Do you like to sing?

The Ming Chia Chi Kung Resonant Healing and Assertive Sounds

How good do you want to feel? Oh come on, take a shot! Is it possible that something truly wonderful might happen? With some work, could you learn to ‘be’ the sound…SO healthful. What would it be like to hear, feel your heart sing – ‘be’ that sound, the resonance, so light, so free, so strong, and again, SO healthful…maybe a glimpse of Heaven? 

Utilization of resonant healing/assertive sounds is an important traditional practice in these arts. The sounds can be utilized for treatment purposes and for preventative care, specific to traditional protocols/exercises, as one sees fit. That said, they were developed to succinctly and holistically complement diaphragmatic/abdominal breathing, inclusive of during the practice of tai chi chuan, chi kung, kung fu, yoga, meditation/mindfulness exercises/guided imagery. The competent use of these resonant sounds is truly a skill unto itself, and traditionally they are viewed as quite important with regard to said purposes/benefits. The practice can obviously seem at least a bit odd and eccentric at first, but the more one practices them, the more that they grow on you.

The sounds are part of many variations of traditional Chinese health arts/medicine, as are tai chi chuan and chi kung (also acupuncture arts, herbal and nutritional arts, tui na arts, and vast congruent philosophy). This and all facets of these arts go back many hundreds of years, and the paradigm has been fine-tuned throughout that time. The sounds or similar sounds and logic are also utilized in various oriental traditions, beyond the scope of the aforementioned.

In this specific tradition, the following are inclusive of those that are made up of a single syllable (the less commonly utilized multisyllabic sounds will be set forth later in this writing). The two general Universal Sounds (which under this heading and context are used for general overall health-promoting/balancing purposes – this being in contrast with the larger number of sounds which have succinctly-specific health purposes):

HEN is the sole sound which is made during inhalation, and is done with the mouth closed (to be clear – is ideally performed with ALL inhalations in this practice). Therefore this sound is obviously different than all the others because all of the other sounds are only performed during exhalation. The HEN’s resonance is present and healthful, though it is generally not as great as that of any of the sounds which are performed during exhalation, even though it is drawn out much like the exhalation sounds. Additionally, and as strange as the logic may seem, one should make the HEN sound so that one will hear it as HEN in one’s own ears, e.g., if someone else would listen to the sound one makes, this particular sound may sound different to them. To one’s own ears, it it can be easily said that the sound can sound a bit whinny. Again, this explanation may appear a bit strange and eccentric, but it is important to do it correctly as such. (To further clarify, some who practice this inhalation sound can hear it as more of a drawn out ‘EN’ or ‘E’ sound, with the type of e that is normally sounded out in the word hen.)

HA is the second Universal Sound and it is made during exhalation with the mouth slightly open. If it can be done comfortably, all of the various sounds made during exhalation ideally should be done with one’s tongue gently against the roof of one’s mouth. This in and of itself is not among the most important aspects of this practice – but consistent with acupuncture theory, the tongue in that position is believed to enhance the balance/homeostasis of one’s central nervous system and make one’s mouth less dry.

Not to be confusing, albeit in addition to being a universal (health) sound, the HA sound is also a specific healing sound for the heart. In the traditional Chinese health arts, the heart is seen as more than just being the central part of the cardiovascular system – it is also viewed as the place where one’s spirit resides (most especially in a healthy person). In this case by ‘spirit’ we mean the “spirit by which one goes about doing what they do”, one’s demeanor or mien, NOT referring to the soul or soul matter (though that is not to say that we are in any fashion denying the existence of souls). This outlook/hypothesis regarding the heart and ‘spirit’ as such, has been empirically researched in latter years, even here in the Western hemisphere.

