The Mystery of Sound
In my teens, I explored the mysteries through the study of different belief systems ranging from shamanism to Buddhism. I experienced various esoteric practices which are now finding their way into the mainstream. These included Tibetan Overtone Chanting and Singing Bowls.
Sound has always been important to me; everything from melodies and key changes in music in general through to more metaphysical experiences with New Age music, Gregorian Chant and the aforementioned Overtone Chanting and Singing Bowls. Headphones are great for experiencing the technical intricacies of modern music, but there is something more primal in feeling the music on the body, especially the chants, bowls and much of the New Age music I listened to.
I didn’t have the science to explain it 30+ years ago, but we do now.
The Vagus Nerve
Before I jump into sound frequencies, I want to explain how they affect the body and why my earlier, direct experience is borne out by today’s science. That’s where the Vagus Nerve comes in.
What is it?
The vagus nerve, historically cited as the pneumogastric nerve, is the tenth cranial nerve or CN X, and interfaces with the parasympathetic control of the heart, lungs, and digestive tract. The vagus nerves are normally referred to in the singular. It is the longest nerve of the autonomic nervous system in the human body and comprises sensory and motor fibres.
The vagus nerve is the longest and most important nerves in the body and helps control a number of crucial functions. It connects your brain to your gut and can affect everything from your mood and stress levels to your digestion, heart rate and immune response. It may also play a major role in inflammation and various chronic diseases if not working properly.
There are a number of ways to stimulate the Vagus Nerve and influence your health.
Stimulating the Vagus Nerve for Better Health
The following is an abbreviated list of techniques that can be used to stimulate the Vagus Nerve to enhance your health and wellbeing.
- Cold Exposure: Helps lower your fight-or-flight response.
- Breathing Exercises: Improves Heart Rate Variability (HRV) and induces a sense of calmness.
- Yoga, Tai Chi & Chi Kung (Qi Gong): Increases the activity of the parasympathetic nervous system.
- Singing, Chanting, Humming and Gargling: Increases HRV.
- Meditation: Increases vagal tone (how the Vagus Nerve works) and positive emotions.
- Laughter: Increases HRV and mood.
- Mild Exercise: Stimulates gut flow to enhance the stomach’s ability to process food.
- Massage & Acupuncture: Increase HRV and lower blood pressure.
- Probiotics: Reduces anxiety, stress and depression.
- Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Increases HRV and beneficially affects the nerve, brain and heart.
As part of the parasympathetic system, the Vagus Nerve allows the body to “rest and digest,” meaning it’s necessary to enable your body to better respond to and recover from stress. Of its many functions, the vagus nerve regulates digestion, heart rate, respiratory rate and more. It also plays a large role within the microbiome-gut-brain axis by sending signals between the gut and brain via gut bacteria.
As we begin to understand more, the idea of the mind-body connection becomes more clear. This means our physical and mental well-being are intimately interwoven, and the vagus nerve is a large reason why.
Any damage or dysfunction to it can affect your mood, digestion or cardiovascular system. It has been linked to chronic inflammation as well.
An increasing amount of research has found that stimulating the nerve can help reduce symptoms of various conditions, including depression, Alzheimer’s disease, obesity and more.
The easiest methods to introduce into your daily life are 2-5 on the list above. And as my own experience many years ago intuitively taught me, sound (number 4) has a significant impact.
The Ancient Solfeggio Sound Scale
The understanding of the power of sound predates modern science.
The original Solfeggio scale was developed by a Benedictine monk, Guido d’Arezzo (c. 991 AD – c. 1050 AD). It was used by singers to learn chants and songs more easily. Today we know the Solfeggio scale as seven ascending notes assigned to the syllables Do-Re-Mi-Fa-So-La-Ti. The original scale was six ascending notes assigned to Ut-Re-Mi-Fa-Sol-La. The syllables for the scale were taken from a hymn to St. John the Baptist, Ut Queant Laxis, written by Paulus Diaconus.
In the mid-1970’s Dr. Joseph Puleo, a physician and America’s leading herbalist, found six electro-magnetic sound frequencies that corresponded to the syllables from the hymn to St. John the Baptist.
According to the documentation provided in “Healing Codes for the Biological Apocalypse“, Dr. Joseph Puleo was introduced, through an open vision, to the Pythagorean method of numeral reduction. Using this method, he discovered the pattern of six repeating codes in the Book of Numbers, Chapter 7, verses 12 through 83.
