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The sound of healing


Last updated 12/26/2019 at 1:10am

Wendy Hammarstrom

Special to Village News

My first experience with sound healing was listening to crystal bowls in a yurt in the hills of Aguanga. Lying on the floor, I felt the vibrations and energy of the sounds reach into my body to soothe and heal it. Recently I have heard about crystal bowls played in salt caves, while participants float in hot mineral spring pools.

Nestor Kornblum, founder and director of the Association of Sound Therapy, said he believes that sound has the capacity to change form at the physical, etheric, emotional and spiritual levels, and also at all these levels simultaneously.

Tibetan singing bowls, also called Himalayan bowls, as well as quartz crystal bowls create otherworldly sounds that can induce trance states.

Some healers believe that by using Tibetan singing bowls that are attuned to the various chakras or energy centers in the body, near magical transformations of body, mind and soul can be achieved. Singing bowls are used to aid meditation, religious practice, relaxation and health care.

When my yoga teacher friend recently had cataract surgery with some complications, Mercedes Martine the acupuncturist told her to listen to 432 or 528 hertz solfeggio music with headphones, 10 to 60 minutes per day, for four to six weeks to accelerate the healing. 528 Hz is said to help with sleep, relaxation and healing.

When I was recovering from gallbladder surgery, she told me to go get some headphones and listen, for 10 to 60 minutes a day, for four to six weeks to the same solfeggio tones to encourage incision and soft tissue healing.

As I am writing, I listen to Tibetan singing bowls for body damage care, or healing damaged organs, hoping it will help me heal from a stomach virus, although this one is only 285 Hz.

The solfeggio frequencies are the original musical scale used in Gregorian chants and their soothing spiritual overtones were believed to infuse great spiritual blessings and transformation when sung in harmony.

In Philadelphia in 1980, my dance company Agape choreographed a piece to Tibetan bells called “Amanita.” We sat cross-legged on the ground at City Hall and circled from the waist, letting the vibrations from the music lead us. When the tones of the bowls stopped, we “toned” or vocalized, letting the sounds emanate from different areas of our bodies. During another performance we “toned” on several warehouse rooftops in Old City Philadelphia, holding candles in the dark.

Toning is another way to use sound for healing. Sounds can come from yourself or from a healer, body worker or shaman to reach the wounded parts. Either way, the vibration of the sound is moving through you to break up energetic blocks and facilitate a free flow of healing energy.

Singing bowls are actually a type of bell known as a “standing bell.” The bowls are played either by rubbing a mallet around the rim, as one might play a crystal glass with their finger, or by striking the side of the bowl with the mallet. The two playing methods produce quite distinctive sounds.

Although much sound healing is not melodic in the western sense, it is healing to our body and minds; some believe down to the cellular level. In addition to helping with many chronic and acute illnesses, some believe that these ancient healing tones can help with trauma and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Animals also respond to healing sounds, tones and vibrations. Although I must warn you, my cat made a fast exit the other day as I listened to 528 Hz solfeggio tones. As with any healing modality, we must find the correct resonance for the current need.

Tuning forks are also used by sound healers on the physical body to help restore movement and flexibility to joints and to aid in the development of connective tissue. They stimulate the flow of lymph and blood to the area of application thereby speeding up the healing process, as well as promoting deep relaxation, among a myriad other benefits.

For my clients and students facing a physical challenge, along with appropriate allopathic modalities, I encourage them to go to YouTube to listen to what is offered and purchase what they like. Or tune into a local concert or event by the many sound healers in the world or receive an individual sound healing.

When I participated in a crystal bowl class with Elivia Melody of San Marcos, she placed a quartz bowl on my abdomen to allow the vibrations to heal it. Whether it is a single quartz or brass bowl or a group played together, each bowl has its own resonance. The bowl I purchased is in the note of D and is beneficial for the sacral chakra, the energy center at the bottom of the spine.

Of course, most music can be healing, from church choirs to folk music to jazz to yoga chanting to drumming circles. The dancing that goes along with the many forms of music is also healing.

There is a drumming circle in Fallbrook at the Village Square led by Tom Rondeau of Rainbow Designs. Sound healing is also part of the yoga classes at Sage Yoga in Bonsall and Fallbrook.

I am particularly drawn to Native American flute music, especially music by Carlos Nakai. It is my preferred music for giving massages and teaching yoga. I have been listening to it since 1980 and never tire of it. There is a circular feeling to it, almost like a sound mandala. It is also soothing to animals.

When Sufi dervishes whirl to the sound of a reed pipe, called a Ney, they believe they become one with the divine spirit. When Native Americans dance to drums, they also become one with their deities. All cultures and religions have their form of movement and music to enable them to reach a divine state. Whether it is for Father Sky or Mother Earth, sound can inspire, elevate and heal us.

Wendy Hammarstrom has been practicing, teaching and writing about body work since 1976. Her book, “Circles of Healing: The Complete Guide to Healing with Massage and Yoga for Practitioners, Caregivers, Students and Clients,” is available on Amazon or her website at


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