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Conversations on Healing
In the Bhagavad-Gita, before the battle of kurukshetra, Arjuna asks Krishna to drive their chariot into the open space between two armies. Arjuna becomes appalled at the idea of who he must fight and refuses to do battle. Krishna’s reply to Arjuna inhabits the rest of the text. It deals with the whole nature of action, meaning, and man’s purpose on earth. In the end, Krishna changes Arjuna’s mind.
In the purely physical sphere of action, Arjuna is, indeed, no longer a free agent. The act of war is upon him, it has evolved out of his previous actions. At any given moment in time; we are what we are; and we have to accept the consequences of being ourselves. Only through this acceptance can we begin to evolve further. We may select the battleground. We can not avoid the battle.
Arjuna is bound to act, but he is still free to make his choice between two different ways of performing the action. In general, man almost always acts out of fear or desire. That is to say, he is attached to a certain result and afraid he will not attain it. Action binds us to the world of appearances; to the veiled illusions of life. But there is a way to act that is freed from fear and desire. Man can choose to offer his actions as a sacrament of devotion towards his life purpose, his given nature. Then all work becomes equally vital and important. The result loses all significance and value. When we act in this manner, it leads us to the knowledge of what is behind the action itself, behind all life and towards a greater integration. The need for action will eventually fall away from us as we realize our true nature, which is divine.
It follows then that any action done in the spirit of non-attachment creates a process of spiritual growth. There will be acts that are absolutely wrong but “evil” does not exist. We are called upon, like Arjuna, to do our best so that the better of us can be required. Take care, do not judge or measure the acts of another for we cannot know with certainty what right action might be for them. This can only pull us into fear and desire yet again.
There is an underlying solidarity between the warrior and the pacifist if each one follows, without compromise, the path upon which he finds himself. We can ultimately only help others to live their unique life purpose by doing what we ourselves believe to be right. This is the one supremely social act. – swami prabhavananda song of god
Social action is uniquely human and our only vehicle for influencing our world and the world of spirit. Be cautious not to become tangled in a web of attachment, focused on results whether they seem righteous or mundane. Brought to the brink of war, the warrior pacifist cannot bear to witness; cannot bear to act. We must stand naked as we are and choose life. We must stand open, available and ready to act; not for anyone’s sake; but simply because this is what we were made for.
True benevolence emerges with the choice to devote our actions to what is right. There is a level of kindness and grace that informs our capacity to decide. When we loosen the bonds of attachment, we free the creative forces that express reality. The original divine purpose of each and every being can be included in the outcome when the past; which manifests as fear and desire; no longer inhibits the process of growth that is the very nature of life itself.
If we were to assess the condition of the world today, it would seem that our competition for resources and our attachment to results has sent us spinning into chaos, and decline. global environmental crisis generate more and more destruction. The drama of human tragedy is every where. There are places where the need for relief is too great to appease the suffering or repair the damage.
It would be natural to give up, to resign ourselves to desolation when faced by the magnitude of the task at hand. It is precisely in these moments when ultimate social acts have the greatest impact. The healer stands ready to act; without regard for outcome; but simply as a vehicle for benevolence to exist. We may not have the resources to feed and shelter the destitute, or repair our fragile ecosystems. But right action inspires the change we wish to see.
It would be an interesting social experiment to see what creative forces we could unleash by committing to our own right action moment by moment. Do not stop to weigh and measure, to strategize what you do. Simply ask yourself, “what is the right thing to do right now?” and do not compromise. Teach those around you to do the same. And then pay attention to what happens. We can not solve the problems that create desperation but we can heal the turbulence that perpetuates it, one act at a time.
"We are not completely isolated from our environment and should therefore consider the effect of natural and man-made environments on our well-being. Our relationship with our family, friends, work colleagues and our social interactions in general also play an important part on our wellness. Our personal economic problems and those of our country also affect us. Our cherished products of modern technology have harmful side effects. In order to tackle all those different aspects that actually include all fields of life, we have to find a common factor, which we can use as our starting point to understand all those different aspects of our well being.
