- Tuning Fork Therapy
- Final Thoughts
- Music as Therapy: The Uses and Benefits of Sound Healing
- WTF Is Sound Healing, Really?
- How Does Sound Healing Work?
- What Does the Science Say?
- What You Really Need to Know
- Planets versus peer review
- “Is it normal to have orgasms?”
- Do sound baths really work? Are they worth the cost?
- How does a sound bath work?
- How sound can heal you
- Is there any science to back this up?
- What about those YouTube videos of sound baths?
- If in doubt about sound baths, just try one out
- Sound Therapy and well-being: some scientific studies
- Sound Healing Is the New Self-Care Trend You Need to Know
- Good Vibrations
- Getting In Tune
- The Future of Healing
- Here’s What Happens During A Sound Healing Session
Tuning Fork Therapy
Tuning Forks is based on the principle that everything in the Universe is made of vibration. Sound Healing is possible because our human bodies are not solid. Our bodies are rhythmic and harmonic. Dis-ease can indicate we have gone out of tune or vibrational rate of the body has lost its rhythm. Tuning forks can assist the immune system and help stimulate the body to heal it self.
Because our bodies are made up of water and water conducts sound, the body is an awesome resonator for sound. Sound resonates four times faster in water. These vibratory sounds travel through the body to help remove energetic blockages, therefore relieving stasis and pain and increasing the flow of Qi.
Tuning Forks is a wonderful and effective method of applying sound to the body, including acu-points, trigger and reflex points, bone, muscle and tendons to help tonify Qi or disperse Qi to help relieve pain and attune the body on a cellular level.
Using different forks affects our biological rhythms, our circadian clock. It allows each of us to synchronize with natural cycles, which then enables us to find our balance and homeostasis. Homeostasis is fundamental to healing the physical body, mind and spirit.
The Tuning Forks rich in resonance and vibration connect and support the body’s natural frequencies. The sound waves of the forks vibrate and travel deeply into the body along energy pathways affecting the human physiology and accessing our sense of balance, space, memory and healing. The works stimulates and balances the body’s physical energy field to promote healing and inner harmony, helping us to integrate body, mind and spirit to remember and rejuvenate.
Benefits of Tuning Forks:
- Tunes natural cycles of the body
- Unites passages, aids digestion
- Natural anti-flammatory
- Increases bone density and promotes healing of strained muscle, tendon and ligaments
- Nervous system balanced
- Great for sound sleep
Tuning Forks therapy facilitates:
- Balance and homeostasis in the body
- Opens energetic pathways, alleviating stasis and relieving pain
- Relaxes muscle tension
- Keeps stress and anxiety balance
Tuning forks were originally one of the coveted musical instruments because they emanated perfect sine wave patterns. Nevertheless, the sound patterns they produced allowed you to fine-tune other musical instruments to the proper pitch.
If you’ve ever used a tuning fork, you’ll notice that once you strike it, the air around the fork vibrates; hence, sending out strong vibrating impulses into the air that you’ll hear as sound. Therefore, it is evident that they form a bridge between sound and structure.
They are physical in nature yet have the ability to vibrate strongly to transmit that vibration. Several curious scientists found out the vibrations produced by the tuning fork were beneficial to the human body. The studies discovered a new therapy from this vibration, which had remarkable benefits. The therapy was given the name tuning fork therapy.
What is tuning fork therapy?
It is a gentle and non-invasive acoustic therapy that helps to balance the energy of your body. The therapy is based on the principle that everything vibrates that includes the human body.
How does tuning fork work?
As mentioned above, the human body vibrates. The vibration of the human body ‘aligns’ perfectly with vibrations from a tuning fork, because every atom, molecule, cell, and DNA of the body is constructed from geometric forms that fit together.
Therefore, the vibration and resonance of the tuning forks connect and support the natural frequencies of the body. Hence, the sound waves of the forks vibrate and travel deeply into your body along the energy pathways bringing about a sense of healing.
In simple terms, the tuning fork therapy works by taking a tuning fork and striking it near any body part that you wish to heal.
Application of tuning fork
Now that we know how tuning fork works let’s look at its application. The first place you can use this instrument is on the physical body.
You can place the stem of the activated tuning fork on the articulations and bones if you want to restore flexibility and movement as well as aid in the development of the connective tissue. They achieve this by stimulating the flow of blood and lymph to the area of application; thereby, speeding up the healing process. Moreover, they promote deep relaxation and elimination of toxins and stress on joints.
By placing the activated tuning fork near the ears – not close than 5 cm, it helps to regulate and balance the metabolism of all the organs, which link directly to the auditory nerve. By doing this also, it promotes deep stimulation or relaxation on the entire nervous system.
On top of that, the tuning forks can be used in the bio-energetic fields around your body, also referred to as the aura or subtle energy bodies.
Benefits of tuning forks
- Promotes balance in the nervous system
- Tunes natural cycles of the body
- Unites passages in the body
- Promote healing of strained tendon, muscle, and ligaments
- Increases bone density
- Keeps stress and anxiety balance
- Relaxes muscle tension
- Opens energetic pathways; thus, relieving pain alleviating stasis
- Promotes homeostasis and balance in the body
Given the vibratory nature of the tuning fork and that of our body, tuning fork therapy is a fast and effective therapy that brings each meridian and its corresponding organ(s) in our bodies back into harmony. It is an effective therapy that promotes sound healing in our bodies. Try it and get to enjoy the benefits it offers to the human body.
