Calling Forth the Worlds of Spirit Thoughts and Observations on Song of the New Earth
The Movie Soundtrack by Tom Kenyon
At least one reviewer of the documentary, Song of the New Earth: Tom Kenyon and the Power of Sound, said that it is a new genre of film that might best be described as a type of Sound-based Transformational Cinema. Many of these reviewers have mentioned that the sound track moved them into distinct and unusual states of mind. This is due to the fact that in the course of the movie several brief windows of pure sound and music are conjoined with imagery from nature. This union of pure sound with natural imagery alters perception, which allows the viewer to briefly explore altered states of consciousness as catalysts for heightened insight, creativity and emotional clarity.
In the process of the film’s creation I ultimately chose the sound pieces that were used for these brief windows of opportunity, and I wish to acknowledge my wife, Judi Sion, for suggesting to the Director that he use imagery from nature as a backdrop during these sound explorations. This union of sound and imagery has proven to be a potent experience for many viewers of the documentary.
This movie sound track CD includes seven sound pieces that are the source of the sound meditations used in the movie. Most of them are longer than the versions in the film, which will provide you with an opportunity to explore sound driven altered states of mind more deeply.
For ease of reference I have divided this article into several sections. In Part One I will discuss some of the background behind each of these meditations, their spiritual context and, in some cases, what it was like for me personally to channel them. I will also offer some listening suggestions.
In subsequent sections I will discuss the neuropsychology of psychoacoustics, which is the study of how sound and music affect our physiological and psychological process.
For those of you who wish to explore a bit of the science behind these seven sound meditations, it is my hope that these discussions will prove to be both helpful and inspiring. If you do not wish to examine the scientific premises of psychoacoustics in general, and the seven sound meditations in particular, Part One is all you need to read.
The Seven Sound Meditations
I would first of all like to list the order of the seven sound meditations and note where you can listen to the longer versions of these on various CDs. I will then discuss each track separately.
1. Spirit Calling Song from the CD titled Voices from Other Worlds
2. Crown Chakra Sound Meditation from the CD set titled, Kundalini Rising
3. BA RA SHEM KA from the CD titled BA RA SHEM KA
4. Sound Journey through the Stars from the CD set, titled The Art of Egyptian High Alchemy
5. Song of White Tara from the CD titled White Tara Planetary Sound Meditation
6. The BAROD (with Overtones and Sistrum) from the set of CDs titled, The Art of Egyptian High Alchemy
7. Gaia’s Song This excerpt is longer than the version that appears at the end of the film. For those who wish to hear the original sound meditation, which was recorded live and lasts a little more than thirty-minutes, you can find it in the single CD titled Aethos or in the workshop set of CDs called The Sphere of All Possibilities.
Spirit Calling Song
I created this literally as a calling to spirits in the shamanic realms of being. This realm of consciousness is filled with a cornucopia of many different types of non-corporeal intelligences. Many of these energy-beings are benevolent in nature and interacting with them can bring a host of benefits including healing and psycho-spiritual transformation.
Many of the sounds in this piece are what I call a proto-language, meaning that they are a type of language from other realms of consciousness that carry meaning and intent. In this instance, the sounds are calling benevolent spirits and thanking them for their assistance.
Listening Suggestion: Place your mental focus in the area of your third eye chakra (or ajna), which is located between your eyes at the bridge of your nose. The root of the word chakra means “wheel” and these swirling vortices of subtle energy have been measured and quantified by science (see the work of Dr. Valerie Hunt). This particular chakra is associated with psychic vision and impressions, and it acts like an energetic portal that you can use to sense the presence of the benevolent energy-beings that are called through this spirit calling song.
Crown Chakra Sound Meditation
This sound piece was recorded live at Symphony Space in Manhattan during a one-day Intensive called Kundalini Rising in 2012.
Kundalini Shakti is a primal force of consciousness coiled up like a serpent at the root chakra (muladhara). In the yogas of ancient India this power is conceptualized as a Goddess-figure, and her ascent up the central channel or sushumna imparts radically expanded states of awareness when she enters the higher chakras especially the crown chakra (sahasrara) or thousand petaled lotus. In many forms of Kundalini Yoga, the kundalini is forced to move according to the will of the yogi or yogini through various methods including the use of specific pranayamas (breath control) and the fixation of consciousness through yogic concentration. While these methods unquestionably work in terms of activating the kundalini, in my opinion this approach is patriarchal in nature and subjugates the will of Kundalini Shakti (meaning magnetic energy) to the conscious will of the yogi or yogini. In my explorations of Kundalini Shakti she has a vast innate intelligence and knows when and where to move through the subtle energy-channels of the body (nadis). Allowing her to move according to her own will and wisdom, generally imparts a gentler opening into higher states of consciousness.
Listening suggestion: Place your awareness or mental focus at your crown chakra at the top of your head. When your mind wanders bring it back to your crown. Allow yourself to sense where in your crown chakra the sounds resonate so that you are both hearing the sounds and feeling their subtle physical sensations at the top of your head.
BA RA SHEM KA
This sound piece comes out of the ancient Egyptian understanding regarding conscious evolution. The word BA refers to the Celestial Soul, RA to the power of the subtle fire element in the solar plexus, SHEM to sekhem or life-force and KA to the second body or spiritual twin in this ancient understanding. This chant was created to activate these different levels of our being and to amplify their power. If you would like to read more about this system of transformation you can read a class handout that was given to those who attended a workshop entitled The Art of Egyptian High Alchemy, which can be found in the Articles section of this website (www.tomkenyon.com).
Listening suggestion: Place your mental focus in the area of your solar plexus, which is located in the pit of your stomach. Let yourself sense the sounds vibrating this area of your body as you listen to the sound meditation. When your mind wanders gently bring it back to your solar plexus.
