How do Yijing and Sound Healing
sound like when combined?
On Sound Healing
My first taste of sound healing was during a group session held by my friend Yeyette San Luis, from whom I first heard the term. She began to specialize on sound healing around the time I started doing the Yijing. I even remember her ordeal of acquiring her big set of crystal bowls, which she now uses in all her private and group sound healing sessions. Inspired by her work, I wrote this short poem while she was giving a short experience in one of my spiritual communities.
I attended Yeyette’s sessions several times over the last 7 years as a first-timer once, experiencing beautiful and haunting sounds that were undeniably immersive and mystical, almost on the level of deep meditation, only without too long duration and guided instructions. I knew since then that this modality of hers is in sync with the vision we both share on well-being.
In January 2021, Yeyette asked my help in naming their upcoming event, a local observance of the World Sound Healing Day, which happens every February 14. Right away, I only have one Filipino word in mind: taginting (English: resonance). This word perfectly describes the refreshing sound of small singing bowls my mentor often use in holding retreats and meditation sessions. And ever since, I have always used taginting to refer to my experience of words, be it poetry or essay, that are strikingly resonant with so much insights and deep meaning.
Before 2021 ended, Yeyette and Taginting co-founder sound healer Tonette Asprer both onboarded me as a co-organizer, and we successfully pulled through the event on its second year, featuring almost 30 sound healers, instrumentalists, vocal and sound artists.
Sounds of Change
Aside from co-organizing, I also collaborated with my friend, lawyer, poet and sound artist Cris Garcimo. Cris co-founded a group called Gentle Universe, and they are into composing and performing ambient music using various instruments. In 2020, he became part of the second run of my poetry class, and since then he has started his creative flow on poetry writing, drawing, Baybayin writing and even his tropical version of ikebana or bulakbayin, a portmanteau of bulakalak (flower) and Baybayin (ancient FIlipino writing system)
Despite being clueless at first on how to merge his work on sound and my work on Yijing, we somehow magically found our shared flow, where Yijing and sound healing intersect.
The idea that came to us was to translate EACH trigram into meditative sounds. With his skill and prowess on sounds, Cris came up with his unique approach. After understanding the nature of each line inside a trigram (bottom line = Earth, middle line = Human, above line = Heaven), he paralleled each line with lower, higher and middle pitch, then combined them with nature sounds as represented by the phenomenon of each trigram. The result is the playlist of all trigrams below:
So during our Taginting breakout session, instead of just giving quick reading requests, I also played the combined trigrams sounds for a particular hexagram, giving the participants a moment to meditate and relax, both necessary for receiving the insights to their inquiry.
Music by Chance
Since I randomly generated every hexagram in a reading, we also randomly generated the combinations of sounds based on the trigrams that compose a hexagram. This unique, random approach to music is called aleatory music or music by chance. I have learned from Cris that this is the same approach done by the legendary musician John Cage, who used the Yijing in his music compositions; and by Brian Eno, who coined the term ambient music, (and also started the genre) and invented the creativity deck called Oblique Strategies, which helps musicians apply metathinking on their own creative process. Both musicians are inspiring figures to Cris’ own creative journey.
Like an Echo
At first, it is easy to think that an oracle like Yijing is totally unrelated to music and sounds. But the surprising fact is that in one of the Ten Wings, or the ancient Confucian commentary on Yijing, the seventh wing called Wenyan zhuan 文言傳 or Commentary on Words speaks about Hexagram 1, Line 5:
Things that accord in tone vibrate together. Things that have affinity in their inmost natures seek one another.*Commentary on Words
And the most important historical Yijing commentary called The Great Treatise or Ta Chuan (Dazhuan) spoke about what a noble one does when he (or she) consults the Yijing:
He takes up his communications like an echo, neither far nor near, neither dark nor deep exist for it, and thus he learns of the things of the future.*The Great Treatise
The “tone” that “vibrates together”, in which the one who consults the Yijing hears it “like an echo” are all interwoven elements of the intimate relationship of sound with Yijing. This sound-related principle is what I also use as an approach to listen to the Yijing’s text and symbol and listen to “what it says” beyond the text alone.
This collaboration between me and Cris is a testament to a beautiful creative resonance – that Yijing can be so relevant to any musician and sound healer, just as it is relevant to decision-makers and practical advice seekers. And if Yijing’s insightful words can bring anyone’s mind back to clarity, simplicity, and harmony, these oracle sounds Cris has produced can also inspire clear, simple and harmonious sound healing experience, an always elegant complement to any Yijing reading.
*quoted by Roderick Main in his book Revelation of Change: Synchronicity as Spiritual Experience (SUNY Press, 2007)
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