Dr. Joseph Puleo found repetitions of a single issue or subject in the Book of Numbers. In Chapter 7, verse 12 he found a reference to the first day, the second day was mentioned in verse 18, the third day in verse 24, and so forth until the final reference in verse 78 which is speaking of the twelfth day.
The Pythagorean reduction of these verse numbers is:
- Verse 12 = 1 + 2 = 3
- Verse 18 = 1 + 8 = 9
- Verse 24 = 2 + 4 = 6
- Verse 30 = 3 + 0 = 3
- Verse 36 = 3 + 6 = 9
- Verse 42 = 4 + 2 = 6
- …until verse 78
Do you see the repetition of 396? This is the first frequency.
He found the next frequency by looking at verse 13, which is speaking of an offering. Six verses down, which is verse 19, the same offering or idea is repeated, six verses down at verse 25 there is another repeat, etc. Thus, by using the Pythagorean method of reduction, again he discovered a pattern. This pattern is 417. It is the second frequency. The rest of the frequencies were found using the same method.
The Solfeggio Frequencies
Each syllable was thoroughly studied by Dr Puleo and other professional researchers. David Hulse, a sound therapy pioneer with over 40 years of experience, described the tones as follows. Click on each frequency for more details on how it affects you.
Turning grief into joy, liberating guilt & fear
This frequency liberates energy and has beneficial effects on feelings of guilt. It cleanses the feeling of guilt, which often represents one of the basic obstacles to realisation, enabling achievement of goals in the most direct way. The ‘Ut’ tone releases you from the feeling of guilt and fear by bringing down the defence mechanisms. 396 Hz frequency searches out hidden blockages, subconscious negative beliefs, and ideas that have led to your present situations.
Undoing situations & facilitating change
The next main tone from the Solfeggio scale produces energy to bring about change. This frequency cleanses traumatic experiences and clears the destructive influences of past events. When speaking of cellular processes, tone ‘Re’ encourages the cell and its functions in an optimal way. 417 Hz frequency puts you in touch with an inexhaustible source of energy that allows you to change your life.
Transformation & miracles, repairing DNA
Tone ‘Mi’ is used to return human DNA to its original, perfect state. This frequency brings transformation and miracles into your life. The process of DNA reparation is followed by beneficial effects – increased amount of life energy, clarity of mind, awareness, awakened or activated creativity, ecstatic states like deep inner peace, dance and celebration. Tone ‘Mi’ activates your imagination, intention and intuition to operate for your highest and best purpose.
Relationships; Connecting with spiritual family
Another frequency from the sacred Solfeggio scale. It enables creation of harmonious community and harmonious interpersonal relationships. Tone ‘Fa’ can be used for dealing with relationships problems – those in family, between partners, friends or social problems. When talking about cellular processes, 639 Hz frequency can be used to encourage the cell to communicate with its environment. This ancient Solfeggio frequency enhances communication, understanding, tolerance and love.
Expression/solutions, cleaning & solving
It cleans the cell (“Solve polluti“) from the toxins. Frequent use of 741 Hz leads to a healthier, simpler life, and also to changes in diet towards foods which are not poisoned by various kinds of toxins. Tone ‘Sol’ cleans the cell from different kinds of electromagnetic radiations. Another application of this sound frequency is solving problems of any nature. The fifth frequency of the Solfeggio scale will also lead you into the power of self-expression, which results in a pure and stable life.
Returning to spiritual order
Tone ‘La’ is linked to your ability to see through the illusions of your life, such as hidden agendas of people, places and things. This frequency can be used as a means for opening a person up for communication with the all-embracing Spirit. It raises awareness and lets you return to spiritual order. Regarding cellular processes, 852 Hz enables the cell to transform itself into a system of higher level.
Mathematically, the scale has been extended in both directions with natural harmonics around the 3, 6, and 9 frequencies. The full scale is now:
- 174 Hz – reduce pain
- 285 Hz – influence energy fields
- 396 Hz – turning grief into joy
- 417 Hz – facilitate change
- 528 Hz – transformation & miracles
- 639 Hz – reconnecting, relationships
- 741 Hz – expressions/solutions
- 852 Hz – return to spiritual order
- 963 Hz – awaken perfect state
I found this chart on The Floatation Centre and thought it made a perfect summary of the above. You will note that each frequency has been linked here to a Chakra. If you want to go further into energy healing, this will have more relevance. It relates also to the Overtone Chanting I mention in the opening paragraph and also to Stephen Halpern’s Spectrum Suite CD which I refer to in the resources at the end of this piece.