If you feel like moving to this sound meditation, let your body move to the rhythm of the drum as you continue to keep your mental focus on your solar plexus.
Sound Journey Through the Stars
This is a shamanic journey through the Celestial or Upper Worlds, meaning the higher dimensions of consciousness. It was conducted at The Art of Egyptian High Alchemy workshop in preparation for a long sound exploration that involved entering the womb of Nut (the Night Sky Goddess) for the purpose of psycho-spiritual regeneration and healing.
Feeling yourself surrounded by a large space will activate the spatial intelligence of your right brain and generate a more powerful experience. This activation of your right brain’s spatial intelligence is accessed through your feeling nature and not through thought. In other words, thinking about being surrounded by space won’t activate this right hemispheric activity. Feeling the sensation of being surrounded by a large space will, however, activate this ability in you.
Listening suggestion: After you have attained the feeling of being surrounded by a large space, imagine in whatever ways feel natural to you that you are floating in the space of the cosmos. When your mind wanders, bring it back to the sensation of floating in space surrounded by stars.
Song of White Tara
This sound piece comes out of the Tibetan Buddhist tradition and uses the mantra of White Tara, the Goddess of Compassion, Om Tare Tutare Ture So Ha, which roughly translates as “Hail To Tara the Swift Protectoress. May All Beings Be Happy. May All Beings Be Free.” White Tara is associated with sattvic or gently healing white light.
Listening suggestion: Place your mental focus in the region of your heart chakra, which is located in front of your spine opposite your sternum. Allow the sounds of the meditation to vibrate this area of your body. Your heart chakra is a universe unto itself and exploring this inner realm of your being can open many doors of emotional insight.
The BAROD is a sound piece that I created to activate the central channel or pranic tube as a way to bring higher vibratory energies from the upper worlds into your subtle energy body known as the KA. The vocal overtones assist in the movement of these energies both to activate and to energize the KA.
Listening suggestion: Place your awareness in the central axis of your body that runs from your perineum up to the top of your head. Let the sounds of this meditation “vibrate” or create a resonance in your central channel. When your mind wanders simply bring your attention back to this channel. Imagine that the flow of energy into your pranic tube radiates out into your KA, which is the same shape and size as your physical body. This subtle energy body (the KA) can draw down the celestial energies that have been activated by the BAROD, which then flows throughout your entire KA and into your physical body (the KHAT). This can release a powerful energetic that has immense evolutionary potential.
Gaia’s Song (Song to Gaia)
This was part of a world meditation during a Hathor Intensive that was conducted in 2012. As the energetic began to grow during the chant, I was personally overcome by the deep feeling of pathos as a host of celestial beings were honoring the Earth Mother or Gaia. In fact it was so strong, it took everything I had to keep toning rather than break down and sob. The feeling was so intensely beautiful and heartfelt.
Listening suggestion: Place your awareness in your heart chakra and listen to this sound piece by feeling how the sounds resonate within or vibrate your heart. When your mind wanders bring it back to your heart and the sounds of the meditation. You can also take this to a deeper level by sending the Earth your feelings of appreciation or gratitude as you focus on your heart chakra. This can set up a strong energetic between you and the consciousness of Gaia, which in turn can be quite transformational and illuminating.
Looking back at the course of my career, an unusual series of early encounters with the numinous or light-filled realms of being deeply affected my work with sound and music.
When I was five years old, my family moved to a house that had a large oak tree in the backyard. My father made me a swing that hung from one of the tree’s massive limbs. Prior to turning seven I had a very imaginative and permeable relationship with the world, and one of my favorite pastimes was to swing at twilight and sing to the moon and the stars. I called it swingin’ and singin’ and I fully believed that the moon and the stars could hear me, and I could—in my boyhood mind—hear them sing back to me.
I was so fascinated and intrigued by my experiences singing to the moon and the stars, my mother would have to drag me into the house when it turned dark. It was truly one of the most engaging experiences of my early life.
As I grew up I lost this connection to the moon and the stars in the manner I described, but when I turned eighteen I re-entered the numinous world in a different manner when I experienced a spontaneous yogic Samadhi.
I was taking a short cut through my uncle’s cow pasture when I felt a sudden and unexpected compulsion to sit under a large tree. Without having ever meditated before, I folded my legs into a half lotus and put my thumbs and first fingers into a mudra and rested my hands on my knees.
I fell into a vast and timeless space—the likes of which I had never ever experienced before. My sense of the world, as well as my sense of time, totally and completely disappeared.
I felt suspended in the Infinite followed by a mental state in which I was no longer aware of myself but only aware of awareness being aware of itself. Upon the heels of this pure unobstructed awareness I slipped into a profoundly deep sense of bliss and stillness. I had unknowingly entered what yogis and yoginis call samadi (yogic trance) and encountered the yogic trinity of Sat Chit Ananda (Existence, Knowledge and Bliss).
I thought my journey to this inner world had lasted perhaps a few moments but when I opened my eyes the sun was low on the horizon, and a few cows had wandered over and were looking at me intently. I had obviously been suspended in some type of altered state for hours.
This singular experience compelled me to explore the world’s major spiritual and meditation traditions in an attempt to understand what had happened to me on that autumn afternoon. As I investigated and experienced the methods of these religious and spiritual traditions, it became clear that sound in the form of repetitive prayers, mantras and/or music was often used as a means to enter into the numinous worlds.
Decades later I would explore sound and music as a means to create altered states of consciousness (i.e., meditative states of mind) to release latent potentials of the brain/mind/body complex and especially as a means to create spiritual experiences. In 1983 I formed Acoustic Brain Research (ABR), a loosely knit organization of researchers who documented the effects of my sounds and music on brain function.
My decades of scientific inquiry conjoined with nearly fifty years of spiritual exploration have created an amalgam in terms of my work, which often involves altering brain wave activity, mostly through sound and music, as a means for others to explore the more creative potentials of their own brain/body/mind.
