Ever seen a soprano shatter a champagne class? It's not trick you know, or better said, it is a trick, but one based on physics and hard to do unless you're a highly trained singer. The reason it works is that molecular bonds hold all matter together, and those bonds can loosen if vibrated at a particular frequency. Most structures have a resonant frequency at which they vibrate, and if those vibrations become too strong, as when that sly soprano strikes or when an earthquake rattles the ground, the results can be quite dramatic.
Our bodies contain organs and tissues of different densities, each of which has a resonant frequency just like a bridge or a building or a champagne flute. While overly powerful vibrations can hurt our soft parts, gentle vibrations can stimulate body systems in a healthful way.
There is a set of six healing sounds often taught in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and martial art practices. Each sound is connected to a certain organ or organ system, and related to vitality, which TCM refers to as qi. These don't correspond precisely to the organ systems we know in the West, but there are similarities. They also correspond to certain "elements" in TCM's Five Element theory, which is a complex and sophisticated method of characterizing and classifying pretty much everything under the sun, as well as the relationships we find in nature. In the list below, the TCM references and vocabulary are included, but there's no need to understand the details fully in order to get benefit from the sounds.
The six healing sounds are:
• Shhhhh Liver system. Spring Season. Wood. Spring is the time for germination and growth and the liver is more active during that season. Among other things, the liver influences movement of blood and vitality, health of sinews, women's menstrual cycles and our stress response.
• Hawww Heart system. Summer. Fire. Fire happens in summer and the heart system is easily influenced during that period. In TCM the heart is responsible for mental and spiritual/emotional activity and for moving blood through the circulatory system.
• Hoooo Spleen/Pancreas system. Mid-Summer or the transition between the seasons. Earth. This is the organ system that processes food into vitality and transforms and transports that vitality, and fluid, throughout the body.
• Ssssszz Lung system. Autumn. Metal. This sound has a buzz at the end. Lungs are responsible for turning air into vitality and involved in immunity. They are prone to injury by dryness, which is characteristic of this season.
• Chuaay Kidney system. Winter. Water. Among other things, the kidney system influences the back, the knees, and the elimination of waste. It also "governs" birth, growth, reproduction and development and health of bones. The kidney system is the base or "pilot light" of all vitality.
• Sssssi. Triple Burner. This one is a cluster of systems, and assists other systems in processing air and food into vitality, and processing and eliminating waste.
Rather than thinking of these sounds as a cure for a particular Western diagnosis, think of them as supporting the organ system at which they are targeted. This sound practice is a nice adjunct to meditation, and seems to work best when you are relaxed and can make the sounds purely and clearly. Allow your breath to create the sounds without effort. Practice each sound six times, add another round of six to target a specific organ system, the liver, for instance, if you've had too much to drink, and then add yet another six to match the current season (in winter, for example, practice the kidney sound).
When you first learn the sounds, make sure you can actually clearly and loudly hear the sound the letters describe so as to assure its clarity and accuracy. As you become more proficient at creating the vibration, you will be able feel it in your body as well as hear it with your ears. Try to draw the sound downward and inward to maximize its healing effect. Eventually you can produce the sounds quietly.
There are various and sundry claims for these sounds, relating to particular emotions and secondary organ system benefits. These relationships can be quite complex, and relate both negative and positive emotions to the organ systems in question. If you wish to incorporate emotional work into your healthy sound practice, try releasing irritability and anger when working on the liver sound, manic behavior when working on the heart sound, fixation or obsessions when making the spleen sound. Let go of grief and sadness when making the lung sound, and abandon fear when making the kidney sound. There is no clear, simple connection between the triple burner and emotions.
There are also different schools of thought regarding in what physical stance or position they are to be practiced for greatest effect. To start, just try practicing them all in a neutral, standing meditation position. Your feet should be shoulder width apart, your hands folded lightly over your navel, your shoulders and elbows down and relaxed, no tension in your fingers, your knees slightly bent so that you can feel some slight work in your thigh muscles. You may close your eyes or leave them open and unfocused to the horizon when practicing the sounds.
The sounds do have an effect, and may be practiced several times throughout the day. Have fun with them, and post some comments about your experiences.