“Music is a higher revelation than all wisdom and philosophy.” — Ludwig Van Beethoven
It’s no secret that certain chord progressions have the ability to summon emotion. If you’ve ever pulled your car to the side of the road because a piece of music brought you to tears, then you understand. If you’ve responded to a particular moment in a song with goosebumps, you understand. Perhaps no one better understands the power of music — not only to elevate the spirit, but to heal it — than the broken-hearted (or Madison Avenue’s finest.)
For the better part of 30 years, Ojai composer and musician David Ison has been studying this phenomenon to create The Ison Method, a music- and meditation-based healing modality. His 40th release, and what he considers his master work, is the Chakra Sound System (published by Sounds True), which employs the transformative powers of music and meditation “to awaken and release the hidden potential within each of the seven chakras.”
For the uninitiated, in some Eastern metaphysical traditions, chakras are believed to be subtle energy centers within the body’s energy field that are connected to corresponding aspects of the human experience. The heart chakra, for example, deals with the circulatory energies of giving and receiving (love); the throat chakra is connected to communication. Physical and/or emotional trauma can, to varying degrees, lead to blockages that effectively constrict the energy flow to and through the chakras, thus leading to a variety of physical, emotional and psychological disturbances. Ison says these disturbances, which can present as anxiety, depression and disease, can be resolved through disciplined thought in conjunction with very specific therapeutic patterns of sound/music.
Following a car accident in 1980 that left him with a spinal injury, Ison, who was already well-versed in meditation and the mind/body connection, used intentional thought to relieve his physical symptoms and experienced the added bonus of “profound mental and spiritual benefits.” As a successful jazz and blues guitarist who had written numerous soundtracks, he naturally began experimenting with compositions to enhance the meditation techniques and boost their healing potential. Ison used harmonic theory, ancient musical traditions, ayurvedic, Chinese medicine, select Western healing practices, endocrinology, neurobiology and his skills in composing, playing and recording music to marry art with science and birth a uniquely effective method for holistic physical and spiritual transformation — and it’s backed by a three-year U.S. National Institutes of Health clinical study. “Those clinical tests demonstrated a 54 percent reduction in a wide variety of symptoms, including tension, depression, anxiety,” says Ison. “It also showed that listening to the music would, over time, drop the listeners’ pulse and blood pressure and create the relaxation response.”
His sleep and pain management programs are used by Scripps Center for Integrative Medicine, Bethesda Naval Hospital and Walter Reed Veterans Hospital as well as spas and other therapeutic environments. He’s been featured in a PBS documentary and was keynote speaker at the very first Whole Life Expo. Among his inventions are a vibro-tactile crib mattress and digital delivery system that prevents infant apnea and the first-ever vibro-acoustic bathtub, which he was commissioned by Kohler to design.
Ison’s work is far-reaching and complex but his mission is fairly simple: To introduce people to their ability to self-love and self-heal by disconnecting from the trappings of this modern life long enough to encounter and respond to their true, individual natures. To reconnect with the sacred and initiate a transformation that will help them “move away from a destructive, depletive relationship” with the world around them and discover their birthright and true potential, which is to create for themselves perfect health, happiness and fulfillment, and become an enduring beneficial presence on the planet. And to accomplish all of this with the help of his music.
To learn more about the Ison Method and the Chakra Sound System, visit www.davidison.org or www.chakrasoundsystem.com.