Introducing A New Sound Wave: Toning With Dielle Ciesco
By Roberta Binder
A couple of years ago, I heard about a toning gathering at The Light Center in Black Mountain. It sounded like something interesting to explore, so a friend and I went. Neither of us was expecting what the event held! In the amazing chamber we were invited to release whatever sounds (tones) we felt called to explore and to be open in calling them forth. It took awhile to get over the initial hesitation; the freeing result was delightful.
Recently Dielle Ciesco and I settled into a cozy gazebo at the Asheville Botanical Gardens to explore some toning background since it is becoming a more recognized musical and healing modality. I posed the question, “Is there a tone to toning?”
Dielle: Toning is not like singing – anybody can do it, even if they think they are tone deaf or can’t sing. It is just everyone doing their own thing [exploring their inner sound].
Roberta: I know initially what I found really intimidating is that there is no right or wrong. You just open your mouth and tone with what comes out.
Dielle: Right, that can really throw people. [My first toning went something like this] … on a Shamanic journey, we were in ceremony and I had this experience of opening my mouth and feeling this energy come through my head and out my mouth.
It was a very high pitched tone of the word SA, which has to do with being connected to all things. When that happened I had these ecstatic tears pouring down my face. The people who were surrounding me were taken aback and were affected by the power of this sound. This felt like an initiation to me to start the next step of uncovering ‘what is this thing we have?’ ‘what is its power?’ and ‘how can it help us?’
Roberta: And how did that unfold?
Dielle: Well, this was in 2000 and I discovered there really wasn’t much information available. Toning wasn’t something very well known. At the time the only books I found were: Toning: the Healing and Creative Power of the Voice, Laurel Elizabeth Keyes (1993) and Sacred Sounds, Ted Andrews (1992) and The Healing Voice (1993). These were my bibles at the time. So I started practicing on my own, which didn’t really work, so I started leading groups right away. Because I had a teaching background, I was comfortable doing that. I was comfortable leading groups, even though I didn’t know what I was doing! The group started small. And there were people who were really dedicated and so as the group grew my knowledge grew.
Roberta: Were you living here at the time?
Dielle: I was living in New Mexico. When I moved here and got settled into the community, I started Toning for Peace.com, which is an organization to help communities [groups of people] anywhere [in the world] who want to tone. I’ve developed the site as to provide an informative program for someone who wants to learn and wants somewhere to go to learn, or someone who wants to lead a group, but is looking for some direction. We have been partnering with The Light Center in Black Mountain for five years now. We have circles there about once a month with different facilitators – Asheville is a mecca for people who tone. The group started small and has swelled; we never know what is going to happen.
It is a perfect place for toning because of the acoustics. With toning, you vibrate the body and get energy moving in the body, when you have all those harmonics in the heightened acoustics The Light Center provides just magnifies and compounds all the benefits.
Roberta: Can I go there alone and tone?
Dielle: Absolutely, they would like that! It is also a place for silent prayer. You can tone in the middle of a grocery store – flash tone – which we have the intention to do!
Roberta: How can toning affect Body, Mind and Spirit? Physical wellbeing?
Dielle: We are all vibrational beings. We are composed of energy and that energy is moving all the time. The science of Cymatics shows us how our body is put together. Developed by Dr. Hans Jenny, (Switzerland), he liked to explore with tonal resonating plates. He would put substances down, water, whatever on the plates. These plates would be connected to a machine that would send sound waves through the plates. When he sent the sound wave through the plates they would form geometric shapes – time and again the same tone would produce the same geometric pattern.
We are just as sensitive as any substance. Maybe we are denser than water and more compact than sand, but we are still made up of tiny particles and atoms as well. Those get shaken and stirred with tones. When we are toning and using voice we are doing a couple of things. We are using our own voice, which is healing in itself; it is a confirmation of our existence. And the voice is very soothing anyway – it is a mother singing to her child to soothe. The reverberation of those tones is singing through the body. We can direct a tone to match what is going on in our body to alleviate the pain in a specific place. I’ve watched people put their hands on the source of a pain or irritation in the body, direct the sound there and have the situation eliminated and the tone changed into a different healing tone. This can be done with headaches with positive results.
