I keep coming back to that story about the monks…
There’s a well-known story in the sound and voice healing world that I first heard years ago from one of my sound healing teachers, Pat Moffitt Cook of the Open Ear Institute. I’ve since read and heard about it in a variety of places. There’s good reason that this story is told so often – it’s a powerful one that can impact all of us. I know that the teaching in the story is very true for me, so I thought I would share it with all of you.
Dr. Alfred A. Tomatis was a French physician (otolaryngologist), psychologist and educator who did significant research into how we listen to, process and vocalize sound, and how that relates to speech, physical and emotional health and human functioning. He developed the “Tomatis Method,” which brings together ideas relating to the voice, audiology, speech and language, psychology, medicine and music to address such problems as autism, dyslexia, motor skills and more.
Early In his career, Dr. Tomatis treated opera singers who were beginning to lose their voices. He determined that their ears had been damaged due to constantly hearing their own very loud voices over the years. Out of this evolved one of his basic and very important ideas – that the voice can only reproduce what the ear can hear. The singers became unable to reproduce certain frequencies in their singing range because their ears could no longer hear or process them. Dr. Tomatis developed what he called the “electronic ear,” which filters selected frequencies so that listeners can train their ears to hear those that have been missing from their brain’s processing. This led to his development of the Tomatis Method.
There is so much that Dr. Tomatis researched and accomplished, more than I can possibly cover here. However, the key idea from Dr. Tomatis that I want to highlight now is that sound “charges” the brain. High-frequency sound, in particular, has a beneficial effect on brain function. Vocalizing sound is an especially powerful tool that is accessible by all of us. The story of the monks that I mentioned at the beginning of this article demonstrates this.
Dr. Tomatis was called in during the late 1960’s to help determine what the problem was for some Benedictine monks who had become depressed, unmotivated and lethargic. Other doctors who had been consulted were unable to find a solution. Dr. Tomatis found out that the monks’ daily Gregorian chant practice had been eliminated, with some negative results. During the times they were chanting daily, the monks had been able to function well and work hard with only a few hours sleep per night. Now they were listless, easily irritated, and more susceptible to illness. When Dr. Tomatis convinced the abbott to reinstate chanting, the monks became more energetic and were able to return to their normal activities, their prayer and their work schedules.
I think about this because I find that the same is true in my own life. I’ve long maintained a daily chant practice. But as my schedule, obligations and responsibilities vary, I find myself going off my practice at certain times. If I’m traveling or am sick for a few days, for example, I might miss a few days to a week. I can definitely see and feel the difference! Before I know it, I feel less centered, less able to focus on important activities, and my mood can be lower or more anxious. I’ve had times where I’ve felt better after just one toning and chant session following a break. When I maintain my practice, I feel more energetic, yet more grounded, and I feel physically healthier as well.
Perhaps you’re thinking “Chant practice? That’s weird. Who really has a chant practice?” Or… “I don’t have time for this.” Or maybe you’re thinking that you’re not a singer. I can tell you that the voice is a powerful tool for all of us, and it doesn’t matter if you have a “good voice” or not. Because we are all made of vibration (everything in the universe is…), the vibration that comes from our voices can balance all parts of us and can bring our ailing places back into balance. Even vocal practices as simple as humming or chanting “OM’ can be powerful if done daily for a few minutes.
I can teach you, individually or in one of my introductory classes, to begin using your voice to balance your energy, raise your mood, help you feel centered and encourage good health. It can also be an integral part of your spiritual practice, if you are oriented that way. A spiritual practice isn’t necessary, though.
Feel free to contact me HERE to find out more about my energy and sound classes and healing sessions. I’ll tell you all about the benefits of using your voice. I would love to work with you!