IMAGINE yourself receiving a deeply comforting, relaxing treatment on the massage table, and then, while you’re still floating in that dreamy rainbow-coloured bubble of pampering bliss, add the magical sound of crystal singing bowls, an angelic female voice and the sound of an ancient string instrument designed by Pythagoras, as waves and vibrations of sound flow up and down your body like the waves of the sea do when you bask on the shore. Welcome to the millennia-old practice of vibrational sound healing.
As someone who is a great fan both of alternative therapies and the world of sound – from natural to hyper-produced – I was most excited to try out a session, and was fortunate to find Sound and Energy healing therapist Kristina Alicia, whose clients (especially the creative types who experience ‘blocks’ and need to reawaken their awareness and sharpen their focus), rave about her work.
I had no idea what to expect, but being a new mother with an aching body and a sometimes alarmingly sleep-deprived brain, I was more than open and willing to encounter the benefits I had heard and read so much about. The science of sound has been explored since ancient times, and although in the present day plenty of knowledge has been gathered as to its therapeutic properties, we ironically continue to live in cities imbued by noise pollution, are glued to gadgets, TV sets and computers that produce constant chatter, and on an average day, rarely make special time to tune out, let alone actually using sound for its healing properties. Fortunately, there are therapists like Kristina in Athens, whose entire practice centres on the many benefits of sound, and who can help clients get the most out of its powerful healing properties. There’s nothing new age or gimmicky about sound healing – in fact it stretches back into antiquity, even though the historical record captures only a fraction of its origin. It can be traced back to many ancient civilizations including Greece, India, Africa, and the Orient (learn more about the origins of sound healing below).
Before our session, Kristina explained to me that when an organ or body part is healthy, it resonates in harmony with the rest of the body. With dis-ease, a different sound pattern is established in the affected part of the body. When sound is projected into the dis-eased area, correct harmonic patterns are restored. During a session, Kristina follows a sequence of several relaxing and therapeutic techniques aimed at restoring a healthy flow and order in the mind, body and spirit, and leaving the receiver feeling rebalanced, blissfully peaceful and mentally open.
In the next stage, her therapy moves from the realm of ‘regular’ manual therapy and lifts one to the universe of sound healing. “In the second phase I work on the aura using the crystal singing bowls,” says Kristina, “and the tuning forks, to tune (exactly like adjusting a piano) our organs and nervous system so optimal balance is achieved.” The experience of having crystal singing bowls placed and rung on my back and around my head immediately transported me to a different state. At first, my often over-active thinking mind was trying to trace the sounds, the feelings, even the direction from where the sound was coming, but then, just like that, I let go and allowed myself to be immersed in the experience, suddenly feeling myself distanced from mundanity, from thoughts, and even from the room we were in.
Researching the effects of crystal singing bowls a few days after the treatment I was not surprised to read that the notes of the crystal bowls are tuned to specific vibrational frequencies (notes) found within the human body. Thus when the sound moves through the atmosphere and touches us, it causes our cells to move in different directions at a different speed, in rhythm with the sound wave, which puts us in harmony with the sound wave. The sound penetrates into our very cells and rebalances them through oscillation and resonance; vibrational sound touches the body on a molecular and crystalline level. One reason sound heals on a physical level is because it so deeply touches and transforms us on the emotional and spiritual planes. Sound can redress imbalances on every level of physiologic functioning and can play a positive role in the treatment of virtually any medical disorder.”
Next, Kristina placed the monochord, (an ancient scientific and musical instrument, invented in Greece in 500 B.C) on my back. She explained that “in the spiritual healing part of the session, the strings of the monochord bring healing harmonics in each cell of our body. From head to toe you feel this healing resonance, as our body is 75% water.” I actually felt the vibrations of the monochord flow and down my spine, very pleasantly intense at times, and then going from my head to my toes, even making me feel like I was the instrument itself, with its music pouring out of me. Kristina accompanies the instrument by singing sacred Aramaic, Hebrew and Sanskrit mantras.
“The voice,” she tells me, is the most precious instrument, as it can be filled with your intent”. That definitely made me think of how irresponsible most people, me included, are when using their voice to address each other, and how we hold such a powerful tool that we do so little with.
At this stage of the therapy I started to see vivid colours and patterns, as well as a few scenes that were reminiscent of a powerful dream that’s trying to tell you something. Later on, when I mentioned this to Kristina, she told me that through such a session one’s subconscious does usually unfurl to reveal our deepest messages to our self. In fact, she says, one of the key purposes of what she does is to help one “reconnect and listen to the sound of your soul.” She tells me that “some people have found their life course after receiving sound healing therapy.”
