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Book reviews

Seed Sounds for Tuning the Chakras: Vowels, Consonants and Syllables for Spiritual Transformation

review by Susan Hale for www.soundtravels.co.uk

There is a wonderful new book in the Sound Healing Field. Seed Sounds for Tuning the Chakras: Vowels, Consonants and Syllables for Spiritual Transformation by James D'Angelo is the rare book that speaks to both the beginner as well as the seasoned sound therapy practitioner. The book, published by Destiny Books of Rochester, Vermont, includes a 66 minute CD. Filled with both traditional, time-tested methods as well as original inspiration, D'Angelo's book is a mixture of the sacred and the silly. For example note his unique word play on vowels and consonants. He assigns "H" to the Throat Chakra and says this consonant can relfect Heavenly Harmony but also be used negatively "when we Heckle, Hector, Hiss, Hoot, Holler. Haggle. Haress, Harangue and, in general, get Huffy."

Though I have been working with music therapy and toning for 40 years, I read Seed Sounds and sounded along with his CD with a beginner's mind. Not only does he give many different exercises I was familar with, but he expanded my awareness by assigning each sound a different number of pulsations per minute, giving a low 36 to the root chakra and a faster vibratory rate of 108 for the crown. "The principle," he says, "is that the throbbing of the vowels emulates the source of the chakra vibration that is to be resonated, awakened and re-tuned." The other new experience for me was to end each exercise with whispering the pulsating sound with the breath. I found this particularly profound in the efficacy of the exercise.

I also loved his concept of "extracting the juice" from each exercise. This vivid metaphor reflects that sound is a form of deep nourishment. He also suggests the use of the older, more multi-cultural pentatonic scale for sounding the chakras then the more common C Major Scale found in most books on Sound Healing. This brilliant intuitive leap gives the exercises a different flavor and feel. (He starts with F and ends with G.)

I stayed with James for several months when he was writing Seed Sounds. Not only was I impressed with his extensive library and research but also his daily discipline of meditation and sounding the chakras. He is someone who embodies what he teaches and has refined his own consciousness through his practice.

Seed Sounds for Tuning the Chakras is a book to return to again and again in your own quest for using sound for meditation and healing. To order this book go to www.DestinyBooks.com

Seed Sounds for Tuning the Chakras: Vowels, Consonants and Syllables for Spiritual Transformation

Reviewed by Grethe Hooper-Hansen for Caduceus Magazine

James d’Angelo is one of those writers whose love of sound and all things musical resonates through his prose, making it a delight to read. His new book Seed Sounds for Tuning the Chakras, complete with demonstration CD, offers a practice that is a delight to do, tuning oneself as a spiritual instrument, an inner adventure that is also a ritual pathway to healing and transformation through the vibratory powers of vowels and consonants.

The book is erudite but short and practical. He first creates a context with an intriguing explanation from Hindu theology of the story of Creation and our place within it, the vibratory nature of the universe and the importance of sound and language as a corresponding means to work with energy. Man is portrayed as a microcosm of all-that-is, a soul linked to a physical body by a chakra system that is a means to life as well as our primary instrument for creation and self-regulation, which can be tuned by the vibratory power of word. Seed sounds, central to the Tantric tradition, are formulae to awaken energy within us. Ancient languages such as Sanskrit and Hebrew carry this spiritual function, but all language can, by intention, emotion and desire, be used to stir into life deeper levels of our psychology and spiritual possibility. There are many fascinating examples of the hidden meanings of words.

Each chakra has its own small chapter describing its function and purpose at different levels, its specific vibratory triggers and the energies associated with it. Music brings the vital element of number and harmonic ratios for further organisation of sound. After explanation of how-to and some technical discussion for musicians, the fun begins, which is the inner exploration. It is clear from the CD that this is not just man-made construction but a faithful reproduction of genuine relationships and conditions: the toning that James demonstrates does indeed resonate the targeted chakras.

Musical therapist Alfred de Tomatis also claimed that the ear organises and supports the nervous system and that specific sounds open our spiritual ears. This is what palpably happens as you rhythmically repeat the seed syllables and continue into silent repetition of that encodement of energies, listening deeply to the no-longer-audible, finally succumbing to the vast space of silence and feeling your whole-body attunement to the mysteries within it. The heart opens progressively wider and attention become more and more acute; you feel intelligence expanding and at last, you are fully linked back to source. This is an intense spiritual practice bringing harmony to the soul, and a deep sense of connection.

There are many appendices for those who wish to ‘extract all the therapeutic juices’ of sound: preliminary exercises to prepare the voice; breathwork; finding your own tone; different musical scales that can be applied; vowels and consonants to experiment with, and even a discussion of the shapes of letters of the alphabet. But you do not need to know, learn and labour, just to do and feel – and that is miraculous.

The Healing Power of the Human Voice

Reviewed by Katharine Firth for Caduceus Magazine.