A common factor to everything would be ENERGY. Physics tell us that everything is energy; even what we consider solid matter is actually energy. All life functions are based on energy interactions. Energy interactions are the hidden dimension at the core of any perceivable physiological function. In all of the above areas, well-being is the result of energy balance. Any disturbance of that balance produces either over or under activity, which manifests as a problem.
We know energy through its manifestations in different forms: heat, magnetism, electricity… etc. We know how to use certain formulas to quantify and use the different forms of energy, that ultimately gave us modern technology, but we still do not know the essence of the energy that can take one form or another.
Besides the traditional types of Energy that manifest as heat, motion…etc, many other forms of energy can actually be defined. We must include vitality, emotions, and thoughts, into energy’s repertoire. Then a whole new picture arises which calls for new Physics to grasp it.
Through Quantum Physics we know that energy cannot be created from nothing or destroyed back to nothing. So this energy must have been there within the nothing before the universe started. It was an attribute or ability existent in what we term as nothing. So energy is “something“ that when dormant is perceived as “nothing “ and when it moves then it becomes something.
Anything that exists begins with movement. Energy produces the original movement. It brings some-thing into existence, into the so-called world of reality; from the no-thing-ness mystics call the void. Anything we do that produces different types of motion transforms that energy into different forms so that we can perceive it. The only difference between “ nothing “ and “ every-thing “ is just motion.
We do not know what it is that moves. All that we can know is that this motion creates duality of opposites, and that this motion is balanced in a way that we could call geometrical; a balance that creates complementarities out of opposites; which gives the possibility of all levels of creation, including our physical reality.
Furthermore, this balanced motion creates time and space, which manifests on many levels according to its mode and level of perception. Attributes of energy can only exist within time and space because we need their opposites to perceive them. The perception of the attributes of energy is therefore not possible beyond the limits of time and space. We can try as we will, but will be still left with the unanswerable question: WHAT IS THE ESSENCE OF ENERGY?
The essence of dormant energy, before the big bang, is beyond duality, time and space, and attribution. However, the attributes must, one way or another, already exist within the prior energy collective. Beyond duality every attribute in its extreme is coupled with it’s opposite and exists inseparably as one unified field. Existence-extinction, dead-alive, up-down, right-left seem meaningless to us. We cannot perceive or comprehend these dual pairs. Our awareness is based on splitting duality into time and space. The inclusion of opposites as unified wholes is beyond our perceptual reckoning.
The first motion is however a very special big bang. It has within it a sort of a program that governs all aspects of this motion, just like the program that governs the growth of a seed to become a tree. To govern a motion one must be aware of it, and have a law to apply to the motion. Awareness implies consciousness. But consciousness is an advanced state of life. Laws to balance motion must at the very least intuitively apprehend balance itself. Therefore, more than intelligence is needed to govern the laws of balance that maintain the known Universe. Wisdom must direct the laws of balance and maintain the essential flow.
Energy whether as nothing, anything, something, or everything, is the pure essence of consciousness and wisdom. Even in its primordial state of nothingness it is already on the highest and most sophisticated level of life.
If energy is conscious and therefore “alive“ then every manifestation or transformation of that energy is just a different action with all the properties of the essence manifested according to the attribute of that motion. But before we go further we must understand that, as we have shown above. the attribute that manifests as consciousness within time and space is released from the original CONSCIOUS-UNCONSCIOUS state. So everything in the universe whether it is a stone, plant, or animal has the original essence of wisdom and consciousness tailored to its specific function. Even in the same being the consciousness and wisdom of a blood cell, an immune cell, a water molecule, or our human consciousness are just the original essence doing different functions.
No Physicist can possibly know what energy really is because Physics has not yet acknowledged the effects of emotions and thought as a form of energy, not to speak of all the undiscovered realms and dimensions. It seems that spiritual doctrines were always nearer to the truth, and now alternative Sciences are catching up. In the beginning, there was THE WORD is more accurate, because it involves the meaning, consciousness, and wisdom, not found in the big bang.
