Sound Body, Sound Mind
Updated: Feb 28, 2020
Isn't it interesting that a definition of the word “sound” includes both the sensory experience of a vibration, as well as the state of a person’s health and well-being that is “in good condition, not broken or damaged.” The phrase “sound mind, sound body” also suggests there is a connection between our mind and our body that is inseparable, that one depends on the other. Thus, wellness itself appears to depends on the health of both, as viewed by the holistic mind-body model at IRG’s Center for Structural Medicine, where I have been exploring the use of Sound Healing with Tensegrity Medicine™.
This correlation of the word “sound” with health and well-being is found cross-culturally, stemming from many ancient healing traditions, including my specialty, Chinese Medicine. The Chinese character for medicine ( yao 藥) is composed of two parts: the top radical ( 艹 ) symbolizes grasses and plants, including herbs; and the lower character (le 樂) has two meanings: music and happiness. Thus the medicine character reveals the tripartite combination of healing as physical (herbal), emotional (happiness), and spiritual (vibrational-music) harmony.
The therapeutic use of music as medicine is documented in China’s oldest medical text, The Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Medicine, written 2,300 years ago. Five tones were assigned to the five elements: wood, fire, earth, metal, and water. The five elements, or wu xing, also translated as “five transformations”, represent how cycles of energy (frequency) transform and relate (resonate) throughout the year.
Each of these five elements may be thought as five distinct energy signatures describing the expansion-contraction cycles of yin and yang, the binary dance of energy that manifests in all natural phenomena including the seasons, organs, emotions, and sounds. In classical China, five notes of a pentatonic scale (jiao, zhi, gong, shang, and yu) were performed on musical instruments calibrated to specific frequencies. A precise mathematic relationship between the frequencies were believed to produce harmony and healing resonating both in the heavens and earth.
Element Season Organ Emotions +/- Tone Note
Wood Spring Liver anger/benevolence jiao E
Fire Summer Heart mania/joy zhi G
Earth Late Summer Spleen worry/contentment gong C
Metal Autumn Lungs grief/respect shang D
Water Winter Kidney fear/courage yu A
In musical terms, harmony refers to when two or more notes are played together that have a pleasing, visceral, and or mood-altering affect. Harmony and disharmony are something you hear with your ears — and feel with your body.
The ear is the first sensory organ to develop in utero, and is always in a state of alertness with the auditory mechanism perpetually processing. Alfred Tomatis calls the ear “the Rome of the body” because nearly all of the cranial nerves lead to it making it our most primary sense organ. A branch of the vagus nerve, which controls the parasympathetic mechanism of the circulatory, respiratory, and digestive systems, attaches to the eardrum before traveling down the spinal cord attaching to every organ (except the spleen). Thus sound alone can stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system though the auditory branch of the vagus nerve.
Embryologically speaking, the skin may be viewed as differentiated ear, and we can listen with our whole body through specialized nerve cells in the skin called mechanoreceptors. Four types of mechanoreceptors enable us to detect touch and monitor the position of our muscles, bones and joints. This ability to sense ourself in space is sometimes called our sixth sense of proprioception. Each of the four mechanoreceptors target specific sensations: Meissners detect heavy pressure, Pacinian vibration, Merkel light touch, and Ruffini stretch. Manual therapists may target different receptors by utilizing different touch modalities. For example, Bowen Therapy, with its slow stretch of fascia may be signaling Ruffini endings; whereas the vibration of tuning forks may activate the Pacinian corpuscles (in addition to the acupuncture points of the 12 meridians).
According to traditional Chinese Medicine there are there are 361 acupuncture points that link 12 major meridians. Each point has a different effect on the qi (energy) that passes through it. So what are they? There are many theories, but its exact nature is still a mystery. Recent studies have uncovered a network of fascial perforation points that correspond to the locations of 82% of the acupuncture points. The nerves that perforate through the superficial fascia are comprised of the Pacinian and Meissner (heavy pressure) mechanoreceptors.
After 18 years of practicing acupuncture, I perceive the acupuncture points as relay stations on the skin connecting to an ubiquitous grid of light. Energy flows smoothly in a healthy, “sound” body; but under stress or illness it begins to stagnate, causing dis-ease and dis-harmony. Acupuncturists may apply needles or the vibration of tuning forks directly to the acupuncture points to stimulate a healing response through the mechanical stimulation of the point and through the resonance of the vibrating tone along the channel lines connecting to their associated organ systems. In addition, high frequency forks are used off the body to treat the electromagnetic biofields that are emitted in a lattice framework around the body.
For the past 3 years, I have been pairing Acutonics® with Tensegrity Medicine ™, which focuses on the global three-dimensional balance of mind/body structures that are accessed through the neuro-fascial web of connective tissue. By targeting the nervous system through a variety of sensations, it does seem possible to shift a restricted pattern of dis-harmony, whether physical or emotional, with a new signal that encourages a more harmonious expression both locally and globally —thus supporting and transforming our innate Sound body, and Sound mind connection.