Using Sound to Heal: How Modern Medicine is Rediscovering an Ancient Tibetan Tradition

HJ: Long before modern healing music became popular, ancient cultures in Tibet and throughout the world were refining and developing the science of using sound for healing and the expansion of consciousness.  The Tibetans developed meticulously tuned metal bowls that emitted highly specific frequencies that were known to raise consciousness and activate various energy centers in the body.  Nowadays, we have taken that foundational knowledge and transformed/evolved it to take advantage of modern technologies and theories.  This has led to a resurgence of the art form, which is rapidly gaining popularity due to the fact that it absolutely works and in a very profound and tangible way.

Renowned psychic and spiritualist Edgar Cayce is quoted as saying “Sound will become the medicine of the future.” and I couldn’t agree more, however, sound is clearly the medicine of the past as well — we are only now rediscovering and scientifically validating what many ancient cultures knew from direct experience.

– Truth

Tibetan & Himalayan Bowls: Using sound healing to heal cancer

By Diáne Mandle | Sound Energy Healing

“If we accept that sound is vibration and we know that vibration touches every part of our physical being, then we understand that sound is heard not only through our ears but through every cell in our bodies. One reason sound heals on a physical level is because it so deeply touches and transforms us on the emotional and spiritual planes. Sound can redress imbalances on every level of physiologic functioning and can play a positive role in the treatment of virtually any medical disorder.” Dr. Mitchell Gaynor, director of Medical Oncology and Integrative Medicine at the Cornell Cancer Prevention Center in NYC

Sound healing is fast becoming internationally respected as an effective modality for treating many physical, emotional and spiritual conditions. Modern medicine can now measure and thus confirm the use of sound as a means to heal. Sound healing has been effective in relieving pain and in the treatment of stress-related afflictions such as chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, insomnia, pain and depression. Mainstream medical teaching facilities such as Duke University and the University of North Carolina have added programs that link body, mind, and spirit to the treatment of cancer. Cancer prevention centres are utilizing sound as a vital part of the healing process for patients with astounding results. Dr. Mitchell Gaynor has been using sound, including Tibetan / Himalayan Singing Bowls, crystal bowls and chanting in work with cancer patients for many years. The medical director of the Deepak Chopra Center in California, Dr. David Simon, found that both chanting and the sound from Tibetan / Himalayan Bowls are chemically metabolized into ‘endogenous opiates,’ that act on the body as internal painkillers and healing agents.

Tibetan / Himalayan Bowls

“In the words of the great Tibetan master/Bodhisattva Gwalwa Karmapa, the Singing Bowls of Tibet emit the ‘Sound of the Void,’ the sound of the universe manifesting. They are a symbol of the ‘unknowable’ and as an alloy, date back to the Buddha, Shakyamuni (560-480 B.C.). Their origins and detailed histories are shrouded in the distant past and are surely a gift from the shamanistic ‘Bon’ religion which precedes Buddhism in Tibet by centuries. For centuries they have been utilized for healing and consciousness transformation.” Richard Rudis, Sound Pioneer and owner of Sacred Sound Workshops

All matter is energy vibrating at different rates. Therefore, by altering the rate of vibration the structure of matter can be changed. Tibetan / Himalayan Bowls vibrate at what is traditionally recognized as the frequency of perfection, otherwise known as the Sanskrit mantra “AUM.” They entrain our brainwaves to create sympathetic resonance with the perfect vibration of “AUM” to invoke a healing process.

The fundamental status of the universe is a state of absolute harmony. Because we are a part of the natural universe our natural state is also one of harmony. Disconnection from our core essence through stress, distraction, illness and the challenges of daily life creates dis-ease: spiritual, physical, and mental. The sound created from properly played Himalayan bowls gently nudges our consciousness back to our natural state of blissful tranquility and health.

Differences between curing and healing


Curing is an end product or finite result. Webster’s Dictionary defines it as “the complete biological resolution of a diseased state” or “the elimination of disease, distress, evil.”

