what could be a possible future. I am an older man now, surrounded by a loving family gathered on bluffs high above the sea. Then, the treatment is over. The thundering gong is the first to fade. The flute is next and I am left with the language of wind and water. Guru Singh brings the sound down and walks behind me. He plays three Tibetan bowls to bring my awareness back to the present. Gently I rise and walk into his verdant organic garden bursting with lavender, vegetables and gurgling fountains. He hands me a tissue doused with lavender oil. I inhale and the calm spreads through me. I have complete awareness of my body, my mind blissfully at rest, the ego in hibernation. Suddenly the memories that have been haunting me are distant figures dissolving in this new light. Guru Singh has given me additional homework which will further my healing along. I leave his home larger than life, gliding down the street and recall his words. “We approach the unknown either with love or fear. Ecstatic experience is important in today’s world because it opens one up to the totality that is reality. When you connect with the eternal you can get over the temporal and you can’t help but face the unknown in your life based on love.” I have never left a doctor or therapist’s office feeling this powerful.