If you listen to the seven sound mediations that comprise this CD with your full mental attention, you will be engaging what I call The Work. And by doing so you will enter various altered states of consciousness. I call these types of mental states waking dreams. In these unusual states of body and mind your subjective experience can be altered so that it feels like you are both awake and dreaming at the same time.
Brain activity and its manner of processing information are keenly affected, which in turn alters your sense of perceived time and space. Sensory, emotional and mental phenomena are often profoundly altered. And during this process of altered neurological activity, significant psychological material can be revealed and potent transformational energies can be released.
These types of waking dreams have been explored for millennia by what I call Argonauts of the Mind and which many writers refer to as Psychonauts. These would include shamans, yogis and yoginis from both the Hindu and Buddhist traditions, mystical contemplatives, Taoist sages as well as many other spiritual traditions and in modern times by such luminaries as the Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung, who described some of his own self-generated waking dreams in his famous journal dubbed the Red Book.
From a spiritual and mystical perspective these types of waking dreams are glimpses into the numinous underlying fabric of consciousness itself, while from a neuropsychological perspective these types of “spiritual” experiences can be described solely as a result of discrete changes in brain activity.
My experience and belief is that we are not looking at an either/or proposition here, but rather at a fascinating intersection of two very different ways of viewing spiritual or mystical experiences.
Immanuel Kant’s Triad of Inquiry
This juxtaposition of the spiritual and scientific reminds me of the philosopher Immanuel Kant’s famous triad of thesis—antithesis—synthesis. Since this is one of the cornerstones of my approach to The Work, I think it would behoove us to spend a bit of time exploring what he meant by this.
Let’s take, for instance, the thesis (i.e., theory) that experiences during altered states of perception such as those generated during sound meditations, meditation in general and/or during mystical experiences are a result of making contact with the underlying numinous (meaning light-filled) nature of reality.
In opposition to this we could easily put forth the scientific antithesis that all phenomena generated during altered states of consciousness are solely a result of distinct changes in both brain chemistry and neurological activity—without any need to dabble into the concept of spiritual reality at all.
Indeed from this more scientific perspective, there is actually no means to ascertain the validity of our primary thesis, which has—by the way—been promulgated by almost every major spiritual tradition in the world for millennia, namely that we live in two worlds—the material and the immaterial or spiritual worlds simultaneously.
But what happens when we combine these two antithetical views together? What if altered states of consciousness can be described both through alterations in brain activity and through contact with something that transcends brain activity? This conundrum is one of the central nexuses of my work and my general inquiry into the nature of human consciousness.
Before we begin to explore this conundrum further, I would like to suggest some resources for those readers new to the topic of neuropsychology and altered states of consciousness. I am suggesting you take a look at this layperson friendly information because it will address some of the fascinating neuropsychological commonalities between the seven sound meditations.
In other words, while these sound meditations are very different from each other, all of them rest on a firm scientific understanding of how sound and music affect the brain and consciousness.
As a matter of fact, all of my sound work rests on solid scientific understandings, even the more esoteric and “far out” catalytic sounds that originate with non-corporeal beings in the spirit worlds. What I mean by this is that although these “spirit” or “interdimensional” beings are in a domain of experience that science cannot comment upon, the sounds that I channel from these beings affect the brain/mind/body complex of the listener in ways that are scientifically quantifiable and measurable.
The first resource you might wish to look at is the Acoustic Brain Research section of this website (www.tomkenyon.com) where you can read some scientific abstracts, a paper on psychoacoustics as well as view some pilot studies on the effects of sound and music on brain function as measured via EEG studies. This information is offered free of charge for your own personal exploration.
I would also suggest listening to a lecture I gave in Morristown, New Jersey in 2011 for the Association of Higher Awareness (AHA). This nearly two-hour lecture is also offered free of charge in the Listening section for your own personal use. It is a highly experiential talk interspersed with several sound healing sessions including a complete shamanic journey. You can find it in the Listening section of the website under The Neuropsychology of Mystical States and Self-healing.
Finally for those of you who wish to explore, in even more detail, the scientific foundations of my work, I would suggest you read my book Brain States, New Leaf Publishing. This book discusses, at some length, the use of altered states to achieve higher brain functioning. It is still required reading in some colleges. Click here to order the book from the Store.
The Neuropsychology of the Seven Sound Meditations
Due to the necessity for some degree of brevity in this article, I will address just a few of the primary brain areas engaged by these sound meditations. But do understand that when it comes to the neuropsychology of sound healing or sound-based transformation we are entering a domain of mind-boggling complexity.
Perhaps it would help, at this point, to discuss the brain areas engaged by the seven sound meditations using the metaphor of a symphony orchestra.
Each area or region of your brain contributes to the neurological symphony that you call your personal experience. But one of the many odd illusions about our experience of the world is that our perception of it (and ourselves for that matter) appears to us as a coherent whole—when it is not.
Take for instance this moment in time. While reading these words or hearing them read to you, you are (hopefully) having a clear sense of their meaning. You seem to extract this meaning from the words themselves, but the import or gist of these words is actually created by a large cluster of neurons in a region of your brain called Wernicke’s area and to some extent Broca’s area which are located in the area of your brain’s left temporal lobe, a region that sits near your left temple. These neurons, and only these neurons, are capable of comprehending language. Furthermore, this neurological hocus-pocus goes on without your conscious awareness of the neural firings responsible for your experience of meaning.
In point of fact, we are completely unconscious of what goes on neurologically within our brains. We are only aware of the after-effects when it comes to our conscious awareness.
You are not aware, for instance, of the intricate movements of neuronal energy within the symphony of your brain. You are aware of your conscious experience, like an audience member might hear the music being played by a symphony orchestra, but he or she would not be aware of the tiniest movements of the musicians—like subtly shifting their position in their seats or how each of the musicians in the violin section angle their bows against the strings in slightly different and idiosyncratic ways. These subtleties would be unseen and unheard for the most part by the audience.
