When my wife Andi and I decided to write a book on humming, we did so for a very simple reason. We wanted everyone everywhere to be able to experience the power of sound for health and transformation. We asked ourselves: what is the simplest sound that people can make? The answer came to us immediately—the hum!
Between Andi and myself, we’ve been involved in researching and teaching the uses of sound as therapeutic and transformative modalities for over 50 years. We know that sound can truly assist in creating health and happiness, but our greatest challenge is often this: many people confuse sound with music and therefore don’t pursue the vibro-acoustic and psycho-acoustic powers of sound because they think they need to be able to sing, play an instrument or have some knowledge of music. This is simply not true. Using sound is available to everyone.
This is why we wrote the first professionally published book that focuses exclusively on humming. We wanted to find a sound that everyone could make and during the process of working on The Humming Effect, we discovered that indeed the simplest sound may well be the most profound.
You Don’t Need to Be Musical
As we previously noted, many people think they need to be able to play a musical instrument or be a professionally trained vocalist in order to experience the power of sound to heal and transform. In truth, you don’t need to be able to carry a “tune in a bucket” in order to create beneficial vibrations to your body, mind and spirit with sound. All you need do is be able to hum—and everybody can hum, from little babies to the elderly, humming is a natural sonic ability we all have. And its effects are amazing.
However, first a word about the difference between sound and music. Julie Andrew may have been correct, and indeed, the hills may be alive with the sound of music. But, while all music is sound, not all sound is considered music—at least to the majority of listeners. While music can certainly be healing, there are many sounds that can have extraordinary healing effects as well—yet, to many people these sounds may not be very musical and sometimes can seem almost the opposite. As an example, there are ancient healing instruments from different cultures that have powerful healing abilities, but to them their sounds are unusual, and certainly not musical—whether it’s the high pitched sounds of Peruvian Whistling Vessels or the seemingly strange tones of certain Tibetan instruments, the sounds they produce can do amazing things to our body and our brain, but they may not be considered musical. In fact, we use a device created by a British doctor which projects a composite of 5 different frequencies and creates a sound that when listened to, produces a discordant buzzing sound. These composite frequencies can be truly healing, they certainly would not be considered very musical. So, healing sounds are not necessarily musical. It’s that simple and that important to understand.
How Sound Affects Us
Our scientists and our spiritual masters are in agreement—everything is in a state of vibration and therefore can be considered sound. From the electrons moving around the nucleus of an atom to planets in distant galaxies moving around their suns, everything is in motion and conceptually creating a sound. This includes our bodies—every organ, bone or tissue is putting out a frequency. And indeed, when we are healthy, we say we’re in “sound” health. We’re like this incredible orchestra that’s playing the Symphony of the Self.
But what happens if the 2nd violin player loses his (or her) sheet music. This person begins to play out of tune. Pretty soon, the entire string section sounds off. Pretty soon the whole orchestra sounds poorly. This is a metaphor for what happens if a part of our body begins to vibrate out of its proper frequency—it begins to resonate out of ease and we say it is diseased.
One of the basic principles of sound healing simply is that enables that part of the body which is vibrating out of tune to get back to its natural resonant frequency—it is very much like giving the violin player back the sheet music. We can do this with many different sonic modalities, from tuning forks to exotic instruments to expensive scientific devices.
However, we all have within us, the most powerful instrument for healing, and that is our voice. It is easy to use, does not require electricity or batters, it’s free and the user’s manual is quite simple. And in particular, of all the self-created sounds we can make, we have found that the sound which is most profound and powerful is the hum.
Psycho Acoustics & Vibro Acoustics
There are two main ways that sound affects us. The first is called “psycho-acoustics”. These are are sounds that go into our ears and into our brain, affecting our nervous system, including our heart rate and respiration. As noted, this can produce great therapeutic benefits and is certainly something that occurs when we listen to music. The second is called “vibro-acoustics”. These are sounds that go into our body and vibrate us on a cellular level. As we’ll discuss momentarily, these sounds can also produce amazing effects. While all sound (including music) that we hear have some vibro-acoustic ability, there are some sounds that in particular are extremely non-musical, yet quite excellent on vibrating the physical body.