Music as Therapy: The Uses and Benefits of Sound Healing
Types of sound therapy
There are a few different types of sound therapy, each with different benefits, though not all have been proven.
Vibration is believed to affect your body’s functions, such as blood pressure and breathing. Vibroacoustic therapy uses audible sound vibrations to improve health and reduce stress. This type of sound therapy involves using speakers imbedded in recliners, mattresses, and special mats to transmit music and sound vibrations directly to the body. There’s some evidence to support its benefits, specifically its ability to promote relaxation and reduce pain and symptoms in people with cancer and those recovering from surgery.
Guided mediation is a form of sound healing in which you meditate to voiced instruction, either in a session or class, or using a video or app. Meditation can involve chanting or repeating mantras or prayers. ResearchTrusted Source has found that meditation offers a number of health benefits, including:
- stress reduction
- decreased anxiety and depression
- improved memory
- reduced blood pressure
- pain reduction
- lower cholesterol
- decreased risk for heart disease and stroke
Neurologic music therapy
Music therapy can reduce stress and promote relaxation. It’s been shown to be more effective than prescription drugs in reducing anxiety levels before surgery. A study published in 2017 found that a 30-minute music therapy session combined with traditional care after spinal surgery reduced pain. Music therapy is administered by a credentialed provider who assesses the individual’s needs. Treatment involves creating, listening, singing, or moving to music. It’s used for physical rehab, pain management, and brain injuries.
Named after Helen L. Bonny, PhD, the Bonny method of guided imagery and music uses classical music and imagery to help explore personal growth, consciousness, and transformation. A 2017 study showed promising evidence that a series of sessions could improve psychological and physiological health in adults with medical and mental health needs.
This sound healing method is delivered by skilled musicians who complete the Nordoff-Robbins two-year master’s program. They use music familiar to those being treated, create new music together, or work toward a performance. This approach is used to treat children with developmental delays and their parents, mental health, learning difficulties and autism, dementia, and other conditions.
Singing bowl therapy
Singing bowl therapy dates back to the 12th century and has been used for meditation and rituals in Tibetan culture. Metal bowls produce a deep, penetrating sound that’s used to relax and repair the mind. A 2016 study found that singing bowl meditation reduced stress, anger, depression, and fatigue. All of these things are known to impact physical health and raise the risk for disease, suggesting that singing bowl therapy may be good for your physical, as well as emotional, well-being.
Tuning fork therapy
Tuning fork therapy uses calibrated metal tuning forks to apply specific vibrations to different parts of the body. This can help release tension and energy and promote emotional balance. It supposedly works similarly to acupuncture, using sound frequencies for point stimulation instead of needles. There is some research suggesting that tuning fork therapy may help relieve muscle and bone pain.
Also known as binaural beats, this method stimulates the brain into a specific state using pulsing sound to encourage your brain waves to align to the frequency of the beat. It’s supposed to help induce enhanced focus, entranced state, relaxation, or sleep. Though more research is needed, there’s some evidenceTrusted Source that audible brainwave entrainment reduces anxiety, pain, symptoms of premenstrual syndrome, and improves behavioral problems in children.
WTF Is Sound Healing, Really?
You already know the benefits of sound: The right music can pump you up and make workouts feel easier. And sound baths are the cool new way to meditate and ease anxiety—they’ve popped up everywhere from Inscape, NYC’s trendy meditation studio, to Recharj, an intimate meditation and power-nap lounge in Washington D.C, and at the Standard Spa in Miami, Miraval in Arizona, and tons of other places.
But sound therapy isn’t just about those feel-good mental benefits. The gist: You can actually use different sound frequencies to “hack” your brainwaves and promote physical healing. By using specific rhythms and frequencies, you can downshift your brain from the beta state (normal consciousness) to the theta state (relaxed consciousness) and even the delta state (where internal healing can occur).
To get more technical about how it works: “Everything in the universe has a vibrational frequency,” explains Mark Menolascino, M.D., an integrative and functional medicine practitioner. “We’re hard-wired to have sound be part of us. In the brain, all our neurons fire at different frequencies based on the data they receive from things around us. Those vibrations interact with every cell in your body.”
How Does Sound Healing Work?
The sound waves or vibrations created by certain tools, like gongs, tuning forks, and singing bowls, can actually alter your brainwave frequencies. Vibration is measured in units of hertz (Hz), the same unit in which we measure sound—humans hear frequencies from 20 Hz up to 20,000 Hz, but that doesn’t mean those outside the limits don’t affect us. And “when you have two vibrating entities next to each other, the stronger vibration will affect the weaker one; eventually, they’ll synchronize. That’s basic physics,” explains David Martinez-Perez, M.D., an integrative psychiatrist and psychotherapist in NYC.
Then there’s basic anatomy. “In your ear, there’s the vestibulocochlear nerve, which connects to the vagus nerve, the major parasympathetic nerve in the body,” says Dr. Martinez-Perez. (Reminder: Your parasympathetic nervous system is responsible for rest and digestion such as reducing stress, lowering blood pressure, and relaxing muscles.) “This vagus nerve helps control hormone release, digestion, blood glucose levels, inflammation, heart rate, and blood pressure, he says. (Related: Everything You Need to Know About Energy Work—and Why You Should Try It)
“And there’s a little branch of the vagus nerve that goes right to the tympanic membrane, which vibrates in response to sound waves. So that means that every sound that you process through your ears sends that information to the vagus nerve.”
