2008: Please note that I am not running the “Singing for Fun & Healing” workshops at the moment, but I still help people in individual sessions.
“Toning” has been used as a healing tool for many hundreds of years in various cultures throughout the world. It has been used to heal and transform in the ancient shamanic traditions of Mongolia, Tibet, Africa, Arabia, and Mexico, and in the Kabbalistic traditions of Judaism and Christianity.
The term voice “toning” was first used by Laurel Keys in the 1960 s. Since then, toning has started to gain acceptance as a healing tool in modern western societies.
Toning can be described as the use of sustained notes to help with psychological and physical healing, voice development, and to facilitate the integration of psychological processes. Toning can be directed either inwards or outwards. It doesn’t have to be just for healing, but also can be for enjoyment. Toning can involve one or more persons either passively receiving a tone or actively producing a tone.
“Harmonic toning” or “Overtoning” is one aspect of toning which appears to show considerable promise as a healing tool. With this technique, emphasis is put on projecting the higher frequency harmonics while sustaining a fixed base frequency. Sometimes, the high overtones may be heard as a clear whistle above the drone of the fundamental frequency. This technique is know as the “Hoomi” style and is traditional in the Tuva region of Mongolia.
In terms of the physical healing effects of toning, there is considerable research evidence to show that toning, (and other related forms of sound therapy such as Vibroacustic Therapy) have helped with conditions such as cystic fibrosis, bronco-spasms, pain reduction, and improved circulation. Claims have also been made that toning has led to the reduction of recovery time from severe bruising, restoration of hearing and reduction in the symptoms of Tinnitus.
Some of the people that I have worked with have reported physical healing effects such as the sense of feeling physically better, an improved sense of balance, and improved quality of singing voice.
In terms of the psychological effects of toning, I have used toning to treat conditions such as phobias, stress, pain, depression, obsessive/compulsive conditions, various forms of addictive behaviour and mild levels of anxiety. Toning also seems to have been particularly helpful with overcoming emotional blocks which interfere with vocal expression.
In most cases, toning has been effective, not only to reduce dysfunction but also to improve quality of life and feelings of well being.
But why should toning produce such profound effects? It seems likely that toning sets up resonance in body organs and this is an important factor in healing. We normally think of sound waves as being processed by the ear. But, as well, sound waves can directly enter the body causing body organs to resonate. Different organs of the body will resonate to different frequencies. Because toning uses sustained notes (unlike most normal music), there is time for a particular part of the body to develop a resonance in response to the tone.
It is well known that people who have severe hearing loss can feel different frequencies in different parts of their bodies. For example, very high frequencies a felt more significantly in the teeth and finger tips, whereas low frequencies are often felt in the stomach.
Jonathan Goldman has speculated that each organ of the body has a natural healthy frequency at which it resonates, and illness can occur when an organ is not resonating to a “healthy” frequency. He says that if one tones the right frequency for an ill body organ, it can lead to healing of the organ by returning it to a healthy frequency.
Different parts of the brain will resonate to different frequencies because of their different mass and structure. I suspect that it is this resonance of specific parts of the brain that help in the psychological healing process by setting up pathways or connections that bypass what normally happens in talking therapy.
When toning is used in combination with techniques such as “Voice dialogue” and “Inner child work”, it can produce good results. I have found this particular combination of techniques has been useful in resolving traumatic memories.
Sometimes the resolution of traumatic memories by such techniques can lead a person to be able to gain control over behaviour such as compulsive gambling, drug and alcohol addiction, compulsive anger, and compulsive eating.
The challenge with toning therapy is to better understand how it works in resolving psychological problems. The technique of toning needs to be further refined to produce more efficiently the desired change in the targeted behaviour.