The concept that sound can promote healing is not new, nor is it a surprise to anyone who unwinds after a busy, or stressful day by listening to relaxing music.

Sound can promote relaxation as easily as it can inspire and motivate us.  Sound can evoke restlessness, irritation, anger, joy, creativity, romance, peace, or any other state of being or feeling.

When sound is included in a Reiki session, both the healing qualities of the sound, as well as Reiki are enhanced.  Try this simple experiment; first listen to healing music without receiving Reiki. Next receive a Reiki treatment without listening to music.  Finally, receive a Reiki treatment while listening to healing music.

Sound Changes Matter

Scientific studies related to the effect that sound has on matter are relatively new, yet we are already learning that sound alters matter.

Swiss scientist, Dr. Hans Jenny demonstrated how various substances such as sand; plastics and liquid would take on a particular shape and form when various sound waves were passed through them. These experiments indicate that sound has the ability to affect and change the molecular structure of matter. Dr. Jenny coined the word “cymatics” which is defined as the science of visual sound.

Sound travels as waves, which are measured in cycles per second, or hertz (Hz) The slower the sound wave, the deeper or more bass the sound. Conversely, waves that travel faster produce higher (treble) sounds.

How does sound healing work?

Instruments including voice, drums, metal or crystal singing bowls are sung, or played which elicit sound frequencies that  impact the sympathetic nervous system. These sound waves then engage the body’s relaxation response which slows respiration, brain waves and heart rate.  Among the benefits of this relaxation reflex are reduced pain, enhanced vitality, clarity and memory.

Medical Study: Sound Therapy Boosts Immune System

"CymaScope", a visual representation of the sound emitted by the Usui Reiki mental-emotional-harmony symbol (SHK) from the Reiki Chants CD by Jonathan Goldman.

“CymaScope”, a visual representation of the sound emitted by the Usui Reiki mental-emotional-harmony symbol (SHK) from the Reiki Chants CD by Jonathan Goldman.

Although the following study applies directly to the drum as the healing instrument, similar results may be possible with other forms of sound healing.

Published in the January, 2001, issue of Larry Dossey’s Alternative Therapies, the ground-breaking study was performed at Meadville Medical Center’s Mind-Body Wellness Center, by a team of MDs using control groups and blood tests.

Led by well-known researcher, author and cancer expert Barry Bittman, MD, CEO of Meadville Medical Center’s Mind-Body Wellness Center in Meadville, PA, the study shows that group drumming actually increases cancer-killing (NK) cells which help the body combat not only cancer but other viruses, including AIDS.

According to Dr. Bittman, “Group drumming tunes our biology, orchestrates our immunity, and enables healing to begin… When our hands connect with a drum that vibrates with our energy, vitality…and unity, we become whole again.” Dr. Bittman’s weekly radio program, Mind-Body Matters, is syndicated nationwide on NPR. For more on

Dr. Bittman and sound therapy articles: http://www.mind-body.org/mind-over-matter-Bittman.htm#so or on Reiki and drumming visit http://www.ReikiDrumming.com

Sound healing has also been used successfully with Alzheimer’s patients to focus attention, with war veterans to end trauma, with addicts in recovery from drug and alcohol abuse, and with prison and homeless populations to enhance self-esteem. Progressive corporations like Motorola, AT&T and Levi-Strauss promoted team spirit building with drumming.

Widely published research also indicates that playing musical instruments increases children’s learning abilities. This appears especially true of those instruments, which can be played intuitively. Studies indicate that playing an instrument intuitively enhances right-brain functions such as intuition and creativity.

Why does sound have such a profound effect on us?

One theory is that specific sounds activate the energy flow through our chakras.

Jonathan&AndiGoldmanAs a student of Jonathan Goldman, the well known sound healing pioneer, and creator of “Reiki Chants”,  I have adopted his suggestion of  chanting specific vowel sounds which help to activate and balance chakras. This is a very simple and effective practice that anyone can apply to their daily meditation or healing practice.

The basic sounds for each chakra are:

  • Root “UH” (as in “cup”) using the deepest or most base sound you can.
  • Sacral “OOO” (as in “you”) slightly higher
  • Solar Plexus – “OH” (as in “go”)
  • Heart – “AH” (as in “ma or pa”)
  • Throat – “EYE” (as in “my”)
  • Third Eye – “AYE” (as in “say”)
  • Crown – “EEE” (as in “me”) the highest pitch of all the chakras

Combining the chanting of the chakra vowels with strengthening our light with the Reiki symbol (CKR) is particularly effective.

Early in my Reiki practice I was, occasionally inspired to chant the names of the Usui Reiki symbols during some of my sessions.  Although my guides seemed to be encouraging this, my “obedient” Reiki student self believed that voicing the names of the sacred Reiki symbols was wrong.  This thought came from the fact that during my first Reiki II class, prior to the attunement, I was instructed that I should never show the symbols to anyone who is not attuned to them, nor should I ever voice their name.

After much soul searching I felt that if I had properly prepared myself for a session, including praying for Divine guidance and instructing my personality and ego to move aside, it was then permissible to chant the symbol names, if I was guided to do so. I found that, by trusting and following the guidance I received, my sessions seemed to grow more effective and my intuition, and all forms of spiritual perceptive abilities grew stronger.

In 1992 I began to explore, not only chanting the symbol names, but toning, and incorporating musical instruments into my Reiki sessions.

Karuna Reiki and Sound Healing

In 1995 I attended Karuna Reiki master teacher training.  When I first learned Karuna Reiki, sound was not part of this system of advanced healing energy.  However, after teaching several classes and comparing experiences with William Rand, we discovered that we had both been guided to add chanting and toning of the Karuna symbol names to our sessions.  Students and clients began reporting how much deeper their sessions were and healings seemed to be happening faster, with more permanent results, when these sounds were incorporated.

