Dr. Jeffrey Thompson who is the founder and director of the centre for Neuroacoustic research has over 30 years of clinical experience with successful auditory, kinesthetic and visual therapeutic work. His programs in Sound Healing address a variety of health issues such as stress reduction, cardiovascular disease and neurological conditions. Joshua Leeds author of “The Power of Sound” is a researcher and educator in psychoacoustics, which is the study of the effect of sound on the human nervous system. Leeds stated “There is more on sound science than ever before. We know what is happening molecularly. In the future what we know as sound healing will be called frequency medicine.”
The tools that Dr. Thompson uses are precise, using sound to affect brain wave patterns, which balance the automatic nervous system and synchronize the left and right brain hemispheres. I became interested in an article he wrote called “The Science behind Healing with Sound.” Dr Thompson explains that different frequencies target the various density tissues in the body. Using vibroacoustic sound, it has been discovered that certain frequencies elevate the cells in the body to a higher level of healing, helping to rebuild tissue. These healing effects are especially interesting to me in view of my work for 33 years as a Registered Psychiatric Nurse and study of neuroscience and biofeedback. I have observed steady and lasting improvement with people through Heartmath, and I was curious at the effect that sound has on neuroplasticity. If the brain changes according to it’s experience, it made sense that we could make positive changes in our mind and body through sound. I was inspired to examine the link between our deep and innate connection to nature and the profound physical and emotional healing that it can create. I had experienced a life changing horseback riding accident that required a long recovery, and the journey of healing my body took longer than I anticipated.
I knew I needed true grit, determination and to summon courage and perseverance to get to the other side of the injuries. There was a unique gift from this education I was receiving in my life. Brene’ Brown says beautifully in her book “Rising Strong” that we have “arena moments” or “the reckoning”. She says in this very wise book that these are the times that we find ourselves face down on the floor of an arena, those moments that are painful, but that we need to pay attention to these moments, as it is significant in showing us where we are. It is through this vulnerability that we can rebuild our lives. This well expressed metaphor has stayed with me. It was an arena moment that day I was swiftly face down in the mud. In an instant that was slow motion, shod hooves ran over my back and head with a frighteningly loud crack of my helmet,and the frantic sound of galloping and sheep bleating fading in the distance. Yes indeed,this for me was a continuation of the life lessons to embrace uncertainty, as it opens up a whole new way of seeing the world. I had to re-evaluate my safe and comfortable life and was reminded that what was safe and predictable could change in a minute flat. This was not just a nudge, and brought about some interesting questions. I have had horse accidents over the past 30 years, each one with it’s own unique and wise message. But this one was different. The horse is moving forward in a powerful direction, but I had been stuck in one spot. My cousin said to me one day with a knowing gaze, “It is like one long yoga pose”.
Fear of the unknown and the uncertain is natural.I realized that this accident was a wake up call, that I was stuck in my safe and familiar arena in 100 Mile house. Sometimes a drastic change can be what we need to point the arrow in a different direction. The fall was an important lesson, and after being hurled face down in the mud I was now listening. What I do know is there is nothing like being close to death to have you evaluate everything. The more that a stagnant state is allowed to continue the more difficult it can be to grow, learn and challenge yourself as well as experience new things. What I loved about traveling to Central America is that it pushed me way out of my comfort zone. Once that comfort zone muscle has been exercised fully what I do know is that it gets easier to plan strategies for other challenges that come your way. But, it is not pretty, it is very gritty, and the brain resists change due to fear. Instead of allowing the same well-worn path of thinking and doing that is safe and familiar, trying new experiences outside of a routine can give depth and color to your life that you never thought possible. Travel and expanding my experiences and having an appreciation for breathtaking beauty in another culture not only stretched my mind,but I also discovered that the sounds of nature in Cabuya had a profound healing effect on my body.
When dawn breaks in the quiet fishing village of Cabuya, Costa Rica at 4:30 am you not only hear it, you feel it come magnificently and raucously alive. From our house bordering Cabo Blanco Reserve, the jungle is vibrant, surging with repetitive, soothing and synchronized sounds of life. The sky opens up with a magnificent chorus of the many species of colourful birds. I hear a loud basal squawk, look over and see a pair of large parrots lounging together among the tropical trees. Howler monkeys boom their glorious morning call through the jungle, their babies clinging with perseverance as they swing from the vines. Many troops of monkeys echo their call and communicate to one another from different areas of the vast jungle. Large iguanas, camouflaged to the colour of the earth, perform their morning stretch on the roof, One swishes its long tail through the lush foliage with following babies.Another quickly travels into the house and hides behind the fridge. Cicadas chime with the geckos and they sing and chirp in unison. The parakeets cover the trees in a joyous chorus while the larger colourful parrots settle in the trees while the parakeets flow in a different direction. There is an elderly Cabuya rooster with a crackle in it’s crow that starts at 4 am and will stop when the 5 am birds begin. With practice I keenly tuned into the sounds of dawn which strengthened my ability to notice and listen to the quieter and more peaceful rhythms all day long.