Five Element Sounds (those listed immediately below are the single syllabic variations of five element sounds, versus the dual syllable sounds set forth later herein): All six of these sounds should also be performed with the mouth slightly open during exhalation, and if comfortable, with one’s tongue gently against the roof of one’s mouth (though as set forth above, this latter point is not of the greatest importance). For broader insight into these practices, it can be helpful to know that Five Element/Five Phases theory has an intrinsic association with acupuncture/TCM philosophy/theory, inclusive of being a type of algebraic theory therein – though its scope is much broader than just those applications:

#1 Fire Elemental Sound – HA: in addition to being the universal exhalation sound, it is also specifically healthful for the heart, cardiovascular system – inclusive of the pulse, sense of taste, tongue, throat, endocrine system, sweat glands, color/complexion, expansive energy, willpower, demeanor/spirit, and is a trigger/spark for heart mu acupoint CV14 

#2 Fire Elemental Sound – SHI: is specifically healthful for the pericardium tissue/aka master of the heart tissue, solar plexus area, sense of taste, tongue, throat, expansive energy, willpower, demeanor/spirit, and is a trigger/spark for pericardium mu acupoint CV17

Earth Elemental Sound – HU: is specifically healthful for the spleen/pancreas, lips, mouth, senses of touch and taste, saliva, flesh, fat, connective tissue, muscles, digestion, lymph, stabilizing energy, clarity, insight, and is a trigger/spark for spleen mu acupoint LV13

Metal/Air Elemental Sound – SZ: is specifically healthful for the lungs and respiration quality, nose, body hair, mucus, skin, contracting energy, intuition, courage, stamina, and is a trigger/spark for lung mu acupoint LU1

Water Elemental Sound – FU: is specifically healthful for the kidneys, ears/hearing, balance, head hair, spontaneity, bones, joints, reproductive system, urine and urinary system, conserving energy, willpower, outlook, calmness, and is a trigger/spark for kidney mu acupoint GB25

Wood Elemental Sound – SHU: is specifically healthful for the liver, eyes and vision, tear duct system, nails, sinew, muscles, tendons, nervous system, generative  energy, emotional stability, and is a trigger/spark for liver mu acupoint LV 14

Resonant healing/assertive sounds are most properly performed with holding onto the consonant in one’s voice even after one moves into pronunciation of the consecutive vowel…one never should stop pronouncing the initial consonant – thus holding onto each part in harmonization. This harmonic congruity is what creates the healing reverberation/resonance/vibration. This logic also holds true with the two ‘sounds’ that have two consonants and one vowel: With SHU and SHI (SHEE) – one holds onto the SH sound while combining it with the consecutive vowel, pronouncing them in harmonization. AND this logic also holds true with the one sound without a vowel: The SZ sound is pronounced beginning with the S and holding onto it while combining it with the consecutive Z, pronouncing them in harmonization. In this practice, one should realize that, in almost indecipherable amounts, one will fluctuate back and forth, forward/backward between the parts of each sound, and this fluctuation is an aspect of the resonance/vibration, yin to yang and yang to yin.

Ideally, when one makes any of these single syllabic sounds, the length of a given sound is most generally congruent with both long slow breaths in (the HEN sound only) and with long slow breaths out. All-the-while as stated earlier, this is consistent with keeping the initial consonant part going while adding in the consecutive vowel and/or consonant.

One’s inhalations are naturally shorter in length than one’s exhalations. As mentioned earlier, all breathing is ideally performed in an abdominal/diaphragmatic fashion – either as advance diaphragmatic or reverse diaphragmatic type breathing (also known as Buddhist versus Taoist breathing or Summer versus Winter breathing). In advance breathing, one inhales while pushing one’s abdomen out, and exhales while pulling one’s abdomen in (as if one’s lungs are in one’s abdomen). Reverse breathing is exactly the opposite – with inhalation one draws one’s abdomen in, with exhalation the abdomen is pushed out. The former is meant to sedate excess heat, anxiety/stress, and enhance relaxation and circulation. The latter can abbreviate lethargy, promote warmth, and prompt a greater sense of energy, also enhancing circulation quality. An important traditional goal is to realize all-of-the-time diaphragmatic breathing, e.g., not only just doing it intentionally, but training one’s central nervous system to accept it as such: For most people, they will realize this skill by practicing it for at least five to 10 minutes, twice per day, when practiced for 30 to 60 days.

