Ted Andrews on "Toning for Health"
Excerpted from "Sacred Sounds: Magic & Healing Through Words & Music"
THE HEALING ASPECTS OF TONING
The voice has a tremendous ability to be an instrument for healing. Pythagoras recognized the considerable therapeutic power of human speech. He treated diseases through the reading of poetry. He taught his students how a skillful, well-modulated voice, with beautiful words and pleasing meter, could restore balance to the body and soul. The belief in the healing capacity of the human voice is common to many parts of the world. Shamans and holy men of primitive societies would use a spirit language to commune with higher intelligences so as to extract proper remedies.
Confession has been used by many societies and religions as a means of accelerating the healing process. This process aligns itself with many of modern psychology's psychosomatic remedies. It was used voluntarily by the Apache Indians during times of illness. The Apaches recognized that all levels of consciousness and action were intimately connected to the physical. By confessing, the individual faced what had created the illness.
More commonly, the Catholic Church still utilizes confession. It has lost the physical healing aspects that once were associated with it. Today it is more focused upon the spiritual and emotional cleansing, and few today acknowledge its intimacy with physical well-being. Our speech is comprised of two elements: consonants and vowels. Every letter and combination of letters has significance. The vowel sounds are the most dynamic aspect of spoken sound, for without them the consonants could not be sounded. Many of the early alphabets excluded the vowels, because they believed they were too stimulating, causing certain energies to be activated.
The Chaldean alphabet, one of the forerunners of our alphabet, was designed to be a tool for attaining higher wisdom. Their letters, sounds, glyphic forms, and their numerological correspondences provide clues to the more archetypal energies operating and activated through the words.
Mantra yoga is a technique of human self-realization through the use of inner sounds or nadas that are awakened through outer toning and chanting. In Tibetan beliefs, the most important musical instrument is the human voice, and the Tibetan shamans are trained in the use of outer sound projection to create inner, esoteric vibrations. They learn to use the head and chest as resonance chambers for the entire human body. The repeated toning of vowels creates a reverberation so that when the chanting stops, the sounds continue to echo within the mind and within the chambers of the body.
Each vowel opens a particular part of the body. This part of the body should be visualized during the inhalation and also when the vowel is spoken or toned internally. This inner sounding is the key to many metaphysical teachings concerning sound and mantras. Without the inner sounding occurring before the outer, audible sounding, the effects are minimized. The process of Directed Esoteric Toning involves both aspects. It is simple: as we inhale, we focus our minds on the region of the body associated with the vowel, and we sound it silently. Then as we exhale, we vibrate or tone the sound again audibly.
This method of opening by the vowels can be better understood if we realize that breath penetrates deeply into the region concerned, according to our thoughts. The breath takes the energy of prana and combines it with the vowel tones and together they open specific inner regions of the body or consciousness.
HEALING VOWEL SOUNDS
If with the aid of our thoughts and imagination we can suffuse our whole body with the vowel sounds, we can restore balance and life to all aspects of it. We can use the vowel sounds as an alternative to music in balancing and stimulating the chakras. Many people excuse themselves from the process of healing through sound, music, or voice by saying they can't play a musical instrument, they can't sing, they can't get to the library to borrow music in the appropriate key, they can't afford a five dollar pitch pipe, they don't know the song "Do, a deer..." or any number of reasons. If they have the capability of TELLING me why they can't employ music and sound techniques for healing, I've still got them. If they can speak, they can balance themselves.
Breath is important to the process of toning. Breath refers to that quick intake or gasp of energy that carries an image or thought to the subconscious. All aspects of toning are related to breath. Breath is life. When we become aware of our breathing patterns, we have greater control over them. As we work with toning and become more balanced, our breathing becomes more fluid, healthy, and harmonious.
HOW TO TONE
The purpose of toning is to restore the vibrational pattern of the body (physical and subtle) to its perfect electro-magnetic field so that our spiritual essence can manifest more fully in our physical environment. Voice belongs to the physical body, but it is the instrument of the spiritual self. Being more than body, we need to learn to use it as a tool for higher consciousness and greater health. Experiment with the toning process. Take the primary vowel sound from your name. Close your eyes and tone the sound slowly. Allow it to find its own volume and length of sound. Initially, don't try and hold it to a particular pitch. Repeat for five to ten minutes. Within this time, it will find its own natural pitch. After a week of this, you will naturally tone the most harmonious pitch. This is effective in helping to develop greater resonance within your own voice. Toning this sound ten to twelve times is balancing to the body and calming to the mind. Work with all of the vowel sounds. Start with the base chakra and tone each sound five to ten times, moving up through each chakra center. Use a pitch pipe and experiment with different pitches for the different vowel sounds. Pay attention to areas in which you have difficulty with the tone or at those points where the voice breaks, cracks or fluctuates.
