Sunday, December 30, 2007

Sharing Sound Worldwide on the Web | Blog Your Blessings!

Sound is impossible to capture with words. If I can come up with a similar sound that you have heard before, you can perhaps recall that and have an idea what I'm talking about. But basically nothing substitutes for hearing the actual sound.

Luckily we have sound on the Web, so I can post a video, like the group of videos on djembe drumming and the group on Tibetan bowls in the right-hand column of this blog, and you can hear the sounds on your computer. Or I can refer you to clips from recordings on Amazon, for example.

I could even make a recording of drumming or throat-singing and post it on this blog (or elsewhere) for you to hear. That's a tremendous blessing! And I will be doing that in the future (gotta find that microphone...).

For now, here's a link to a page on Amazon.com that has clips from the recordings of the wonderful Tuvan group, Huun Huur Tu. They incorporate Tuvan traditional instruments, rhythms, and throat-singing in their music for a sound like no other.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Is Didgeridu a Harmonic Sound Amplifier?

Listening to the wonderful Harmonic Overtones CDs that I reviewed last month, I heard something different. And now I have a theory.

If you listen to live or recorded throat-singing of the very deep kind that the Tibetan monks and some Mongolians do, you may notice that didgeridu playing sounds much like it.

Years ago I attended a workshop on making didgeridus and playing them. We each brought a length of PVC pipe about 3 inches in diameter and 4 or 5 feet long. At the workshop we sanded the ends till they were very smooth. Then we decorated the outside of the pipe with acrylic paint.

The result was an inexpensive, lightweight and virtually indestructible didgeridu that made a pretty good sound---if you knew how! The workshop leader could play but was not very articulate about how to do it. (He was a volunteer, teaching for fun.)

I'm not sure anyone had taught him. I think maybe he had taught himself intuitively by listening to recordings or other didgeridu players. I have since listened to both recordings and live didgeridu players and still could not figure out what they were doing.

I now suspect that real didgeridu players are actually doing a form of throat-singing (or multinote toning) into the didge, which then amplifies the growling sound and the overtones and undertones.

Most people do not talk about the undertones. Those are not as impressive as overtones and do not carry as far, I think. But they are important in the style of throat-singing that Tibetan monks do, and they may be the most important part of the didgeridu sound for healing.

If you experiment with this sound-healing method, please leave a comment, telling what you did. I would love to know how it worked out for you.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Sound Draws Us Together | Blog Your Blessings

I'm blessed to live in a large, multicultural city. So many cultures, religions and traditions are represented here. You could be out every night at this time of year, celebrating at some winter festival or other, listening to wonderful music and healing sounds from every inhabited continent.

One of the great things about a modern multicultural city is that people get to meet each other. We don't just stay home in our own parts of town. Through the great blessings of www.Meetup.com and www.craigslist.com. it's very easy to promote events that draw people from all kinds of backgrounds. It is also easy to find people who share your interests---or to learn about theirs.

Last year a Mormon church needed African drummers for their very professional and lovely Christmas program, "Christmas Around the World." They found my drum teacher, Abubakr Kouyate, through a Google search. (His name dominated the first page of results for our city, partly because of our group notices on Meetup.com and craigslist.com.)

The students who went with our African-born teacher to perform included an artist from Singapore, an exchange student from Indonesia, a naturalized Texan of Indian descent from Mauritius, as well as African Americans and EuroAmericans. We were Muslims, Buddhists, and Hindus as well as Christians. We had a fine time!

This year our teacher performed in the Houston Christmas Revels (a professional production) where he was able to share the healing power of drumming while representing the African people who settled in Appalachia.

There are many ways to share the power of healing sounds. I'm grateful for all the opportunities offered by a big, multicultural city such as Houston. How about you?

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Comments on Healing with Sound | Blog Your Blessings

When I started this blog on using sound for healing, I felt like a voice in the wilderness. For months it seemed like no one on line was interested.

Then through my favorite blogging community, BlogCatalog.com, I met Cyber Celt and other kindred spirits, and that led me to the Blog Your Blessings movement.

I want you all to know that I treasure every comment (and every reader, whether you comment or not). It is such a blessing to know that there are others out there in cyber space who share an interest in using sound for healing, a topic that combines modern medical research and ancient knowledge. Thank you all!

Happy Holidays!

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Healing With Sound in a Group | Blog Your Blessings

Last night I worked with a group of people on healing with sound. We drummed together, journeyed to the recorded sound of the didgeridu and click sticks, and then played Tibetan bowls and bells together.

