Read an Excerpt
The Roar of Silence
Healing Powers of Breath, Tone & Music
By Don G. Campbell
Theosophical Publishing HouseCopyright © 1989 Don G. Campbell
All rights reserved.
Awakening Vibratory Awareness
Meditation: Sacred Breath, Sacred Life
Sit comfortably in a chair so that your spine can relax upward. Close your eyes and visualize your whole body as a balloon. With every incoming breath, allow your whole body, the balloon, to expand slightly. With every exhalation, visualize your body releasing air from all its pores. Don't be concerned about having too much or too little air in the balloon.
Visualize each breath sending oxygen to every part of your body, from the tips of your toes to the top of your skull.
Experiment with the rate and depth of your breathing. But focus primarily on the round balloon image of your body expanding with each inhalation.
Meditation Sound: Each time you inhale, silently repeat the word "Breath."
With each exhalation, silently repeat "Life."
You may wish to concentrate on "Life" as you inhale and "Breath" as you exhale and note whether this is more comfortable for you.
Awakening Vibratory Awareness
Even within our most silent and still moments, there is a remarkable amount of motion within the physical body. The flow of the blood, the cycles and rhythms of the breath and heart, the billions of cellular motions in the tissues and organs throughout the body all create a symphony of motion beyond our auditory range. The autonomic functions of such processes as digestion, hair growth, transmission between the cells of the nervous systems flow with more rhythmic precision than our conscious minds could ever control at one time. If we were aware of all these systems, we would have little ability to focus on the outer world.
To explore our vibratory awareness, we need to approach our physical bodies with a heightened sense of listening. Our normal states of mind are hardly sufficient to penetrate the depths and heights of human perception. Great mystics, keen clairvoyants, and yogic masters have experienced a variety of channels through which the human mind can perceive dynamic dimensions outside normal consciousness.
In the most elemental and basic sense, each person is a musician, subconsciously conducting many systems and organs within the body. Even the most complicated counterpoint of Bach does not begin to approach the complexity of the cellular activity within the body. Only a few people possess the gifts necessary to become great composers or performers, but the essential musical qualities are always available within the body. The challenge is to let go of the traditional inhibitions that keep the rhythmic and tonal parts of us from transforming into sound and movement.
To listen deeply within is to awaken the musician. Inner music need not be refined or eloquent to be majestic and beautiful. No one would challenge the splendor of the Grand Canyon because it does not have perfect balance in all visual angles or because it does not match the proportions of a splendid man-made cathedral such as Notre Dame in Paris. The human voice, the breath, and the heartbeat are the elemental, natural environments through which the spirit and soul are expressed. It is not necessary to make our internal landscape self-conscious. Wounded musicians who were told they could not sing in tune or play an instrument well may have lost their glorious birthright of knowing the powers that are already in play. To become a great composer, a well-known opera singer, or a concert pianist is only for the few people who serve the refinement of the arts for humanity. To require a devoted worshipper to be a priest or Gothic architect is to disempower faith. The same is true with music. To require sophisticated education in performance, theory, and history can inhibit that awesome abandon to sound that is healing.
Language evolves out of a young child's inner motivation to reach out, communicate, and express emotions and needs to the outer world. If our only intent were to teach young children the sonnets of Shakespeare in the English of his century, most children would not be able to communicate with their family and peers. The inhibition of personal expression, creativity, and concrete learning patterns prevents the natural, joyous expression possible for children. Every child learns to speak primarily to communicate and thus reach out to the world. To judge a child's elemental expression in terms of Shakespeare would be to stem the evolutionary potential of new, and hopefully important, expressive forms.
This is so with music, but in a more rudimentary way. Every step we take, every utterance, every thought has a pattern, a rhythmic pattern which is energized by breath. The mystery schools of sound knew the vital importance of the connection between spirit and body. They used patterns of tone, movement, and breath to open the inner gates where awakened energy could flow between the subconscious and conscious worlds. The awakening of these inner and outer worlds does not come from overstimulation. It is not a frantic realization. It is a burst in seeing, listening, and feeling every part of life in harmony and balance.
There is a story about a young monk who asked the Buddha why he was the Buddha. "Is it because you have mastered all your desires?" "No," was the reply. "Are you the Buddha because you can levitate?" Again, no was the answer. "Because you can know all things?" Once again, the simple answer was "no." "Then, why are you called the Buddha, the Enlightened One?" The Buddha's response was, "I am only awake."
Only Awake! Fully able to respond without attachment. This seems impossible for the educated Western mind. But it is not a state of thought or non-thought. It is a state of vibration, resonance, and clear attunement and atonement with all that is. It is the condition of the awakened body-mind in harmony with all other energies, inward and outward. It is the highly awakened state that does not get caught in judgment, criticism, or egotistical self-consciousness.