Why does that all matter?
An inactive or blocked vagus nerve is bad news for your health; stimulating it—via the right frequencies—could bring your body back to normal.
What Does the Science Say?
Sure, all of this sounds a little woo-woo and New Age-y (right up there with healing crystals). Add to that the fact the sound healing industry isn’t exactly regulated, and you’ll find a lot of practitioners surrounded by singing bowls promising all kinds of lofty claims. But there is some science to back up the physical benefits of sound healing.
There’s some research suggesting that tuning forks—two-pronged steel devices that vibrate at a specific pitch when placed at certain points on the body—may help relieve muscle and bone pain. A 2016 study found that singing bowl meditation helped lower blood pressure, improve breathing and circulation, alleviate aches and pains, and strengthen the immune system. And a recent study on vibroacoustic therapy—when sounds and vibrations are applied directly to the body to penetrate you on a cellular level—found that the practice could be an effective treatment for chronic pain and injury recovery. (Related: Should You Try Cannabis Creams for Pain Relief?)
While the exact mechanisms behind these benefits are still being researched, one of the main things sound healing does is put your body into the parasympathetic state. When you’re in the sympathetic, or fight or flight state, whether that’s from stress or pain, your body is surging with cortisol and inflammatory molecules and that’s not healthy for the body, says Dr. Menolascino.
“Using different sound frequencies can stimulate cell production of nitric oxide, a vasodilator that opens up blood vessels, helps cells be more efficient, and mediates your blood pressure at a cellular level,” he explains. “So anything that helps nitrous oxide will help your healing response, and anything that calms your mood down will reduce inflammation, which also benefits your health.” (Related: 15 Anti-Inflammatory Foods You Should Be Eating Regularly)
What You Really Need to Know
It’s hard to cut through the hype of sound healing right now since the science hasn’t quite caught up with people’s hopes. But the beauty of these treatments is that they’re not invasive and they’re typically not expensive—which means there’s no danger in giving it a try if you’re interested. (One-one-one sound therapy treatments are also increasingly being offered at all kinds of wellness centers, therapist’s offices, spas, and even yoga studios, making it easy to find an option near you with a simple Google search.)
Bottom line: “If listening to Tibetan singing bowls or using a tuning fork makes people feel better, whether they have a broken leg, multiple sclerosis, or cancer, anything that puts that person in a more calm state will promote better healing,” says Dr. Menolascino. “As a doctor, I just want to know: What’s the data that this benefits you? If there’s not enough data, is there any risk or harm to you? It not, I support it—as long as you’re not doing it in place of other proven treatments, like chemotherapy.”
And, of course, there’s always the placebo effect. If you believe something will help you heal faster, it probably will. Does sound healing shrink tumors or reverse autoimmune diseases? TBD. But using it as a part of a holistic health program certainly won’t make anything worse. (Related: How Trying Essential Oils Helped Me Finally Chill the Eff Out)
Being in a parasympathetic state affects you on an emotional level and a physiological level, says Dr. Martinez-Perez. “It increases antibody production for better immunity, it helps decrease cortisol, which helps you decrease high blood pressure, and it increases alpha and theta waves so you can be more alert during the day and go into a deeper sleep, where healing really occurs,” he adds.
When the Beach Boys sang about good vibrations, they definitely weren’t talking about how frequencies affect your health. But you don’t need science to back up the idea that surrounding yourself with good vibrations—whether that means people you like or sounds that make you feel good—makes you feel better.
“I heard a gong for the first time 15 or 16 years ago,” says Jamie Ford.
She’d heard a gong strike before, obviously—“I’d seen the Gong Show”—but this gong, in a 2000 kundalini yoga class, was the first one she’d ever heard.
“I heard it and I was just—I went to another place,” Ford tells Quartz. “I was calm. I could travel. Everything just expanded.”
At the time, Ford was a biologist studying the desert tortoise. The gong marked the start of a new career path, one that led to a room in LA’s Glassell Park neighborhood filled with crystals, tuning forks, and 12 brass-hued gongs the size of big-rig tires.
Ford, 39, is a sound healer and owner of the Sound Space. In 30 minutes her year-old studio, will fill with 10 strangers who will lie on the floor while the vibrations of her improvised gong concert wash over them. Ford also does private sessions. About 75% of the people who come to her are dealing with anxiety, stress, and depression.
Jamie Ford The Sound Space
Sound healing adherents say that listening to percussive instruments like gongs, Tibetan singing bowls, and tuning forks reduces stress and can place the listener in a meditative state. Practitioners offer their services as an alternative treatment for problems like anxiety, chronic pain, sleep disorders, and PTSD.
Sound healing is having a moment. There are sound healing Meetups in LA, London, and Chicago. More than 5,000 people are listed in the member directory of the Boulder, Colorado-based Sound Healers Association. The LA Times listed one of Ford’s sound baths in its annual holiday gift guide.
But are the benefits of sound therapy real? Or is this a particularly noisy form of quackery?
Planets versus peer review
Evidence of using sound, music, and chants to heal the sick dates back thousands of years to ancient Egyptians and Australia’s Aborigines.