If everything is energy; and energy means conscious awareness and wisdom manifesting in different forms; then everything is aware of everything else. Everything is in some form of communication. But since energy manifests differently in different types of motion, the secondary levels of awareness formed in every type of creation are different. This makes awareness and communication difficult, just like people speaking different languages. The communication must be happening on an inner common level, in a common language, not necessarily understood by the “personalized” level of each type of creation.
The so-called “ language of the heart “ that the mystics speak about is slowly merging to be more scientific than expected. This type of communication comes from the world of Music. Pythagoras, the Greek father of mathematics and music who spent 22 years in Egypt and was actually initiated in the “ Egyptian Temple Sciences “, described the motion of the stars in the sky as “ Music of the Spheres “ showing that there was a common language (spoken in Egyptian temples!) between music and astronomy.
Different levels of energy interact through resonance to produce harmony. Like the strings of a piano, if we strike one then every eighth string will vibrate producing a sound. Our piano here extends in both directions to span the whole universe from the smallest to the largest. During resonance all the strings of similar quality in the universe interact. The change on each string is an exchange of information, sensed as quality. We cannot separate the physical from the emotional or the mental levels of energy. The common factor between these levels is energy, which manifests differently on every level within us. But energy will also be affected by resonance with similar levels in our environment. This is what we call the Unified Field, or Collective Conscious. We are constantly affected by and in turn affect the collective vitality, emotional, and mental abstract energy levels around us.
When two energy fields are in resonance, and exchange information, something happens after the resonance is over. The two systems do not go back to their original state. Part of the new information leaves an impression on the energy system. Systems then, are in constant evolution through resonance or interaction. There is a sort of MEMORY in every energy system. All contact between systems creates a connection not only to everything it comes into contact with but also to the original source of the motion.
If in every interaction between two energy systems, which we can also refer to as memory systems, an information exchange takes place, then these systems are in constant evolution and growth. Interaction, communication, memory, and evolution affect the quality of interaction between systems and what results is a certain mode of awareness and perception. That results in the creation of an individual reality to that system, which in turn leads to the formation of a personality that will characterize the communication and interaction of the system. So everything in the universe from the atom, grain of sand, plants, humans, to the solar system, up to the whole universe has a personality of some sort. This personality interacts within its own perception of time and space and might not be easily perceived by other systems within other time and space dimensions.
From these core concepts we will deal with holistic health as: ENERGY BALANCE on all levels internal and external to our system, individual and collective. We will understand that the collective levels are a form of life, and part of the psyche of the Earth Being, with which we interact. Once we understand that we are dealing with another form of Being with a personality that can interact and react, then our whole outlook to the environment and its reaction through nature’s forces will change. From the smallest virus or bacteria to the cells of life, the human being, the Earth, we find a form of Being living within another form of Being. The whole universe is like one great multilevel Being all the way down to the smallest particles within the atoms, which are alive in their own way and have their own memory and personality.“ -Dr. Ibrahim Karim. ©1997 BioGeometry Energy Systems Ltd.
These core concepts are the basis for modern energy medicine, often called vibrational medicine. The vibrational healer develops the ability to shift levels of conscious thought which bridges the communication between differing energy systems. Like creating a channel between two streams or translating between languages, the vibrational healer engages different forms and fosters a relationship that promotes balance and order between seemingly separate systems. This facilitates greater wholeness which manifests through the harmonious integration of lesser attributes into a vaster whole. Systems work more efficiently with less effort. These in turn, support the systems directly above and below to become more efficient.
As above, so below; as within, so without - Infinitely
The healing powers of sound and music have been revered for thousands of years, but only recently have leading edge researchers and musicians begun to understand fully the deeper and more subtle implications of this most ancient of the healing arts. Over the past 40 years, key secrets have been identified that expand greatly upon the classical bias of orthodox music therapy and disinterest of the entertainment-oriented music industry.