The same holds true for your brain; you are not aware of how each neuron responds to information in ways that are unique to that neuron. And you are not aware of the networking within your brain that gives birth to the symphony of your personal experience.
If you are reading these words then you are not aware of how the visual impressions of these words are received by the retinas (lenses) of your eyes or how these impressions are transferred to the back of your eyes where they actually “appear” upside down.
You would not be unaware of how the upside down images of these words get translated into the electrical and biochemical language of your neurons or how this information is then passed via nerve pathways to the back of your brain in a region called the occipital area. It is here in this cluster of specialized neurons that the upside-down images received from your eyes are flipped right-side up.
In other words, “seeing” these words right side up is a neurological artifact. You do not actually see the words right side up; you see them upside down. And it is only through the agency of the occipital area of your brain that you “see” these words as you expect to see them. Indeed if the occipital area of your brain were destroyed, you would be unable to see anything even if your eyes had perfect 20/20 vision.
You and I are not aware of this neurological slight of hand. And we are not cognizant of how our brains route the impressions of these words into long-term memory—a process that is crucial to our understanding of language.
It is our long-term memory that allows us to recall the meaning of words. And here’s the thing… you probably experience seeing the words and knowing their meaning as simultaneous events. There seems to be no lag time from seeing a word and knowing its meaning, unless you are new to reading or have some type of neurological impairment.
But this perception of simultaneity is an utter illusion. There is actually a lag time from the moment the image of a word appears in your eyes to when it is translated into the neuronal firings of the occipital area. This lag time is a mere fraction of a second, but it is still there. Then there is another lag time for that impression to be routed into Wernicke’s area where, voila, that word suddenly has meaning.
We are not aware of this delay in the processing of information within the symphony of our brains; we are only aware of the aftereffect—like the conscious recognition of a word’s meaning.
But language is not the only way to communicate meaning. A touch can convey meaning and so can a tone of voice. These types of meaning are, however, perceived and “translated” by other areas of your brain than the language centers.
Returning to our metaphor of a symphony orchestra, these other types of non-verbal meaning are translated by different sections of the orchestra. If the meaning created from language is like the violin section of your cerebral orchestra (i.e., the symphony of your brain), other types of meaning are handled by other instruments.
For instance, the visceral experience of a sudden physical threat could only be conveyed or expressed in the symphony of your brain by an explosive vibration, say something like the kettledrum section, or the crash of cymbals—metaphorically speaking of course. This type of arousal of your body into the fight or flight (or sometimes the freeze) response is coordinated by other regions of your brain that have nothing to do with your language center. The locus of this powerful survival network originates in your brain stem at the base of your brain.
To complete our symphonic metaphor, I would like to mention another important human experience—emotions.
Physiologically we know that your brain processes emotions through your limbic core, which I will have more to say about later when we turn our attention to sentic wave theory and the ability of sound and music to convey emotions (also a type of meaning).
When you listen to the seven sound meditations you are entering a unique and vast field of meaning and information, but the neurons residing within Wernicke’s area are unable to derive meaning from these types of sounds as they have little to do with the sound-envelopes we recognize as language.
Research has clearly shown that sound and music (without language) “switches on” areas of the brain that are non-verbal yet highly creative. Under the right conditions these regions of the brain can facilitate radical alterations in perceived time and space, as well as our perception of the world and our place in it, a category of experience that many people would call spiritual.
Sound and music can unquestionably generate responses in the brain that create hyper-creative/spiritual experiences. And I think it would behoove us to now discuss one of the most prominent agents responsible for this—rhythm.
Research has clearly shown the rhythm of a musical composition or a sound pattern affects the brain in distinct ways.
It is through the agency of rhythm that sound meditations change your brain state. By brain state I mean the electromagnetic wave patterns emitted by the neurons (nerve cells) of your brain as measured via EEG.
To simplify a very intricate subject, let’s start with the humble neuron. It has been estimated that the human brain has more neurons than the number of stars in the known universe—quite a large number indeed.
Functioning neurons have three parts—a cell body (or soma), which operates somewhat like a central processor of information, an axon that transmits signals from the soma body to other neurons and a cluster of dendrites that receive information from the axons of neighboring neurons.
Think of this situation as an odd type of biologically based social media.
Indeed some research has shown that neurons don’t do well in isolation. If they are cut off from communicating with other neurons they metaphorically shrivel up and sometimes they even die.
Interestingly, various studies in the social sciences and psychology have shown that people also generally do better in social networks than when they are isolated. Thus it seems to me that socializing between ourselves and other human beings may be an expression of an unseen, yet compelling level of our being—namely the socialization of neuronal networks within our brains. In other words, perhaps our need for socialization is an out-picturing of the socialization of the neurons inside our brains.
While intercellular communication between neurons is vastly complicated, the root of this complex neurological network begins with the single neuron.
Information within neurons is processed via both biochemical and electrical processes, and every shift in these processes creates a change in a neuron’s electromagnetic field.
The electromagnetic fields emitted by neurons are what scientists look at when they use the term EEG. And these electromagnetic fields are what I call brain states.
Researchers have divided these electromagnetic fields into several categories based on the rate of pulsations within the nerve cells (neurons).
I am not going to go into detail regarding this classification of brain states since it isn’t really necessary for our purposes here. But if you aren’t familiar with this system and would like to get the basics, I would suggest you click on the link below, which will take you to a paper I wrote on Psychoacoustics decades ago when I was working under the auspices of Acoustic Brain Research.
EEG monitoring devices can detect electromagnetic fields within neuronal networks, and thanks to Topographical EEG mapping of the brain researchers can now measure not only the level of nerve stimulation but also identify where in the brain this activity is taking place.
