One of the most astoundingly powerful treatments recently “discovered” by mainstream medicine is sound therapy — and one of the oldest forms of sound therapy comes from the ancient practice of Qigong (pronounced chee gong or chee kung).
Qigong is a self-healing therapy that combines sound, vibration, movement, breathing, and visualization to heal disease and injury by improving the flow of the vital energy or life force called qi (pronounced chee).
“Qigong is the most profound health practice ever invented by mankind for preventing illness…reducing stress…managing chronic conditions…increasing longevity…and promoting healthy, active aging,” says Tom Rogers, president of the Qigong Institute.
Mind-body practices such as Qigong therapy improve the health of the immune system, nervous system, and internal organs. Just as important—or even more—is how Qigong melts away stress, the root cause of the vast majority of all disease.
The many forms of Qigong therapy (or external Qi healing, as it’s sometimes referred to in the U.S.), has been extensively researched, especially in China, with increasing scientific attention in the West. Currently, Qigong therapy is even used as a treatment option for cancer at many integrative facilities, and has demonstrated benefits for myriad other common and serious ailments.
The Sounds of Health and Healing
Of the thousands of forms of Qigong exercises, the healing sounds practice is one of the best known. With the healing sounds practice, specific sounds correspond to certain organs and energy channels in the body.
“We use this Qigong exercise therapy practice to transform ‘stuck’ emotional energy into nourishment,” explains Elizabeth Reninger, M.S., and practitioner of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM).
In China, the healing sounds are widely prescribed and have a stellar clinical record. However, as with many other facets of Chinese medicine, the healing sounds aren’t meant to address specific maladies as they arise. Instead, when practiced regularly (as they should be), the sounds promote total health and well-being.
The 8 Powerful Healing Sounds of Qigong Therapy
Michelle Wood teaches Qigong therapy and meditation at the Choose to Be Well Center in Eugene, Oregon, and is the founder of the Be Well with Qigong blog. She advises those interested in using the healing power of sound and vibration in their personal, holistic health systems begin with 8 powerful healing sounds.
Here are the general effects of each of the 8 healing sounds as practiced standing still:
• Ah is a smooth, steady sound that benefits the lungs and relieves respiratory illnesses (asthma, bronchitis, colds, etc.).
• Hh is a silent sound, a quiet exhalation good for the heart and circulation, heart palpitations, chest discomfort, shortness of breath, heartburn, and irritability.
• Heng is a quick, sharp sound that clears up the kidneys, lower back pain, prostate illness, some reproductive conditions, and ringing in the ears.
• Hu is a deep, droning sound beneficial for the stomach, excessive or suppressed appetite, and abdominal gas.
• Mer is a low, drawn out sound (moo-r) that affects the spleen, thereby alleviating digestive problems.
• Xu is a quiet, protracted sound (shh) that’s great for the liver, lower back, some intestinal issues, erectile dysfunction, and urinary difficulties.
• Yi is extended sound (pronounced like the long e, as in easy) that controls the flow of qi in the human body. It can be especially useful for headaches and back soreness.
• Hong is a lingering, sonorous sound that stimulates the lymph system and facilitates the elimination of waste from the body.
Each person will vocalize the sounds in his or her own unique way, depending on factors such as:
• Lung capacity
• Vocal cords
• Energy level
• Emotional state
Especially because individuals naturally vary the sounds to meet their own needs, the 8 sounds are 100% safe and effective for everyone. “Even when vocalizing the same syllable,” Wood writes, “Ah for example, my Ah is going to be different from your Ah.”
The important thing to remember is that whatever sound you vocalize is the right sound for you in that moment—just as long as you’re practicing proper breathing techniques and intentionality (see more about breathing and intention below).
“Trust that your body is going to automatically do what is beneficial for your health,” Wood advises. The sounds can be practiced standing still…walking…seated…and lying down. Benefits vary slightly between the positions.
How to Practice the 8 Sounds
Experts say it’s best to start with practicing the 8 sounds while seated. “Settle into a comfortable position and let your mind become quiet,” Wood recommends. Start by focusing on your breath, and then “for each of the sounds, breathe into your belly [and] as you exhale, make the sound.”
If you’re practicing the sounds properly, you should be able to feel the sound vibrate throughout your entire body.
As you make the sound, says Wood, “visualize the organ or body area you wish to improve as completely healthy and functional.” This is the intention behind the practice. Without the proper intention, the sound is meaningless.
Ideally, you should repeat each sound several times so that the entire practice takes between 15 and 20 minutes. Wood recommends doing 12, 16, or even 24 repetitions of each of the sounds. “The more you do,” Wood says, “up to repetitions of 50 of each sound, the more you will benefit!”
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