Now that the field has attracted the attention of millions of individuals who want an easy way to reduce stress, enhance health and well-being, while simultaneously being pleasing to listen to, there has been a great deal of mis-information that has made it confusing for many listeners to know how to choose and use healing music in their personal and professional life. In this short article, I (Steve Halpern) will share my perspective, as both an artist and customer.
In a few short moments, you'll know more about the field than is taught in most colleges, and be empowered to make more informed choices to get the most benefit for your time and money.
A PERSONAL NOTE
I am often asked, "How did you get into this field?" The answer is simple: "It got into me! On one hand, about 40 years ago, I began hearing beautiful music in my mind's ear that made me feel so peaceful and relaxed, I longed to be able to hear it with my physical ears. On the other hand, my doctor told me that if I didn't learn how to reduce my stress level, I would soon suffer from many of the stress-related diseases like hypertension, difficulty sleeping and concentrating, and getting sick more often.
Having read in books about that music was used in ancient societies for healing, I searched for suitable soundtracks for health. There was very little music composed expressly for this purpose, and even less research into the healing powers of music. As a trained musician, I realized I was in a perfect position to combine my personal and professional proclivities.
When I performed my healing music in public, people always asked me for a recording that they could use at home. I was encouraged to establish my own independent record label, and soon discovered that composing the music was the easy part. I soon learned that I had to educate the public, as well as the growing ranks of holistic, alternative and integrative health care practitioners about healthful and stress-reducing aspects of music that had not been addressed before.
Keynotes of Sound Health
How do we respond to music? Many individuals never consider this topic. Traditionally, this question was answered with respect to the elements of melody, harmony and rhythm. Tone color/timbre was added in more modern textbooks. The psychology of music, as a field, and music therapy, historically focused on our emotional, psychological and physical responses. Physiological responses were limited to gross motor responses, like the knee jerk response, or blood flow through a finger. Until I conducted landmark research studies using brainwave biofeedback EEG), Galvanic Skin Response (GSR) and Kirlian (subtle energy field/aura) photography, no one had researched music's effect on subtle energies and consciousness.
In my work, I have identified deeper levels of response-ability, building upon the pioneering research of Hans Jenny (cymatics) and quantum physics. Here is a brief overview.
For this discussion, I'll limit my remarks to focus on an understanding that self-healing occurs most effectively in a state of deep relaxation. Sound and music can be a potent force to engage this response. But most music may NOT be your best choice if your goal is health rather than entertainment.
Most music was not composed for true relaxation purposes. (Nor am I suggesting that music should ONLY be composed for that purpose. But using the wrong music virtually sets you up for failure if you with regard to healthful responses. It would be like drinking three cups of coffee and trying to go to sleep. That's not the function of caffeine-laden coffee. Why would you use the musical equivalent of coffee to help you relax?
Lesser known is that most music evokes more of a stressful response than people realize (cf John Diamond, "Your Body Doesn't Lie"). The reduction of stress, and enhancement of relaxation, is therefore fundamental to most all healing music. (Herbert Benson, MD, best-selling researcher and author of “The Relaxation Response") That is why my CDs are composed with the intention and compositional constructs that provide stress reduction...at the speed of sound.
Your One Minute Guide to Understanding Healing Music
1. The Rhythm Factor: The law of rhythm entrainment describes the phenomenon in which a stronger, external stimulus overrides the natural internal rhythm of the heart and causes it to synchronize to its stronger beat. If you listen to music whose tempo is faster than a relaxed heartbeat, (top range about 60 beats per minute) then your heart will be forced to beat in time to the music, which is commonly from 90-140 beats per minute!
That's also like drinking three cups of coffee and trying to go to sleep. You essentially set yourself up for failure. And you’ll be awake all night to think about it!
It's easy to identify for yourself whether the music is relaxing for you. Measure your resting heartbeat, and then measure your heartbeat while listening to the music. If your heartbeat were faster, this would NOT be a good choice for your relaxation library. (Although it might be a fine choice for other uses).
