So many people ask me how I got into sound as a healing modality. The more I look back over the years to my attraction to sound, music and frequency I see how it was with me from the beginning. Some years ago I started writing a book on sound healing which I put on the shelf for a long time when I opened my sound healing center in FL. Recently I have decided to revisit it and a few days ago I opened to this section. Here’s a little bit about how I got here…
Excerpt from SOUND POSSIBILITIES: Restoring Balance and Harmony Through Sound and Music by Rosemary Warburton (in process- unfinished and unpublished. Please do not copy.)
Chapter on Sacred Sound: A Journey to the Heart (Part One)
“Everything has a vibratory essence and carries its unique tone.
Even the movement of blood in your veins emits its own sound.
You are music.
Ask yourselves, 'What does love sound like?'
And then make that sound.
The desire to be in harmony is, in itself, a statement of love.”
~Emmanuel's Book II: The Choice for Love~ (Compiled by Pat Rodegast and Judith Stanton, 1989)
My first memory: I am an infant lying in my crib on my stomach rubbing my hand on the sheet. There are two experiences happening simultaneously- one, the tingling in my hand that spreads through my tiny body; the other, the transfer of sound that I can both hear and feel, a gentle whooshing like a quiet waterfall that both soothes and fascinates my infant mind. From then on, this simple act of rubbing my hand back and forth on the sheet, the combination of sound and sensation, became my lullaby whenever I was put down in my crib for a nap or at bedtime. It is the memory of a conscious discovery that there was something I could do for myself that would relax me and send me drifting into a beautiful dreamy state, that place that babies go to when they look like they are half-drunk with fatigue and bliss and a belly full of milk. This was the sound, the feeling and the action that lulled me to sleep as a very tiny child and, in my conscious awareness, not only my first memory but also my first experience of sound medicine.
Only recently did I realize that this gentle whooshing was also the sound inside my mother's womb. When there was no arguing or fighting going on, this was the sound that I heard- the ancient rhythm of blood and water, a gentle whooshing; and I was safe there, soothed by the rhythms and the tones of the quiet waterfall within my mother's womb.
Newborn babies can sleep through almost anything. When they are tired they simply fall asleep. They sleep through parties, loud noises, sirens screaming outside. They haven't yet developed the quality of “resistance” that comes with the development of the ego. As we get older if we hear a loud sound or a disturbing noise, we tend to tense up rather than allowing it to move through us; resisting instead of practicing the art of breathing and letting go.
As a child I was extremely sensitive to sound. I don't know when this began but as far back as I can remember I could not tolerate loud noises. My parents separated when I was four and, although I don't remember it, I think that prior to that there was a lot of loud shouting, arguing and fighting. I suspect that contributed to my discomfort with loud sounds. My father was very scary and prone to angry outbursts and tirades that came without warning.
Fireworks and thunderstorms were equally terrifying to me. It was as though I could physically feel the sounds and vibrations in my body, especially in my chest, to such an extent that they were actually painful. By the same token I loved music and the outdoor sounds of birdsongs, crickets, cicadas and junebugs. Before my parents divorced we attended church on Sundays. My mother discontinued not long after their separation but up until then I loved going to church because I so loved the singing of the hymns and the sound of voices blending together as one. To this day the sound of a choir will bring tears to my eyes for the sheer poignant beauty of the sound.
Music class was my favorite time in school and at home if I wasn't singing or listening to music on the radio there was always a song in my mind. When I was 7 years old I was given my first transistor radio- this was straight out music therapy for me! I loved music and wanted to listen to it day in and day out and this way I could. I was 5th in the line of 6 children- in classic codependent family dynamics I was the "lost child", the "quiet one." I was introverted, shy, fearful and hypersensitive. What could be better than to lose myself in music? If I was unhappy or got scolded I would retire to my room and listen to my radio. At night I hid it under my pillow and played it softly so that no could hear it but me. For many years music rocked me to sleep at night.
My father was the first person to introduce me to the idea that sound was powerful enough to change the world around us. He was an avid student of metaphysics, spirituality and the occult. I remember a dinner conversation one evening- I was probably eleven or twelve- during which he began to talk about the power of sound and how it has been used throughout the ages to enlighten, to heal and sometimes negatively to control large groups of people or societies. Two things he said that evening made an indelible impression on my mind. One was that there is a theory that when the pyramids were built Egyptian priests may have actually levitated the huge stones with sound frequencies. It is believed by some that they were able to direct vibrational frequencies with some kind of tuning forks embedded with crystals to the extent that they could control and manipulate physical objects. I remember him talking about how the stones were placed so close together and so perfectly that it was impossible to slip even a piece of paper between them.
For some reason this made more sense to me, “resonated with me”, far more than any other explanation I had ever heard. It was news to me- big news!- and I was very intrigued by the possibility. Even with no understanding of energy it seemed much more plausible to me that one could use vibrational frequencies to move matter far more efficiently than with brute strength. I loved the whole idea! Not long after that that we were studying ancient civilizations in my 6th grade World History class and we got to the chapter on Egypt. I will always remember the drawing of hundreds of laborers with huge carts, levers and pulleys and thinking, “That's not how they did it!” although I wasn't about to say anything- I never forgot it though. Twenty-some years later I picked up my first book on sacred sound by Ted Andrews and found this same theory presented in the opening pages. Clearly I had come full circle and it was exactly the confirmation I needed to continue on down the road. (Scroll down to the bottom of this page to see a really cool video on Acoustic Levitation!)
