Sound, Words and Your Health
Part 2 of "The Body's Symphony of Sound and Vibration"
by Patricia Spadaro
Read Part 1 >>
In our modern culture, where for many seeing is believing, how do we know that what sages and energy practitioners say about the power of sound is true? Is there evidence that vibration and sound can affect matter, interact with our molecules and stimulate healing? And if so, can we measure their effects?
In the eighteenth-century, German scientist and musician Ernst Chladni, known as the father of acoustics, took a step toward answering these questions. He demonstrated, in simple, visual experiments, that sound affects matter. When he drew a violin bow around the edge of a plate covered with fine sand, the sand formed various geometric patterns, as shown below.
Pictures of Sound:
Making Invisible Vibrations Visible
Another pioneer in this arena was Dr. Hans Jenny. A Swiss medical doctor and a scientist, Hans Jenny realized the importance of vibration and sound and set out to study them from a unique angle. His fascinating experiments into the study of wave phenomena (which he called cymatics, from the Greek kyma, meaning “wave”) provide nothing less than pictures of how sound influences matter.
In the 1960s, Dr. Jenny placed sand, fluid and powders on metal plates, which he vibrated with a special frequency generator and a speaker. His experiments produced beautiful and intricate patterns that were unique to each individual vibration (see photographs below). Moreover, these varying patterns remained intact as long as the sound pulsed through the substance. If the sound stopped, the pattern collapsed. For many, these experiments show that sound can indeed alter form, that different frequencies produce different results, and that sound actually creates and maintains form.
The photographs below are taken from Dr. Jenny's work in cymatics. Used with permission from the two-volume edition of Cymatics: A Study of Wave Phenomena, © 2001 MACROmedia, 219 Grant Road, Newmarket, NH 03857. www.cymaticsource.com.
Although best known for his stunning cymatic images, Dr. Jenny was also an artist and musician as well as a philosopher, historian and physical scientist. Perhaps most important, he was a serious student of nature’s ways with keen powers of observation. Whether it was the cycle of the seasons, a bird’s feathers, a rain drop, the formation of weather patterns, mountains or ocean waves—or even poetry, the periodic table, music or social systems—Dr. Jenny saw an underlying, unifying theme: wave patterns, produced by vibration.
“Wherever we look, we can describe what we see in terms of periodicities and rhythmicities,” he wrote. “When nature creates anything it creates in this periodic style.”1 For him, everything reflected inherent patterns of vibration involving number, proportion and symmetry—what he called the “harmonic principle.” Dr. Jenny encouraged continuing research into the wave phenomenon. The purpose of such studies, he explained, was to “hear” the systems of Nature. “What we want to do is, as it were, to learn to ‘hear’ the process that blossoms in flowers, to ‘hear’ embryology in its manifestations and to apprehend the inwardness of the process,” he wrote.2
Our Cells Respond to Sound
The implications of Dr. Jenny’s work are vast, especially for the field of healing and vibrational medicine. If sound can change substances, can it alter our interior landscape? Since patterns of vibration are ubiquitous in nature, what role do they play in creating and sustaining the cells of our own bodies? How do the vibrational patterns of a diseased body differ from the patterns the body emanates when it is healthy? And can we turn the unhealthy vibrations into healthy ones? While Dr. Jenny did not focus on the healing possibilities of sound and vibration, his work inspired many whose destiny it was to do just that.
Two other researchers who have created visually compelling evidence of the power of sound are Japanese scientist Masaru Emoto and Fabien Maman. Maman, a French composer, acupuncturist and bioenergetician, and Helene Grimal, a biologist, experimented with both healthy and cancer cells to see how they would respond to the voice and to various instruments. In his book The Role of Music in the Twenty-First Century, Maman reports that among the dramatic effects of sound they captured in their photographs was the progressive destabilization of the structure of cancer cells. Maman says that when he played sounds that progressed up the musical scale, the cancer cells eventually exploded.
Japanese scientist Dr. Masaru Emoto has shown the potent effects of sound by photographing water crystals. His work is published in his series of books Messages from Water and was featured in the movie What the Bleep Do We Know!? In his remarkable experiments, he played classical music and folk songs from Japan and other countries through speakers placed next to water samples. He then froze the water to make crystals and compared the crystalline structure of different samples. With each musical piece, the water sample formed different and beautifully geometric crystals. When he played heavy metal music, the water crystal’s basic hexagonal structure broke into pieces.
