More deep thoughts, said dumbly here, as it must be.
They ask me: “Does overtone singing have a healing effect?” Almost anything can be used to heal, and this is evinced by the promulgation of publications declaring the revitalizing potential of everything from asparagus juice to mashed up bee brains to the pheromones collected in the stringy belt of dad's terrycloth bathrobe.
But it depends, really, what one means by “healing”. On one hand, healing suggests the improvement of life quality; on the other hand, that very unpopular hand, but the hand I most prefer to play, healing can be the transcendence of the need to be healed at all.
Through SKYPE or in person I encourage students to discover for themselves what effect the practice may have, as any declaration I make about the results of overtone singing becomes a suggestion and, under the right conditions of consciousness, a student may implant the suggestion and distort his or her reality to make the suggestion appear true.
I can theorize, however, that singing overtones is a means to bypass meaning, thus stilling the movement of thought to let other parts of the self arise to express and clear the system of its blockages. This theory, however, assumes that the movement of feeling is beneficial to a state of mind-body health.
What is thinking? Though some of us think in pictures, bodily sensations, emotions, or even smells, most of our thinking is in words. Words, vocal sound symbols, point to meanings. These symbolic word sounds can exist outside the body in waves upon the air molecules, and inside the body in the audial imagination, which is that place where you can imagine a sound. Thinking is the movement of words in the audial imagination: When you think, you talk to yourself, and almost everybody does it.
How many of your waking hours are dominated by word thinking? How much do you talk—presumably internally—to yourself? When communicating with your fellow creatures, how much do you rely upon your—presumably external—words?
These words are mostly an act of the conscious mind. Through most of the day, our breath, vocal apparatus, and audial imagination serve the intellect in word thought.
The mind-body system’s health is partly dependent on the free flowing of feeling. Down deeper—or perhaps up higher, I don’t know which—our emotions struggle to ride the breath across the vibrating vocal folds. Most of the time, however, they are blocked by intellect. Our voice (internal and external) serves our intellect. Feelings want to go out and play, but intellect is clogging the exit.
Overtone singing is a non-signifying vocal act: it means absolutely nothing, yet the isolation of overtones does use the raw materials of signifying speech; specifically and among others, the vowel sounds.
While singing with awareness on the sound of sound itself, rather than its symbolic meaning, the individual bypasses the conscious mind temporarily to clear the way for something else. I dislike naming the something else, as I dislike naming anything, but the feeling state one experiences in this clarity is distinctly profound: sometimes highly emotional; sometimes highly blissful; sometimes transcending all that is feeling and knowing.
But above words it takes you.
So what “healing” effects can result from singing above meaning? Best to test for yourself, but keep an open mind and heart about what healing can be.
I feel, however, that I’m closer to reality when singing and entering into the unnamable state of mind. Free of the judgments of passing thoughts in the audial imagination, I cease my distortion of reality, and come closer to what is; to what is without my intellectual filtering.
Deep thoughts, dumbly.
To enter into the indescribable way,
Hear the mind’s mental chatter
Not as meaningful words,
But as beautiful music.
Stare with the ear and
To hear the always music everywhere,
And in all sound,
External and internal.
The brain says “yes”;
The heart says “maybe”;
The time of your life
Needs a winding.