Today, a Google search for “sound healing” yields websites with auto-play music and a lot of celestial-themed clip art. It’s not a regulated industry, though several associations offer correspondence certification courses with modules like ”The Sound of Love” and “How to Achieve Dominant Outward Radiation.”
A search for “sound healing” yields websites with auto-play music and a lot of celestial-themed clip art.
The sound scene has a quintessentially LA, New Age-y vibe to it, a feeling bolstered by the fuzzy explanations practitioners offer for why, exactly, the clang of a gong has therapeutic effects on a human body.
Ford plays gongs whose makers claim to have specifically tuned them to the orbital properties of the planets. Some practitioners say the right sound unblocks or redirects energy in the body, similar to the claims of acupuncture. Others say the sound works in tandem with humans’ own vibrational frequencies, or that it rearranges the ions on cell membranes.
These claims don’t stand up to scientific scrutiny.
I spoke to Chris Kyriakakis, a professor of audio signal processing at the University of Southern California’s Viterbi School of Engineering. Among Kyriakakis’s areas of study is how the human brain translates sound waves into perceptible sounds.
“It would be nice if some of them were true. But there’s no science whatsoever that supports any of these claims.”
“There’s no scientific published peer reviewed paper that supports any of these claims,” he said.
“These are all cool claims. It would be nice if some of them were true. But there’s no science whatsoever that supports any of these claims.”
OK, so sound healers’ theories about why their practices make people feel better don’t stack up. But science has looked at the question of whether people do in fact feel better after hearing certain sounds, and on this, there is some evidence.
Music is a known de-stressor. Scientists from the National Institutes of Health found that subjects who listened to classical music before a stressful event recovered from the stress faster than those who listened to rippling water or simply relaxed in quiet.
But producing sound, particularly the deep, resonant kind sound therapy works with, may be even more beneficial than passively listening to it. A 2012 study split 39 people caring for family members with dementia into two groups. One was tasked with listening to relaxing music for 12 minutes each day for eight weeks. The other used the same amount of time to practice kirtan kriya, a meditative form of yoga that involves chanting.
At the end of the study the group that listened to relaxing music felt good, with 31.2% reporting substantial improvement in depressive symptoms and 19% scoring higher on a mental health survey. But the chanting group felt better, with 65.2% reporting fewer depressive symptoms and 52% reporting better mental health scores.
The study sample is small. But lead author Helen Lavretsky, a professor of psychiatry at UCLA, told Quartz that sound has interesting implications for treating chronic stress and memory problems. Lavretsky is also a fan of sound healing, having experimented with gongs, Tibetan singing bowls, and chanting. (Ford sometimes has clients in private sessions chant as part of their therapy.)
In one study, the chanting group reported 65% fewer depressive symptoms.
One of sound healing’s biggest mainstream advocates was the late Mitchell Gaynor, an oncologist and clinical assistant professor at Weill Cornell Medical College in New York and director of medical oncology at the school’s Center for Integrative Medicine. (Gaynor died in September.)
Gaynor encouraged sound therapy alongside conventional medicine, arguing that relaxed patients have lower stress hormones, stronger immune systems, and better tools to cope with the psychological and physical effects of their disease and treatment.
Gaynor was turned on to sound healing in the early 1990s, when a Tibetan patient gifted him a traditional singing bowl.
“If somebody had told me when I was a medical student in Dallas, Texas, that one day I would be teaching my patients to use singing bowls to heal themselves, I would have thought he or she was crazy,” Gaynor wrote in the 1999 book The Healing Power of Sound.
“Is it normal to have orgasms?”
There is no standard response to a sound bath, Ford explains as bathers arrive. Some people report expansive, consciousness-altering experiences. Some cry. Some fall asleep.
“One woman came up to me and said, is it normal to have orgasms?” Ford says. “I was like, whoa. I should put that in my marketing materials.”
With this in mind, I find myself sizing up my fellow bathers as they come through the studio door. Fortunately, none of them look like the public-orgasm type, except maybe for the couple two pillows down giggling and kissing softly on a shared mat.
I try to start a conversation. He doesn’t want to talk about his crystals.
The poncho-clad gentleman next to me is busy arranging a set of crystals he brought from home into a very specific configuration on his mat. I try to start a conversation. He doesn’t want to talk about his crystals.
The friendly-looking blond woman on my other side is more talkative, explaining that she’s come to the session to drop off some emotional baggage. “I just want to get rid of stuff that doesn’t belong to me anymore,” she explains. “And if not, just to have a good time.”
Ford encourages us all to lie down and relax as the sound bath begins. Played together, the gongs create a surprisingly rich and complex sound that evokes the soundtrack of a 1970s sci-fi movie set in space. There’s incense burning. It’s a little trippy.
I close my eyes. My mind wanders. I replay a thing my kid did the other day, and suddenly there’s a childhood memory that hasn’t lit up my amygdala in decades—where did that come from?
I think about space. Then I have what feels like a very deep revelation about a small personal conundrum. Then I think about how my back hurts. After a while I curl up on my side and settle into a pleasant absence of any real thoughts at all, until the music stops and Ford gently instructs us to stretch and wake up.
I don’t feel as if I’ve traveled to a different astral plain, but I feel calm, a feeling that lasts as we bid goodbye and head out into LA traffic, fading slowly like the trailing echo of a gong.
Tibetan singing bowls, gongs, wind chimes, crystal bowls, drums, and rain sticks — these are some of the instruments used in a sound bath, an ancient healing practice that’s now trending big time throughout the U.S.
