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Silence is Golden

Excerpt from "The 7 Secrets of Sound Healing"

by Jonathan Goldman

The following excerpt is taken from the book The 7 Secrets of Sound Healing, by Jonathan Goldman. It is published by Hay House and available at all bookstores or online at: www.hayhouse.com

Chapter 4

Silence Is Golden


t shouldn’t be necessary to articulate this secret. It should be obvious to anyone reading this book. It should be obvious to anyone writing such a book . . . so how could I initially forget it? Why did it take a conversation with a colleague to make me remember it?

This secret wasn’t even the main focus of the discussion that the two of us were having. We were talking about the changes in the sound-healing field over the last few decades: What was different? What had stayed the same? Why was it that many of the mentors I’d studied and trained with and the colleagues and friends I’d taught alongside were no longer remembered? Why, as the field grew more popular and mainstream, did it seem that some of the very fundamental principles we’d discovered had been forgotten?

And in passing, my friend said something to effect of: “You know, I can’t believe that people don’t realize that sound is a subtle energy.”

To which I responded: “Yes, I can’t believe people think that louder is better.”

Our discussion then turned to the importance of silence and how few people knew about its power. I happened to have a notebook with me, and I snapped my fingers and wrote: “Silence is Golden.” Thus, the title of this chapter, which honors the energy of silence, was created.

It’s easy to see why this idea initially eluded me. Here in the “supersize me” tradition of the West, our understanding is often askew. We indeed believe that “bigger is better!” “louder is better!” and “more is better!” And this includes our understanding of energy—and, in particular, subtle energy.

Subtle Energy

Sound is a subtle energy? Yes! What is subtle energy? . . . Well, it’s a bit difficult to define, but usually it’s understood as being any energy that can’t properly or adequately be measured and understood by Western methods. This would include acupuncture, qigong, Reiki, Therapeutic Touch, electromagnetic therapy, light therapy . . . and, of course, our old friend sound healing. I used to joke that sound healing was the grossest form of subtle energy, because it was the least subtle, most physical, and perhaps most profound.

Sound travels as relatively slow, measurable waves, yet its uses and effects are the same as the subtler forms of energy—even that of light therapy. The only real difference is that we can feel the vibrations of sound more easily. Thus, while one aspect is quite measurable, there are other components—such as intent—which are quite difficult to validate, at least in current Western scientific terms.

A major key in understanding sound as subtle energy is the phenomenon of harmonics—the color of sound. Every sound that occurs in nature is actually a composite of multiple frequencies called harmonics or overtones. Just as white light is composed of all the colors of the spectrum, so the sounds that we hear—including musical notes on instruments or the tone of our voice—are in reality the multiple sounds of harmonics. Harmonics are responsible for the “timbre” or color tone of instruments and our voice—those that are most prominent and audible are responsible for the sounds created by different musical instruments, as well as the extraordinary variety of pitches that make each of our voices individual and unique. Our body, our brain, and in particular, our ears are extremely sensitive to the subtle effects of specific harmonics. Even though you may not be conscious of them, harmonics have been affecting you all your life.

Whenever a sound is created, such as that of a string being plucked, myriad other subtle tones—harmonics—simultaneously occur along with that first fundamental frequency of the string. These harmonics are multiples of the initial frequency, increasing by whole numbers. The second harmonic vibrates twice as fast as the first. The third harmonic vibrates three times as fast, the next vibrates four times as fast, and so on. All these sounds blend together, creating the tone color of the note. As they increase in their frequency, vibrating faster and faster (continuing conceptually into infinity), they become more and more subtle in nature. Thus, these harmonics contribute greatly to the subtle structure of sound.

Many people believe that much of the extraordinary healing power of sound is due to the harmonics. My first book, Healing Sounds, was in fact subtitled The Power of Harmonics, and it dealt with the phenomenon of harmonics in detail. The human voice has the remarkable ability to actually create distinct and audible individual ones, which make the tones projected even more powerful. Known as vocal harmonics or overtone singing, this ancient technique has been utilized in many sacred traditions, including Mongolian shamanism and Tibetan Buddhism. As we open more and more to the world of sound, the power and importance of harmonics becomes another aspect of vibration on which to focus our awareness and our intention.

As the field of sound healing continues to flourish and grow, many more people are discovering the power of sound to heal and transform; and as this becomes increasingly evident, many more people who lack experience begin to experiment with it. Thus, what’s obvious and apparent to someone who has been in the field for a number of years may not be so to a neophyte who has just discovered the power of sound. At present, there are many books available about sound healing, but I don’t recall seeing too many chapters with the bigger is not better concept. (I’ve never actually included it in anything that I’ve previously written.) Thus, I write this secret for all of us—for those who have yet to discover it and those who may have forgotten it.

The Importance of Silence

Let’s begin by acknowledging the power of silence. When I first got into sound healing, I didn’t know about silence. I became so enamored with my own voice when teaching or doing a healing session that I never gave it much credence! I’d go from one sound to another without honoring quiet. It took many years for me to realize the importance of the space between the sounds.

In reality, silence is the yin to sound’s yang. It’s the polar opposite of sound—and it’s equally important. I now like to tell students that silence is really the place that gives sound the opportunity to create healing. It’s the space where the transformational work of frequency shifting happens and change occurs—a powerful and sacred place that should be acknowledged and honored.

In my workshops, we’ll sometimes chant a sacred mantra with a specific intention for an extended period of time—perhaps a half hour or more. This activity is extremely powerful, but it’s during the time afterward when we sit in silence that the true transformational experiences occur. Occasionally it actually takes a few minutes after the chanting for the extraordinary rush of silence to envelop me and, at times, take me to transcendent places of spiritual ecstasy. It’s as if the sound had anchored me to the earth, and once the chanting is over, my spirit can then fly on the silence.

In certain traditions the true path of sound is through silence. In surat shabd yoga, for example, adherents listen to and meditate on the inner sounds found in silence. Various internal tones, such as the rushing of water or the humming of bees, have been described by practitioners. An entire interior landscape of consciousness has been charted based on the inner sounds heard. Through this form of meditation, a practitioner is able to travel to different planes of consciousness on these internal sounds.

Silence and sound work hand in hand. From my perspective, neither is better than the other, but rather both need to be honored and utilized for healing and transformation. So often when we first discover the power of sound—particularly of our own vocalizations—we ignore or forget the importance of silence. We become enamored with tones and frequencies that can affect the world around us. However, it’s also important to remember the power of silence as we progress into these realms of sound.

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