These sounds are meant to be practiced strategically, e.g., as a form of preventative care and also for specific treatment purposes. For instance if one has a cold or some sort of lung problem, then one would use the metal/air lung sound. If one is feeling cold, tired, or lethargic, then one would foremost utilize the fire and wood sounds, though all of the sounds can assist in this fashion. When practiced as a form of preventative care, it is believed that the sounds are not only healthful for their associated internal organs, but promote health and well-being in a more general sense, inclusive of enhanced homeostasis: This practice is what is coined, in the contemporary sense, a mind/body/spirit health technique. According to tradition, the benefits can be quite profound.

People who become aware of and/or embrace this practice but live in Western societies, may often feel the practice to seem quite odd and eccentric and may then prefer to practice these sounds in private, if they choose to embrace them at all. Even those who practice them consistent with tai chi chuan, chi kung, and yoga, may not feel comfortable making these sounds publicly. OR many will not feel it comfortable or natural to do them at all, because they may feel embarrassed or silly (though traditionally speaking, these sounds are considered very important in said arts).

Initially as one works to learn to perform them properly, it is beneficial to do so a bit louder (albeit not extremely loud), versus after one becomes skilled at it as such. When one becomes skilled, one can make the sounds subtly enough that people ten feet away may not hear them. That said, the sounds can be viewed as even more odd and eccentric when they are performed in an assertive martial/self-defense purpose/demeanor. Then as such, they are done very quickly/forcefully and are meant to discombobulate or frighten a foe, much like, as silly as it may sound, a battle cry (consistently in time with aggressive forceful movement). In the self-defense arts which I also teach, these sounds, when done assertively, are quite effective in promoting possible fright/stress/shock – a lack of balance and homeostasis in a foe or perpetrator. The sounds are performed quite loudly when done for ‘assertive’ purposes. Most Asian martial arts traditionally employ some version of these assertive sounds. The sounds were quite seriously/strategically engineered for both health/wellness and martial/self-defense purposes, yin to yang and yang to yin.

The HA and HU sounds can often be the most difficult, being that the H sound is less distinctive than the other consonants, e.g., like F, S, SZ, and SH. Remember, the resonance comes from keeping each part (consonants and vowels) intact within the nature of each total sound. Traditionally, these sounds are viewed as of little or no value if these concepts aren’t thoroughly embraced and respected in their practical applications. This is an art and like any art, it takes practice. AND there is ALWAYS room for improvement – greater skill, no matter the skill level or how ‘masterful’ one becomes. In the traditions of this art, this concept/awareness is the philosophical definition of ‘true mastery’.

As the notion has been handed-down, it is said that these resonant sounds can be a significant key to unlock the door in realizing the truly splendid skill of enjoying the extremely healthful ‘feelings’ or energy we speak of in other writings/teachings in said tradition – meaning those sweet an innocent sparkling spine-tingling/shivering bioelectric feelings, AND learning to have these feelings AT WILL. Accordingly, there is nothing more healthful, combined with diaphragmatic breathing and meditative witnessing/guided imagery. Through significant practice, one learns to focus this feeling or energy behind one’s navel, which according to acupuncture/TCM theory, is like a furnace: One can learn to fan the ‘furnace’ stronger and stronger and stronger until one can quite healthfully learn to feel the sparkling furnace at will – once again, consistent with diaphragmatic breathing (which fans it) and meditative witnessing/guided imagery. The so-called feeling is the electric-type feeling that many people experience in special sweet and innocent moments – often sentimental or quite benevolent moments. Not to be coarse, but many people also experience this feeling occasionally when urinating. The energy I am speaking of, once again according to this tradition, is what is coined as the ‘original chi’ (chi also known as qi, ki/ pranha) that one is born with, and which in a healthy individual, resides foremost in the kidneys. Once one gathers this furnace and skill as such, one can learn to use/move the energy like a sparkling cursor/elixir in traditional or non-traditional meditative guided imagery for health/well-being/healing purposes. Acupoint CV5 – which is two and one-half of one’s thumb widths (‘cun’) beneath one’s navel on the centerline, has a harmonic relationship with CV8 (again, where the furnace resides behind one’s navel), and one can learn to utilize CV5 in order to mindfully circulate the furnace’s energy like a cursor, as stated.