Major shifts of electromagnetic fields within your brain directly affect your perception.
Research clearly shows that sound and music can profoundly alter brain state (i.e., alter EEG patterns) and thusly affect both your perception of the world and your sense of self-identity.
If you listen to the seven sound meditations, you will quickly notice that they are quite different from each other. The rhythms are different, the timbres (i.e., tonal qualities) are different, and the effects on your awareness are also different.
But in spite of the fact that each of the seven sound meditations will—most likely—affect you differently, they all use the same brain mechanisms and areas of your brain.
In a moment I will briefly describe a few of these mechanisms/regions of the brain, but do realize that any effective sound mediation engages vast and complex arrays of neural mechanisms as well as areas of the brain—far beyond the scope of this article to discuss.
Two Brains Inside Our Heads: The Left and Right Cerebral Hemispheres
The American neuroscientist and physician Paul D. MacLean created an elegant model of the human brain when it is viewed laterally down the middle and from the side. He called this model the Tripartite Brain. And it will help us to understand some of the mechanisms involved during altered states of consciousness.
Evolutionary biologists say that each of these three areas evolved at different times with the top layer (or neo-cortex, called the Neomammalian brain by MacLean), being the most recently developed region of the human brain. It is this area of your brain where you think, create logic, make language, have creative insights and dream—both literally as in dreaming while you are asleep and figuratively as in the act of imagining possibilities.
This area of the brain consists of densely packed neurons that are organized into ridges and valleys.
There are many fascinating functions that originate in your neo-cortex, and one of these is the fact that your neo-cortex (or Neomammalian brain) operates like two brains in one.
Take for instance your ability to create and understand language. As I pointed out earlier our experience of language does not originate in the words themselves but rather in how those words are processed through our language centers, which are located for most people in the left cerebral hemisphere.
Unless you are one of the rare exceptions, your left cerebral hemisphere (i.e., left neo-cortex) is also where you get your ability to think logically and to follow sequences in order—like following the syntax or order of these words.
Your right cerebral hemisphere (i.e. right neo-cortex), on the other hand, processes different types of information and reveals another territory of consciousness altogether. There are no language centers over here, and this area of the brain is mute. But although it does not “speak” per se, it is a master of spatial intelligence and intuitive thinking.
If you have access to the Internet, I would suggest you view a Ted.com presentation by the neuroanatomist, Jill Bolte Taylor, called My Stroke of Insight. Her description of having a massive stroke in her left cerebral hemisphere and how it affected her experience is nothing short of brilliant. I highly recommend it.
Our culture generally rewards the abilities of the left cerebral hemisphere (left neo-cortex) and is generally suspect of experiences generated from the right cerebral hemisphere (the right neo-cortex). I think this is because our culture does not generally understand how to deal with the highly unusual experiences that can arise when the right hemisphere is activated.
Ironically, in the field of science—the demigod of Western culture—problems in research have often been resolved through right brain activity. One of my favorite stories in this regard concerns the German Chemist Kekule who is generally credited for discovering the structure of the benzene molecule.
Kekule reported that he struggled for a long time to decipher the architecture of this molecule. Then one night exasperated with the lack of results he fell asleep and had a dream. In the dream he saw a snake swallowing its tail. He awoke from the dream and realized that the dream had revealed the nature of benzene—it was a ring.
Kekule then went to work with his dream image and using mathematics he was able to verify that the structure of benzene was, in fact, a ring. Had Kekule been unable to engage his left hemisphere to work the math, he would have just had an odd dream on his hands. But by combining the abilities of both hemispheres he solved a chemical quandary.
As a side bar… the snake in Kekule’s dream was a classic alchemical symbol called the Uroborus, which is most often depicted in alchemy as a snake swallowing its tail and less frequently as a dragon swallowing its tail. Both images symbolize wholeness or infinity, and in spiritual or internal alchemy one of the goals of the Opus Magnum or Great Work is, in fact, the attainment of spiritual and/or psychological wholeness. The structural relationship between the benzene ring and the Uroborus demonstrates that symbolism in spiritual-based alchemy is at times related both to ephemeral processes of the psyche and to the underlying structure of matter and energy. If you think of this paradox as a kind of alchemical koan, it can reveal to you fascinating levels of deep insight.
But let’s turn our attention back to the right cerebral hemisphere. Einstein said that he often used active imagination and creative fantasy (a function of the right hemisphere) to create his famous Theory of General Relativity. And the discovery of the DNA helix was facilitated by a dream.
The list goes on. And one of the ironies in all of this is that while science is the unquestioned brainchild of left hemispheric activity (i.e., language, logic and mathematics) in more instances than one might suspect, the birthing of many scientific discoveries has been—and continues to be—facilitated by the midwife of the right hemisphere.
My point is that the right hemisphere holds a vast treasure trove of non-ordinary perception and insight. And if this unusual information is integrated with our left hemispheric abilities of logic and language, we can greatly enhance our creativity, problem solving abilities, as well as our sense of wellbeing.
Sound as Key
Music without words means leaving behind the mind.
And leaving behind the mind is meditation.
Meditation returns you to Source and the source of all is sound.
Scientific studies have clearly demonstrated that pure sound or music (without language) can activate the right cerebral hemisphere and open a cornucopia of unusual internal sensory perception, deep insight and highly charged emotional responses. Many people would call these types of experiences spiritual in nature, and indeed sound and music has been used for millennia as a means to generate spiritual experiences.
One key to opening this treasure trove of right hemispheric abilities is quite simply, pulsation or rhythm. This is why shamanic drumming has been used since ancient times to access shamanic states of perception (i.e., profound altered states of awareness).
It has been clearly shown, through EEG studies, that shamanic drumming patterns increase theta activity in the brain, a brain state that can dramatically open the doors of perception—to borrow a phrase from Aldous Huxley.