In 1996 we added chanting and toning to the  Karuna Reiki master class curriculum.

There are 8 practitioner symbols taught in Karuna Reiki and 3 master symbols.  Although the symbols flowing together in sequence can create a beautiful healing experience, working with each symbol individually can help us focus on very specific healing issues.

The first symbol assists one in releasing resistance to healing by working like a spiritual anesthetic. Its name contains the vowel sounds for both the solar plexus “oh” and the heart “ah” which can help to replenish these chakras.  Healing issues that relate to trauma, karma and abuse, which are held at any point in one’s consciousness, body or etheric field can be assisted with the energy of this symbol. This means that past life as well as current life traumas can be addressed.

The second symbol addresses all the issues listed above as well as emotional blocks, and shadow self, or sub-personalities which may have developed. The vowel sounds for the heart “ah” and second chakra “ooo” are addressed by this symbol.

The third symbol is a symbol that contains the essence of Universal Compassion, and assists one in becoming compassionate with others, as well as themselves. The heart center opens more fully with the help of the frequency of energy that this symbol emits. As we grow into more compassionate beings, we are often inspired to become very active  in inspiring compassion in others. The vowel sound of this symbol is not surprisingly the “ah” sound which activates the heart chakra.

The fourth symbol assists in aligning the upper and lower chakras, and grounding energy into the body via the heart chakra. It assists one in manifesting from a point of love rather than fear or greed. This symbol contains two vowels, both of which contain the “ah” sound.

The fifth symbol within the Karuna Reiki system helps strengthen our connection with our higher self. The vowel sounds are “oh” and “ah” for solar plexus and heart, which help us align our heart and will as one. This symbol is especially helpful for the creative process by helping one create through the power of love rather than ego.

The symbol for aligning completely with Divine Love, which is our true self, is our sixth Karuna Reiki symbol.  The vowel sounds are “eee” “ah” “ah” or crown, heart, heart. Working with this energy helps us become more aware of and confident in following our spiritual path while accomplishing our Divine purpose. As we grow spiritually stronger, we are less likely to be discouraged or affected by others opinions of how we live our life. This symbol also is a powerful symbol for helping us align our consciousness with all of creation.  This quality helps us become more mindful of living in harmony with the earth, and helps us communicate with animals and all elements of nature.

The essence of peace can be accessed by the seventh symbol, which contains “ah” and “ee” vowel sounds.  Working with this symbol helps to raise the peace vibration within us, and assists in having and holding trust in the process of life.  This trust helps one stay calm in even the most challenging times. We also find that insomnia, anxiety and panic attacks can be helped by embracing the energy of this symbol.

The final practitioner symbol in Karuna Reiki is one that helps with the manifestation of “heaven on earth” as humanity awakens to and accomplishes our Divine purpose on earth. In addition it is a very grounding symbol which is also helpful with physical healing.  The vowel sounds “eee” and “ah” are evoked by this symbol name thus helping the energy of the crown chakra and the heart to anchor in the physical realm. For more information on Karuna Reiki, you may find “The Book on Karuna Reiki … advanced healing energy for an evolving world” helpful. (at the bottom of this article.

Reiki and Kotodama

After the wonderful experiences I had by chanting the names of both the  Usui and Karuna symbols, I was fascinated when my Reiki master friend and publisher (The Book on Karuna Reiki), Nita Mocanu, presented the concept of Kotodama at the Reiki and Sound Healing Conference in 2005.

Kotodama refers to the spiritual power that is contained within words, but also refers to the conception that spiritual power can be manifested through the intonation of words. – “Encyclopedia of Shinto”. Japanese refers to the belief that mystical powers dwell in words and names. English translations include “soul of language”, “spirit of language”, “power of language”,power word“, ” magic word“, and “sacred sound”. The notion of kotodama presupposes that sounds can magically affect objects, and that ritual word usages can influence our environment, body, mind, and soulwww.Reference.com

This corresponds with what I learned from Jonathan Goldman “Sound is not only the basic creative energy, it is also the essence of form.”

As mentioned at the beginning of this article, Dr. Hans Jenny discovered cymatics. Through modern day research John Reid has captured, using a “CymaScope”, a visual representation of the sound emitted by the Usui Reiki mental-emotional-harmony symbol (SHK) from the Reiki Chants CD by Jonathan Goldman.

I had the honor of working with Jonathan on this CD. Under his direction, as vocalists we were instructed to channel the energy of each symbol through our voices, as we chanted the vowel sounds with which it is associated. In this case  A as in day, A as in day again, and then eee as in me. Above is the image that was produced via the CymaScope.

So much of what we are learning through Reiki and about vibrational healing in general is still evolving.  As we each allow the Reiki energy to guide us, we will continue to explore and pioneer new dimensions in healing. May each of us be open to facilitating the awakening of peace on earth through the many ways in which Reiki can be included into daily life.

Laurelle Gaia is the Director of the International Center for Reiki Training’s Licensed Reiki Master teacher program and co-founder of Peace Place the Reiki Center of Sedona, AZ. She is author of “The Book on Karuna Reiki”, “Be Peace Now” and many healing meditation CDs.  To learn more about her classes and Karuna Reiki, visit Infinite Light Healing Studies Center, LLC   To learn more about the CymaScope visit cymascope.com, and to learn more about our Reiki Classes visit www.reikicalendar.com 

Reiki Whispers Infinite Light Healing Studies Center LLC Holy Fire Reiki Classes in Sedona AZ with Laurelle Gaia and Michael Baird

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