When I went to my first sound bath in Los Angeles, I figured I’d just chill out on a yoga mat and listen to some hippie healer bang a few Tibetan singing bowls to take the edge off my stressful work week. I didn’t expect anything profound to occur.
But that’s not what happened.
From the first bang of the gong, my body began trembling. The sound reverberated in my chest, and I felt as though it had uprooted and released some deep-rooted toxic energy — a heaviness — that had remained stagnant within me for decades. And I became flooded with a feeling of self-love and self-acceptance, two states that aren’t exactly normal for me.
Tears filled my eyes.
I turned to my right to see what was going on with my boyfriend, but absolutely nothing seemed to be going on with him. By the end of the experience, I felt like I’d had some kind of kundalini awakening, and he confessed that the whole ordeal just made him cranky and uncomfortable.
Part of what killed the mood for him was the $50 cost of entry.
“It just seems like they’re trying to make money,” was his main gripe. “All these people claim to be ‘healing’ others, but they’re charging $50 a person for it.”
Given the health and wellness industry is now worth a whopping $4.2 trillion, you can’t really fault him for his cynicism. At the same time, not every sound bath costs $50 — most are far cheaper and you can find many that are donation-only.
The word on the street is that if you’re not going in with an open mind and positive vibe, chances are it won’t work so great.
Do sound baths really work? Are they worth the cost?
One reason the sound baths aren’t five or 10 dollars is that the practitioner typically has to fork out a lot of money to rent a space, and the instruments they use are fairly costly.
“My gongs cost $4000 and my crystal bowls cost $1200,” says Ana Netanel, sound bath practitioner and owner of Shakti Soundbath in Los Angeles. Netanel is an internationally-recognized sound bath practitioner and kundalini yoga instructor who started healing through sound well before it became fashionable.
She holds community sound baths that cost $20 if you pay in advance and others that cost more, some catering to celebrities.
Netanel suggests that the skeptics come out and try out a sound bath to decide for themselves whether they’re for real. And she emphasizes the importance of having an open mind.
“If anyone ever doubts it, I just encourage them by saying, ‘Look, I get it. It’s kind of weird, but just try it and see how it feels for you,” she says. “I can tell you the science, I can tell you what it does for you, I can tell you all the stories, but come experience it for yourself and see how you feel.”
How does a sound bath work?
A sound bath can include any number of instruments, including the human voice. It’s the vibrations in the sound waves that are thought to have a relaxing and healing effect on the mind and body, although the newer crystal bowls that emerged in the 1970s — made from crushed quartz — are thought to transmit healing energies that are present in the crystal.
Though most sound bath practitioners in the U.S. will reach for Asian and South Asian instruments like gongs and singing bowls, instruments like the Indian flute, African rain sticks, and pan flutes from indigenous peoples of South America can also be used.
Ambi Sitham leads a sound bath at the in Goop Health Summit Los Angeles Phillip FaraoneGetty Images
Participants typically lay down on the floor on either yoga mats or blankets and relax with their eyes closed as the sound bath practitioner plays the instruments. The practitioner might also guide participants through healing meditation and visualizations.
“Basically it’s an acoustic sound healing journey,” says Netanel. “It relaxes the body, clears the subconscious mind, and really activates your body’s natural healing systems. It puts your parasympathetic nervous system in clutch, so that your body can relax and you can heal yourself.”
How sound can heal you
According to Netanel, and conventional sound-healing wisdom, the real healing power of sound is in the “miracle tone” of 432 hertz (hz). It’s a healing soundwave frequency that the crystal bowls can actually be tuned to emit. (Frequency is just the rate of vibrations happening per second in a sound wave.)
Sound healers attest to the healing power of these frequencies, claiming they can align and balance the chakras, as well as heal the body on a cellular level. There are many different hertz levels that can be potentially healing — not just 432 Hz — including The Solfeggio Scale, which is used in Gregorian chants.
“432 Hz is a special vibration of peace and love, and it’s found in nature,” Netanel says. “So it heals emotional trauma that we’ve been carrying around and patterns that no longer serve us. The gong can clear energetic blocks and then the bowls can help to retune your energy.”
A Tibetan singing bowl, sometimes used in sound baths Angelo Nuvoletta / EyeEmGetty Images
Netanel says that the frequency has the power to not only heal the psyche and balance the chakras, but also to heal the body of diseases.
“I’m going to be working with the City of Hope to bring sound healing to cancer patients,” she says, “This is because of the studies that have been done that have shown that it actually help, specifically with cancer.”
Is there any science to back this up?
Though there is only anecdotal evidence to support the claim that sound baths can realign chakras and excise negative energy — and this includes my personal experience — there is data that points to sound healing’s potential to rid the mind of negative emotion and bodily illness.
As far as cancer and sound healing goes, the hard evidence is somewhat limited, but some doctors are now using high-powered ultrasound waves to blast away cancer cells with positive results, and studies have confirmed that mind-body practices such as meditation, which soothe the parasympathetic nervous system, can help fight cancer.
And there is some super exciting data that suggests that sound baths can ease tension and depression.
Tamara Goldsby a Research Psychologist and faculty member at the University of California at San Diego conducted a study on the effect of singing bowl meditation on negative emotions, like anxiety and depression. She is the only researcher to date who has performed a study on how sound baths affect the psyche.