The toning process can be used to heal yourself and to increase self-awareness. As with all healing, relaxation is critical, but the unique aspect of sacred sound is that relaxation occurs as a natural part of the process. You cannot use healing sounds without relieving stress.
Pay attention to yourself as you tone. Can you feel the sound in a particular part of the body? What is the effect? Is it comfortable? Agitating? energizing? Determine the feeling as best you can. Do not be discouraged if you can't label it. Toning is a learning process as much as it is a healing process.
As you notice the part of the body most strongly affected, think about the chakra associated with that part of the body. As you tone, visualize the chakra growing brighter, stronger and more balanced. What kind of energy does this stir? Is it calming? Firing? Does it draw you into harmony? Does it heal? As we begin to understand how the toning process affects you personally, you will have a better idea of how to apply it to others.
Experiment with the dynamics. Use different tones with different vowels. What happens when you soften the tones? What happens when you sing it louder? Play with the rhythms of it. Hold the tone for longer intervals and for shorter intervals. Pulse the tones. Mix the short and long tones.
Have fun with the process. As you play and experiment with it, you extend your normal range of voice, and you strengthen your resonance. You will find it easier to hold the tone. You will also find it is easier to speak in your natural pitch as opposed to your habitual vocal pitch.
THE POWER OF THE VOICE
Our voice is our most creative and musical instrument. It has great power to touch our lives and the lives of others. With our voice and the words we use, we can lighten another's load. We can help someone to feel as if they are walking in God's shadow. We can also use our voice to cut the legs out from others and make them feel as if their life was a living Hell.
The more we learn to link the use of breath, mind, and voice, the greater our own power in life. As we increase our awareness of their power, and as we learn to control their use, we open ourselves to worlds that once were merely the product of an overly active imagination.
The voice is an expression of our spirit and character. Our thoughts and the source of our thoughts influence the quality of our vocal soundthe timbre and the rhythm. If we begin to open ourselves to our own innate higher energies, our voice color will go through changes. It acquires greater resonance, power, and spirit. We pull more energy through our subtle bodies and our true spiritual essence, linking them with our physical vehicle. By accessing our personal banks of spiritual energy, we alter the energy of our voices. The words and sounds we use gain strength and resonance, and they ring with an inner sense of authority.
The human voice conveys who you are through a unique combination of rhythm, melody, timbre and dynamics. It not only reveals who you are, but it also reveals from what sphere or plane you draw your greatest energy. Our voice is the personal vehicle for spiritual and creative expression. We do have a voice image, which pertains to the sound we produce and our persona. The voice image is the sound or the voice that we either like or dislike, identify with or refuse to identify with. It has nothing to do with vocal abilities, and it is formed predominantly by the culture around the individual (peer group, family, mass media, etc.). How to use the voice from a greater, more metaphysical realm is the key to discovering our true identity and the key to transmuting our energy and lives. We need to realize the full potential of our natural voice - that which we often fail to use.
Each voice represents a unique personality that defines an individual's character. Every voice has two predominant pitch levels: natural pitch level and habitual pitch level. If the two pitches differ, then the voice is being misused. This misused pitch may be too high or too low. We must learn to develop and enhance our natural voice frequency. In Western society, people alter their natural pitch, creating an unnatural habitual voice. This is seen most often in business where a lowered, deepened voice conveys authority. Any pitch that is unnatural to the voice of the individual will strain the vocal mechanisms. We must learn to use our natural pitch and extend it, expand it to greater power and versatility. Unfortunately, today we adopt voices through imitation and without regard to our natural pitch frequency.
We must find the pitch and octave most comfortable for us. With the aid of a piano you can discover your natural pitch. In relation to middle C upon the piano, find the lowest and the highest note that you can sing without complete loss of quality. This is your singing range. In the average individual, it should be at least one and a half octaves, but whatever it is, we need to be aware of its range. The midpoint within that range corresponds most closely to your natural pitch. By working with it, through vocal exercises, the voice becomes more flexible and the range increases. As the range increases, you have a greater ability to resonate with a wider spectrum of people and energies.
Everyone is musical. Everyone holds the gift of music within them. It is intrinsic to the nature of us all, without exception. Music is healing, and we must make it a conscious and active part of our lives. Music and rhythm are life itself.
Ted Andrews is a pioneer in this field. If you enjoyed this excerpt, please buy his book.
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