This is precisely the reason that my own recordings do not have a strong central rhythm. I was inspired by my yoga training to compose with the implicit rhythm of a deep, slow yogic breath. (Most reviewers, likely listening after drinking three cups of coffee, were unable to perceive this secret)
But your heartbeat will immediately appreciate the opportunity to reset its rhythm into the natural rhythm of a deep breath. This is as apparent to many first-time listeners as well as long-time fans.
2. Melody and Harmony: I'd like to discuss melody and harmony together as 'distraction factors' in evoking the relaxation response. For psychological responses, much has been written. We have been culturally conditioned (by Western classical and pop music) to respond to familiar patterns in predictable fashion, when we hear scale-based melodies or harmonic progressions. We are unconsciously forced to project into the future...where the music is going.
In live presentations, I always demonstrate this secret by singing a scale.... and stopping on the seventh note. I do not complete the sequence with the eighth tone of the octave note. You can prove it to yourself right now:
Take a moment to imagine me singing a scale. (Do-Re-Mi-Fa-So-La- Ti.........and notice that you are predictably holding your breath because I did not finish the pattern!
I coined the phrase 'scalus interruptus' to describe this phenomenon, and why you are left feeling 'future tense.' In other words, simply listening to 'ordinary music' CREATES stress and tension!
Relaxation, on the other hand, happens only in the present moment.' You can't relax 'in the future.' You can only relax ' in the now'. Or, to paraphrase spiritual teacher Ram Dass, (Be Here Now), I say, "Hear. Now. Be." tm Remember, we are human be-ings, rather than human do-ings.
Trying to relax while listening to music that keeps you off balance and out of the NOW is therefore not an effective choice if you want to relax. Listen to even 30 seconds of my CHAKRA SUITE, RELAXATION SUITE, or OCEAN SUITE and you can feel the relaxing change that comes over your body. It’s that easy, and that quick.
Your body is hard-wired to shift gears into a state of relaxation, if you only give it a chance. That's why people the world over enjoy being out in nature, at the ocean, by a lake, on the farm or in a mountain meadow. And when you can't get out in nature, properly composed relaxing and healing music can bring nature to you by giving your 'human instrument' the chance it wants and needs for optimal health.
3. Resonance: Resonance describes the reality that every atom, molecule vibrates at a specific frequency, and functions as both a transmitter and receiver of vibrations at that frequency. Therefore, every organ, gland and muscle in our body has a specific natural frequency which exists within the range of audible sound.
In essence, when you listen to music, you are receiving a vibrational massage. If the music is organized to resonate specific frequency-specific areas of the body, like my CHAKRA SUITE, than we can use sound to assist our body to resonate at a higher level of coherence and efficiency.
Resonance is what you feel when part of you is tingling or buzzing when you hear quartz crystal bowls or Tibetan singing bowls being played. The tones of the Rhodes electric piano are produced by precisely tuned 'tuning forks' that are struck lightly by a hammer attached to the keyboard. It is not a synthesizer. That is the secret of why its tone is so pure, and why it changed my life the moment I bought one: I now had the most beautiful healing instrument at my fingertips, ready to play and record healing music.
4. Tonal Color and Timbre: In my earlier career as a professional performing musician, I played trumpet and electric guitar. The basic sound of these instruments is not intended for relaxation. That was one of the reasons I had to switch to the gentler sounds of electric and grand piano, and atmospheric, psycho-active sounds I could play with electronic keyboards, Many acoustic instruments, like violin and oboe, actually produce waveforms that are irritating and stress-inducing for many people, whether they are aware of them or not.
In my dreams and meditations, I heard music that sounded like celestial bells and heavenly harps. When the instrument was invented, I became one of the early advocates of the Rhodes electric piano, which is featured on my CHAKRA SUITE and many other recordings.