Humming is in fact, the most powerful self-created sound that we know of, which can produce vibro-acoustic effects, enabling the sounds to internally massage us and affecting us in the way that no other such sound can do. Thus, we as say again: the simplest sounds is the most profound.
The Power of the Hum
When we began The Humming Effect, we knew that people would be skeptical about the positive benefits of such an easily made sound, so our first chapter focuses on various “peer review” studies (from medical and scientific publications) in order to validate the phenomenon of humming. Some of these physiological benefits include:
- Increased oxygen in the cells—enhancing health and wellness.
- Lowered blood pressure and heart rate
- Increased lymphatic circulation—clearing toxins from the body
- Increased levels of melatonin—a hormone that enhances sleep
- Reduced levels of stress related hormones—enhancing health and wellness
- Release of endorphins—self-created opiates that work as “natural pain relievers” and make us feel good
- Increased levels of nitric oxide, (NO), a molecule associated with vasodilation and the promotion of healing
- Release of oxytocin –the “love” hormone, creating trust between us.
The Benefits of the Hum
If you think about these benefits from the self-created sound of the hum, it’s rather remarkable. Simply being able to lower our heart rate and blood pressure without pharmaceuticals is important. So is the reduction of stress related hormones—we all know how a majority of the illnesses that occur are stress related. Melatonin has been found to be effective in helping us sleep. It’s also being researched for use in treatment of depress. Some believe that nitric oxide may be among the most important chemicals which our body can produce, widening our blood vessels. Data has shown that humming is great for those with blocked sinus cavities. Sleep enhances, stress reduction and vasodilation are only a few of the many extraordinary benefits that can be achieved through humming. We know of many who have used humming to reduce pain and assist with headaches, sore throats and many other maladies.
Since nitric oxide has been found to be profoundly important for treatment of coronary disease, we believe that research will soon indicate that humming may be useful for all sorts of related imbalances. We are also quite sure research will show humming to be quite beneficial for treatment of many different neurological imbalances such as stroke and Altheimer’s, having the ability to create neuro-genesis—new cells in the brain.
What’s the secret of experiencing the power of the hum? It’s nearly as simple as the hum itself. Certainly part of this power is the vibro-acoustic effect that is produced. But there is another element that empowers the hum. We call it “conscious humming” . To experience this, first find yourself a comfortable place to make sound. Then close your eyes. Check yourself out and see how you are feeling. Note any tension or imbalances. Now, begin to take some slow deep breaths and then begin to gently hum for about five minutes. Focus your attention on the vibrations that are occurring as you hum.
If you don’t have a way of timing yourself, we have found that approximately 25 slow hums occur during a five minute period. So, if you prefer, just count 25 hums and that will be about five minutes. After this amount of time, allow yourself several minutes to be in a state of quiet and to become aware of on what has happened to you during the humming experience. Five minutes of humming is all it takes to feel a difference in yourself—sometimes even less time. And the more your practice this, the easier it becomes to feel the power of the hum.
We hum all the time—especially when we’re feeling good—but most often, we hum unconsciously and we are not aware of the vibro-acoustic effects from the sound. Once we focus our attention on this, there is suddenly a great and powerful shift in the experiencing the effects of the hum. When we add the element of intention to the vibrations of the hum, something amazing often happens.
The Power of Intent
In the 1980’s, when I was working on his Master’s Degree from Lesley University researching the uses of sound and music for healing, I had an epiphany. I was trying to correlate many different systems of sound that resonate the physical body and the chakras. The problem was that these different systems were not in agreement with each other. Different scientists would use different frequencies for the same organ. Different spiritual teachers would use different mantras for the same chakra. I like to say I was in a state of “intellectual angst” because I knew of the importance of frequency—yet all these different frequencies did not match up. Then I heard a voice say: “It is not only the frequency of the same that creates its effect. It is also the intention of the person making and receiving the sound.” I was at my computer at the time and I wrote down the words “Frequency + Intent = Healing”.