Our inborn sensitivity to patterns of pulsation or rhythm arises from a complex neural network inside our brains called the Reticular Activating System, or RAS, and it is one of the key brain areas engaged by sound and music.
The RAS: Messenger from the Deep
Tucked away deep down in the most primitive area of your brain, what Paul D. McLean called the Reptilian Brain, is the medulla oblongata or brain stem. It is here that a cluster of nerve cells called the Reticular Activating System (RAS) resides. This nucleus of nerve cells has a vast network of neural fibers that extend throughout the brain and all the way up into the neo-cortex.
The purpose of the RAS is primarily for arousal of awareness. It detects changes in the environment that might be a threat to your survival. If your nervous system registers something suddenly different, this information is routed automatically to your RAS, which sends signals through its network of neural fibers throughout the entire brain mobilizing it into a state of hyper alertness—if only for a moment.
If you have ever been deeply relaxed or asleep and the phone rang, the culprit that rudely roused you from your slumber was your RAS.
It is hotwired into your nervous system, and any sudden noise will set it off since the noise might be a threat to your survival. In other words, your RAS is one of the sensory sentinels of your brain, and it stands guard 24/7.
On the contrary, sensory patterns that continue without any change tend to “sedate” the RAS and calm the brain. If you have ever driven at night, you might have noticed that it is not a good idea to look at the white dashed-lines that separate lanes of traffic. This is because if you look at the repeating pattern of dashes too long, your RAS will begin to sedate you, and you will get drowsy—a sign that your brain is starting to produce the lower brain wave activity of alpha, theta and/or delta, and delta is associated with sleep.
In all of the seven sound meditations, with the exception of the first track, Spirit Calling Song, I use a shamanic drum, crystal bowl or Tibetan bowl to create a repeating pattern or drone sound. These types of sounds calm the RAS and facilitate the neurological symphony of your brain to enter the more receptive brain states of increased alpha and/or theta activity.
When you listen to the seven sound meditations, you may notice that the Spirit Calling Song generates a very different quality of awareness than the other six sound meditations. This is because the Spirit Calling Song stimulates the RAS while the other sound meditations calm the RAS.
Alterations in Perceived Time and Space
You might have noticed some interesting alterations in your awareness with the six sound meditations after the Spirit Calling Song. For one, your attention might have started to turn inward, and you might have also experienced floating feelings or other alterations in spatial perception. In the longer toning sessions, your sense of time might have also been altered.
Alterations in perceived time and space are quite common during intense spiritual experiences as well as during altered states of consciousness in general. And these alterations in your perception of time and space will take place regardless of the methods used to enter those states of mind. In other words it is immaterial, neurologically speaking, whether an altered state of consciousness is generated through catalytic sound, certain types of music, meditation, contemplative prayer, neuro-biofeedback or even light and sound machines that alter brain state through a combination of pulsating sound and light.
The Orientation Area
From a neurophysiological perspective, the locus of alterations in perceived time and space is located in an area of the brain called the parietal lobe, which Dr. Andrew Newberg, Professor and Director of Research at the Myrna Brind Center of Integrative Medicine at Thomas Jefferson University has studied extensively and has dubbed the orientation area.
The orientation area of the brain is responsible for giving us our sense of time and space. During altered states of consciousness the orientation area stops “mapping” external time and space. As a result, normally perceived time and space disappears. And instead, the subject experiences an altered sense of them. The degree of this alteration depends, quite simply, upon how deep the altered state is.
Dr. Newberg has been focusing his research on meditators who practice some form of Tibetan Buddhism, not on those listening to catalytic sound or toning, which is what you will hear in the seven sound meditations. But based on my experience with sound healing for over 35+ years in my psychotherapy practice, and my ten years of brain research through Acoustic Brain Research, I think that the orientation area is activated in very similar ways during sound healing sessions. I base this presupposition on the simple fact that people report radical changes in their sense of perceived time and space during sound transformation and sound healing sessions.
Beyond the Brain
There is no question that brain activity parallels spiritual experiences and/or altered states of consciousness. But I contend that there is also an aspect of consciousness that transcends brain activity altogether. I am mentioning this here because when you listen to the seven sound meditations, you might encounter an aspect of yourself that seems to transcend your sensory world and your sense of yourself as an embodied human being.
This non-localized aspect of consciousness has become one of my primary focuses. And to enter this fascinating territory of the mind, I would now like to turn our attention to near death experiences and remote viewing.
Some persons who have been clinically dead—meaning there was no measurable activity in their brains—reported upon being revived that they were aware of what was going on around them including the conversations of the medical personnel who were attending them. How could this be? If there was no brain activity, our current neurophysiological model presumes that there would be no conscious awareness at all. This is indeed a physiological conundrum and a hot topic of debate among neuropsychologists.
Another fascinating expression of our non-localized consciousness shows up in studies with remote viewing. By non-localized I mean awareness that is seemingly untied to localized activity in the brain and/or to the local environment.
In studies with remote viewing, individuals are trained to report their sensory experience of objects in an area located in the next room, nearby or sometimes miles away. There is no sensory contact between the subject and the object. In other words the subject cannot see, feel, hear, smell or taste the object. But in spite of this, a large number of subjects accurately describe aspects of the object. How is this possible? What brain mechanism could possibly be involved here?
Many researchers involved with remote viewing contend that there is a non-localized aspect to human consciousness that operates outside the locus of brain activity.
As with studies in near-death experiences, the entire subject of remote viewing and the idea of non-localized consciousness, in general, is an intense subject of debate by neuropsychologists to this day.
I would suggest anyone interested in these topics read Dr. Stanislav Grof’s book, Beyond the Brain: Birth, Death and Transcendence in Psychotherapy, which challenges our current physiological models of consciousness.