Her research found that singing bowls have a tension-relieving effect on people, alleviating symptoms of depression, anxiety, physical pain, and increasing feelings of spiritual well-being.
We need to bring back some of these ancient healing methods that have been around for centuries, if not millennia, you know, and, deal with problems with a more natural healing basis.
Though she doesn’t discount any metaphysical or energetic healing properties of sound healing, her research errs on the physiological and neurological side of things.
“Basically, everybody is stressed out in society, and elicit the relaxation response in the body. That’s basically where the body just chills — our muscles relax, our blood pressure reduces, our heart rate reduces, and all of that,” she says.
“Chronic stress in our bodies and minds is very much linked to physical illnesses — cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and mental health issues. So transforming this fight or flight and chronic stress is a pretty important thing to do.”
Goldsby agrees with Netanel that sound healing can, in fact, transform the body on a cellular level.
“People are using soundwaves in the medical field to treat various illnesses, so the implications for the medical field are pretty profound when you think about it.”
It’s good news — sound baths are a fairly inexpensive and safe way to go about reducing tension. Many people turn to medication to ease symptoms of depression and anxiety, and, of course, these might be needed for some. But, as Goldsby says, there’s certainly reason to increase awareness and access to alternative healing practices for those who either aren’t helped by medication, can’t afford it, or for those who experience adverse side effects.
“We need to bring back some of these ancient healing methods that have been around for centuries, if not millennia, you know, and, deal with problems with a more natural healing basis.”
Even exercise practices like yoga can be tough for anyone with physical limitations, and meditation can be a bit intimidating and uncomfortable for many people who just aren’t used to sitting still with a straight back for thirty minutes with their eyes closed.
Sound baths are a nice alternative for people who’d prefer to skip the yoga and the mindfulness class.
Goldsby says there are a few reigning theories among researchers as to why the sound baths have such a powerful relaxing effect. These boil down to the generation of deep brainwave states and chemical changes that take place in the brain during a relaxation response.
“There are various brainwave states and when the body goes into a deep relaxation state, and you can see the change in the brainwaves,” she says. “We believe that the brainwaves are shifting during these meditations”
What about those YouTube videos of sound baths?
A quick YouTube search of sound baths and healing tones will pull up what seems like an endless list of videos to listen to of healing sounds. These are also tons of playlists on Spotify and sound bath tracks in meditation apps, like Insight timer.
But if you’re not actually present in a sound bath and experiencing these vibrations viscerally, throughout your whole body, can they still have a healing effect?
Natenel thinks so.
“If you can’t get to a physical sound bath, then absolutely the healing vibrations of a recording will be effective. Something’s better than nothing.”
In big U.S. cities, sound baths may be trending, but they aren’t in en vogue all over the map, and certainly not all over the globe. So the recordings are great for people who can’t get to a physical sound bath.
“The sounds on YouTube are effective, and I highly encourage them and I would just try to use the ones with 432 Hz,” she says. “And from there you can just experiment. Find what you like the best.”
If in doubt about sound baths, just try one out
If you can find a sound bath that’s on the reasonably priced side, you might as well just give one a try and see how it goes. After all, there’s no harm in laying down and listening to a bunch of soothing sounds from healing instruments.
“I think that if people experience it and feel the benefits, they’ll understand why it’s important,” Netanel says. “And I would just encourage everyone to have an open mind and kind of try it and, and it’s like, look, there are so many healing things. You just want to find out what works for you.”
Goldsby said, “You know, it’s always good to go out and experience things for yourself. Keep in mind that different people can conduct sound baths in different ways. And if one sound bath isn’t quite your cup of tea, maybe another one will be. So just try them out.”
Tracy Chabala’s personal essays and journalism have appeared in the Los Angeles Times, the LA Weekly, VICE, Motherboard, Salon, and other publications. She holds an MFA in Professional Writing from the University of Southern California. Twitter: @TracyAChabala
Get Shondaland directly in your inbox: SUBSCRIBE TODAY
Sound Therapy and well-being: some scientific studies
- 15 December 2017
- By Matteo Nunner
- In English Posts Narrative Medicine
- 6 Comments
- Tagged: care music narrative healthcare narrative medicine sound therapy
According to the Guardian, Sound Therapy “believe that our bodies contain ‘energy frequencies’ and that sonic frequencies can be used to reattune these energies when they go off key. All you have to do is lie down and bask in the tuneful beauty of ‘pure’ sound”.
Sound has been a tool for promoting the physical and emotional health of the body for as long as history can account for, deeply rooted in ancient cultures and civilizations. The ancient Egyptians used vowel sound chants in healing because they believed vowels were sacred. Tibetan monks take advantage of singing bowls, which they believe to be “a symbol of the unknowable” whose “vibrations have been described as the sound of the universe manifesting.”. Also When some American Indian medicine men and women were called upon to heal an ailing tribesmember, they would fast in order to receive a song in dream or vision instructing them in how to carry out the treatment of their patient.
Psychoacoustics is the scientific study of the perception of sound, and it has fueled researchers paths to better understand how it can be used as medicine. To understand the fundamentals of sound in healing, we must first understand our brain waves. The nucleus of our thoughts, emotions, and behaviors, is the communication between neurons. Brain waves are generated by way of electrical pulses working in unison from masses of neurons interacting with one another. Brain waves are divided into five different bandwidths that are thought to form a spectrum of human consciousness. The slowest of the waves are delta waves (.5 to 3 Hz), which are the slowest brain waves and occur mostly during our deepest state of sleep. The fastest of the waves are gamma waves (25 to 100 Hz), which are associated with higher states of conscious perception. Alpha waves (8 to 12 Hz) occur when the brain is daydreaming or consciously practicing mindfulness or meditation.
