Sound has been important to people on this earth since the very early days. Evidence, beyond the time of records, demonstrates that we placed a ritual value on sound and vibration which is out of all proportion to the time it took to create and develop instruments.
For instance, I have a copy of a flute which was carved from bone and tuned to beautiful notes. The original is dated at over 39,000 years old, a time before written history. The implication is that it must have taken a lot of productive time out of someone`s life in creating a carefully tuned musical instrument instead of hunting or farming. There is obviously a profound connection between sound, the earthly experience we humans enjoy and something more.
So, what could this connection be about? We must assume that as written and artistic records began to be developed by early man the information conveyed in these must have been representative of what was passed down through story-telling, spiritual worship and other verbal forms of communication. This is where we begin to get a hint of the enormous importance of sound in the beliefs of our ancestors. Early records from the Bon people of pre-Buddhist Himalayan region shows that sound was used in shamanic healing practice. Early Eastern belief systems include `sound` as one of the building blocks of the universe. In Christianity, we read “In the beginning was the Word”, a hint that `the word` or sound preceded the cosmos. All these are indicators that we have always believed that sound and vibration are a part of our world and the connection with spirit.
Even science is beginning to catch up with older beliefs. We know that everything in this universe vibrates, every sub-atomic particle has it`s own vibration and this carries it`s energy and is essential to it`s existence. Quite simply, without vibration, our physical would would not exist. Quote by Nikola Tesla: “If you want to find the secrets of the universe, think in terms of energy, frequency and vibration”.
The vibration of sound can affect us physically, feel the beat of a big drum. Sound can affect us emotionally, make us cry or make us smile. It is our belief too that the vibrations of certain instruments are carried not just through the air but through the Akasha, and affect us spiritually. Some instruments have had an importance placed on them in ritual which reflects this. The Conch Shell, drawing people to ceremony. The Singing Bowl, in healing. The Gong, important in many different belief systems.
In our modern world, `sound` is a rapidly growing modality in healing, therapy and spiritual practice. The increasing numbers of people attending Gong Baths, as well as a growth in chanting groups and drum circles, show this. It would seem that we are beginning to re-establish a connection with sound and it`s benefits as well as it`s spirituality. It might not be coincidence that as we leave the fixed Piscean age and enter deeper into the more conscious age of Aquarius, we are finding a greater value in those things which offer a deeper sense of connection, such as group sound work. Sound is the energy of Love, Peace and Happiness all of which are powerful healing emotions.
We find wonderful stories unfolding in the lives of those around us who seek to experience sound-work in all it`s forms. People with miraculous healing, people with challenging and complicated lives becoming at one with peace and compassion in their hearts. People are also finding community with those they meet through sound events, enriching their lives and feeling welcomed and supported. Many people who are drawn to experience sound events find they journey inwards in an altered state of consciousness and see worlds that are outwith our physical selves, with spirit guides and cosmic landscapes. There are, also, more mundane benefits such as relaxation.
There are many ways of experiencing the power of sound in the world around us, apart from visiting a sound healer. In modern civilisation, with traffic, televisions and mobile phones, we tend to constantly struggle to filter out the sounds around us. It`s a bit like trying to have a meaningful conversation in a crowded room, we have to concentrate very hard on hearing the person we are speaking too. However, if you take a few minutes out, centre your focus and listen very carefully you can still hear birdsong, the wind or a child`s laughter amongst the clamour of an urban environment. If you catch on to that individual sound and really hear it for as long as you can then you find you are really present in this moment, without the worrying chatter in your head. With a little practice you can use sound as a means to catch a mindful moment of peace.
So, maybe our earliest ancestors knew a good deal more than we do. The creation of sound was certainly an important part of their lives and we can understand now, with our increasing knowledge about the benefits of sound. It does feel sometimes that we are re-inventing the wheel as we drag out each piece of new (or is it old) knowledge. However, what we are learning is advancing the movement of mankind towards a higher vibrational experience. By raising the vibrations in our own hearts we are also raising the vibrations of those around us.
Note: The author and his wife run a centre for sound studies and sound healing in Stoke on Trent. This is a unique space in the world, set in a remarkable building and with their collection of hundreds of instruments, including 54 gongs. A varied timetable of Sound sessions, or gong baths, are held nearly every day with many of them including themed guided meditations designed to take people on specific journeys of discovery. The Chiron Institute is a centre for Sound and Peace and is dedicated to raising the vibration of the world through sound and love.
Article by John Shapter