Sentics and the Power of Emotion
Our understanding of the symphonic brain would be incomplete if we did not address the ability of sound and music to create emotional responses.
You may have noticed that each of the seven sound meditations generates a different type of emotional response in you. This is due to distinct differences in the sound-envelopes between sound pieces.
The researcher Manfred Clynes has done extensive research on the ability of sound and music to create emotional responses by measuring their pressure-waves, which he calls sentic waves.
Anything that creates pressure can create a sentic wave and generate an emotional response. Take for instance, the vocalizations of an infant. The sounds of a baby crying in distress are quite different from the sounds of a child giggling with delight. And any effective parent will immediately recognize the difference at a visceral non-verbal level.
The way you touch another person also communicates your feelings through sentic waves. The pressure you apply and how long you sustain it will communicate your feelings non-verbally to the recipient of your hug.
Sound and music create pressure waves in the air, which are received by your ears and then routed to the acoustic areas of your brain where they are sent to different regions to be interpreted. If the sound or music carries an emotional intent and has the matching sentic wave pattern, as a listener you will most likely have an emotional response.
This is part of what separates a master musician from someone who is just technically precise. Hitting the notes correctly is only part of the picture.
When I was doing research under the auspices of Acoustic Brain Research, I reached a point in my understanding that there is tremendous transformational potential by creating music or sound patterns that generate emotional responses in the listener. And of all the various instruments I explored and worked with, there is one instrument that stands out most clearly in its ability to alter consciousness by conveying emotional information—the human voice.
It was out of this recognition that I developed my own personal art of toning, which is the use of my voice to vocalize tones without language for the purpose of activating the un-used creative potentials of the right cerebral hemisphere. From another perspective, this type of toning also opens doorways or portals into areas of our human psyche that are transpersonal in nature. It is through this transcendent aspect of our consciousness that we can make contact with what the ancients called the numinous or light-filled realms of consciousness.
Exploring Your Symphonic Brain
Research clearly shows that sound and music can affect your brain/mind and perception in distinct and powerful ways.
In some instances, sound and music can facilitate increased creativity and problem solving abilities—especially when used in conjunction with mental imagery.
Research also shows that listening to calming music, with a rhythm of around sixty beats per minute, for just twenty minutes a day can decrease stress and improve wellbeing. This stress-reducing response is due to activation of your parasympathetic nervous system, which lowers blood pressure, heart rate, and respiration. This, in turn, reduces stress-related hormones likes adrenaline, etc.
Returning to our metaphor of the symphonic brain for a moment, let’s say that you are overly stressed due to a situation in your life. Perhaps you are working too long, not getting enough sleep or having relationship problems, just to mention a few of the possible stressors that life can throw our way.
If you are overly stressed, then your neurological symphony will be playing a composition that is fast paced, maybe something like the rhumba, or if you are stressed out of your mind, then your symphony might be playing something akin to acid rock—metaphorically speaking of course.
By this I mean the neurons in your brain will be working at a faster pace to deal with incoming information from your external environment that you need to deal with.
Various regions of your brain, i.e., sections of your neurological orchestra, will then be producing a lot of beta activity, which will engage your sympathetic nervous system. This part of your nervous system mobilizes energy to deal with perceived threats. It is well suited to deal with short bouts of stress, but when stress is experienced for too long without relief (by engaging the parasympathetic nervous system) it creates all types of physical problems including stress-related illnesses.
The bottom line here is that if you are experiencing a lot of stress in your life, it would behoove you to engage your parasympathetic nervous system and consciously relax on a regular basis. From a pragmatic standpoint, one of the easiest ways to do this is simply to listen to music that has been shown to increase alpha and/or theta activity.
Research clearly shows that unbridled stress-responses are extremely detrimental to health. And researchers have verified that calming activities such as certain types of meditation and music therapy can effectively engage the parasympathetic nervous system and temporarily bring the body back to a state of homeostasis (balance).
Sound and music can also open the doors of perception allowing you to directly experience the numinous (light filled) realms of consciousness. These types of highly unusual states of mind are often associated with the mystical or religious dimensions of human experience.
But in my opinion you do not have to buy into any particular spiritual or religious tradition to explore the states of mind associated with those traditions. As a Psychonaut (an Explorer of Consciousness) you are free to explore all types of mental spaces and utilize the insights that come to you through these types of explorations.
For those readers interested in exploring the power of sound to affect transformation and healing more deeply, you will find some resources listed at the end of this article.
My professional focus for the last three decades has been on the use of sound and music to generate altered states of consciousness as a means to access unused creative potentials of the brain/mind. These inner worlds offer a treasure trove of new insights and creativity that wait to be discovered. By exploring these dimensions of consciousness and bringing new creativity and deep insight forward into the world where we live our day-to-day lives, we can enrich our own lives as well as the culture we live in.
Click on the links below or go to the Articles section at www.tomkenyon.com
You can read descriptions of as well as hear samples of all of my psychoacoustic recordings including recordings from several workshops in the Store section of the website (www.tomkenyon.com). These are available in both CD or mp3 formats.
As the list of CDs and workshop recordings is a bit formidable, I thought I would simply your search by dividing them into a few broad categories. But do understand that these are just the tip of the iceberg, so to speak, when it comes to the many different types of psychoacoustic music and sound meditations that I have created over the last three decades.
If you click on the links below, you will be taken to the page in the Store where they are described.
Before I list these categories, however, I would like to mention that there is a lot of free audio content in the Listening section of the website at www.tomkenyon.com that you are welcome to use for your own personal listening.
Important Note: All of my psychoacoustic recordings and sound meditations are a form of brain/mind re-education. They are not intended to replace medical or psychological treatment. Rather they were created to help you access the unused creative, transformational and self-healing potentials of your own brain/mind and body. If you are suffering from a medical or psychological condition you are strongly advised to seek the advice of a professional.