What resonates long after finishing James D’Angelo’s The Healing Power of the Human Voice is D’Angelo’s spiritually inspiring and physically embodied message that the human voice contains the seeds of healing. Reminding us that ‘at the spiritual level we are all connected to the One Sound of Sounds, but cut off from its full impact, ’ D’Angelo invites the reader on a journey of re-discovery of their own inner and outer pearls of sound vibrations.

Starting with breathing techniques for a healthy and connected sound, he assures the hesitant it’s not the quality of the sound that matters as much as the intention behind it. He then enticingly invites us to re-connect to our inner source of sound in a childlike spirit, by starting with the natural sounds of our emotions such as yawning, sighing, wailing, which, he emphasises, are ‘intended by nature to be purifiers.’ Within this context, it is not surprising that his exercises are literally rituals, with guidelines for starting and finishing mindfully, implicitly acknowledging the spiritual potential of vibrations to penetrate our being and allowing us to be our own sound healers.

The book then explores the varying textures and qualities of speech sounds and their potential spiritual significance. It gives practical tips on how to find your own fundamental tone, and to experiment with and wonder at the essential vibrations contained in our names. It then moves into toning, chanting sacred mantras from various religious traditions, and overtoning the chakras to heal and re-tune the body. The rituals for giving voice in a sense become containers for sacred physical, emotional and spiritual possibilities: a means of re-connecting to our inner world, and paradoxically, ‘letting go’ of our often enclosed, cut off inner personal world in order to ‘allow’ a state of transcendence. Here again is the implicitly wise encouragement to connect first to what is inside, to feelings, emotions, (which, he points out, literally means, to move out from), rather than attempting a kind mystic flight that ignores the intensely personal, the vulnerabilty of re-connecting with the power and potential our own voices. This reveals D’Angelo’s spiritual understanding of the pathway to transcendence through entering into our humanity through our relationship with our body and feelings, through voice and ritual.

Sound and movement rituals are clearly described alongside simple diagrams of D’Angelo demonstrating the movements. The CD is an auditory sampler of vocal passion; his full bodied baritone demonstrates each sound ritual with loving commitment, exemplifying the many years of musical and spiritual research, exploration and practise. His instructions demonstrate the potential latent in every detail: for example, wonderfully fruity instruction to ‘squeeze as much juice as you can from the opening consonant,’ acknowledges the implicitly grounded, visceral qualities of earthy consonants. The ‘natural sounds’ are given as much importance as the more overtly sacred sounds, and the keening in particular, is a most extraordinary example of the astonishing range of a voice connected to deep wells of emotion. As in all of his rituals, after a series of repetitions he will remind you to ‘take the sound inside as a meditation, tuning into them in outer silence,’ implying the ongoing resonance within. It is in the silence that we can feel the sound literally resonating within our being, feeling the effects of the ritual ripple through us in inner space. Silence following the voiced sounds are as important as giving voice itself. All is connection, sound and silence need each other.

D’Angelo’s passion for creating connections is clear in his curiousity about the connections between language and sound, and the acoustical impact of speech sounds, as well as the inherently spiritual impact of sound frequencies created by the specific arrangements of tone and syllable in mantras. This leads the reader to re-consider the classic linguistic notion that the connection of sound and signifier is arbitrary. For example, his invitation to consider your own name as ‘a sound formula that embodies who you are’ is a glorious invitation to resonate with one’s own inherent characteristics from an entirely new perspective. It provides thought provoking reflections on how language from various spiritual traditions can create insights into the nature of sound, the literal potency of the Word to create, and the spiritual consciousness of our ancestors that lies lurking unknown inside our modern language. Generously, D’Angelo’s appendix creates new pathways and connections for his readers, listing other sources of research, teaching and voice and sound therapies.

The Healing Power of the Human Voice is a sumptuous journey, as D’Angelo constantly moves from the spiritually healing aims of voice work, to the visceral joys of producing gibberish, from the musically technical (is it a pentatonic scale or a major scale?), to the sublime moments of connection through sound and silence. D’Angelo’s own psycho-spiritual wisdom is implicit in his invitation to connect to the body, to the emotions and sound within. By coming in to land first, he provides strong foundations from which our voices may take flight, allowing vibrations and their residual silent echoes to create “a quiet pulsation of energy that feels like pure love, a great clarity of mind, and a deep serenity of spirit.” It is a book buzzing with possibilities for anyone interested in any aspect of healing, and is a profound reminder that the voice is both a resonator of the immance of spirit as well as a pathway to transcendence.

 

James’s own glorious baritone bubbles through, conveying his love of words and their meanings, together with drops of wisdom from the deep well of his personal spirituality.

He constantly reminds us that sound needs to be followed by silence, a period of deep quiet, drinking up the last sonorous residue and allowing all energetic traces to settle within the body/mind/spirit.

James is more of a doer than a talker, and his aim is to empower us all to fill the world with our sound.”

Caduceus Magazine



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