by Ellen F. Franklin, MA (ABD) –
In this article Ellen Franklin offers a simple and effective treatment protocol based on her doctoral research, which can be used with patients and taught to them for ongoing self-care.
The Acutonics® methodology for the therapeutic use and application of tuning forks is a unique, energy-based approach to wellness that is rooted in Oriental medicine, Taoist philosophy, and depth psychology. This accessible non-invasive modality provides an adjunct therapy that can be easily integrated into the practice of Oriental medicine, massage and bodywork, and many other health care disciplines. This system was co-developed by Donna Carey, L.Ac., and has evolved over the past seventeen years through the combined efforts of Donna, myself, and more than fifty Acutonics Instructors who teach this work around the globe. There are also thousands of practitioners that integrate this modality into their clinical work and contribute to the growing body of research through their case study documentation. Acutonics has been incorporated into many medical environments with critically ill client populations, young children, and those who are needle phobic. Because it is a non-invasive modality, basic techniques for self-care can be taught to patients to reduce stress, lower blood pressure, and ease the symptoms of depression, and to help achieve physiological homeostasis as well as the balance of body, mind, and spirit. The initial development of Acutonics for self-care grew from our practitioner community who were looking for tools for their clients to use at home. Simple protocols were developed to address specific conditions such as chronic pain, poor sleep patterns, and the constellation of symptoms that emerge as a result of severe stress.
In my graduate studies in psychology I conducted exploratory research with a self-care intervention with Acutonics to ameliorate symptoms of stress and compassion fatigue in nurses. Pilot study research conducted in 2012 had extremely promising results and led to the development of the research for my dissertation. In the study I am now completing, nurses’ perceptions of their personal stress and compassion fatigue were explored to establish a reference point to examine the potential efficacy of the self-care intervention. Data collection includes two semi-structured interviews pre and post intervention, as well as participant and researcher journals. Participants were also asked to keep progress notes of any observed changes and to do the Acutonics protocol for four weeks, at least twice per week for twenty minutes. Interviews have been professionally transcribed and the interview data and data from journals kept by participants and researchers is currently being analyzed.
Consistent with the prior study, participants have reported significant reduction in pain, improved sleep, and decreased anxiety. Greater ability to cope with challenging situations and improved relationships at work and with family have also been cited by study participants.
Based on descriptions from DSM IV criteria for acute stress, it was appropriate from an Oriental medicine perspective to focus on two primary energy systems, the heart and kidney, and two secondary systems, the liver and spleen (Kaatz, 2009; Kaptchuk, 2000). Points and tuning forks were selected accordingly.
The heart system is associated with the fire element in the body. The heart coordinates all aspects of the body and mind, not only responsible for the circulation of blood but for harmonizing and unifying the mental and emotional life. The emotion of the heart is joy. Some of the symptoms identified with a heart imbalance include:
- Difficulty falling or staying asleep
- Difficulty concentrating
- Hyper-arousal symptoms that can make the person feel stressed and angry. These symptoms may make it hard to do daily tasks; sleeping, eating, or concentrating may be impacted.
- Exaggerated startle response
- Recurrent distressing dreams of a traumatic event
- Feeling of detachment or estrangement from others
- Restricted range of affect (e.g., unable to have loving feelings)
- Inability to feel or experience joy
- Lack of vital spirit
The kidney system contains primordial yin and yang energies that are imprinted at birth and relate to our divine blueprint and destiny. It is also associated with the water element. The kidney rules the bones, the marrow, essence, and process of reverting to the root for true healing. The overriding emotion of the kidney is fear, lack of hope, and despair. Some of the symptoms identified with a kidney imbalance include:
- Demands of life or endurance is challenged
- The person’s response involves intense fear, helplessness, grief, and fear
- Diminished interest or participation in significant activities
- Lack of will
The liver system is associated with the wood element, and the associated emotion is anger. It regulates the free flow of qi throughout the body. Depression, frustration, or confusion are expressed when its function is disturbed. Symptoms that are expressed when the liver is out of balance include:
- Irritability or outbursts of anger
- Hopelessness, inability to move forward, feeling blocked
- Lack of vision to accomplish difficult tasks
- Spleen The spleen system is associated with the earth element. The corresponding emotions are worry, pensiveness, or over thinking. When the spleen is out of balance, the individual will exhibit:
- Lack of stability, inability to be nourished, loss of balance or sense of security
- Feeling that there are never enough resources
- A lack of connection to the Earth element, a sense of not being grounded
Acutonics Self-Care Treatment Protocol
Participants were taught to apply specific tuning forks to acupuncture points in a particular sequence. In most instances, we recommended three applications, and the points were selected for both their efficacy and ease of reach.
Two Middle Ohm Tuning Forks (C Sharp) Color: Gold
- Gentle giving and receiving of energy
- Invite an energetic shift while providing support
Zodiac Earth (F)— Color: Purple
Interval: Middle Zodiac 3rd (purple) used with Middle Ohm (gold)Action: Disperse, Sedate, Smooth, Soothe
- Used to release physical tension
Mars (D) — Color: Red
Action: Stimulate and Build qi and blood
Venus (A) — Color: Pink
Interval: Mars / Venus 5th Action: Moisten, Nourish, Tonify yin, and essence
- This musical interval has an opening quality
- The archetypal and therapeutic qualities of these tuning forks are represented in their mythological name sakes.