I also learned how to adjust and record the glorious grand piano to remove the harsh attack and enharmonic overtones that interfered with my relaxation as I composed or listened. Every instrument on my recordings is chosen for its relaxation and healing effects. There's a time and a place for brittle and dissonant tones, but not in my healing music.
5. INTENTION and MUSIC: Thought Field Resonance: In my experience, there is an additional dimension that should be discussed with respect to subtle energy factors.
When I first went public with my music and theories in the early l970s, I described the power of intention of the composer or performer as being a critical factor determining what the overall effect would be. For instance, the same melody or notes could have a positive or negative effect depending on the stress level of the performer.
It's as if this 'meta-information' is broadcast and transmitted by the musician to the listener, albeit in an inaudible manner. Quantum physicists have now proven what mystics and musicians have known for millennia.
I coined a phrase to describe this phenomenon thusly: "Music is a carrier wave of consciousness." Now that intention has become such a popular concept, it's easy to understand that it's not just the notes, but the energy that comes thru the notes, that must be considered when choosing healing music.
Depending on the sensitivity of the listener, music intended for meditation and healing can help the listener to quiet the mind, and get into the gap between thoughts. Deepak Chopra and Wayne Dyer have written eloquently about this.
I have always described my own compositional process as 'getting into the spaces between the notes'. In either case, by quieting the mind, such music creates the proper vibrational resonance in which the individual's brainwaves more easily attune to the natural harmonic resonance of the earth (Schuman resonance, 7.83 Hz)
It may therefore be impossible to calibrate how much healing happens because of the music itself, vs how much occurs 'automatically' when the listener gets into the proper alpha brainwave state facilitated by the music. The bottom line is that some music is much more effective in this regard than others.
My approach to sound healing has always been first and foremost to compose soundtracks that will serve the highest good for the highest number of listeners, rather than to impress the listener with the complexity of my compositions or technical virtuosity. I believe that the large and growing international audience that my music has created provides a strong testimonial that it has succeeded in its intention.
Listening at low volume creates a soothing mood and relaxing ambiance for general background use at home, at school, at work, for yoga, or massage, pain control, post-operative recovery, in clinics, hospitals and hospice care.
Many individuals have also discovered the beauty, benefits and blessings of listening with intention and focused attention (especially with headphones, and not multi-tasking), and thus enjoy a greater depth of experience. Listening to this music in this way can indeed transport you into the gap between thoughts, leaving you feeling uplifted, relaxed and renewed, at peace with yourself and the world.
SOUND MATTERS... FOR THE RECORD
Most people have no idea how profoundly the sounds and music in our life affects us, for better or worse. Here are just a few of the most significant effects:
Common effects of stressful music and noise pollution include (cf "Sound Health", Steven Halpern, Harper & Row, l985): Hypertension, higher stress levels in general, as well as higher cortisol hormone levels, irritability, difficulty sleeping, concentrating, fatigue, digestive problems, weight gain, alcoholism and hyperactivity (especially in children)
COMMON EFFECTS of HEALING MUSIC
Reduced stress, enhanced relaxation, improved sleep, enhanced concentration and focus, improved digestion (less gas and more efficient digestion, which also often promotes weight loss, better dispensation, greater ease in holding and stretching into yoga postures, enhanced rapport with one's significant other both emotionally and sexually. In sum, the music one listens to can make a significant addition to one's personal health and wellness program.
When choosing which music to buy for your own relaxing and healing sound library, consider that appropriate music should include the above-identified universal commonalities as well as your personal preferences and history. Making more informed choice empowers you and allows your body/mind/spirit the most benefit and pleasure in terms of your own health and self-healing.
About the Author: Steven Halpern is widely acknowledged as the pre-eminent composer of music for health and healing. He is a pioneering sound healer who brought the art and science of healing music into the field of complementary/integrative medicine and to the mainstream public through his best-selling recordings, including CHAKRA SUITE, Music for SOUND HEALING, GIFTS of the ANGELS, PEACE of MIND and RELAXATION SUITE. Read more about sound and healing at www.stevenhalpern.com
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