According to Dr. Suzanne Evans Morris, Ph.D., a speech-language pathologist:
Research shows that different frequencies presented to each ear through stereo headphones… create a difference tone (or binaural beat) as the brain puts together the two tones it actually hears. Through EEG monitoring the difference tone is identified by a change in the electrical pattern produced by the brain. For example, frequencies of 200 Hz and 210 Hz produce a binaural beat frequency of 10 Hz (The difference in 210 Hz and 200 Hz is 10 Hz). Monitoring of the brain’s electricity (EEG) shows that the brain produces increased 10 Hz activity with equal frequency and amplitude of the wave form in both hemispheres of the brain (left and right hemisphere).
A series of experiments conducted by neuro-electric therapy engineer Dr. Margaret Patterson and Dr. Ifor Capel, revealed how alpha brainwaves boosted the production of serotonin. Dr. Capel explained:
As far as we can tell, each brain center generates impulses at a specific frequency based on the predominant neurotransmitter it secretes. In other words, the brain’s internal communication system—its language, is based on frequency… Presumably, when we send in waves of electrical energy at, say, 10 Hz, certain cells in the lower brain stem will respond because they normally fire within that frequency range.
It’s very intriguing to think that something as simple as sound, as music, which we have come to treat as utterly pleasurable entertainment, has not only been used to promote healing and well-being, but has proven to work through research as well.
If your mental health is of concern, try listening to a binaural beat to generate alpha waves between 8 and 14 Hz to produce more serotonin. Another option is to take advantage of music that promotes a relaxed alpha state in the brain such as classical music.
Another interesting study utilised a different method of sound therapy (Himalayan singing bowls, transitioning to Gongs, transitioning to crystal singing bowls, transitioning to therapeutic percussion). It was delivered in two ways – by a live soundbath, where subjects lay on the floor and received around 35 minutes of sound, and by a recording of the same which was available online. The focus of this research was to answer the following questions:
- Is live sound more or less effective than digitally recorded and delivered sound and across what domains?
- What are the consciousness altering effects of this method and to what degree are the domains effected?
- What are the therapeutic benefits of sound induced ASC?
Data was analysed by a test known as a Chi Square analysis to gauge significance. Statistically significant, highly significant and extremely significant data was produced in the domains of Physical Relaxation, Imagery, Ineffability, Transcendence of Time and Space, Positive Mood, Insightfulness, Disembodiment and Unity across both live and recorded studies. These findings have far-reaching implications for the use of sound therapy, specifically sound induced altered states of consciousness (ASC) going forward. The findings provide further understanding of the depth at which live therapeutic sound compared to a recording is experienced. On the whole the experience in a live study seemed to be more emotionally moving, with participants being able to put their experience into words and experiencing joy. This may be due to the presence of the instruments and that vibrations can be felt travelling through the body, whereas the recorded sound seemed to create deeper introspection and a deeper ASC. This is rather like comparing being at a live concert to listening to an MP3 recording – the former is more rousing, and the latter more immersive. Both groups seemed to benefit from the relaxing effect of the sound and lost their usual sense of time and space.
“Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one.”
– Albert Einstein
In the classes we share the latest information that we have collected, including all of the research available and the research done in the Sound Healing Research Foundation – on how sound and music affect us physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. We only include the science to ground the techniques in reality, and to bring more credibility to their effectiveness. The more you understand how something works, the more you and others will likely believe in it. Science has now shown that the more you believe in something, the better chance it will work. We have gathered some powerful gems and discovered many life changing insights – and have incorporated them into techniques that actually work.
Knowing how things actually work makes it easier to use the tools. In this field, there is a lot of “woo-woo” (beliefs based on nonsense). Often people might be doing techniques that work, but their explanations make no sense at all – because their mental concept of how a particular technique works is not in alignment with reality. They may still get positive results because of their intention, but their misconception throws a distortion into the mix that lessens the effectiveness of the treatment. The more the treatment is in alignment with the laws of reality the more effective the treatment.
If someone doesn’t believe something will work, that vibration of mistrust can undermine and completely block the treatment. Therefore, being able to explain why something works to someone can help to overcome this barrier — not to mention, that when you understand and believe in a technique more fully, you will be able to wield your sound tools more effectively.
Finally, the more we understand how it all works; the sooner sound healing will become accepted into the mainstream. Sound is a powerful tool that can transform a person in mind, body and soul. Most people in the field know just how powerful sound really is. However, the general public has not become aware of this magnificent set of tools – particularly not medically (although this is changing as we speak). Some even see it as complete “woo-woo.” Although many hospitals are now utilizing a wide range of sound techniques in their alternative therapies sections, sound will continue to make slow headway into the mainstream until it is understood. Therefore, we hope that through the clarification of the techniques and processes based on the science and research available, we can aid and quicken the acceptance of these powerful, inexpensive and even enjoyable uses of sound. The ultimate goal is to not only get these tools into hospitals, but to get us back to the point where we can all heal ourselves on our own.
