Michelle Marie Gervais, a Certified Acutonics Practitioner, has a holistic practice in St. Albert, Alberta, Canada, and works primarily with sound, colour and energy medicine. I found her as the author of the book Spiritual Portraits of the Energy Release Points. Here, she answers questions about the use of music and sound in healing; traditions of the past and uses in the now.
A: Can you tell me a little bit about the history of sound and music in healing through shamanic traditions?
M: In all cultures -sound has been an integral part of wisdom traditions of healing. The shaman was responsible for the health and wellbeing of the community – each culture has its own creation mythology and sound is a common denominator linking all cultures. Primitive man would have experienced the power of repetitive dance steps- rattles and drums, chants as a connection to their God source. The shaman knew that health and well-being was greatly enhanced through this connection. Sound in this way was used to strengthen the connection to the creator gods, the spirit world, the unseen forces of nature and the human- for there was no separation – all is one and interconnected. The mystical and unknown properties (at that time) of sound allowed for the creation of a bridge between the known and unknown world. The shaman helped his people as well as himself through repetitive sounds to induce trancelike states.
Ancient cultures have always been connected to their source – nature elements – their bodies and were much more attuned to the sounds that kept them grounded and vital. The development of chakra sounds (bija) are an example and are becoming more and more common – a good example of resurrected wisdom.
In western philosophy – the influence of ancient Greeks and ancient Egyptian wisdom is foundational to our modern music system – the Greek god Apollo was known as the god of healing and of music. That music was an essential element for healing was well understood by these ancient cultures. Apollo had a son named Aesclepius who established a healing temple on the Greek isle of Kos – his famous descendant was Hippocrates- known as the father of modern medicine. Ancient Egypt was the home of many healing temples and archeological evidence shows the use of musical instruments as part of the healing process overseen by the high priests of these temples. Music was an integral part of culture and wellbeing to ancient man and did not really become a separate art form until close to the 17th century.
A: Is this kind of traditional approach valid for the ailments and stresses that people are dealing with in the world now?
M: I would say that the biggest gift that sound healing has to offer people is a reconnection to their essence. We are all vibratory beings and being that we are made mostly of water (and water has consciousness and holds memories – shown to us by the late Dr. Emoto) we are perfect embodiments for healing to take place. My goal in a soundtouch therapy session is to create a space where bridges to higher consciousness are constructed – this specifically for the healing of the spiritual, mental, emotional and physical aspects of the body. I have listed the physical aspect last because I have observed that the physical disharmony shows up last – that a stress has come in from the outside – in so to speak. (In other words disharmony is present in the other aspects and then show up in the physical. ) In Chinese medicine the use of acupuncture in the past was much more connective – there was an alchemical process at the heart of it based more on Taoism – uniting spirit and matter – mind and body- reorganizing them into a wholeness. Sound becomes the pathway for this unification process – the goal ultimately to restore communication between mind and body bringing a person closer to experiencing a return to wholeness. A person is naturally harmonized – it is life and our responses and perceptions which throw us off. Soundtouch creates the opportunity to have the envelope of space to reset and realign – shifting the perspective and calming the body. Return to nature.
A: Can you give some examples?
M: I see a lot of people who have experienced trauma. Whether they are a refugee, an abused person, going through a terminal illness or a first responder. The reality is that navigating life is not always easy. It would depend on your definition of “healing” – and for everyone it is different. I would say the role in holding space for the process is essential. A powerful example of my own experience was when I was receiving a sound treatment from a colleague and having nature show up with a multitude of squawking birds and crickets adding to the rattles – as well as tuning forks placed on my body – at the time I was going through a pretty painful emotional process – yet could not cry. (You know keep calm and carry on), however I was starting to develop an anxiety and panic disorder. During this session I released such wails of grief and unstoppable sobs – and those birds and crickets matched me! It was incredible – when I calmed – they were calming too. It was truly magical. I haven’t had a panic attack since (it had been 10 years), and then I could actually address the disharmony of anxiety.
A: I read on your website about harmonizing to the earth using the eight sacred vessels. Can you tell me a little bit about what these vessels are and how balancing like this works?
M: The eight sacred vessels are part of the connection to the divine blueprint of the “who you are” in Taoism – they are an interface between the All and from them the organ meridians are created. They are sacred and they bring us closer to our divinity. My particular therapy that I have developed uses them as the base of the healing protocols. They are resurfacing in terms of learning more about them – in the past acupuncture students were not taught much about them besides a few physical reasons for use. Two of them are well used (the conception vessel and the governing vessel) I have observed that the use of these vessels help the physical body to communicate with the mental, emotional and spiritual aspects – the mind begins to understand the language of the body – whether it be through sensations, systems, poetic images, metaphors and dreams. We wake up so to speak with New awareness.
A: Ah! So these are the same as the Extraordinary Meridians! OK, so what are some ways that people can bring more of the power of healing with sound into their lives?
M: Unplug from technology, spend time in nature, spend time by yourself, listen to music and see how you feel – explore as many different genres as possible: sing, chant, tone. Listen to the sounds of the body, connect your consciousness to what is going on in there. What are your organs sounding like? Dance, move – draw the music – explore your creativity. Be in silence.
A: Are there any resources (other than your own books and courses) that you would recommend for someone wanting to learn more about this?
M: Good books for further reading
- The Channels of Acupuncture- Giovanni Maciocia
- The Psyche in Chinese Medicone – Giovanni Maciocia
- Cymatics – Hans Jenny
- Power of the Five Elements – Charles a Moss MD
- Healing with the Chakra Energy System – John Cross
- Nourishing Destiny – Lonnie Jarrett
- The Web that Has No Weaver – Ted Kaptchuk
- Five Spirits -Lorie Eve Dechar
- The Cosmic Octave – Hans Cousto (This one is great – it talks about how sound creates colour and it explains how planetary frequencies are formulated etc)