The scientific community began studying the links between the type of music played and the variety of physical effects on the human body. In 1988, biochemist Dr Glen Rein made a discovery that confirmed what the ancient spiritual traditions understood when he tested the impact of different music on human DNA.
Rein exposed similar DNA vials to four kinds of music with different frequencies – Gregorian chants, Sanskrit chants, classical, and rock. By measuring the rate of UV light absorption, an essential function of healthy DNA, Rein was able to assess the effects of each type of music. And the results might make you reconsider the type of music you listen to when you want to relax.
The Gregorian and Sanskrit chants had the most positive, even healing, effects by increasing UV light absorption between 5 to 9 per cent. The classical music increased UV absorption by small amounts. And rock music decreased UV light absorption, harming the DNA. Rein’s research supported the theory that sound frequencies do produce physical effects, for better or worse, on health and well-being.
Since Rein’s illuminating discovery, further research has come to light that shows Solfeggio frequencies have profound mental, emotional, and physical effects. Additionally, this understanding has led to music therapy becoming established as a branch of the health profession to help individuals therapeutically using various aspects of sound.
From Early Instinct to Proven Benefits
Sounds have long been known to have a profound effect on the human mind and body, long before they became scientifically proven. And we have benefited from them since the dawn of time without needing this proof. Take a long walk in the woods one afternoon by a babbling brook and tune in to the sounds of the breeze through the trees and the birdsong.
However, it is reassuring to know that not everything woo-woo is unscientific, even if science may not yet have caught up (see my review on Real Magic, for further examples). Arthur C Clarke is famously quoted as saying: “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”
“Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”– Arthur C Clarke
Where Can I Listen to Solfeggio Sounds, etc?
There are a plethora of sources available to you today. When I first started you either had to go to a live seminar, listen to others chanting or buy a CD. Here are some of my preferred sources to get you started:
- Search for “Solfeggio” on the free Insight Timer or Soulvana apps. Or even Spotify (see below).
- Stream or buy some Gregorian Chant (I have an old Gregorian Chant CD from the Metropolitan Museum of Art).
- Stream or buy some New Age Music. I gravitate to the more etheric or natural sounds as they are more aligned to Solfeggio without actually being Solfeggio. Some artists I recommend are:
- Listen to Singing Bowl compositions, or buy one. I would recommend Mei-Lan Maurits as a starting point and experience her sound-bath meditations.
I have tried quite a few sessions that contain Solfeggio tones and those that claim to be “pure” to the frequency can sound jarring at times. They are not a single tone as you may assume, but are a collection of etheric sounds layered together to create the desired effect. Not all sounds are created equal, so you may need to try different ones until you find one that resonates (literally) with you.
Here is a playlist on Spotify of short pieces of the various Solfeggio tones. I like these and they are relaxing to have in the background or headphones. I prefer to physically experience the sound when I can because I believe that physical stimulation of the Vagus Nerve (not just auditory) yields greater benefit. Remember how you feel when you sing in the shower? It’s the physical reverberation that is enhancing the experience.
More content follows after this break …
Solfeggio, Binaural Beats & Hypnosis
I thought I would add this as an aside at the end. It’s an extension of the original sound therapy based on primitive or Solfeggio tones, and enhances this with binaural tones – activating relaxed brain wave states – to create specific effects.
I have a number of CDs from Anna Thompson which blend Solfeggio and binaural tones to induce deep relaxation. I find these extremely therapeutic and have made playlists from them to create shorter sessions – each CD is 60-90 minutes long. The fusion of these tones with occasional guidance from Anna is designed to help you achieve specific goals or release blocks, such as better sleep, better self-esteem, weight loss, improved performance, greater prosperity, trust, healing, help with addictions, enhanced moods, and spiritual growth.
Hypnosis is a technique involving focused attention, reduced peripheral awareness, and an enhanced capacity to respond to suggestion. It is not about sending you to sleep or controlling you to do things you don’t want to. In a professional setting, it is a focused tool to help address issues.
Your turn … Have you tried any Solfeggio tones? Overtone Chanting? Had any experience with sound therapy? Post your comments below or try out some of the suggestions here and let me know how it goes.