The jungle reminds me how things become more beautiful as your perspective shifts. In the winter seasons that I have spent in Costa Rica since 2012, early morning yoga and meditation was my natural routine while waking to the call of monkeys. I open the large doors to the stone terrace and walk out with Moringa tea and a Kale smoothie. Respectfully greeting the yoga mat in a natural surrounding daily gives me the steadiness of mind to meet any challenge that comes my way. I accepted the meeting of the mat in physical and emotional discomfort, and trusted in my body’s ability to heal. In this beautiful country of Costa Rica, I have experienced an inward shift. I have slowly turned a page in the intriguing book of my life and have found an unexpected pearl of wisdom. The rhythms and sounds of the jungle have allowed me to see a beautiful path to a happier, joyful life despite adversity. I believe that peaceful steadiness of mind, enhanced by the acoustic rhythms of a beautiful, natural environment can lead to powerful physical and emotional changes.
It has been well documented that ancient cultures were aware of how consistent rhythmic sound had extremely powerful healing benefits. Brain entrainment dates back thousand of years. Scientist Melinda Mayfield Phd, found that drums beat at a steady rate of 4.5 beats per second, shifting the brain into a 4.5 Hz brainwave frequency. This is a low Theta brainwave state that induces deep relaxation and creates an environment for healing in the body.
Another fact that intrigued me, was the healing of Gary Denham’s broken ankle in 2011. With ultrasound which is a high frequency sound, the ankle healed completely in 4 months. Normally this fracture would have taken 6-12 months. Orthopedic surgeon Dr. Angus MacLean stated” We use it for difficult fractures, the ones with problems with healing, and it is a very simple painless treatment that we can give. It’s a very interesting scientific development, and there is good evidence that it just vibrates the cells a little which then stimulates healing and regeneration in the bone.”
High powered thundering tropical rain roared as it hit the roof. Lightening cracked loudly, flashing through the windows in our house. I lay in bed, the room flashing with the lightning, a medium size lizard climbing on the rock wall of the inside of the house. The power was out, and the fans lay still, the humidity rising by the second. There are frequent water and power outages in Costa Rica, and we collect water in our milk jugs as a backup. Despite the raging storm, the neighbour’s rooster had started his call on-time this morning, managing to crow throughout the storm.The many iguanas sometimes end up in the house, behind the fridge, and drop from the roof beside you when you are sliding the big open air doors to the jungle sounds.
In the morning following the storm I walked outside, barely able to see my bare-feet in the dim light. I could see the silhouette of howler monkeys above me, jumping from tree to tree. In the shadow of the Guanacaste tree, out of my view, began the call of the bird who whistles like a man. This low baritone melodic tune imitates the sound of a man whistling in the field, tending to his crops. After much research, I am still unable to find out the species of this beautiful bird, but I continue to search for the name of this mysterious species. I looked forward to its exquisite serenade like the song Trinity each morning. This highly intelligent sound is perfectly timed at 5 am for 5 minutes, and then disappears.
We walk up the river of Rio Lajas near Cabuya seeking swimming holes and a waterfall. We climbed over rocks and through a shallow river, with vines draping down from the lush foliage. Howler monkeys send their booming call above and crash through the trees, watching us from above.
A blue Morpho butterfly fluttered above, illuminated by beams of light filtering down through the trees. A warm and potent breeze washed across our faces. Large hummingbirds and brilliantly coloured butterflies dance from plant to plant, searching for the flowers with the brightest crimson glow.
Large brilliant blue birds fly through down the river and land in the water for their bath. I see a Capuchin monkey screech, and then cross the river, and look at me with his human-like eyes, and then leap into the trees with her troupe, a small baby clinging to her back. A soothing sound of the natural cascading river among large earthy round boulders, roots and vines has me feeling very grateful for it’s mystery and beauty. I know that science has demonstrated that the brain does not know the difference between a real or imagined experience, and that listening to my audio recordings of monkeys and jungle sounds will take me here in my imagination, and this can also have a profound healing effect.
There is flow, simplicity and beauty in Costa Rica. My concerns are so very small in comparison, as I am a quiet observer in this raw, and undeveloped perfection. There is untamed freedom of the jungle, with rock and silt and leaves beneath my feet. We climb over, and around large boulders, wading through the water leading to the soothing sound of waterfalls. I know that you can make a comeback at any stage in life, no matter what happens. When you are thinking it, the change has already begun.
“Adversity is like a strong wind. It tears from us all but the things that cannot be torn, so that we see ourselves as we really are.” Arthur Golden