1. Have you ever wondered why for centuries people have intoned the sound “OM” when they meditate?

    What, exactly, does that have to do with the meditative experience?

    The concept that sound is an important key to healing the mind, body, and spirit is said to be more than 2500 years old. In fact, the field of music therapy – healing with music, voice, harmony, rhythm, and other sounds – is among the oldest holistic approaches known to humankind.

    Pythagoras, founder of the music-therapy concept in the West, is said to have sung soothing melodies to his disciples, believing that melody and rhythm cannot fail to restore harmony to the human soul. Historians of the 6th century BCE, explain that in the evenings, Pythagoras would sit with his lyre and sing, “releasing his followers from the cares and stresses of the day, while purifying their intellect and rendering them quiet sleep.” Likewise, in the morning, “he freed them from nocturnal heaviness, relaxation, and apathy” through particular songs and rhythms. He believed that music is essential to spiritual and physical health and is capable of producing the most beneficial correctness of human life and behavior.  And from ancient times to the present, there have been countless scholars from many cultures who agree and apply it to their own lives.



    Today, doctors, therapists, healers, and educators apply Pythagorean theories of music, voice, sound, and harmonies to the healing of physical complaints, emotional disturbances, and spiritual crises. In major cities across the country, more and more New Age clinics are offering a vast array of music-related modalities geared to using sound to alleviate stress, reduce physical pain, treat serious and chronic disease, and even aid mothers in childbirth.

    Now based largely on the practices of ancient Tibetans, Mongolians, Buddhists, and Hindus, many therapists and practitioners believe the most beneficial method of sound production known to humankind is one known as “toning,” a long sustained sound common to many cultural traditions around the world, but perhaps best known as the “OM” sound used in Hindu and Buddhist settings.

    While many skeptics once thought the sounding of “OM” was just a trendy noise popularized by Hippies of the 1960s and 70s seeking to embrace Eastern philosophy, many practitioners today contend that toning has a much deeper application – even beyond the simple meditative value – that can produce miraculous results for those with any number of ailments–or just wish to alleviate daily stress.


    The “Universal Adherent Reality”

    According to modern practitioners of this ancient method, when one makes a sustained toning sound, it sends a pleasant and naturally healing vibration throughout the entire body. Whether making a vowel, consonant, or combination of sound (it’s up to the individual), the energy that is activated can have an almost immediate affect on one’s body, mind, and spirit in both subtle and apparent ways.

    Grounded in what is referred to as the “Universal Adherent Reality," many who have made a scientific study of this phenomenon believe the results achieved by sounding “OM” or other sustained tones reflect the principle that everything in our universe adheres to a specific rhythmic pattern; everything vibrates, and everything vibrates at its own speed. A heart beat, a blink of the eye, and a breath are all examples of this universal adherence. Similarly, the orbits of the planets, the rhythm of sunrise and sunset, and the unchanging speed of light all adhere to this universal law.

    And as modern science confirms, rhythm is sound and sound is vibration–and everything in nature does in fact vibrate. Thus, everything produces a sound–though usually beyond our normal human senses to detect. A contemporary Buddhist tenet says, “The blooming of a rose would sound like the drone of a pipe organ if only we could hear it.” In a very real manner of speaking, we don’t just "experience" music and other sound, we are part of it and it a part of us.


    Meditative Method

    Some of the most remarkable and thought-provoking aspects of the toning approach is that it is free, goes where you go, is completely natural, and anyone can learn to do it. For many it can be more effective than meditation alone and may even open personal spiritual channels many are unaware they possess.

    Traditionally, one need only sit in a quiet room with eyes closed (some prefer a darkened room), and begin to experiment with sounds until one catches your ears.  (Don’t worry, there isn’t one specific sound; if at some later time you find the one you’ve chosen no longer pleases you, you can simply substitute another that does.)  Once you find it, simply take a deep breath and slowly exhale while producing that specific tone. With each successive breath, you should feel your body increasingly relax, the tonal vibration reaching deeper and deeper into your being. Within 8–12 tonings, you should feel a noticeable difference–a relaxation, a calmness, perhaps, even a sexual awareness or arousal.

    Some find that a short ten-minute session each day can make remarkable changes in their state of mind. Others choose to start and conclude each day by toning; one session preparing them to meet and greet the day, the other calming them for sleep.

    But, should toning not work for you the very first time — or you just couldn’t hit upon that special, personal sound — don’t lose faith. Sometime later in the day, or perhaps the next, simply try it again. Everyone finds it within a few tries. And once you do, you’ll wonder why you haven’t been doing it all your life. (And by all means, once you understand what toning can do for your body, mind, and spirit, do pass it on!)



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