For several people, almost all of that was a completely new experience. Others were old hands. All had a wonderful time.

We were a diverse group of AfroAmerican, EuroAmerican, Native American, Asian, and Middle Eastern heritage. We ranged in age from twenties to sixties. We came from a variety of professions and religious backgrounds.

All were people of good will, seeking to learn and grow as human beings and to learn ways to help others. At the end, we gave thanks for what we had learned and experienced, and for each other.

Experimenting with sound for healing is a wonderful blessing for all who participate. It is especially enlightening for experienced healers who are looking for new ways to serve others and the Earth. Try it!

And then, please come back and leave a comment, telling us about your experience.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Teachers of Healing | Blog Your Blessings

Like music, healing generally must be learned by experience and practice. With music, the student must hear a piece played well to understand how it was meant to sound. With healing one must generally be in the presence of the teacher to, well, feel the vibes in order to know how healing feels.

I'm grateful for my primary healing teacher, the Rev. Eleanor Button, and for her tolerance of the exuberant experimentation of her students. She insisted that we study with as many teachers of healing and related subjects (like sacred sound) as we could. In her classes, she encouraged us to share and practice what we learned.

Tibetans have a special reverence for teachers. They say you cannot reach enlightenment without one. I feel especially blessed to have met and taken teachings from some truly wonderful Tibetan lamas.

And so today, as I count my blessings, I realize how lucky I am to have been in the right place at the right time to study with such teachers. May each of you have similar or even greater blessings!

Tibetan Sound Healing

Tibetan Sound Healing is a book-and-CD set by Tenzin Wangyal, Rimpoche, a prolific author on Tibetan practices. He is the founder of the Ligmincha Intitute of Tibetan Bon studies.

Tibetan Sound Healing, a book and CD (set) by Tenzin Wangyal, Rimpoche on how to use the five sacred syllables for healing.

Many cultures teach that certain sounds, words, or syllables have power, and that intoning them properly can heal. Tibetans learned much from teachers from India and from Mongolia and then experimented over centuries to develop their own healing practices with sound.

To Tibetans the practices that we consider esoteric, magical, or religious are simply technologies of the mind. Tibetan Buddhism and Bon beliefs are very pragmatic. They are teach us to control our own thoughts, feelings, bodies and minds.

To Tibetans, being healthy is important to allow us the freedom to develop the mind to higher levels of understanding, or enlightenment. Also, they believe that everyone should help others to be free from suffering. So healing is important to them.

Many (if not most) Tibetan practices, such as meditation, can be done by anyone who receives the proper teaching, whether or not you accept the ethnic elements of their beliefs. In other words, you don't have to be a Tibetan or believe in Buddhism or Bon for Tibetan sound healing to work for you.

The kind of Tibetan sound healing taught in this book is done by intoning certain sacred syllables. (It is not about music or musical instruments.) The author explains everything very clearly. Then he teaches how to pronounce each of the five syllables and provides a CD that shows you exactly how they should sound.

The book does not mention the harmonic toning or chanting done by Tibetan Buddhist monks. But if you listen carefully to the CD, you can hear a slight edge of harmonics when each one of the sacred syllables is properly intoned.

I was lucky enough to take teachings from Tenzin Wangyal in 1990, even before he moved to Houston to teach at Rice University, and then several more times while he lived here. He has since moved back to Virginia but comes to Houston at least once a year to teach.

I go to hear him speak whenever I can. Besides being an expert teacher, he is an amazing person, very pleasant, low key, and unassuming. He introduces himself simply as "Tenzin." He is not a monk and does not wear robes.

Rimpoche is a title, meaning Precious Jewel, that Tibetans use for a lama who is recognized by other lamas as being the reincarnation of one or more earlier lamas. Those who carry the title of Rimpoche are the real deal. It is not about what they have studied. They actually have the metaphysical abilities for which Tibetan lamas are justly famed. And they speak with authority on Tibetan beliefs and practices.

Tenzin Wangcyal was personally taught by the greatest living masters of Bon. He is famous as a teacher, a scholar, an author, and a reincarnated Tibetan lama of the Bon religion. He is a true practitioner of what he teaches.

With a list price of only $19.95, the "Tibetan Sound Healing" book-and-CD-set is an amazing value. You can buy it from Ligmincha Institute, from Snow Lion Publications or on Amazon.com (for about $13.50). I recommend it.