Jonathan & Andi Goldman, leading experts in the field of sound healing share a conversation with us exploring the use of sound in personal, interpersonal and planetary healing.
Integral Yoga Magazine: You have been working in the field of sound healing for 40 years. What drew you to working with sound?
JG: Sound is such an extraordinary tool in personal and planetary healing. It enhances one’s consciousness of the Divine within oneself and one’s partner. If you examine basic tenets of almost every spiritual tradition they share this commonality of the understanding that the universe was created through sound. Everything in the universe is in a state of vibration, creating sound—from atoms, to planets, to distant galaxies.
IYM: We have a strong tradition of chanting and mantra repetition in Integral Yoga.
JG: Through the chanting of a mantra, you begin to vibrate to that frequency and you can resonate with the deity or energy form of that mantra. Bija mantras are designed to balance the chakras.
AG: When we talk about sound, we think it’s only what we hear with our ears, but when you go to deeper levels, it’s a vibration perceived more deeply than even what our ears can hear. Mantras cleanse our vibratory systems. Our body-mind-spirit goes through a beautiful “sound massage.”
IYM: Your published a book, Tantra of Sound. What do you mean by tantra?
JG: Our understanding of tantra is an interconnecting web that unites all of reality. Sound is the substance that creates this connecting web of life. It lets us know the unity and interrelationship of all things. When we work with sound it brings us right into this energy field and connects us with this web.
AG: The actual etymology of tantra comes from a combination of two words—tattva and mantra. Tattva is the science of cosmic principles while mantra is the science of mystic vibrations and sound. The concept of Tantra of Sound is to utilize sound as a tool to take us swiftly through the states of spiritual evolution, bringing our consciousness from ignorance to enlightenment.
JG: That is why it is so important to work with sacred sound with the intentionality of peace, love, and being part of the Divine. Our book is not about sex or music. Rather, it is about using sound to generate cooperation, compassion, creativity, consciousness. That is so important right now. We need to raise the vibratory field of our consciousness so we can be in peace and harmony with ourselves first and then with each other.
IYM: How can we do that?
JG: We give many exercises in the book that are designed to be simple, easy to work with. We include an instructional CD that shows what the different sounds sound like. So when you read the book, you have a guide to the sounds.
AG: One of our hopes in writing the book was that it would help people to go through transformations with a partner. The partner can be a spouse, a friend, a business partner. It’s the inner peace and deep connection with the web of life that is so transforming.
IYM: How do partners do this work?
JG: There are many ways. You can utilize one of the two major exercises, using vowels or bija and chant together. By the time you have gone from the root chakra to the sahasrara chakra you are in a state of resonance, harmony and higher consciousness. This certainly makes it easier to look at yourself and your partner and see the Divine and unity in both. When you are in relationship it’s so easy to push each other’s buttons and things escalate and next thing you know you are in conflict. When that starts to happen, I’ll say to Andi, let’s make an “OM” or “Ah” sound and fairly quickly we are back in a state of harmony.
AG: It shifts the energy and we are then able to put ourselves back in a place where we can talk about what is happening rather than shutting down when buttons get pushed.
IYM: But most conflicts, especially between couples, often escalate so quickly. Is it really possible to stop the escalation?
JG: When you are in a state of harmony—not in the midst of conflict—you can make a verbal contract. For example: “When we find ourselves in a state of conflict we will begin to use sound. Let’s make an ‘OM’ together even if one of us is in an agitated place. We will commit to making the ‘OM’ together.” Making that verbal contract together can help you when you are heading toward conflict. The power of sound is that it works really fast! I was trained in many modalities in various healing traditions. I found sound to be the most powerful and effective tool in creating shifts and change. Sometimes all a couple needs is one or two sounds. Sometimes they need to do this five to eight times or longer. But it works!
AG: Another tool we use is to set aside time even once a week to do the exercises—having a regular practice together of balancing our chakras can be very helpful.
IYM: What type of regular practice do you recommend?
JG: We recommend a 20-30 minute practice. However, in Tantra of Sound, we also give 60-second “sound bites” to use on a daily basis. Here in the West, we don’t often have time to do extended meditation practice. But we can do a minute’s practice that can create shifts and changes in your consciousness. We also include Egyptian sounds; this is a fairly new sound that I made in an ancient Mayan temple and the room became illuminated. When we do this sound [demonstrates making the sound “Noor” which is an ancient Eastern term for light] together it’s another powerful interconnecting sonic tool.
IYM: Does this work help open channels of communication between people?
JG: If we first put ourselves in a state of inner peace and balance, we can get more synergistic—we can have a greater sense of all of us being part of the divine. Then, all those boundaries and barriers drop away and we feel, as the Mayans say: “I am another you and you are another me.”
AG: Working at this level is real. For Jonathan and me, this was our first book together and at times, it certainly provided challenging experiences for us. We’d hit stumbling blocks where I’d want to do one thing and Jonathan may have wanted to do another. We’d take a break and do one of our sound exercises and, very shortly we’d be back on the proverbial “same page!”
IYM: You talk in your book about how sound can assist planetary healing.
JG: We found intentionalized sound is the single most potent aspect of prayer. This prayer, when done with a number of people can really have a synergistic effect. One plus one equals three. This is known as “the Maharishi effect” and it was studied by the Global Consciousness Project at Princeton. Machines can measure shifts in planetary consciousness. All you need is the square root of one percent of the planetary population to make a shift. So, if you can get 8,000 people making a sound (we like to use “OM,” or a sacred vowel sound) and have them project energy of global peace and harmony, there is a measurable decrease in violent activity.
IYM: Do you host gatherings?
AG: Every year on February 14th we sponsor “World Sound Healing Day.” It’s the perfect day to send a valentine of love and peace out to our planet. It’s very powerful!
JG: We work with WorldPuja.org and they broadcast, via the Internet, sonic “ah’s” and everyone can tune in. We lead them in meditation. During times when people were participating in “Harmonic Convergence” type events, the Global Consciousness Project measured a huge spike. So, imagine if when the leaders of the United Nations gathered and before they had their discussions, they made a tone, it would put them in resonance and generate sacred energy.
IYM: Several organizations have been sponsoring an interfaith prayer gathering prior to the opening of the United Nations’ General Assembly which even Kofi Annan attended. Sri Gurudev participated and would lead Sanskrit chanting.
JG: Sri Swami Satchidananda was an extraordinary being who manifested some of the great planetary teachings of our time. He was the embodiment of truth, wisdom and love. Our purpose was to create a book which would enable people to realize that sound is a tool they can easily utilize to help them lead happier and healthier lives. We can make a difference by using the tantra of sound. We can affect the energy field, the consciousness of the planet. We have the ability to make a difference through interconnecting and interfacing with this wonderful web of life.