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Mitch Nur
from: Mitch Nur

Considerations in Presenting 'Ambient Mode' Sound Therapy, part two

In many cases Ambient Mode sound therapy is conducted with the client laying down on a massage table, on the floor in Savasana (corpse pose), seven pointed meditation posture or sitting in a type of chair. In my practice I generally use a massage table for 'one on one' session work, which allows me to suspend the client within the sound field, where I can place instruments below and above the massage table. This manner affords me the opportunity to spatially place the instruments up and down, in and out, and arrays that can enhance a acousmatic experience. For group session work I have the participants layout or assume Savasana on mats, traditionally this pose was a symbolic method to die out to our old ways of thinking and doing, and the perceived boundaries of body image disappear, and we enter a state of neutrality. The great Vedic sage Abhinavagupta said about Savasana "Abandon nothing, take up nothing, rest, abide in yourself, just as you are." The seven pointed meditation posture is used to to keep the body straight so the subtle channels of the body will be straight, allowing the subtle energies within these channels to circulate freely. In Tibetan Buddhism it is said that the mind is like a horse riding the circulation of the subtle energies of the body. When it is riding this energy freely, it is relaxed and peaceful. For those that find it distressing to sit in the 7 point meditation posture a chair can be used, but the client should be instructed to sit away from the back of the chair, and to place the feet firmly on the floor, aligned with the hips and knees. Another method would be to use an anti-gravity lounger.

Ambient Mode sound therapy is a pleasant relief from the noise pollution of the modern world where the events of the 'sound story' are heard and only seen by the eyes of the mind, a type of aural photograph where the client is an earwitness to the events unfolding across the ambient soundscape. This form of sound therapy can encourage clairaudience, where the client receives messages from the soundscape itself, which makes it critically important that the session is designed or composed to stimulate pleasant and peaceful messages (story lines) that can relieve tension and stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system allowing the cells of the body to release (puff) nitric oxide which influences our health and state of mind. Research shows that nitric oxide release enhances cell vitality, destroys bacteria and viruses, improves digestion, enhances the immune system, and can diminish states of depression. Because the release of nitric oxide follows a rhythmic puffing cycle, its imperative to fall into cadence with it, or as I mentioned in part one of this paper, flow and fluctuations become very important when using Ambient Mode. Many times in question and answer sessions with students I learn that most are focused on making the session-work peaceful and meditative, but this is a very shallow description of the actual process. When we take into account how dynamic a Ambient Mode session can be, why would we curtail the session to be a simple form of relaxation, when the possibility of true self discovery and deep healing can occur for the client? In my opinion, these simple exercises by sound healers miss the whole point of therapy, which suggests that they feel that the instrument is doing all the work, that simply striking a gong is the methodology. This is very careless thinking to say the least. True healing begins within, this is the primary area that needs encouragement to succeed, allowing the fortifications of will to overwrite the program that is hindering the client. I instruct my students to not allow any separation to exist between themselves and the instrument they are using, whether its a singing bowl, drum, gong, whatever. No conception that they are separate from the sound source itself. No ego of having a big expensive gong to do all the work for you, and no conception that you are this great healer because you have an overwhelming collection of instruments. When the therapist is without conceptions, free of conditions, free of subject/object restrictions, no separation, they could simply snap their finger, and the sound would open the door to self awareness.

Before the client enters the Ambient Mode, they come from a congested environment generally. This soundscape of the modern world is a mix of everything from microwave radiation, noise pollution from industry, congested traffic patterns, the buzz of the electrical grid to name but a few. These sounds we have tended to ignore or filter out, but nonetheless we are still impacted by them, even though we wish to filter them out of our daily experience. For example, people who live in large metropolitan areas, can actually filter out police and fire sirens. This conditioning or "noise abatement" [6] has actually pushed us further away from the acoustical environment. As early as the Babylonians, there were warnings about the tuning of the world, a strong case has been presented from academics in Great Britain, America, and the Mid East, regarding musical instrument tuning. This is a topic I hope to present in a future paper, but what is fascinating about this research, is that there appears to be 'secret codes' hidden in the world's great religious books warning us of an inharmonic future. Theories are being explored that even Plato's 'Republic' is a music book in disguise, sounding the same warning. What is also fascinating, is that the ancients believed that the musician was the guardian who held the sacred oath of spiritual harmonic knowledge that could save humanity from this impending doom of disharmony; that is why music was a sacred art in antiquity. Our current research on this subject suggests that 440Hz as a tuning reference should not be obeyed by members of the Sound Therapy community, and that 432Hz is also not the best alternative. Our field recordings of the natural environment of birds and trees, and moving grasses etc. shows that nature is tuned to a different reference point altogether. Sound Therapists engaging Ambient Mode, should be in phase with the natural organic environment, rather than man's 'false' reference point of 440Hz. But the fact that some 'feel' that a reference is 'needed', are also on a false trail. Tuning references are simply a guideline and only a 'law' when it comes to orchestras. Polyphonic instruments like Singing Bowls or Gongs are microtonal, and these microtones are additional nutriments in the ambient soundscape. When a sound is rich in harmonics, there is more energy in this sound, and this added energy can push through resistance and reach a area in the brain, that's specific role is to process harmonic sound. Humans and just a small group of mammals have this added feature in the auditory cortex of the brain. What I find absolutely amazing, is that so many who teach Sound Therapy ('experts'), are NOT aware that there is a part of the auditory cortex waiting to decode harmonic sound, especially those who teach Gongs and Singing Bowls. This is also important awareness for those working with dementia for example.

Important considerations for the Ambient Mode dictate protocols that allow the soundscape to be a fertile organic ground that steer the client, or return them to the organic acoustical environment that they are missing from. This will simply be a shift in consciousness in it's own right. Please consider that the role of the Sound Therapist involved in Ambient Mode is a shifter of consciousness. In order for the client to engage their own personal healing journey, their consciousness needs to shift. Does not the shifting of consciousness require great responsibility? Shouldn't Sound Therapists require the necessary educational standards to understand consciousness in the first place? Borrowing a message from my friend Alexandre Tannous, it's not Sound Therapy as instrument priority, but consciousness itself that the Sound Therapist is engaged in.


[6] Schafer, R. M. (1977/1994). The Soundscape: our sonic environment and the tuning of the world. Rochester, VT: Destiny Books

©2015 Mitch Nur, PhD

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