Soul Work Method Technique #1:
Self-Directed Toning

To shift intense emotional states that are difficult to release or control

Image by Motoki Tonn

Sound is vibration, vibration is energy.

Effect on the Body


Scientific Research

Case Study


Module 1_ Emotion Container Diagram.png


Toning is a sound healing technique used in ancient cultures of the past and continues to be used today in the form of mantras and chants during meditation. In simple terms, the vibrations created by the vocal cords reverberate throughout the body to create a subtle shift, resulting calm and centered feeling. Emotions are energy in motion (e-motion) and when intensified tend to get stuck and gather and concentrate in specific regions. As they concentrate they become like their own entity, like a large bubble with their outer coating hardening and thickening with the density of the emotion. The larger the bubble and the thicker its outer coating, the heavier and stronger the emotion. Self-directed toning is actively focused on the area. The pitch and sound of the tone along with the timbre of the voice act like a tuning fork placed on the specific location to start to break up the emotional bubble into smaller pieces and move it out of the body. In simple terms, the outer coating of the bubble begins to weaken as a result of the vibrations and the bubble breaks up into smaller ones that then move up and out much more quickly.


Image by Eunice Stahl
  • Calms the nervous system down

  • Takes us out of fight or flight mode

  • Reinstates proper balance of our circadian rhythms

  • Synchronizes the cardiac rhythm with the respiratory rhythm

Toning in general is a fantastic way of calming and balancing yourself as a form of meditation.

The Soulwork Method harnesses the healing power of toning in combination with two additional techniques:

1. a localized or targeted approach.

2. specific jaw, neck and mouth movements during toning

This technique is effective even in situation where you are in an uncontrollable tailspin that can take over your every thought for hours, days and sometimes weeks.

How does it work?

The Soulwork Method (SWM) use of toning involves not just the standard use of vowel sounds, but the
addition of very directed variance in pitch and oscillation of sound to actively manipulate a shift and
create a release. In addition to the pitch variation and sound oscillation, identifying the location the
sound needs to be directed to and certain jaw, neck and mouth movements enhance the capability of
achieving these shifts.

Module 1_ Toning diagram.png


1. Get settled. Sitting upright is best for this. Take a few deep breaths and scan your body to feel where the emotion is stuck. Common areas you may find are your chest, throat, abdomen, but any area is a potential.

2. Once you have located the area, keep your awareness there.

3. Go into a state of observing the emotion as much as possible. You are still allowing yourself to feel the emotion, however you are taking a step back from it and observing it as well.

4. Take a comfortable breath in and on the exhale start with any vowel sound that you feel like using. Vowel tones include a (short vowel sound of the letter a as in “cat”), ah, ayyy, o (short vowel sound of the letter o as in “hot”), ohh, ooo, I, eee (y or u does not work for this method).

5. Keep your awareness in the location and tone directly to it simply by using your intention.

6. Take another breath in when you have run out of air and continue with the same tone or if it feels right try another one. In the beginning you may want to practice with one or two tones to get the feel for it.

7. Continue toning. As you continue to practice this method you will find that the diaphragm becomes more relaxed and you can tone for longer periods of time.

8. Now start varying the tone – varying the octave, pitch and inflection and see what hits the area more directly. One tone may have a light effect and another tone may feel like it is creating waves and undulations in the area of discomfort and easing the tension.

9. Now, do the same with the pitch you are using and start varying it (e.g. if you are toning an "O" sound try going higher or lower and see what magnetizes more).

10. Make sure you continue to keep your intention and the toning directed to the target area.

11. Notice how the emotion becomes lighter and the stuck or uncomfortable feeling is also becoming milder.

12. If the feeling is still there after several minutes of toning, add in oscillating sounds. For example if toning "o" start making bigger and smaller "o's" with your mouth and oscillate the tone. "ohhhhhhhh" followed by "oooooh" and back and forth, Ohhh oooooh ohhhh ooooh. If it is an "Ahh" sound then oscillate it with "oooooh" as well ahhh oooooh ahhhh ooooh and so on. With "I" as in pronounced eye oscillate it with a long e sounds iiiii eeeee iiiii eeee.

13. Now you can add in the use of the neck muscles and jaw to move any stubborn remaining emotion or discomfort. Make a grimace and make sure to stretch it as wide as you can. This will engage your neck muscles especially the sternocleidomastoid muscle.


14. Alternate between stretching your mouth into a grimace and then puckering your lips as you tone the sound. This allows pressure to be created in the diaphragm just like the membrane of a speaker being pushed in and out. Continue keeping your intention and directing the sound to the area required as you alternate with the facial expression and neck muscles. You can also engage your upper back muscles and the two long muscles going down either side of the spine the erector spinae as you tighten the muscles. You may find some natural spine adjustment sounds (the sound made when you get a chiropractic adjustment) to occur as this will allow your spine to readjust and balance.

15. Repeat steps as needed until a feeling of relaxation, calm and peace are created.

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5. Bernardi, N.F. et al.Cardiorespiratory optimization during improvised singing and toning. Nature: Scientific Reports 7, 1-8 (2017)