The power of the human voice


af Kate Marks


The human voice is considered one of the most powerful healing forces in our world. You can learn to use your own voice naturally – in ways you may never have known – for healing and for expressing your true self.



The vibration of the human voice is considered the most powerful healing force of all. The voice is the truest reflection of our inner health and well-being. It expresses the very essence of our nature. It is our life force, our breath with sound added to it. The tonal quality of our voice tells more about us then the words we speak. Our voices effect the cells and molecules of our body and can restore our innate harmony and perfection.

Singing songs and chants is one of the earliest uses of the voice for healing. It has been practiced in all major religions and spiritual traditions as a way to uplift our spirits and express feelings of transpersonal love and unity, of connection with the universe. Every country has a national anthem. In the Judeo-Christian tradition, we are most familiar with singing hymns and prayers. In shamanic traditions, medicine people heal wounds through chanting and seek power songs to protect and empower themselves and others. Some cultures use a form of singing called keening or wailing to release sorrow and heal the grief after a person dies. They move and rock their bodies while releasing deep emotions.

Singing Opens Us to New Vibrations

Singing is a very personalized form of musical expression. It opens up the whole front of our bodies where our deepest feelings are stored. We resonate from our diaphragm, chest, heart, lungs, throat, tongue, face, vibrating all levels of our being. It connects us strongly with our emotions, and helps us to open our hearts and get out of our heads, unifying our body/mind. It is difficult to stay in a low energy state (depressed), when we begin to sing. Singing allows our breath to deepen, our emotions to open and the sound vibrations to move and resonate through us rather than being held back. As we deepen our breath, we increase the life force within us. Our auditory system and internal awareness process become more sensitive. It is unfortunate that in recent times singing, chanting, making music and sounds are activities that have been more and more repressed.

Many of us have been told to be seen and not heard and have grown up afraid to open our mouths. We are all really natural musicians and singers, and like our ancestors, we need arenas where we can participate in sound. In our culture, we often participate passively with music making, becoming listeners, going to concerts or buying recordings of the “professional” entertainers who become superstar idols. Methods of training the voice have also been focused primarily for public performance emphasizing style and mannerisms associated with what has been culturally determined as “good” singing. Often “good” singing is not necessarily healthful singing. Such techniques as imposed vibrato strain the voice and result in improper use of the diaphragm.

Expanding and Allowing the Natural Voice to Emerge

The more healthful natural aspects of opening the voice have often been neglected. To open the natural healthful voice does not require a specific training method but involves a highly personalized process of self-discovery and inner listening. We need to get in touch with the tensions we are holding and begin to release them gently and lovingly through guided relaxation, meditation, breathing, and singing. It’s important to work with deepening and expanding the breath, and concentrating one’s energy in the pelvic cavity, supporting the voice from below, freeing the chest and upper body of tension so that the lungs can expand fully. Learning to use the diaphragm correctly is essential. Our unique natural voice emerges in a very easy, organic process as we release our tensions. Our voices become full of life force, and vitality, with increasing flexibility, resonance and expressiveness.

Toning is a powerful approach to healing ourselves through the use of the voice. It is a form singing, an active vocal healing meditation that can help us to free our natural voice, and connect with the deeper rhythms and vibrations of our being. This approach emphasizes the sustained vocalization of individual pitches which are resonated into specific body areas. In this process, one is required to bring one’s awareness inward and develop deep concentration. Sensory feedback is immediate and can be effectively monitored. Through toning, we can vibrate and stimulate our entire physical system. We can “tone up” our bodies; learn to regulate our blood flow, increase oxygenation, and “tune” our nervous system, glands and organs. As we focus inward and develop concentration, our mind chatter begins to disappear, and our emotions become calm. We become totally involved with the process and our awareness heightens.
Our Bodies and Ordinary Toning

We already practice toning in an unconscious way. The body often tones itself through natural body sounds. When it is tired, it yawns. When it is in pain, it moans, and when it is joyful, it laughs. Other natural body sounds include whistling, crying, screaming, shouting, gasping, snuffling, sneezing, belching, etc. When we slam a thumb in a door, it is natural to release a sound. These body sounds occur spontaneously, free from the control of the mind.

Most animals have a voice, expressed in this free way. Infants and children also tone naturally, with their cries, gurgles, grunts and imitative sounds. As we get older, our minds intervene, judgments come in, and we become conditioned to shut down and only use our voices in determined, controlled ways. Many of us were told it was indecent to make certain sounds, or that we don’t know how to sing. Often what we say and how we say it are not congruent or in resonance. The tonal quality of our voices expresses something quite different than our words. As we come into harmony with our natural voice, we get more in touch with our true feelings and how to express them.

Studies have shown that sound enters our physical body directly before being processed by the brain, unlike vision, which must be filtered through the centers of the brain first, before we react to it physically. This is the reason why toning and singing can be such powerful therapeutic tools. Sound can give us immediate access to our emotions and a deep body knowing, bypassing the mind. We are made up of predominantly water and bones. When we begin to sing or tone, the water within us picks up resonance and vibrates our bones.

How to Find Your Natural Sounds

The first step in the toning process involves giving ourselves permission to make sounds and then allowing ourselves to explore these sounds freely. We begin with toning natural body sounds that are already familiar to us in our lives, that help us to release freely and spontaneously. It is important to get in touch with what tensions, negative thoughts and feelings we may be holding and begin to consciously let them go, allowing natural body sounds to emerge. It is good to heighten our awareness of these natural sounds, exaggerating them, allowing our bodies to move along with the toning. We can learn a lot from listening to children at play. They are natural toners. As we feel safe, we can create our own childlike sounds, perhaps remembering earlier times in our childhood and releasing different feelings.

It is through trusting ourselves and opening to our impulses that our experience deepens. As we tone, we learn to be fully in the present moment, fully with what we are experiencing, without judgment, becoming more fully alive and expressive. Our throats are the bridge between our mind and body. By opening our throats and voices, we can integrate all levels of our being. The power of the voice does not actually begin in the throat, but rather in the pelvic basin and belly, the center of our creative energy and body wisdom. We can feel the sounds rising up in us from deep in the earth, bursting upward through the pelvis and belly, releasing out the top of our heads. We can imagine preparing to throw a ball high in the sky and then letting go — the feeling of release……..letting the voice express this release ……

For more toning exercises, you may see the sound healing page at Kate’s web site: Toning Exercises

Keyes, Laurel Elizabeth. Toning: The Creative Power of the Voice, DeVorss & Co, 1973.
Dewhurst-Maddock, Olivia. The Book of Sound Therapy, Fireside Book, Simon and Schuster, 1993.
Linklater, Kristin. Freeing the Natural Voice, Drama Book Publishers, l976.
Gardner-Gordon, Joy. The Healing Voice, The Crossing Press, l993.
Newham, Paul. The Singing Cure, Shambhala Publications, l993.
Campbell, Don. The Power of Music, Audio Tape Series, Nightingale Conant Corporation, Niles, IL.
Please see information about Kate Marks and link to her site at The Authors and link to her book and music at Media Picks.