Sunday, February 17, 2008

Healing the Land with Sound | BYB

Sound not only heals people, animals, and plants. It also heals the land itself. In recent years people have begun experimenting with chanting, for example, to clear polluted lakes. And it works.

I discovered interacting with the land through sound for myself, almost accidently some years ago.

We went camping in Big Bend National Park, a vast desert area that stretches north from where the Rio Grande flows through the mountains of Northern Mexico and Southwest Texas. The park is huge, many miles across, and mostly desert.

We were there in early February, because the heavy rains are in March and September, and anyway, between March and October it is just too hot to enjoy. Presidio, which is right outside the park (and farther north than much of it) is often the hottest spot in the United States.

Because we were there during the week, there were even fewer people around than usual in the winter. It was lovely! You could hike for hours and not see another human being (and that was on the "easy walk" hikes).

On the first day we managed to get a camping space in the Chisos Basin, which is the high crater of an extinct volcano. High above the desert floor, the Basin is an oasis of grass, oak trees, a creek, and lots of friendly wildlife. It is also much cooler than the desert floor below. That's important, even in the winter.

After setting up camp, we went hiking. One of the "easy walks" at Big Bend is along Oak Creek to a hole or window in the crater walls where the creek falls for a hundred feet or more to the desert floor below. The view out that window is spectacular. You can see for miles.

But after that easy walk, we were tired and hungry. We sat down on a bench to eat an early supper before the long walk back to camp. It was very, very quiet in that little canyon with no one else around.

After we ate, we started drumming. I had packed a couple of small drums and rattles in our day packs along with the food. It was pleasant, but something didn't sound right.

We stopped and looked at each other for moment. "What's wrong with this picture?" "No echo!"

That's right, we were in a small canyon (maybe 40 feet across) with high rock walls, yet there was no echo at all when we drummed. It was as though the walls were hungrily absorbing the sound.

We drummed as long as we could with the early winter sunset coming. By the time we left, it was getting late, and we had not brought a flashlight. Uh-oh. Total darkness on a rugged, rocky path with cactus along the edges and mountain lions in the area.

So we had to move fast. Yet I wanted to keep feeding the hungry land. I couldn't really drum and walk fast, so I started rattling. Immediately it was as though someone put his hand on my lower back to help me along. And it did help.

Whenever we met some (unwise?) people going the other way, I felt foolish and stopped rattling. Immediately the helping hand was gone. Each time I started rattling it returned.

We continued the practice of drumming or rattling on all our hikes in the park. We had some other interesting experiences, too. After conferring with others who had had experiences in other desert environments, here's what we concluded.

We know that even before the Indian peoples of historic times came to the area, it was home to paleo-Indians for thousands of years. We believe that they gave back to the land for its generous support by drumming, singing, and dancing. And the land was nourished by that.

But they have been gone from that area for at least 100 years. The white ranchers did not feed the land. And the modern tourists tend to either go there to throw off the stresses of modern, perhaps urban, life or to soak up the peace, quiet and healing vibes.

But no one comes to feed the land with healing sounds anymore. If it had not been for that quiet canyon, we might not have noticed either. Try it, and see what you discover.

In later years my friend Bill Freeto used to go to a forested park on the outskirts of Chicago. He would walk deep into the woods to a certain spot to meditate. After a few years, a buck started coming to escort him to his spot. Later sometimes two or three bucks would escort him.

Eventually several does started hanging around. They felt safe, I guess, because while he did not get to go often, he had been meditating there for years. When he began to practice throat-singing, the does would come closer, seemingly drawn by the sounds.

Make of this what you will, but I believe that all of us who use sound for healing should also be using sound to heal the land. Try it and see. I believe that being able to give back something to a place that nurtures and supports you is a true blessing for everyone.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Sound-Healing Cyber-Sangha | Blog Your Blessings

One of the best things about blogging turns out to be the people you meet because of it. I am astonished by and grateful for all the people who comment here or contact me by email about sound healing.

I live in a big city, and while I have met many healers, I rarely meet others who deliberately use sound for healing. So it really helps to have a community on line to talk with. It reminds me of the Buddhist concept of sangha---a group of like-minded practitioners who help and encourage each other along the path.

Through Meetup.com I was contacted by someone who was organizing a drumming for peace event in Virginia. That led me to a group that had organized a similar national event. I introduced them, and now I'm part of a group that discusses drumming and dreaming of world peace. Some of them have studied with my favorite author on the use of dreams for healing.

Through BlogCatalog (an active online support group for bloggers) I found the Blog Your Blessings movement. Talk about supportive! Blog Your Blessings keeps me posting week after week instead of letting things slide.

Best of all are the thoughtful and thought-provoking comments, public and private. They are both encouraging and inspiring. I feel truly blessed to have found a sort of cyber-sangha, people who work together on the web and off line, using sound for healing.

Best wishes for the week ahead.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Is Your Cat's Purr Healing Her--and You? | BYB

A cat's purr is not just a sign of contentment, as biologists had previously assumed. Veterinarians and others have long known that cats also purr when giving birth, when gravely ill, or when recovering from injuries.

An interesting website called AnimalVoice.com cites a paper that was presented at the 2001, 142nd annual Acoustical Society of America, American Institute of Physics, International Conference. The title is "The Felid Purr: A healing mechanism?"

The article explains that all small cats, such as domestic cats and ocelots, and many of the large cats, such as lions, purr. And they purr at or near a particular frequency of vibration of 100 Hz, which has been shown to heal broken bones and other injuries in humans. Physicians, therapists, and trainers often use a metal plate, vibrating at 100 Hz, to help heal injuries and build new tissue.

The speculation is that cats use the vibration that causes the purring sound to heal themselves. Researchers cited the fact that cats heal easily from surgery, illnesses and traumas from which dogs would not recover.

Then the paper discusses many illnesses, such as some types of cancers that dogs have, that either do not occur or only very rarely occur in cats. It also gives statistics on many types of surgeries and traumas from which cats recover much faster than dogs.

It is very impressive, and the implication thoughout the paper is that the cat on your lap or pressed against your side, purring, just may be also healing you.

If the researchers are right, it is actually the vibration rather than the sound itself that heals. But as I mentioned in my last post, sound is a spectrum, not all of which is audible to humans.

The effect of the purr probably comes from the same part of the sound spectrum as the sub-bass vibrations I mentioned then. But the frequency is different, the rhythm is different, and so the effect is different.

I suggest going to this link and reading the article for yourself. Then you decide.

Meanwhile, for those of us who love cats, as if being loved by a cat were not blessing enough, now there's this one! Cats healing with sound. Imagine that!