It is now over 30 years later since this experience occurred for me. It is my belief that this formula which I was able to bring forth may be among the most important that has manifested. I also created some additional corollaries of this formula which are very similar. They are: “Vocalization + Visualization = Manifestation” as well as “Sound + Belief = Outcome.” Ultimately, these different formulas indicate that it is the vibration plus the consciousness encoded upon the vibrations that ultimately produces the effect. From one perspective, I like to perceive of sound created in this manner as being “Quantum Sound”.
At the time I first came up with this initial formula of “Frequency + Intent = Healing”, most scientists scuffed at the idea of intention being important. Now there are a multitude of books, videos and major teachings on the power of belief, the placebo effect and all various other aspects of our intent. From my perspective, it is a great blessing that the power of intent is finally being acknowledged.
The Humming Effect
The Humming Effect is the power of the hum to heal and transform us on a physical, emotional, mental and spiritual level. Through the Humming Effect, we can all learn to use our own voice as a tool of empowerment—learning to use the power of resonance to manifest harmony and balance both within us and without us. In our book, The Humming Effect, Andi and I include many other aspects of empowering self-created sound including the power of our breath and the power of our intention. We’ve both personally worked with self-created sound from many different traditions, both Eastern and Western, and have found that from our experience, the hum may be the most powerful. We’ve used it to relieve pain, reduce stress, help us sleep and much much more. It’s real and it’s true. We know that sound can heal—vibrational healing has been known about since ancient times and is now slowly being acknowledged in traditional medicine. With The Humming Effect, we offer an incredibly simple, yet equally a profound modality of healing that everyone can utilize for health and happiness.
The Spiritual Aspect of the Hum
As we researched more and more into the hum, Andi and I found that in many different traditions, humming was considered to be the original sound of creation. Our first understanding about the sacred nature of the hum occurred when we were teaching together at Yogaville, an ashram founded by Swami Satchadinanda, the guru who started off the Woodstock Festival in 1968 by having half a million people chanting. We found a copy of Pantajali’s “Yoga Sutras” that had been translated by Sw. Satchadinanda, in which, he wrote about the first sound—that it was “pranava” or the humming of prana (life energy). This humming needed a name, so they called it “OM”. Therefore, according to the Hindu tradition, the first sound was a hum. This is also a phenomenon that has been validated by astrophysicists. Thus the hum is not only sacred—it may be the original sound of creation.
We also discovered that humming was actually an advanced sonic yogic technique called bhramari pranayama whose benefits included all of the above peer reviewed material and more, including assistance with Alzheimer’s. This was most interesting since in our last chapter of The Humming Effect, we hypothesis that humming is able to manifest neuro-genesis—the creation of new connections in the brain. We’ve had many anecdotal stories about this, including from people who have suffered from strokes and were able to successfully utilize humming to assist themselves. We’ve also been told of people with PTSD who have used humming to feel better, and know of one well known neurologist who has his patients with PTSD hum as a healing modality. We trust that with proper research we may find the validity of humming to have great and powerful benefits for such problems. What a gift it would be to find that we have within ourselves the ability to assist these conditions!
To Hum (or Not To Hum)
As previously noted, you don’t have to be a musician to hum. You don’t even need to be able to carry a “tune in a bucket”. All you need is a voice. Through making your own self-created sound and having the desire to help relieve yourself of any imbalances that may be occurring, the miraculous can potentially occur. While we can offer you the technique, the decision of whether or not to do it is up to you. It is your choice. We trust you’ll choose wisely and discover the extraordinary benefits of humming. Thank you for this opportunity to share these possibilities with you.