Healing is a process, therefore infinite in nature. Some definitions include: “the making or becoming whole, the mending of a breach,” “to free from grief, troubles, evil,” “restoring to health or soundness;” and my personal favourite by Jeanne Acheerberg, “an intuitive perception of the universe and all its inhabitants as being of one fabric.”

Healing is a movement from disharmony to harmony, from duality to non-duality or Divine Awareness; a process where we are released from an ego-centred finite perspective of ourselves in the world and move into our essence where our vibratory energy is connected with the universe. It’s a regenerative process married to a spiritual awakening that can have profound healing consequences on illness, disease, and all aspects of our lives. As we awaken, our perspective shifts; as our perspective shifts, our vibration shifts; as our vibration shifts, our cellular make-up shifts. These changes cannot occur as separate entities. Each change affects the whole of who we are and extends infinitely. It is possible that healing can lead to being cured. However, simply being cured on a physical level, without sufficient healing of core issues will often result in the manifestation of illness again.

A vital step in the healing process is that of establishing resonance with the condition in question. Most people resist their condition. You cannot release that which you do not own.

Establishing resonance

Sound is a vehicle that helps us get to healing.

But how? We now know that different sound pulses stimulate different brainwave centres. We also know that we can create brainwave entrainment through a process of sympathetic resonance and that we normally “entrain” or fall into vibrational step with the strongest vibrations in our immediate environment.  Further, nerve bundles in our spine transmit vibrational sensory data to the brain stem and limbic system (our emotional processing center). When placed on the body the sound vibrations are transmitted directly into our blood, organs, tissues and cellular memory, transmitted via the water that compose each system.

The bowls are part of a trinity of Tibetan spiritual sound objects used for healing: the Singing Bowls, the Ganta, and the Tingsha’s. The Bowls emit a quieting, centreing energy; the Ganta (bell) a motivating and unifying influence; and the Tingsha’s stimulate energy fields. The ancient bowls actually come from various Himalayan regions including Tibet, Nepal, and Bhutan. They are made from a consecrated seven-metal alloy. Prayers and mantras were chanted into them during their creation, embedding sacred energy.

The harmonic overtones in these instruments entrain our energetic system to resonate with them in their perfection. In the universe dissonant chords tend towards becoming harmonic. It’s the nature of energy to harmonize. Hence, under the influence of the AUM resonance a transformation of dissonant chords (dis-ease) towards harmony occurs. The harmonic resonance of the Bowls literally pulls us back into a more universal energetic flow. They effectively transmit their soothing and peaceful vibrations through our water body affecting our entire nervous and immune system. The vibrational signature of the Himalayan Bowls initializes our parasympathetic nervous system naturally supporting the increase of disease-fighting immune cells while reducing the stress response and also creating cardio-respiratory synchrony (the synchronized flow of our brain, respiratory and heart rate waves). Our capacity to heal from illness is predicated on our body’s ability to achieve cardio-respiratory synchrony. This concordance is exactly what is achieved by interacting with the Bowls. When they are placed directly on the body, as in a private session, the healing potential is greatly increased.

Our individual attitudes, beliefs, and behaviours add to the above process. Each will either engage, thereby enhancing, or sabotage the healing potential. Positive thinking can strengthen your immune system and change your life. The combination of the Himalayan instrument’s sound, properly used, with positive visualization and affirmations can greatly strengthen the healing experience.

Thus, sound is a type of energy medicine that creates the sacred space in which people can heal from stress disorders, pain, depression, uncontrolled emotional extremes and more. It also creates the perfect state for deep meditation, creative thinking and intuitive understanding.

Many report out-of-body experiences, a deep sense of tranquility, groundedness, sound sleep, and lower blood pressure, often feeling the effects of the treatment for extended periods of time. Sessions also provide relief from pain and stress-related conditions.

Himalayan Bowls and cancer

A 2005 study by the National Institute of Health shows 80 per cent of breast cancer patients use some alternative type of treatment.  