Stress Management and Relaxation
Soma consists of three psychoacoustic tracks designed to increase alpha activity. It is excellent for stress management sessions since each track is about twenty-minutes in length.
Solace is about an hour-long continuous sound field that repeats a sound pattern designed to increase alpha activity and impart a sense of comfort and nurturance. It is very effective when the stress-response is of an emotional nature.
Wave Form 1 consists of a single track that is around twenty minutes long and is repeated for about an hour. It has been shown to increase both alpha and theta activity when listened to with stereo headphones or ear buds. This was one of my first psychoacoustic recordings under the auspices of Acoustic Brain Research. It has been digitally re-mastered.
Enhanced Brain Performance
Infinite Pool was created to stimulate neural connections between the right and left cerebral hemispheres via the corpus callosum. It consists of a complex sound pattern that is a little over eleven minutes in length that is repeated for about an hour. It is a very effective sonic tool for psycho-navigation.
Mind Gymnastiks is a program I developed during my period with Acoustic Brain Research. It consists of a short “brain-tune up” that uses BioPulse™ frequencies*, which stimulate the brain from low delta up into high beta. This sequence is then followed by three mental exercises with psychoacoustic music in the background. The program was created to activate new neurological networks in the brain especially those connected to spatial intelligence and unused potentials of the right hemisphere. I developed this during my time with Acoustic Brain Research, and it has a long track record of being effective. It has been digitally re-mastered.
*Note: BioPulse™ frequencies are a method I developed for brain entrainment whereby a single frequency is pulsed at a rate that generates a change in brain state. Additionally, I create these entrainment frequencies in relationship to musical and other sound patterns to more effectively alter consciousness. BioPulse™ frequencies are different from Binaural-beat entrainment, which uses two frequencies to create a third primary entrainment frequency. BioPulse™ frequencies can be utilized for altering brain state by persons who are hard of hearing or even deaf in one ear. (Please note, however, that in the case of Mind Gymnastiks the listener needs to have good hearing in both ears to take full advantage of the program).
The Geometry of Consciousness is a series of mental exercises with psychoacoustic music in the background to increase brain performance and increase creativity. This program is very effective based on user feedback as well as beta testing with three different groups of participants. It is included in one of two CDs in The Hathor Material: Messages from An Ascended Civilization: Revised Edition. The only way currently to get this program is by acquiring the book as the written materials describing the program and its background are crucial to its success.
Increased Creativity and Problem Solving
Creative Imaging is a continuous psychoacoustic sound field that was created for the purposes of increasing both measurable IQ and creative problem solving abilities. The sound field increases alpha activity and when used according to the protocol included in the written instructions, it is extremely effective. This protocol is called image streaming, which was created by Dr. Win Wenger of Project Renaissance. Project Renaissance is a wonderful source of information for those desiring to increase their intelligence as well as creative problem solving abilities. Please note that in order to increase your IQ and your creative problem solving abilities, you have to engage the simple protocol while listening to the CD. This is not a passive program. You must do something mentally in order for it to be effective. Many individuals have also reported that this recording is also a great sonic tool for psycho-navigation. This CD has been digitally re-mastered.
Ambient Support is a continuous sound field that was created to increase productivity and to decrease stress around learning. It generates a relaxed yet efficient state of mind, which is ideal for students studying difficult material and for persons working on various tasks. It is to be played at low volume, in the background, with or without headphones. This CD has been digitally re-mastered.
Psycho-immunology consists of three different guided imagery sessions with psycho-acoustic music in the background designed to create a self-healing response. I created this CD during my time with Acoustic Brain Research, and the program has a long track record of success. This recording has been digitally re-mastered.
The Golden ORB is a live recording of a Taoist Sound Healing Meditation that I conducted during a professional sound healing training. The sound patterns and the mental imagery create potent transformational states of body and mind that are conducive to self-healing through the attraction and circulation of chi.
Immunity is a highly unusual recording in that it is a mix of thirty-two spirit healers that I channeled for the purpose of reaching deep into the body/mind to create a powerful self-healing experience. You can read more about his unique approach if you go the title in Store and click on Read the Full Immunity Story.
Sound Transformations was the first CD of me toning. It consists of live recordings from various workshops that alters awareness and opens doorways to the transpersonal dimensions of consciousness.
Voices From Other Worlds is a collection of tonings I recorded in the studio to transport consciousness into the transpersonal (spiritual) dimensions. The tonality and feel of the tracks are quite different from each other, creating an interesting contrast in the overall feel of this recording.
Biophotonic Human is set of recordings from a workshop, which focuses on the activation of your biophotonic network of light through a series of discussions about the science of Biophotonics and numerous sound explorations.
Entering the Mandala is set of workshop recordings that explore blissful states of consciousness as a means to liberate consciousness through what I call Chitananda Tantra (or knowledge of bliss). In the course of this in depth workshop I discuss, at length, the background and philosophy behind this form of tantra, which draws from ancient India, Tibetan Buddhism and the BonPo. The numerous sound meditations guide the listener into a direct experience of the blissful underlying nature of transpersonal consciousness.
The Art of Egyptian High Alchemy is a synthesis of my many years of exploration in the art of Egyptian Alchemy as a means to illuminate consciousness. This is a set of live recordings from a workshop, which explores this ancient way for entering into psycho-spiritual transformation. Although the system is ancient in its origins, it still has immense relevance for our time. This workshop includes many sound explorations, which allow you to directly experience the numinous worlds for yourself.
Entering the Nigredo is a set of live recordings from a workshop that explores methods for transforming unresolved shadow material. I believe that our spiritual liberation can be held captive by unresolved shadow material and any attempt to enter the “light” by avoiding our “darkness” is inherently self-limiting.
©2015 Tom Kenyon All Rights Reserved www.tomkenyon.com
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