And, HOW IT WORKS IN THERAPEUTIC AND SHAMANIC SETTINGS
~~Zacciah Blackburn, PhD
Why is so much attention being placed on sound healing therapies for personal wellness and professional practice, from classical sound healing therapies and shamanic practices, to medical doctors, nurses, and a growing number of body wellness and psycho-therapeutic practitioners incorporating it into, and from, a growing, wide base of modalities?
In the simplest explanation, it is
BECAUSE SOUND WORKS!
It works for a variety of reasons, and from a variety of perspectives and techniques. I cannot cover all of this here, but I offer a few basics, which are far from just 'foundational' understandings. Within this information, is the cohesive heart of sacred sound practice.
From a historic perspective, sound has been used in every culture on our planet as a method to connect to what is held by that culture as sacred or divine, for healing and inspiration, for invocation and aspiration, for aligning with and entering 'other worlds' of higher dimensional realities, to draw wisdom, insight, and healing for others, or self, as well as to describe the very nature of Creation itself.There is not a known indigenous culture on the planet which is not using fundamental rhythm and voice for such practices, nor a choir, monastery, or nunnery not doing the same, no matter the cultural or spiritual lineage or alliance.
Sound moves energy.
Sound IS moving energy.
Sound is living energy.
And, science is aligning with this ancient 'wisdom' perspective, through its current, and growing, understanding of the very nature of matter as energy in motion, and the apparent living consciousness of everything at least down to molecular and atomic size.Through aligning with the fundamental, inherent nature (quality) of the sounds being generated, whether instrument or voice, and coupling that with clear intent (a focusing of awareness and 'direction,' or, 'expectation,') and clarity of emotion, heightened states of awareness can be reached, and 'expectations/intentions' made manifest. Whether we are praying for Divine intervention, or calling upon a holy being or medicine ally in the subtle realms of consciousness, it is the coupling of emotion (energy) and sound, with the principles of thought, intent, and light, which creates the portal, or dynamic, for elemental consciousness to, move, stir and manifest, in alignment with those directions or expectations, dependent upon their clarity, form, and the quality of emotions (life force) behind them.
The nature of mantra and chant are explicit to this theme. The very definition of mantra is explicit to the use of sound and thought for clarity, protection, alignment, invocation, and self realization. The "self generation' practices of Tibetan Buddhism would be but one example of this. The invocation of elemental water in an indigenous rain ceremony would be another. The intonation of ancient sung prayers, with rattle or drum, by the shamanic medicine elder, whether calling non-beneficial spirits from within the body, to the blessings of herbal teas as medicines, in alliance with the 'devic' spirits of the plant, would be yet another, as would be the invitation of the Wisdom of the Sun at sunrise, or sunset, in humble, simple prayer or ceremony.The understanding of, and need for, clarity of emotion, and quality of 'direction' or 'expectation,' can only be realized at the level of self cleansing and empowerment we have, personally, reached, in order to utilize these as principle tools and guidelines to our work in the field of sound and shamanic practice. Yet, the greater one has realized one's own state of empowerment, and voice as an ally in harmony with Creation, the greater these tools can be recognized, and utilized, as paramount to the sound or shamanic practice.
The voice is an incredible tool, because it literally, directly manifests the coupling of will and intention, with clear thought and emotion, in the mindful practice of sound and shamanic work. It is a disservice to the rich diversity and history of the shamanic tradtions, to not realize sound work, with far more than a simple rhythm, but clear invocation, alignment, and attunement, with an empowered vocalization of the medicine allies of the subtle worlds, is part of EVERY shamanic traditon on our planet. Many people have a distorted view of shamanism, due in part, to those who focus far too much upon aspects of its use in relationship to the lower worlds. At least one Tibetan Bon practitioner calls these the 'lower schools' of shamanism, who do not realize the greater aspects of self realization and service which the practices for which the practices can be, and in origin, were intended to be used. Most indigenous cultures utilize their wisdom to enter harmonious union with their view of Creation, the Great Mystery, in service to their people, and planet. While much wisdom is lost, much of it, equally went underground during the great oppressions of indigenous peoples world wide in the last centuries. It is resurfacing more and more, and the use of sound and intentional ceremony or practices are remarkable. And, while remarkably varied by culture, they, also, hold remarkably similar constructs in the fundamental coupling of voice, intent or prayer, and sound fields generated by rhythmical or drone instruments. These are extremely similar, whether Australian aboriginal ceremonies, North, South or Central American Native ceremonies, Kahuna, Tibetan Bon or Buddhists, or mystical/esoteric Christian or Hindu rituals.
The fundamental, inherent coupling of voice, intent, sound instruments, prayerful mindfulness, clarity of emotions, will, and personal power, in alignment with higher will, empowered being, harmonious resonance, and/or union with a higher essence, all feed into dynamic practices, which underlie most, if not all, spiritual traditions on our planet, to bring forward healing and cohesiveness, alignment, and invocation, and, manifestation through elemental, if not miraculous, intervention and alliances, in service, or for self or cultural empowerment and realization. Though there is a wide variance, on the surface, of so many ethnical traditions and cultural perspectives and views on the nature of Creation, and Reality, as well as ceremonies, rituals and practices incorporating the use of sound elements, there resides a fundamental and underlieing essence as to HOW the practices are intended, and work, through these basic principles.
The topic is broad and rich.
It is, truly, a lifetime journey to incorporate it all.
There are so many modern modalities springing forth from this ancient indigenous wisdom. And, now, it is, more and more, being confirmed, understood, amplified, and applied, through modern science and numerous new technologies arising from those understandings, as well.
Yet, then, as with all great pathways, masters and teachers, one begins to realize only, in an infinite universe, guided by an incomprehensibly paradoxical Great Mystery, that there is an infinite amount more to learn, comprehend, integrate, and incorporate, in one's life and practice, in the infinite path of self realization and manifestation, in Harmony with All Life.
And, we take a deep breath, and simply say, 'aaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh....,' in deep release, alignment, attunement, and surrender to, that Great Mystery, and the All That Is.
Blessings to all.