Love is the path back to Self: Every illness is an opportunity to see beyond the uncomfortable physical realities and find a way to adopt a new and larger perspective about oneself. It is an imposed “time out” in which we may find great depth and value. It is certainly a journey that can teach us how to love ourselves unconditionally with honour, respect, and high regard.

Of course the harsh physical realities of cancer can also make it difficult to navigate the spiritual aspects of the road back to health. Effective sound and energy medicine can address the multifaceted aspects of cancer and other life-threatening conditions.

The after effects frequently associated with chemotherapy and other medications can often result in emotional toxins, fatigue, anxiety, poor sleep patterns, nausea, profuse sweating, pain, inflamatio0n and an overall deterioration of the quality of life. Bowl therapy aids in re-establishing the proper energy flow throughout the system especially in concert with proper nutrition, community support and other forms of self-care. Other sound energy vehicles are used to release stress and encourage the flow of nourishing energy back into the body.

Other sound energy tools

Stone crystals, with their piezoelectric effect, can be used to help repair and restore health. Special quartz crystals are used to complement the Bowl’s vibrational patterns to clear and revitalize the auric field. This in turn re-establishes a sense of grounding and connection with one’s centre that may have diminished during invasive treatments.

The “Ganta” and “Dorje” are used to gently redirect energy and to encourage balance while a precision tuned Gong can be used to dynamically move energy throughout the body’s systems in a more vigorous manner. Singing Bowls are in a variety of configurations to surround the affected area, producing gentle sound vibrations to soothe, reduce pressure, and realign the energetic system creating a “harmonic attunement.”

Stress during every stage of cancer can cause anxiety, fear, and depression. It’s natural for anxiety to arise when deciding what treatment to pursue. After treatment, lingering fears that the cancer will return are also common. Such anxieties may cause the patient to feel unable to cope with life and feelings of hopelessness can set in.

To help restore a sense of hope and to inspire the client to reestablish their personal power, the proficient sound therapist often combines cognitive work to address the habitual belief systems that don’t support healing with the cellular work of energy balancing and alignment.

Balancing of inherent masculine and feminine energies in a client is a vital step in the healing process. It’s common to find that some cancer patients conduct their lives as perpetual givers or accommodators. Often their sense of self worth is enhanced or established from giving (even when the giving to others is from a sense of obligation). The flow of energy in one direction (out) can cause a weak immune system making people vulnerable to disease. The use of Ganta/Dorjes used in combination with guided imagery can balance the flow of giving and receiving energy.

Cancer can be seen as the effect of trapped spiritual energy that has been suppressed (normally during childhood). Cancer is the spirit fighting to emerge. The illness creates a context for a person to go into “receive” mode; but to heal they need to understand that it’s to receive their own power back.

Sound tools are instruments of compassion because they gently nudge the listener into a memory of wholeness and wellness. Their gentle, soothing and intimate effect encourages the clients’ ability to journey through illness more as a witness than as a victim, thereby enhancing their overall quality of life. Since every client has their own pace for healing, a seasoned practitioner will honour that pace while holding the image of wholeness for the client to see. In this manner the client can awaken to the healer within themselves. The sound energy practitioner is a conduit and a guide in the healing process, but ultimately the real healers are the clients themselves as they begin to recognize their perfection. It takes restraint and patience on the part of the practitioner to honour the client’s pace, especially if the physical condition is worsening. Every moment is an opportunity to awaken.

Diáne Mandle is an author, teacher, healer and recording artist based in Southern California. She is Certified in Tibetan Bowl Sound Healing and Polarity therapy. Diáne maintains a private practice offering an integrated system for healing which includes Sound and Polarity Therapy, Toning and Visualization. She conducts educational programs, keynotes and Harmonic Sound Healing concerts nationally and presents frequently at the Deepak Chopra Center and the Golden Door. She has produced three acclaimed CD’s, the first comprehensive multimedia home study course in Sound Healing using Himalayan instruments (singing bowls, tingshas, gantas and dorjes) Ancient Sounds for a New Age, an E-Book/DVD/ CD set available on her website: www.soundenergyhealing.com. She also owns and operates a sound healing school: www.tibetanbowlschool.com.

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