Sound Health ? - A Tale of the Benedictine Monks

Beautiful, uplifting, lightening and heavenly sounds of the monks of Fontgombault chanting the Mass of Assumption. The sounds, the prostration, hand gestures, incense, offering, the quiet, sthira reverence and devotion - so similar to rituals of Vedic, Buddhist and other traditions. How different can we as humans really be?

Can sound affect health? Alfred Tomatis was a French otolaryngologist who was a pioneer in understanding sound and health. He was asked to consult on a group of Benedictine monks that had become mysteriously ill in the south of France. Normally the monks lived an austere life of hard work, vegetarian diet, silent meals, limited sleep and several hours of chanting every day. Despite this lifestyle, they had vitality, vigour and contentment. A mysterious illness had overtaken about 70 of 90 monks - they had become listless, fatigued, and depressed unable to carry out their normal duties. Various interventions including vitamins, meat, rest and extra sleep had no effect. Dr Tomatis was asked to evaluate the monks. He noted that prior to the illness the monks were chanting about 4-6 hours per day but then due to a change in leadership the Latin chanting of prayers was changed to vernacular prayer. He recommended that the monks resume their normal chanting practice and within several months the monks returned to their former good health.

Can sound affect human health? Can sound affect spirit? This is of course just a story not scientific data or proof. Science may or may not ever prove or disprove this. Does it really matter?