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 increase theta activity within the brain, a state known to be connected with hypnogogic states of awareness, dream-like states of mind as well as states of high insight and heightened 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 and music (without words) stimulate an increase of cellular activity in the right or “non-dominant” hemisphere.
The Two Brain Hemispheres
Although both hemispheres of the brain process many different kinds of information, a simple division in tasking can be made. Basically the dominant hemisphere (left side for most people) processes language and logic. The non-dominant hemisphere (right side for most people) processes spatial information, paradox and is non-language based. While the abilities to understand and create language are vital components of our human experience, there are other valuable aspects of our intelligence that are not currently recognized by our culture as having intrinsic value. These other domains of our intelligence (such a heightened creative insight and states of high genius) are most easily accessed through non-dominant brain activity.
When the non-dominant 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 non-dominant 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). These may present themselves 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 artists and scientists indicate that these state of mind are gateways to our innate genius.
Neurology Has Shown That Most of Us Use Less Than Ten Percent of Our Brain
What this actually means is that in order to live our day-to-day lives, we only need ten percent or less of the neural pathways available to us. The other ninety percent is dormant. And it will remain dormant until a need arises for these “sleeping” neural pathways to “wake up.” Having worked in the field of psychotherapy and human potential for over eighteen years, 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.
© 2006 Tom Kenyon. All rights reserved.
For more information visit: Tom Kenyon’s Website
It will look like this: The Effects of Sound and the Gateways to Our Innate Genius