ALTERNATIVE HEALINGS M10 THE MAGAZINE
India Abroad February 15, 2013
DAVID MCNEW/GETT Y IMAGES
ounds are healing. In primitive cultures and
human history, before herbs and medical concoctions were used, sounds were tapped to
Today when we reflect back at our shaman
side, we may smirk at the idea of healing
sounds as just some placebo arsenal in a witch
doctor’s medical kit. But interestingly, modern science is
showing that sounds do impact matter in a special way.
Alternative therapies have been saying that for ages, and
using that knowledge to heal.
A few centuries ago Ernst Chladni, a German physicist,
showed how sound vibrations, with specific beats, created
specific patterns on matter. He showed it by playing sounds
on plain plates on which sand was placed: specific sounds,
because of the vibrations of they created, drew up interesting patterns with the sand. These figures are classically
referred to Chladni figures. Alternative therapies use this
premise and design a healing culture around it, assuring us
that since we are also matter we too respond to sounds at
both conscious and subconscious levels.
This huge branch of classical yoga has several sub-branches — mantra yoga, which uses specific chants to
heal, tantra which uses beej/seed sounds directed at specific parts of the body to heal. Nada yoga in itself borrows
from classical music to heal, using specific ragas to heal
sickness. This is a specialized and detailed science which
interestingly is finding a powerful revival all over India.
Obviously these tunes or sounds may not be self-pre-
scribed. But an easier way to reach for these include access
to tapes that are created by several ashrams that use a com-
bination of ragas, natural sounds (for instance the sound of
flowing water is said to cool inflammatory conditions of the
body, such as ulcers) and beej mantras. They may be used
to give you a healing “sound massage”.
Tibetan singing bowls
These bowls, famous not just in Tibet, but also other
southeastern Asian countries and the northeast part of
India, have been used for higher meditative purposes for
long. The healing impact of their sounds is now finding a
new awareness, with tapes by several masters now available.
The sounds vary — metal bowls create deep vibratory
tracks that may resemble the sound of wind howling or
whales, while crystal bowls have elfine, sweeter overtones.
I believe the sounds can have very powerful impact on the
nervous system and must not be used casually and only
after listening to see if they make you feel uplifted or
depressed. The sounds also somewhat replicate the natural
sounds made within the body — the movement of the gut,
the beat of the heart, the soft hiss of the breath or a nasal
while. Serious meditators may use these sound to relate to
the idea of the void. But this feeling may emphasize depression, in those who are not ready for such an experience, or
enhance the feeling of loneliness. So, the Tibetan singing
bowls would work only with those who have some experience of meditation or under prescription from an expert.
The northeast direction, relating to the element of space,
in vastu, is also related to sound. It connects to the princi-
ples of emotional intelligence, intuition. Following vastu
principles, to encourage the element of space in your
homes, could resolve the impact of healing by reining in
this element. On a larger plane, not surprisingly, the direc-
tion of northeast is connected to prosperity and overall
health. According to Vastu, the northeast part of your home
should be devoted to spiritual, religious and other sacred
Feng Shui’s use of sounds to heal has whipped up a large
market for the products. But it is wise and prudent to
source a product only after indepth knowledge of it.
For instance, though this science uses fountains to heal
(the sound of water is said to be very healing, and not just
in Feng Shui but in several alternative therapies). But using
a fountain in the southern part of your home can curb prosperity, because the latter is a fire element! The ideal spot for
fountains, then, would be the east which is related to health
Feng Shui also uses wind chimes (usually of natural
materials or made of any or all the five elements), bells,
singing bowls in similar fashion to clear negative energies.
This is used as a part of daily or constant clearing process.
Their placement is usually decided by an expert who senses which direction may be ushering in negative flow of
Shameem Akthar is a yogacharya trained with the Sivananda
Yoga Vedanta Center Catch Shameem’s yoga tips on
Disclaimer: This column shares the columnist’s passion for
alternative therapies, which are ideally learned under the guidance of an expert