Far from being merely a New Age trend, sound healing and sound therapy have been used for thousands of years to heal and strengthen the body and mind by restoring balance to the body’s vibrational frequencies, calming the mind and clearing negative emotions, boosting the immune system and improving cellular health.
Sound therapy and sound baths are an intuitive practice wherein the therapist or practitioner uses various instruments including tuning forks, gongs, tibetan bowls, crystal bowls, drums, tingshas, shakers, chimes, harps, didgeridoo and also the human voice to produce specific sounds, frequencies, vibrations and harmonics to promote healing of the mind and body.
A steadily growing body of research and studies is confirming the effects of sound on the mind and body. Noise, or negative sounds have been shown to have a detrimental effect, whereas positive, coherent or harmonic sounds have been shown to provide many benefits.
Here are 7 benefits of sound healing and sound therapy:
- Lower blood pressure
Tuning forks, for example, have been shown to release Nitric Oxide when used on the body. Nitric Oxide is a cellular signalling molecule and powerful vasodilator which is produced by almost every type of cell in the human body and is extremely important for blood vessel health. As a signalling molecule, it controls vascular tone and blood pressure. As a vasodilator, it relaxes the inner muscles of blood vessels, causing the vessels to widen, which consequently increases blood flow and lowers blood pressure.
The health effects of sound baths was studied and published in the American Journal for Health Promotion. Subjects listened to a Himalayan singing bowl or sat in silence for 12 minutes, both followed with 20 minutes of mediation. The study showed the group who listened to the Himalayan singing bowl experienced larger drops in blood pressure and heart rate.
- Improved sleep
Sound healing has been shown to help individuals fall asleep faster and to improve sleep quality overall. Certain sounds promote sleep by changing brainwaves to Delta waves, which are associated with deep sleep.
Generally, sound therapy and sound baths are highly effective at reducing stress and anxiety, which are common causes of insomnia, trouble falling and staying asleep. By calming the mind and reducing stress and anxiety, the mind can more easily fall into deep sleep, removing interruption to the essential restorative processes that take place while we are sleeping.
Many who have enjoyed sound therapy or sound baths regularly report they need less sleep than they previously required, with individuals reporting they needed one to three hours less per night.
- Pain relief
Studies of vibroacoustic sound therapy have shown improved pain management. Sound therapy stimulates brain circuits to relieve pain and enhance the areas of the brain involved in pain management. Vibroacoustic sound therapy uses audible sound vibrations that are applied to the body. Tools include singing bowls or crystal bowls placed on the body or electronic equipment, both of which will create a combination of tones and vibrations that resonate throughout the body and at the cellular level.
Experiencing binaural beats has also been shown to help with relieving aches and pains. Binaural beats work by providing one tone of a specific Hz in one ear and a different one in the other ear, which results in a new frequency, a third tone, which is called a binaural beat. The brain responds to this frequency by aligning the brainwaves to this frequency.
- Increased energy and confidence
Daily stress, anxiety, pressure or even noise pollution rapidly depletes our mental energy and consequently our sense of well-being and confidence. By using sound and vibration to move the mind into a calm state, the brain has an opportunity to recharge its energy reserves and participants of sound therapy or sound baths report feeling highly refreshed and energised after completing a session. Regular participation can help maintain consistent mental energy by promoting overall brain health.
Specific vibrations and frequencies can be used to align the brain with Beta frequency, which stimulates energy.
- More focus
Our energy levels are closely related to our ability to focus and the degree of focus we are capable of. When we are in a fight or flight state, which is a common response to high levels of anxiety or stress, our sympathetic nervous system is switched on and triggers an involuntary bodily response to a stressful situation, flooding the body with stress hormones, increasing heart rate and sending blood to the muscles. As a result, our cognitive abilities including our abilities to focus are diminished.
By promoting a state of mental calmness through exposure to sounds, vibrations, tones and frequencies, the body and mind can be calm and return to a state capable of focus. High levels of focus can be achieved through exposure to specific frequencies and vibrations. For instance, when experiencing Beta brainwaves, individuals have heightened analytical and problem solving skills and a greater ability to keep attention focused.
- Lower stress levels
Meditation has been widely acclaimed throughout history for its stress reduction effects. However, many find meditation to be a daunting prospect as our modern minds are a struggle to clear and calm. Sound meditation has been shown to be an excellent alternative to traditional mediation as a way to lower stress levels. For instance, a 2019 study has shown Didgeridoo sound mediation is as effective as silent meditation for decreasing stress.
Exposure to gongs, tingshas, bowls (crystal, singing and Tibetan) for 60 minutes produces significant reduction of tension, anxiety and depression in participants, according to a 2016 study.
The detrimental effects of stress at the cellular level can be reduced or even eliminated by participating in sound therapy sessions or sound baths. Sound heals at the cellular level by sending vibrational frequencies into the body. This can be done by application of instruments such as tuning forks or vibroacoustics by creating and promoting a healthy cellular vibration which allows the cells to function optimally and to heal.
- Enhanced emotional regulation
By exposing the brain to certain sounds, vibrations and frequencies that promote calmness, reduce stress, increase energy and focus, the brain becomes holistically healthier. A healthy brain is essential for emotional regulation.
The incredibly powerful spiritual effect of sound therapy and sound baths create and nourish a deeper connection to the higher Self and to the universe or one’s God. This, in turn, promotes a deeper sense of spiritual well being, purpose and meaning. This feedback loop fosters a greater ability to respond to our inner and outer life in an emotionally appropriate and regulated way. Last but not least, our capacity for compassion and love depend on this deeper spiritual connection that is experienced through sound, vibration and frequency.
Sound healing and sound therapy can be effectively used as a component in an integrative approach to healing and preventative health. These benefits can be equally derived and enjoyed from individual sound therapy sessions or sound baths or in a group setting. Forest or nature baths provide a wonderful means of accessing the healing sounds of the natural world. In addition to live sound baths, pre-recorded or digital sound baths are a convenient and easy way to access these benefits when you need them or as part of your daily health routine.
A trained sound therapist will work with you to help you identify and discover sounds that you connect deepest with so that you can receive the greatest benefit from your sound therapy session or sound bath. To learn more about becoming a sound therapist see the sound-therapy-certification.