- They support both the yin and yang aspects of the kidney
- They reconnect the kidney-heart axis
Chiron (D) — Color: Lime Green
Interval: Ohm/Chiron Major 2nd
Action: Healing, Catalyzing, Initiatory, Synthesizing
- Provides access to wounds and scars of a physical and psycho-spiritual nature
- The archetypal and therapeutic qualities of the Chiron tuning forks are represented in the mythological namesakes.
- Provides support for injuries or illnesses that are slow to heal
- Supports those dealing with terminal illness
Points Used in Treatment Protocol:
KID 1 (Gushing Spring)
LIV 3 (Great Surge)
LI 4 (Union Valley)
KID 3 (Great Ravine) —Source point of kidney
ST 36 (Three Leg Li)
SP 6 (Three Yin Intersection),
Ren 17 (Chest Center) — Heart Chakra / Original Child
Ren 4 (Origin’s Pass)
Du 20 (Hundred Convergences) — Gate of the Ancestors)
Note: This sequence uses the Acutonics Ohmworks set, but can also be done with just the Ohm Unison Tuning Forks
1. Listen – Activate the Ohm Unison (gold) tuning forks and hold near the ears.
2. KID 1 (Gushing Spring)
Activate both Ohm (gold) tuning forks and apply to KID 1
Point Location: In depression at center of the sole, when foot is bent and toes are curled.
3. KID 1 (Gushing Spring) with LIV 3 (Great Surge)Activate the Middle Ohm (gold) tuning fork and apply to KID 1. At the same time activate and apply the Zodiac fork (purple) to LIV 3. Apply to both feet.
Point Location LIV 3: 1 ½ to 2” below the webbing of the big toe, in depression between tendons.
4. LI 4 (Union Valley) and LIV 3 (Great Surge) together known as the Four Gates of Heaven.
Activate the tuning forks and apply the Zodiac fork (purple) to LI 4 and the Middle Ohm (gold) to LIV 3. These points help to clear anything extraneous and provide a reminder that there is enough time and space. This point combination is also used to clear pain anywhere in the body.
Point Location LI 4: In the depression between the index finger and the thumb, about ½” below the webbing.
5. KID 3 (Great Ravine) Source Point of the Kidneys
Apply the Mars (red) and Venus (pink) 5th tuning forks to provide qi, yin, and yang energy to the kidneys. This is the source point of the kidney. The kidneys are the root of yin and yang, and it is where essence is stored. Both will and fear are related to the kidneys. Mars and Venus help to tonify the kidneys through the source point.
Point Location KID 3: In the depression behind the inner anklebone.
6. ST 36 (Three Leg Li)
Apply the Mars (red) and Venus (pink) 5th tuning forks. This is a point that aids the immune system and lends supports to the entire system.
Point Location ST 36: Four finger widths below the kneecap on the outer side of the leg and just off the shinbone
7. SP 6 (Three Yin Intersection)
Apply the Mars (red) and Venus (pink) 5th tuning forks to build yin and to consolidate energy. This point is used to assimilate thoughts and dreams, and to address anxiety and insomnia.
Point Location SP 6: 3” above top of the inner anklebone, in the depression behind the tibia.
8. Ren 4 / CV 4 (Origins Pass, Gateway of Origin)
Apply (1) Ohm Unison (gold), (2) Ohm (gold) /Chiron (lime green) and (3) Mars (red)and Venus (pink) in sequence. This point is connected to the kidneys, and abdomen, the pelvis and legs—it provides deep access to the inner core.
Point location Ren 4: About 4 finger widths below the umbilicus.
9. REN 17 / CV 17 (Chest Center, Original Child, Center of Our Inner Storehouse of Light)
Apply (1) Ohm Unison (gold), (2) Ohm (gold) /Chiron (lime green) and (3) Mars (red) and Venus (pink) in sequence. This point is also known as the middle elixir field, the seat of breath; it incorporates yin and yang qi, and relates to the heart chakra.
Point Location Ren 17: In the center of the chest, level with the 4th rib, equivalent to the heart chakra.
10. DU 20 / GV 20 (Gate of the Ancestors, Hundred Convergences)
Apply (1) Ohm Unison (gold), (2) Ohm (gold) /Chiron (lime green) and (3) Mars (red) and Venus (pink) in sequence. Invites peace, calm, and deeper perception.
Point Location DU 20: In depression at the top of the head in line with the apex of the ears.
11. KID 1 (Gushing Spring)
Apply both Ohm Unison (gold) forks to ground. This point is used to reduce hyper-conditions and edginess and to help achieve homeostasis.
Point Location KID 1: In depression at center of the sole, when foot is bent and toes are curled.
Ellen F. Franklin, MA, is CEO of the Kairos Institute of Sound Healing, creators of Acutonics®. For more than 15 years she has been involved in the development and dissemination of educational programs in vibrational sound therapy rooted in Oriental Medicine and depth psychology. This work embraces both ancient wisdom traditions and modern scientific practices, and offers education and high quality sound tools to practitioners, professionals, and the public. Ellen is a co-author of Acutonics from Galaxies to Cells, Planetary Science, Harmony, and Medicine. She is the author of numerous articles and a frequent contributor to Oriental Medicine Journal. Ellen is a doctoral candidate in psychology at Saybrook University. Her research focuses on the use of Acutonics® for self-care to reduce severe stress in health care providers.