Modern science is confirming what philosophers, spiritual teachers, and indigenous cultures have known for thousands of years: that every structure in the universe, from the cells in our bodies to the planets, stars, and galaxies, is composed of energy, and that energy is expressed in various patterns of vibration. Some levels of vibration can be perceived by our ears as sound.
According to sound therapists, every system, including the cells in a living body, vibrates according to its own pattern. Healthy systems resonate in harmony with other living beings, as well as with the earth, other planets, and beyond.
Vibrational energy such as sound occurs in wave form. All waves, including the electromagnetic waves within our bodies, have a characteristic height (amplitude) and frequency (period). The waves that quiet, receptive hands can feel within a healthy body are fluid, smooth, and regular; when there is a lack of flow or disharmony, the energetic waves might feel jagged, dissonant, or even absent.
We can feel these waves when we place our hands on a horse’s body, and hear them when we sing or sound a musical instrument. Practitioners and cultures use varied means of expressing healing sound, including voice, bells, gongs, didgeridoo, drums, chimes, rattles, flutes, and many more. An acupuncturist or trigger point myotherapist might use a tuning fork on a specific energy point. A group of healers might surround the horse and sing, chant or tone.
“Toning is the language of the universe”
Karen Euston is a highly trained bodyworker who incorporates sound into her work. Like the rocking of some massage techniques, sound introduces a new resonance, or rhythm, into the body’s tissues. “When we mindfully use a singing bowl, tuning fork, or voice,” Karen explains, “we are providing an ordered, synchronous, even tone that can smooth out any dissonance it encounters. You watch the horse, keep introducing the synchronous wavelength next to the dissonant one until it produces a shift, an opening toward beauty and health.”
Karen’s view is that the tools of sound therapy are all variations on a theme. “Part of the fun, or value, of sound is that it can be tailored to the situation and the horse,” she says. Different horses might want different approaches, and different people might feel more at home with one approach or another; depending on the situation, one tool might work better than another. At any level of expertise, we can offer healing.
Mari Russell specializes in working with the fluid tides within the body (both human and horse bodies are about 70% water). She adds toning to a bodywork session when she finds an energy pattern that is not moving, such as a lesion, or pain from inflammation. “It needs a paradigm shift, a different vibration, a remembrance of health,” Mari says. “Toning creates a new harmonic pattern; it organizes form and lets it resonate to its natural healthy state.”
In that moment Mari feels “what is needed, what the structure is asking for. I find a tone that matches it and then starts to move it or clear it, helping the body find its natural vibrational state.”
Mari adds, “Voice or singing bowl or crystal bowl or didgeridoo or tuning forks … it doesn’t matter, use what you’re comfortable with, what feels good, what works for you.”
Singing bowls are a type of metal bell which rests on a surface (such as a pillow or hand) instead of being hung. They have been associated with meditation and healing in Asian Buddhist cultures for centuries. They can be struck with a padded mallet, or stroked on the rim with a wooden or leather-covered mallet to produce their sound, which consists of a main harmonic plus usually two lesser harmonics that resonate for a lengthy time. The best sounds come from bowls made by the traditional hand-hammered method. In the photos, Karen is using a dense, twisted wooden root that creates different effects depending on how it strikes the bowl.
Singing bowls align and balance energy patterns in the physical and subtle energy fields. They may be held near the horse’s body where there is congestion, or placed on it as they vibrate, especially in the area of the lumbosacral joint.
Tuning forks can be applied near or at acupressure points, trigger points, within the chakra energy system, or held in the energetic field near a tense or painful area. They sound at various harmonic levels that are based on the vibrations of the earth, moon, sun, and planets, intended to bring the body’s natural frequencies into alignment with the “music of the spheres.” (For more information see www.acutonics.com)
The human voice has been called “the greatest instrument of all,” and each person can use his or her unique sound to aid healing by translating intention into resonance. The “home tone” or the basic sound of the universe is considered to be “OM.” This sound alone can be used to recreate balance and grounding, and to reconnect the horse to “all that is.” One horsewoman I know quickly healed her mare’s fractured cannon bone by toning “Om” into it twice a day (while following her vet’s medical instructions).
I sometimes use a CD player to provide horses with peaceful, low-pitched, harmonious music (Jonathan Goldman’s “Ultimate Om”; Tibetan healing chants), instrumental music meant for healing or meditation (“Migration,” a collaboration of Carlos Nakai and Peter Kater; one source is www.soundstrue.com). Be careful to monitor how the horse responds to ‘reproduced’ music.
No matter which source of sound you choose to present to a horse, remember to ground yourself in the moment and take part in the healing. It’s a gift from our shared, vibrational universe.
Barbara Chasteen, B.A. (Zoology) is certified in Equine Hanna Somatics, Equine Massage and Orthopedic Massage. Specializing in equine postural restoration, therapeutic movement and craniosacral therapy, she is an award-winning writer/illustrator on equine anatomy/biomechanics and health. email@example.com