One day after a music class for young children in Tokyo, a seven-year-old boy came to me with a joyous expression on his face. He asked me in a very sincere way, 'Mr. Campbell, would you like to hear the first part of my very most favorite song?" I nodded positively and he proceeded to sing, "Doooooo." That was all, nothing else. Just one tone held for a brief second. He turned away and skipped down the hall, having expressed a great truth. I was startled because I realized that all favorite songs could be sung from that one note. I felt a Zen monk had given me the perfect koan or musical riddle.
Seldom do we give ourselves the privilege of such elemental simplicity without an apology. Western society has not embraced simple human observations and expressions because of fear of boredom in repeated experiences and patterns. We also think that if we did the simple things long ago, we must now be stimulated and evolve to become articulate and more "human." But the depth of the well is never boring. We can experience the grand "Ah Ha" in every pattern of our life. Just look for the first note of the song and sing it with full power, gentleness, and trust. Then the next note will come.
The challenge in developing vibratory awareness is to allow perception to be free, not bound by our enthusiasm to find out what will happen. The supreme joy in simplicity is to let go of self and see, feel, hear, and deeply sense what is happening. To observe and participate in the breath is to be in the midst of the happening. There is no stress regarding the outcome of the breath, the purpose of the breath or the thought, "Will there be a next breath?" The breath is on its way. The breath oscillates between two points, the height of inhalation and the depth of exhalation. It is the basic wave form of prana, life force, and human consciousness.
With the exercises and images that follow, it is possible to explore in safe ways the great elemental truths that support the spirit, soul, and body. Now begin. Just take a deep breath.
Exercise: Toning the Body
It takes great courage to focus on the subtle energies that surround the physical body. The perception of soft and nearly silent sounds demands acute concentration. Yet to begin to feel, see or hear these powerful and generally unacknowledged energies, we need to let go of some of our patterns of paying attention to the sounds and movements of the body.
Begin this exercise by speaking to your conscious left brain:
"My friend (the cognitive and linear part of me that is rational), I have a challenge for you. Can you be content to be out of the conductor's position so that I can explore the sounds of the instruments? Just allow the rest of my mind and body to explore what kinds of sound are available. Yes, I agree this is primitive and you might be embarrassed to be around such silly sounds, but there is great benefit in it. Just know that you can really help me by not inhibiting my exploration."
Once your left-brain self gives you permission to explore, begin:
1) Sit comfortably and close your eyes to enhance your listening skills.
2) Take a comfortable, unforced deep breath. Start humming a deep and very long sound. It does not matter if the sound is high or low. It does not matter if it is beautiful or on pitch. The intention of the hum sound is to vibrate the body.
3) Now allow the sound to move slowly to a higher pitch and then back down so that the pitch rises and falls.
4) Place the palms of your hands on your cheeks and begin to feel the sound. Think of your hands as fully receiving the vibrations of the sound.
5) Spend five minutes making the sounds, then with eyes still closed, bring down your hands to your lap and just "sense" your body. Take a few minutes to be awake and aware of how the body feels in the quiet. Then make the hum sound for another five minutes.
6) The left brain will remind you that time is up, that you have had plenty of time to fool around, and that this kind of exercise will not accomplish much. Comfort that conscious conductor by stating that many cognitive challenges and interesting perspectives are coming in the following chapters and that later you will give time for linear, logical thought.CHAPTER 2
The Wounded Listener: Balancing Inner and Outer Sounds
Meditation: The Pulse of Life
Sit in a comfortable position in an extremely quiet place. Even a fan, a neon light, or a clock can be distracting in this exercise.
Observe the breath as you did during the previous meditation. After your body and mind feel still and you are fully aware of the breathing pattern, begin sensing the pulse of your heart throughout the body. Be aware of the many patterns and rhythms of your heartbeat.
Visualize each beat as a golden spark of life force. Sense it as if it were a silent, gentle lightning pulse throughout your whole body.
Meditation Sound: Silently repeat "Hah." Keep your mind centered on the inner sound "Hah" while sensing how the beats of the pulse affect it.
The Wounded Listener: Balancing Inner and Outer Sounds
Words cannot always be trusted. Words mean too many things to different people. If I listen with my feelings, then I understand what others really know about life. If I listen without my feelings, then I understand what others know about things. My teachers grade me on things. I do not think they remember how to listen to feelings. All this confusion about learning and grades! My grandmother taught me that feelings were more important than facts or things because with them I'm connected to my life spirit and my ancestors and all the animal healers.