The other thing that my father talked about was how, whenever Jesus performed a healing, he always used his voice, uttering words spoken with authority and conviction. The premise was that the power of the spoken word was a vehicle for the healing. In the words of Charles Fillmore, “He used words as the vehicle of the healing potency. He always spoke to the patient 'as one having authority.' He had a certain assurance, an inner conviction, that He was speaking the truth when He said, 'Thou art made whole'; and the result of His understanding carried conviction to the mind of the patient and opened the way for the "virtue" that went forth from the speaker.” ~Teach Us to Pray, by Charles Fillmore, ~
The way I understand this today is that the voice carries or transmits the frequency and the intention which aligns the energy and allows healing to take place. Sound is a carrier wave for intention.
Even at a young age this “rang true” for me because I was already so aware of the effect that sound had on me personally due to my incredible sensitivity to it. There were certain sounds that I was in love with, that could make me stop dead in my tracks, and other sounds I simply couldn't bear. In fact my family was constantly trying to “cure” me of my sensitivity to loud noises, as if it were some kind of a disease, by doing things like trying to force me to watch the 4th of July fireworks without blocking my ears, or holding my arms by my sides when they shot the cannon on my father's boat. Needless to say, their efforts were both unwelcome and unsuccessful and probably were more traumatizing than anything else.
The conversations with my father however ultimately shaped my future, although many years passed before I became aware of the true impact they had on my life. I consider myself very fortunate to have had the exposure to metaphysics and spirituality at such an early age. I was attracted to yoga and meditation from when I was quite young and when I was around 13 my father met a lovely woman from Switzerland he would eventually marry and who happened to be a yoga teacher. Both of my parents were quite ahead of their time in their understanding of natural health and I had actually started going to yoga classes with my mother when I was about ten years old. Now I started attending my stepmother's yoga classes and was exposed to Sanskrit chanting. Her first yoga teacher was Dr. Ramamurti Mishra, the great Sanskrit scholar and nada yogi (nada yoga is the science of sacred sound), also known as Shri Brahmanada Sarasvati.
I was on my path, trying out different meditations and chanting always seemed to work for me. I would sit alone in the woods, on the rocks by the ocean or on the beach and chant for hours on end. At the very least it cleared my mind and relieved me of some of my teenage angst! But more than that, I always felt happy when I chanted. Sometimes it seemed as though it altered the world around me as much as my inner world. I would be transported from a simple and beautiful path in the woods to a world of deeper magic. My senses were heightened and every leaf and blade of grass, every rock and patch of moss would come alive with dewdrops and prisms of light.
When I was 14, summer of 1969, just before I was headed off to my first year of boarding school, I got caught smoking pot. This was a pretty huge deal for me since instead of going to the progressive arts boarding school to which I had been accepted and was very excited about, plans were changed and I was sent to The National Cathedral School for Girls, a very strict and “proper” girls boarding school in Washington, DC. This was very much the decision of my father and an attempt to straighten me out before I became a washed up drug fiend! It was awful. I was miserable and I would have to say it had pretty much the opposite of the desired effect. I felt as though I had been thoroughly abandoned and forsaken. I rebelled against every rule and regulation. I was only there for one year- thank God. They actually told me on the last day of school not to come back under any circumstances- which I considered a victory!
It was, however, an important year for me. I truly discovered the importance of music as a healing balm for my soul that year. My older brother Tim gave me a KLH stereo as a gift when I left for school and it was my saving grace. Every day when I came back to my room after classes I would lie on my floor with my head between the speakers and “disappear”. I had also started playing the guitar and my music and my songs were my other consolation. If it weren't for my music I don't know how I would have made it through that year- and many years to come for that matter.
I had two other experiences when I was in Washington that winter which had a profound impact on me. They both took place at the National Cathedral. In honor of what would have been Mahatma Gandhi's 100th birthday, Ravi Shankar was to play at the cathedral and we students in our blue plaid uniforms were required to go! I was familiar with his music and resonated deeply with the sound of Indian music. Very few of my classmates had ever heard of him but I was well aware that it was an incredible piece of good fortune to be able to hear this man play. I was sitting in the balcony of the cathedral and I can still see him walking down the aisle below between the rows of pews with his small entourage. A woman dressed in a colorful sari accompanied him on the tamboura. From the moment he walked in I was totally captivated and when he began playing I was mesmerized and deeply moved by the beauty of it. The exquisite subtleties of the music and the majesty of the cathedral combined to enter me deeply, magically, beautifully.
The other event was when John Denver played at the cathedral and led “The Lord of the Dance”. He began by singing the song but then had all of us come together, holding hands and basically do a snake dance through the cathedral weaving in and out among columns and arches. I don't know how many people were there but I would imagine there would have easily been 200-300 or more. It was one of the most joyful experiences of my life and probably the first time I witnessed the power of music as a way of connecting people in a very real and profound way.
When I was nineteen years old I was taught a series of powerful kriya yoga meditation techniques. One was a technique which enabled me to focus on the inner current of sound. There are many names for this inner sound current; “anahata nada”- the unstruck sound, celestial harmony, “naad” and “shabda” are but a few. “Anahata nada” is sound that is not caused by an external force. It is a totally internal experience. From this practice I learned to go deeply within myself and become very still so that I could hear the inner sound and truly be carried on the current. It is like riding a wave of bliss. This was to become extremely important for me not only for the immediate gifts that the meditation brought but also for the use of this technique in later years as part of my understanding of the workings of sound on the subtle energy system. (Part Two coming soon!))