In the final part of the vibrational sound healing session, Kristina uses Tibetan singing bowls, which she says help the client “ground again” after having been on a different plain altogether. Sound Healing expert, Diáne Mandle states that Tibetan Singing Bowls don’t only affect a great deal of physical healing but also have far-reaching implications that occur on emotional and spiritual levels. It is a regenerative process married to a spiritual awakening that can have profound consequences on illness, disease, and all aspects of our lives.
In fact, mainstream medical teaching facilities like Duke University and the University of North Carolina have added programs that link body, mind and spirit to the treatment of cancer. Cancer prevention centers are utilizing sound as a vital part of the healing process for patients with astounding results.
Dr. Mitchell Gaynor, director of Medical Oncology and Integrative Medicine at the Cornell Cancer Prevention Center in NY, has been using sound, including Tibetan Singing Bowls and chanting in work with cancer patients for many years. He says: “If we accept that sound is vibration and we know that vibration touches every part of our physical being, then we understand that sound is heard not only through our ears but through every cell in our bodies.”
The medical director of the Deepak Chopra Center in California, Dr. David Simon, found that the sound from Tibetan Singing Bowls as well as chanting are chemically metabolised into ’endogenous opiates’, that act on the body as internal painkillers and healing agents.
Sound healing did not change my life course, but to some degree, it changed my life. By experiencing something I’d never felt before that felt so profoundly therapeutic and rebalancing I discovered something new about the world of healing, about the world itself, and about my own inner world. I left my appointment feeling light on my feet, invigorated and a little spaced out – in a good way – and noticed for the following days that my mind was clearer and my heart calmer.
Apart from providing one-on-one healing healing sessions, and sound and energy healing courses, Kristina is planning to run specialised one week tours called “SHE – Sacred Sound Journeys” during spring, summer and autumn in Greece. Not following the typical tourist routes, she will take her group of visitors to ancient temples in places including Cape Sounion, Vravrona, Elefsina and in Kea, and teaching about Sacred Geometry, energy exercises, meditation, mantra chanting and of course sound healing. She is also organising Wellbeing Weekends that will take visitors to nearby islands on a Catamaran to enjoy some wellness practices combined with the enjoyment of sea, food and sun. “Be prepared for an extraordinary healing journey,” says Kristina Alicia.To message her on her Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/soundishealing firstname.lastname@example.org
More about the origins of sound healing:
The Aboriginal people are the first known culture to heal with sound. Their healing instrument (known today as the didgeridoo) has been used as a therapeutic tool for at least 40,000 years. The Aborigines healed broken bones, muscle tears and illnesses of every kind using their enigmatic musical instrument. The Egyptian and Babylonian cultures used drums and rattles, two of the earliest known musical instruments. The low frequency sounds from drums and the ultra sound created by rattles are both now known to accelerate healing. A Greek traveler, Demetrius, circa 200 B.C., wrote that the Egyptians used vowel sounds in their rituals: “In Egypt, when priests sing hymns to the Gods they sing the seven vowels in due succession and the sound has such euphony that men listen to it instead of the flute and the lyre.”
The healing chapel at Deir el-Bahari, Thebes, was dedicated to Amenhotep-son-of-Hapu, a deified healing saint closely associated with ”Imhotep” who is largely recognized under the title of ‘physician.’ Imhotep’s repute was so tremendous that, 1,500 years after his death, the Greeks identified him with their healing god Asclepius. These two deified men ”Amenhotep-son-of-Hapu and Imhote” were usually worshipped together in the same Egyptian healing temples. Acoustics research in the pyramids has provided strong evidence that the Egyptians designed their chapels and burial chambers to be reverberant in order to enhance ritualistic chant. It is, therefore, very likely that the ancient Egyptians were aware of the healing properties of sound long before the Greeks.
However, Pythagoras (circa 500 BC) is credited as being the first person to use music as medicine. The flute and the lyre were two of the primary instruments used by Pythagoras and his followers for healing purposes. He is also credited with being the first to understand musical intervals from his work with the monochord, a single-stringed instrument in which the string tension was established by a fixed weight.
In the Greco-Roman period healing temples were used for “incubation”, a process in which patients underwent “dream sleep”, among other known modalities. It seems likely that music was used therapeutically during their stay and the reverberant spaces of the temples enhanced the efficiency of acoustic instruments, a function of the solid stonewalls of temples and sanatoria.
Pythagoras’ scale formed the foundation for music in the Western world, while Pythagoras taught the Harmony of the Spheres, a theory that the sun, moon, and planets emit a frequency that is an expression of the scale.
This brought the understanding that the resonance of a music instrument or the human voice is harmonious with the rest of Creation. Pythagoras and his followers used the flute and the lyre to heal. Two centuries later, Hippocrates, the father of western medicine, used sound therapy for his mental patients.