Most of my teachers and friends do not remember that words alone are not enough. So I do not trust the way others hear my thoughts. I can listen to their words and their hearts, but they do not understand my language. I think I'll be quiet until I can be heard without words. It's easier to communicate by drumming and singing.
An eighth-grader from Liberia
I remember my great-uncle Tom. He was always old when I knew him, but he looked like a little boy. He had no teeth, wore overalls every day, and spent his retirement years humming while working around the house and garden. He was in his seventies when I was a child. In my eyes Tom was different from everyone else in the whole world. He did not speak, although he was neither deaf nor mute. He simply got mad one day when he was twenty-two and told my great-aunt that he would never speak again. And that was it. He adopted a language of silence.
I often think of him and wonder if he forgot how to think in our everyday language. He always seemed happy, kind, and fulfilled. Now in prolonged periods of concentration and meditation, I wonder if ceasing my speech for three decades would make my inner conversation with myself louder, quieter, or slower.
Children are often confronted with the frustration of not being understood. Because they do not have enough control of language, it is difficult for them to know how to say things, how to communicate ideas and information, and thus be really understood. Emotion is carried in the tone of a child's voice. Finding the right words to match one's feelings is an awesome challenge. As children grow into puberty, discovering sensitive words or expressive art forms becomes important as a bridge for their inner world to reach out to the outer. As adults, we don't always know exactly how language and feelings fit into this inner world. We often trust our pets as patient and understanding listeners more than we trust our parents and teachers. The tones, language and gestures we use with pets are richer with emotional expression than our average conversations with each other.
As children, we were in closer touch with our needs, our emotions and our desires. The body was not dissociated from thought. Normally we were intensely aware of the physical sensations of pain, pleasure, color, sound and smell. By age eight, we were told to sit still to learn, be quiet when thinking, and develop intelligence with a pencil, a book and our eyes. The natural rhythms and patterns of the body were put on hold for six or eight of the best hours of each day. Many of the feelings, sensings and powerful knowings that were becoming familiar were forgotten because they were not named, mentioned, or developed into mature expressions of thought.
We learn to be unsure and afraid of our natural powers, yet the lost child in each of us yearns to speak or reach out into the world—if only we could be sure of being heard and understood. Uncle Tom may have been childish and stubborn in his decision to become mute for the rest of his life. But the betrayal of not being heard, of not feeling in harmony with others, was so real that he made a drastic decision to survive by silence in the family and in society.
Counselors, ministers, and therapists hear clients utter these phrases repeatedly:
"He never listens to a word I say."
"My parents never listened to me."
"If only they would listen."
"My employer will never listen to us."
"If I have told my teenager once, I told him a thousand times."
"Nobody understands me."
This two-sided sword implies that when we are not heard we are not clearly communicating. We feel separated and long to "get things straight." The distance between the feeling and the words we use can become so great that we find precious few words to say what we feel. It is difficult to communicate even with ourselves when words limit our ability to sense our intuitive and symbolic thoughts. Words become weak, inadequate reflections of feelings. Our cognitive response does not have a deep enough feeling. It can move so fast that any sense of the "pure mind" of Buddhism seems beyond the reach of our own daily mental activity. We feel disharmony with our inner state. We postpone getting to know our deeper self through listening: "If only I felt better physically." "If only we had a new administration." "If only I had more money." "If only I were married." "If only ..."
There is an energy underneath these thoughts. It does not use words. It motivates us to find words, or it automatically envelopes thinking with words without sensing the origin of itself. Our language is losing meaningful words and replacing them with technical terms that are necessary but not expressive.
If we were to listen for the emotion within the words themselves, could we not better listen to each other? Our subconscious registers all the inflections, but we seldom value their meaning. We miss seeing all that's there. We miss listening to what's there. While watching the Olympic diving competition, I was amazed by what I missed within each dive. The acuity of the judges' eyes perceived details in the dive that I could hardly observe even in slow motion. The same alertness to tone of voice is of value when listening. True, it is possible to become so focused on the tone that the general meaning is lost. But it is significant to learn from the inner power of the voice as well as from the surface meaning of words.
Excerpted from The Roar of Silence by Don G. Campbell. Copyright © 1989 Don G. Campbell. Excerpted by permission of Theosophical Publishing House.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
ContentsForeword by Jean Houston,
Prelude: My Journey into Toning,
How to Use this Book,
Chapter 1 Awakening Vibratory Awareness,
Chapter 2 The Wounded Listener: Balancing Inner and Outer Sound,
Chapter 3 The Energy Beneath Sound: Sound Waves and the Brain,
Chapter 4 Toning, Chanting and Singing,
Chapter 5 Transformation through Sound: Effects on Body, Mind and Spirit,
Chapter 6 The Overtones of Health,
Chapter 7 The Sound of Light,