Dr. Emoto’s work goes further still. He also measured the impact of words on the crystalline structure of water. The results of Dr. Emoto’s experiments match what psychologists, researchers and spiritual masters alike have shown—that the words we speak and the thoughts we think impact our well-being at all levels. In one experiment, Dr. Emoto and three hundred others assembled at the shore of a badly polluted lake in Japan and spoke aloud an affirmation of peace and gratitude. The water crystals changed from a cloudy and distorted image before the prayer to beautiful, geometric crystals after the prayer. Smaller groups of people have repeated this experiment at other lakes around the world with similar results, which Dr. Emoto has published in volume two of his Messages from Water.
In another experiment, Dr. Emoto taped various words and phrases to jars of water. Afterward, he photographed the crystals formed when these water samples were frozen. Words or phrases such as thank you, love/appreciation and love thyself produced a variety of beautiful geometric forms. On the other hand, phrases such as you make me sick or you fool produced crystals that were disconnected or chaotic.
The implications of these simple experiments are profound. Since our bodies are made up of 70 percent water, imagine how the sounds and vibrations that fill our external environment affect our internal environment, our very cells. Imagine how the words we speak—about ourselves and others—affect not only our own health but also the health and well-being of those in our lives.
TIPS AND TOOLS
Five Proactive Steps to Improve the Sounds That Surround You
First, take a moment and think about the sounds that surround you.
• Which are positive and which do you find abrasive? Do you allow yourself intervals of quiet and silence? Do you reserve time for yourself where you control what’s in your air space?
• Think about the words you hear from others. Are there any that are consistently negative and that make you unhappy or drag you down?
• The sounds of our own discontent can create discontent within others. Think about the words you speak that impact those in your sphere of influence. Where is there room for improvement?
• Imagine your ideal sound environment. What kinds of sounds would you include? What sounds would you exclude?
Although there may be sounds in your life that you cannot change, you always have some control over what you allow into your environment. Here are five tips and tools you can use to make better sound choices in your life.
1. Create a No-Fly Zone
In our busy lives, we all need to create a no-fly zone—air space that is filled with only the sounds we need. For example, if a family member has the volume on the TV cranked up so that you can hear it two floors above, calmly explain your needs to them. At certain times of the day, ask them to lower the volume or to wear headsets. Put on your own music to take control of the sounds in your life. (For more on setting healthy boundaries.)
2. Simplify Your Sound Space
Be conscious about your sound environment. In today’s society, we are addicted to filling our time and our space with activity. Stores, restaurants, even waiting rooms are filled with sounds that may or may not be what we need. We can easily get into the habit of turning on the car radio or the TV without a second thought. All this can create a sonic overload and prevent us from hearing the still small voice of wisdom within. Try leaving the radio and the TV off at times. Pick restaurants that play the kind of music that is conducive to the emotional environment you want to create. Allow yourself to turn off the ringer on your phone and let messages go through to your answering machine. Savor the silence.
3. Say No to Toxic Tones
Having toxic language in your life will affect your physical, mental and emotional health. If the words you hear from someone (at home or at work) are consistently negative, don’t be afraid to be proactive. Those who are speaking those words aren’t always aware that they are affecting you negatively. Take the initiative to tell them. Speak politely, yet frankly and firmly draw your boundaries. For example, “I appreciate that you feel stressed, but I find that too often hearing that kind of language hurts (or worries, upsets, saddens, depresses) me. It’s unhealthy for me, and I need to ask you to refrain from speaking like that around me." If you do not get the response you need, you may have to limit or eliminate the time you spend with that person.
4. Watch and Listen for Valuable Feedback
The words you speak aloud—whether they are about yourself, about the events in your life or about others—impact those who hear them, including your children and partner. Learn to pick up the signals others send you. For instance, how does their expression change or what does their body language convey when what you say (or how you say it) disturbs them? Become aware of the reactions of those around you. They can be your greatest teachers.
5. Surface Your Issues
Our words and the tone of those words reflect underlying emotions. Frustrations we don’t deal with in one area of our life can pop out in another area—in our daily exchanges with those we are close to, for instance. When you hear this happening, don’t judge yourself—listen and learn. Gruffness, anger or excessive complaining are alerting us that something is going on under the surface. It can be something that we aren’t aware of, that we aren’t acknowledging or that we aren’t dealing with.
You owe it to yourself and those around you to confront the core issue. Try to step back and ask yourself: What is really bothering me? Objectively identify the issue by writing it down. If you can’t name what it is, start by writing down how you feel. Identifying on paper your true feelings or the unsettling circumstances in your life will help you get the real issues out into the open so you can take the next steps to resolution.
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1. Hans Jenny, Cymatics: A Study of Wave Phenomena and Vibration ( Newmarket, N.H.: MACROmedia, 2001), p. 271
2. Ibid., p. 276
Copyright © 2005 Patricia R. Spadaro. All rights reserved