Roberta: Interesting, I used to get migraines and any kind of sound would make me crazed.
Dielle: So I wonder had you experimented with different sounds if you would have found the right sound. I’m thinking an mmmmm — which is something we do when we have a pain.
Roberta: So a moaning tone might be an automatic healing sound within the body response system for any pain.
Dielle: Right. I was living in an attic apartment with a very low ceiling at one time and had my landlord over to fix something and hit my head on the ceiling. I put my hands there, but held in the cry. I had pain for several days. I realized what I didn’t do was ‘sound in the moment.’ So I went back to that moment and did just that. It took longer to get it out, because I had repressed it, but once I began the toning sessions the healing began and the pain was gone.
Roberta: It is fascinating how many practices are inter-related. Each of us needs to find what resonates with our body; the one that speaks, aligns and resonates with our own body’s holistic healing.
Dielle: Toning helps our emotional self as well. I had an experience with a Veteran who joined a session at The Light Center. He told me at the end of the session that for the first time he felt emotionally aligned. The vibration was able to release repressed emotions from his body. This happens when you can let go and let the tone know your body’s needs and get out of the way mentally.
Roberta: I understand you are now teaching. How have you developed that process and what is it?
Dielle: Yes, I teach Vocal Toning Meditation. The idea is that just to sound can be a lot of fun, but it is much more than that. It is a practice or discipline – like Qigong or anything else. Over the years, I have developed my own way of working with toning. Even though there are many different prescribed ways of toning, the important thing is to break out of that and find what works for you. Be very playful, modify and don’t be afraid of making a mistake. In toning there are no mistakes. I teach people about posture, so the voice is supported. We work with the breath a lot, because there is no sound or tone without the breath and if we can’t support the tones with our breath then they fall short. The ones, for me, that feel the best are the ones that are really long….Toning teaches us about subtle energy. As we become more aware of that energy and how it moves within the body, we become blind-sided to the effect that toning is having on us, but once we develop that, it is so much easier to direct the toning to where we want it to go. We work on listening – to hear the subtle energies that happen within the body as we tone.
The throat is considered the communication center in Yoga. If we are not opening and activating our voices we are not purifying and cleansing our bodies on a daily basis. Just like we brush our teeth, we need to clear out our energy bodies daily.
Roberta: Tell me more about this clearing.
Dielle: The voice channel actually runs the whole length of the body; it is the biggest nerve and also one of the longest in the body. It starts at the ear and travels the full length and breadth of our body. So what we hear through the Vegas nerve is affecting our entire being. The vocal channel is the first reaction that babies exercise through their natural ability to expand and contract. WAAAAA – the sound goes through the channel, the baby’s message has been delivered.
For those of us who are sensitive, the transformational voice work is a tool to provide us with a protective shell so the things we want to come in can, what we don’t stays out and all the while we are staying in our center.
Roberta: Thank you Dielle, may we all practice our personal connection to sound and well-being by exercising our own inner tones with new understanding.
With all the amazing research and study that Dielle has done she has wrapped it into a book, The Unknown Mother: A Magical Walk with the Goddess of Sound that easily provides understanding of the full process not only into toning, but listening to all the sounds we make in our daily life and how they affect our selves and others. When I read the book, which is an easy read placed in a fictional story, I was so impressed I ordered five more copies to share with friends. For me it released the expansion for my inner writer and has helped me to look at my writing through new eyes.
Dielle Ciesco is the creator of Transformational Voicework and author of The Unknown Mother: A Magical Walk with the Goddess of Sound. She specializes in the transformational power of the voice to heal and connect with our own Divinity through toning. Visit her at DielleCiesco.com
Roberta Binder, Facilitating Clarity through Mindful Editing Keeping the Author’s Voice, Always at RobertaEdits.com. She is also a writer and photo-journalist who enjoys all of her writing adventures with WNC Woman – Women Nurturing Change.