The use of sound and music to generate “healing” has a long history stretching back to the virtual beginnings of man.
Indigenous shamans and healers using instruments such as the human voice, drums, flutes and percussive instruments have been documented to alter brain states (i.e. the neural activity within the brain itself). These studies have shown, for instance, that certain drumming patterns can increase theta activity in the cerebral cortex, a brain state known to be connected with hypnagogic states of awareness, dream-like states of mind as well as states of unusual mental creativity.
Research studies conducted on the neurological effects of sound have shown that the human brain responds to pure tone in highly specific ways. PET Scans, which measure glucose consumption at the cellular level, show that pure sound or music (without words) stimulate an increase of cellular activity in the right hemisphere.
Although both cerebral hemispheres of the brain process many different kinds of information, a simple division in tasking can be made.
While there are unique differences between the brains of individual humans, generally speaking, the left hemisphere processes language and logic.
The right hemisphere, on the other hand, does not “comprehend” language as such. However, the right hemisphere processes spatial information, paradox, novelty and non-verbal information in ways that the left hemisphere is incapable of.
While our ability to understand and create language are vital components of our human experience, there are other valuable aspects of our intelligence that are not generally recognized by our culture as having intrinsic value.
The irony, here, is that history is full of instances where scientific breakthroughs occurred when scientists engaged right hemispheric abilities to “see” situations and opportunities in novel ways.
One of my favorite stories in this regard concerns the German chemist Kekule who was struggling with the structure of the benzene ring.
One night, exasperated from not having been able to determine the structure of this particular molecule, he had a truly strange dream in which he saw a snake swallowing its own tail.
There are several things I find interesting here. One is that his dream of a snake swallowing its tail was actually an ancient alchemical symbol called the Uroborus (or Ouroborus), sometimes associated with self-reflexivity as in the sense of something re-creating itself.
Kekule awoke from his dream and “knew” that this was the structure of benzene. What made Kekule a genius rather than someone who simply had an unusual dream was his ability to “translate” the spatial images from his intuitive right hemisphere into the language of his left hemisphere, i.e. logic and mathematics.
As an interesting side note, at least one historian has noted that Kekule was not the first person to have discovered the benzene ring. However, who discovered what and when does not really have much bearing on Kekule’s dream itself. Kekule maintained that the dream-born image was unquestionably instrumental in his creative problem solving process.
When the right cerebral hemisphere is stimulated, as in the use of pure sound or tone, there is often an increase in non-ordinary states of awareness. This occurs because the right hemisphere engages the spatial and intuitive aspects of our intelligence. In these neurological states, our perception of reality (both internal and external) can be very different from our everyday experience. Our senses may become heightened or sensitive, more vivid or refined. It is not uncommon to have a more immediate experience of our inner mental and emotional life through the direct perception of our psychic drivers (i.e., our deeply seated emotions, fantasies and archetypal conflicts or dramas) during these types of altered states. In such instances, our unconscious mental/emotional material may present itself as internal imagery (dream-like images) or even internal dialogues.
While our Western culture is generally unconcerned with these deep emotional and mental states, numerous anecdotal reports from the lives of great scientists and artists indicate that these states of mind are gateways to our innate genius.
Neuro-psychology has clearly demonstrated that we use only a small portion of our brain/mind’s potential. One reason for this has to do with the simple fact that our brains only build new neurological networks when they are challenged in new ways.
In 1983, I began my work in psycho-acoustics with Acoustic Brain Research (ABR) to study the effects of sound and music on the brain as a means to enhance human potential in the areas of creativity and high genius.
Based upon this research and my own experiences with sound-based technology, I am convinced that altered states of consciousness are a powerful key for unlocking much of our unused potential. And as a technology to assist us, sound and music are unparalleled.
Hearing is believing, and I invite you to experience the power of sound and music to affect altered states of consciousness for yourself.
By clicking on the link below, you will be taken to the Listening Page of the website (www.tomkenyon.com). Here you can listen to and/or download many types of sound pieces to alter awareness. The website also has a section on my work with Acoustic Brain Research. All of this information, as well as the mp3 audio files, are offered for your own personal exploration free of charge.