Kulintang gongs have been played for many centuries in Southeast Asia and are often included in ceremonies and rituals. "Kulintang at Asian Festival" (cropped) by Mr.TinDC, used with permission under CC BY 2.0. Source.

The Healing Power of Sound: A First Hand Experience

“Sound enters the healing equation from several directions: It may alter cellular functions through energetic effects; it may entrain biological systems to function more homeostatically; it may calm the mind and therefore the body; or it may have emotional effects, which influence neurotransmitters and neuropeptides, which in turn help to regulate the immune system–the healer within.”
– Dr. Mitchell Gaynor, Author of “The Healing Power of Sound: Recovery from Life-Threatening Illness using Sound, Voice, and Music, Director of Medical Oncology and Integrative Medicine at Strang-Cornell Cancer Prevention Center

The human body is approximately 70% water; our bones and marrow contain nearly 25% water, and sound travels four times faster in water than in air, thus the human body becomes a natural resonator for sound.  It’s why we love music, why indigenous cultures use sound, instruments, percussion, singing, and chanting during ritual.  Sound heals.

Last Saturday, I entered the Open Center in New York City to participate in the Sound Soak, led by Joule L’adara.  I had no idea what to expect, and entered with ears, heart, and mind open.  I was looking forward to being awashed with sounds of Catherine Russo’s singing sound bowls, Joule’s ethereal vocals, chakra tuned chimes, and tuning forks, and the additional sounds of bells, rattles, percussion, and strings.  It was a bit intimidating to know that we were going to be taking part in a guided interactive vocal exploration sound release and activation.  What did that mean, exactly?

Before the concert began, we set up our yoga mats, pillows, and blankets, and began with a warmup.  In our daily lives, we are often forced to silence ourselves, conform to societal standards that really have no meaning when it comes down to it, and to move rigidly.  So, releasing the body by doing silly sounds and movements was absolutely freeing in itself.  And, heck, everyone was doing it at the same time, so no worries about looking foolish!  We owned our silliness!  And we were all smiling afterwards.

We were then invited to lay on the yoga mats and pillow, and donned special eye masks that didn’t press on our eyes.  In fact, you could keep them open the entire time with them on, if you wanted.  I was intrigued to know that these special eye masks were designed by visionary artist, Alex Grey (whose artwork I absolutely love, and always leaves me awestruck), so that he could use the total darkness to gather inspiration for his works.  I have to say these special eye masks enhanced the entire sound soak experience.

The concert that precipitated after was nothing like I’d ever heard.  If there was a way to communicate and heal through voice and sound, these were the kinds of things I’d hear.  Joule let us know that there will be sounds we absolutely resonate to, and others that may be dissonant, and to just let it flow from one sound to the other.  Also, what is blissful harmony for one person may be totally dissonant for another.  The crystal singing bowls (which varied in size and corresponded to different chakras) were activated, and it transported me to a place of deep relaxation.  Sometimes their sound was intense, at times  too much, but it would soon flow into other sounds that were absolutely heavenly.  I could hear the tuning forks be activated near me, a percussion instrument made out of large hollowed seeds on a string, the beautiful cadence of Joule’s voice (having been trained classically in opera, I could tell Joule had experience with that, herself, especially when she did her rendition of “Ave Maria”), the South Asian string instrument that Joule accompanied with a lovely freeform vocal.  My body was vibrating, I could feel it in my back.  I could also feel certain chakras activating, particularly in my heart and third eye.  There were times where I felt deep relaxation, and other times, pure love (I actually got teary sometimes just listening to the sounds.)  And I definitely experienced the healing aspects of this concert.  We ended with a group vocalization, where we released any pent up energies, and expressed our own resonations to create a group harmony.

When I got up, I felt my soul was massaged.  Similar to how I feel after a Reiki treatment.  It blew my mind that sound could make one feel that way.  This was not just a concert, but an experience.

When I was going to school at Pacific College of Oriental Medicine-NY, I learned about tuning forks from a fellow classmate.  I didn’t really know much about them at the time, but I already knew I believed that they worked.  And she’d use them often in her clinic rounds with great results (patients experienced less physical and emotional pain.)

Tuning ForksThe Sound Soak inspired me to revisit the tuning forks, and now I own the Acutonics Ohm Unision Tuning Forks.  Acutonics creates tuning forks (designed by an acupuncturist) that are precision calibrated to be applied to specific acupuncture and acupressure points to access the body’s Meridian and Chakra energy systems. Acutonics mentions that, “These tuning forks represent a natural harmonic series based on the orbital properties of the Earth, Moon, Sun and planets. The sound waves of the forks vibrate and travel deeply into the body along energy pathways, affecting human physiology and reaching places not easily accessed. Their rich resonance and vibration connects with and supports the body’s natural frequencies, stimulates and balances the body’s physical and subtle energy field, and promotes wellness, deep inner harmony, and Harmonic Attunement®.”

I have already begun using the tuning forks on myself and others, and am already seeing the benefit.  I am now learning to use them in the most effective way possible, and will be using the tuning forks in my private practice, to enhance Acupuncture and/or Reiki treatments.  Drop me a line to find out how you can experience them for yourself!

I am so grateful that I got to know about Joule L’adara’s work, and that I am able to share my new knowledge about tuning forks with you!

What are ways you can bring sound healing into your life at this moment?

  1. Listen to some indigenous percussion music.  I may be a little biased, but I absolutely enjoy kulintang music.
  2. Go into nature and listen to a brook or a bamboo fountain in a pond.  Empty your mind.
  3. Chant healing mantras.  It can range from “Om” to something more individualized such as, “Everything is working out, even if I don’t know how yet.”
  4. Enjoy the sounds of crystal singing bowls.
  5. Try shaking a rattle made by Native and Indigenous cultures.  Many cultures attribute rattle sounds to driving away evil spirits.
  6. Get out of the concrete jungle once and a while.  And for those with financial concerns, a day trip to a local concert in the city, or to a more remote park may be enough to do the trick to help you detox from the car horns, alarms, and sirens.

Be aware of the stimuli that surrounds you.
How can you create an atmosphere of harmony in your life right now?



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All information on this website is my own opinion, and not to be taken as medical advice. Reliance on any information provided on this website is solely at your own risk. Please refer to your medical practitioner before making any medical decisions.

1 Comment

  1. The Healing Power of Sound, Part Dalawang: Revisiting the Sound Soak Experience | Alcantara Acupuncture Blog
    March 26, 2013

    […] such a mindblowing sound healing experience at last month’s Sound Soak, led by the talented Joule L’adara, I had to come back this month for more!  Especially […]


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