As set forth earlier herein, each sound has an algebraic elemental application. This concept can be taken in varying directions – wherein on some levels it aligns with oriental astrology, general feng shui, and body feng shui. We don’t deny that all this has some level of verity: This connection isn’t denied in these traditions, albeit we don’t overtly focus on it. Mostly we focus on the body (health) feng shui facet, for associated insight/practical purposes. Hence, one can look up one’s birth date as associated with its congruent element and animal personality in the oriental (60 year cyclical) lunar calendar, by way of a book as such, or easily online. This will enable one to know what element one’s birth date falls into alignment with: It is set forth that one’s algebraic-defined element which brought one into the world (is born with), is the one that may take one back out of this world (with regard to the element’s congruent internal organ, e.g., yin organs of the heart, spleen/pancreas, lungs, kidneys, and liver). Additionally, there is some connection as such with the yang organs of the small intestine, stomach, large intestine, bladder, and gall bladder (in the same element associated order).

The algebraic elemental theory can go onto further steps, e.g., as diagnostic and treatment triads on the Five Element/Five Phases graph. The triads can shift over time, especially with regard to different periods in one’s lifetime. However, on the most basic level, the element and thus elemental sound which is consistent with one’s year of birth can be viewed as the sound that one first and foremost utilizes. That said, all of the sounds are important to each individual, as set forth earlier herein.

The dual syllable sounds are not considered as significant in this tradition. That is not to say that they don’t have their place, yet the single syllable sounds are considered most important by far, and it is likely that few ever realize a significant skill level with the dual syllable sounds.

The dual syllable sounds and single syllable sounds do have a significant association with Asian chanting/singing musical mantra traditions – inclusive of those from Tibet. They strategically make a musical art of this logic and its sounds. In the tradition herein, even though it is not our primary strategic emphasis, seeing the sounds as music can be a truly splendid, lovely, and benevolent side effect, so-to-speak: Our primary strategic objective in utilizing the sounds is for health/wellness purposes. That said, we practice the sounds both individually and also one after the other: The sounds/tones become music of sorts, but it is MOST important to do them correctly, never deviating from the correct way of expressing/utilizing them. Again to clarify – the sounds can become music, albeit that is not our primary strategic purpose, but a truly splendid sparkling spine-tingling/shivering side effect so-to-speak: Most importantly, we benevolently work to become the sounds, become the resonance, the music, to ‘be’ it. The power in becoming the sounds has much to do with learning to do them in a fashion of meditative witnessing, not thinking, but objectively witnessing oneself in the doing, the being. Yin to yang, yang to yin, the goal is to become the sounds, and the sounds become you…I cannot stress this point enough. It is SO much about a true appreciation, gratitude for the miracle of the moment, more and more each moment. The sounds are believed to reflect the nature/sounds of the universe, and back, both ways, again yin to yang and yang to yin.

In utilizing the below sounds, we do not try to hold the syllables together in order to harmonize them at the same time – at least not to the level that we do with the consonants and vowels in the single syllable sounds. Herein, we endeavor to learn to deftly fluctuate between each syllable, sounding out back and forth:

Fire Elemental Dual Syllable Sound – ChiHer (‘i’ is a proper i sound – like “I am”): is specifically healthful for the heart, and additional areas as stated with the single syllable sounds

Earth Elemental Dual Syllable Sound – KaUng (the ‘k’ sound can be much like a ‘g’): is specifically healthful for the spleen/pancreas, and additional areas as stated with the single syllable sounds

Metal/Air Elemental Dual Syllable Sound – ShaAng: is specifically healthful for the lungs, and additional areas as stated with the single syllable sounds

Water Elemental Dual Syllable Sound – ChaWay: is specifically healthful for the kidneys, and additional areas as stated with the single syllable sounds

Wood Elemental Dual Syllable Sound – ChiO (CheeO): is specifically healthful for the liver, and additional areas as stated with the single syllable sounds

*Unlike the single syllable sounds, we do not have dual syllable sounds most specific to the pericardium/master of the heart tissue and solar plexus area, etc. However, it is believed that the Fire Elemental Dual Syllable Sound is additionally healthful for the pericardium/master of the heart tissue and solar plexus area, etc. — Dr. Glen Hepker


Author Profile: