Samantha Howick Issa: Born in Montreal and living in Lebanon, she leads teacher training sessions and classes internationally. Alongside her yoga activities, she holds a BFA in Fine Arts from France and works as a painter and sculptor.
A sacred tremor is found at the core of everything. The emanating vibrations from sound help to soothe our nervous system and align us to our original nature.
In order to understand the idea of sound and its effect on us, we must first explore the yogic understanding of the universe, the human being and the relationship between the two.
Central to yoga philosophy is the existence of an inner pulse as the basic building block of every living particle. A life current, pulse or energy which expands in a vibrating form, which underlies and unifies our physical bodies, the activities of our mind and emotions, and all forms of consciousness.
It is the continuous expansion, the creative force, expressed as the world of matter. This pulsation continuously moves and exists as a resonance in the physical plane. It is the foundational substratum of everything in the manifested world.
A complete view of the individual self must include our physical bodies as well as our memories, thoughts, feelings, ideas, desires and impressions. Within our brain activity, there can exist areas which are not in synchronicity; for example, when we experience a trauma or have memories of anger or sadness. This causes a denser area. Energy cannot pass in a fluid, life-giving way. The result is a blocked space. The communication between our inner spaces can become blurred and muddled. These blockages may stay in the realm of memory and cause the formation of other thoughts flowing from the seeds of discomfort, or they may make their way into the physical body in the form of physical discomfort, pain or even disease.
The entire body naturally gravitates towards homeostasis. This inner harmony can be disrupted by internal or external factors. Without the harmony that occurs when the outer body synchronizes with the inner pulsation of the universe, we experience varying degrees of fragmentation. Stress causes degrees of fragmentation. Joy and love cause a movement towards harmony and synchronization of the inner landscape. They produce feelings of well-being and ease, being in tune with the inner, natural, vibratory field of the universe.
Resonance occurs when an oscillating system is driven (made to oscillate from an outside source) at a frequency which is the same as its own natural frequency.
Sound not only helps with inducing relaxation, but also has a way of moving through areas of blockage. It does this by the deep sound of the gong, merging and joining the vibrations of the inner landscape of the body. So, the outer vibration of the gong joins in resonance with the pulse of the inner vibration and the block gets released by the entrance of the pulse.
Sound can produce shifts in our brainwave activity including synchronizing our brainwaves to reach a theta or a delta state where internal healing can happen. The gong is the most sublime instrument. I use it as a healing tool which soothes the nervous system and allows you to open up and develop an awareness of your true nature. The vibrations and tones will release your mind from the torrent of thoughts and stimulate your glandular system to a higher level of functioning.
“You have no resistance against this sound. It is the master sound” – Y. Bhajan
The gong is a sacred threshold. It is a portal that links the finite and the infinite.
When the cells in the body “hear” or synchronize with the rhythmical pulse of the gong, they are able to re-establish a lost sense of unity and connectedness to the perfection of their natural state. This is healing. In the mind field, the gong allows a shift in our perspective and allows us to optimize our decision-making process; therefore, we are able to lead happier lives.
Things flow more beautifully when every aspect of our self is dancing to the same grand tune of the universe. Singing bowls have a similar sound and effect to the gong, although the way they are “played” differs slightly. A gong is struck by a mallet and sometimes the mallet sweeps over certain areas to carry the sound. A singing bowl is struck for a vibration or its edges are continuously pressed in a circular motion in order to allow the bowl to “sing.” One of the largest gongs (6ft in diameter), made by Paiste, can be found in Beirut.