Microtonal Healing

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By Linda L. Nielsen, PhD

The Healing Energy of the Human Voice

During a period of intense growth about six years ago, there were several occasions during which wordless song would erupt from deep within me. It was just a sound, sometimes monotone, sometimes moving up and down. I was living in rural Tennessee at the time, and when it happened in the car, I wondered if I should pull over.

However, I was perfectly safe. What was going on was spontaneous voice healing. It seemed important, it felt soothing, and so I just went with it. Certainly, I enjoyed the experience that author Linda Nielson refers to as "sonic massage." From the positive changes that occurred in my life over the next several years, I suspected there was more to it than that. But it never occurred to me to practice the voice healing intentionally.

That has changed now that I've read Nielson's book Microtonal Healing. This book is the result primarily of a dream that Linda Nielson had, in the midst of her graduate work, in which she was given a book by this title, along with an assignment to write it. She had neither heard of microtones, nor had any musical training. She was a student of anthropology and a practitioner of energy healing, but it was only after her dream that she delved deeply into the healing practices of indigenous cultures that routinely use microtonal sounds to create and heal.

Microtonal Healing is a basic introduction to sound healing. It is about how the voice heals. Ideally, to counterbalance its sometimes-heavy academic emphasis, this book should used in conjunction with its companion CD, Spirit of the Healing Voice.

"When does A become A# or B?" In the mystery of the space between. Microtones are the infinite sounds between notes. If you pluck a stringed instrument as you turn its tuning key, you'll hear notes and the microtones between notes.

Nielson's search for a practice and understanding of microtonal healing led her to a study of the raga scales of northern India, where microtones are inherent in its classical music. She made a number of discoveries that helped her to develop a practice of energy healing and meditation through the use of the voice. Some of these she found via her review of anthropological literature, but most she had to discover for herself.

Nielson would not be surprised by my tentative practice of voice healing those several years ago. She notes that most of us are discouraged from using our voices, and especially from singing, from a very early age. Singing has become a form of entertainment that an elite few can practice without shame, but even they are limited by the notes of the Western scale. Exploration of the spaces between notes is more than overlook. It is discouraged. The focus of vocal training is on the notes themselves, on avoiding the spaces between.

Yet, the space between is where the healing energy of the voice vibrates. And most people, when they want to sooth or calm an infant, will allow themselves to hum or sing in those spaces. Somehow, we know that's where peace is created. It is singing with intention, Nielson believes, that gives microtonal healing its power. As you practice singing with intention - for yourself, your loved ones, the world - you will find that, just as in any form of energy healing, the body will tell you where you need to go.

Article by Christie McKaskle