This isn’t to say that we must understand something for it to be effective. In fact, when spirit takes over miracles often happen – and we don’t have a clue how this works scientifically.
We often even need to learn techniques on
how to get out of the way and let Spirit take over.
If we only focus on the science, we only end up with an understanding, not the knowledge or skills to actually perform an effective treatment. Therefore, in the Sound Healing Program we’ll take you through the details of how to use these sound tools. In each instance, we will normally give you many options as to how to proceed, so you can choose the techniques that best fit your personality and life style.
There is a whole world of new information that we share in the classes on techniques and research from the entire field of music and sound healing. Previously, there has been very little research information on how music affects our entire system, with practically no information as to how the sounds within the music affect us.
Most of the previous research in the area of music was on emotional effects. Music theory explores a bit about the emotional effects, but explains very little as to how music can be used for specific issues. Music therapy gets into it in a little more detail but is limited to certain kinds of music and specific types of issues. With new research and years of practice at our Institute, we now understand how music and sound can be used as emotional therapy. You will learn a full range of techniques for releasing and harmonizing stuck emotions, including using sound to access higher emotions of love and light.
There is very little information on how sounds affect us physically. We know that you can break up kidney stones by playing a loud sound that matches the frequency of the stones. In fact, there is a wealth of science from the world of physics on how sound affects matter. In the classes we bring together the science with a wide range of techniques of how sound can be used to create physical healing effects on the body.
In the past there was little research on how sound and music affect the brain. Now, the science on how sound affects brainwaves is well researched and proven. This area of sound healing is now becoming quite popular with a plethora of websites offering brainwave entrainment. We share the current research and explain how you can navigate the full range of techniques for helping with things like enhanced mental clarity, learning, productivity, creativity and sleep.
There has been practically no scientific research on how sound affects us spiritually, although it has been explored by many cultures since the beginning of time. It has been our primary focus at the sound institute for the last ten years. We have been exploring and experimenting with a full range of techniques, so we have a lot of information to share. You will learn well-tested techniques for instilling peace, and bringing yourself into states of gratitude, joy, love and oneness with all this is – our true state of being.
We are now working on a research project on how sound can be used to open the heart. We will be sharing the details of this research and have incorporated this information into many of the techniques explained in the classes. You will learn how to use sound to love yourself more deeply, to love others (socially or in loving relationships), and how to develop a connection to Universal Love. These are profoundly effective techniques that you can use in your daily life to bring more happiness and fulfillment
The quality of research varies dramatically. Some only research a few individuals and don’t follow strict rules of scientific research, which include double blind tests. On the other extreme, there is research that is conducted with hundreds (even millions) of individuals that follow the strict guidelines and work hard to minimize any distortions or bias. We share on the latter here.
Research has shown that if you like the music you are listening to, it has a positive affect on you physically. However, there are certain aspects of sound that bypass your brain and go directly into your body. The eardrum is directly connected to every organ in the body except the spleen.
Research of Alfred Tomatis
Tomatis has done some of the extensive research on the ear. He discovered that you don’t normally make frequencies with the voice that you don’t hear. This is the basis of a lot of the voice analysis programs on the market. He has also shown that high frequencies activate and low frequencies calm. He has also studied the Stapedius muscle in the inner ear. It is the fastest muscle in the body and when not working well it is has been associated with learning disabilities and autism. There is a program called the Listening Program that helps activate this muscle to alleviate the problems associated with it.
Research of Jeffrey Thompson
Jeffrey has shown in his research that when you find and resonate your Root Soul frequency (he calls it the “Central Processor” frequency) all of the organs and systems in your body fall into alignment.
Physics of Sound
Science has described in detail how resonance works at many different levels. Everything has a resonant frequency that it naturally vibrates at. Everything! Resonance happens when a strong vibration causes something else to vibrate. This strong vibration can be in tune with nature – or not. Resonance is the key to using sound to make changes in your life and it is completely based on science. Science has even explained resonance at the quantum level, which is now beginning to explain our connections to each other as spiritual beings. It particularly explains how intention works. In the classes we go into detail on the 7 laws of resonance so you can explain what is really happening to the non-believers.
We can measure the resonant frequency of any physical matter and scientifically find it’s resonant frequency. The only problem is sometimes this procedure is too invasive on the body.
We know how sound vibrates atoms and molecules. We know that when you vibrate something at its resonant frequency it actually receives energy. When you turn up the volume you can explode cells… similar to breaking a wine glass.
It has been proven in many experiments using EEG that our brains entrain to any frequency that matches various brainwave states (alpha, theta, delta, etc.). Research also indisputably shows that when listening to headphones these binaural beat frequencies synchronize the left and right brain. This is major. Most people rarely have the left and right brain synchronize throughout the day. There is now research showing that you can entrain the brain into high states of meditation by creating brainwave maps that match high level meditators.
The books by Lynne McTaggart, “The Field” and “The Intention Experiments” explain in detail the serious scientific experiments that have been done that clearly prove that intention really works. Of course, there is also the work of Dr. Emoto that shows how intention affects the way that water freezes. Positive intentions create beautiful snow flake-like patterns. Negative intentions create ugly mush patterns.
Cymatics and Cymatherapy
Similar to Dr. Emoto’s work, the Cymascope by Erik Larson (one of our instructors) shows how sound creates beautiful mandala-like patterns in water droplets. These same patterns are also created in the body. John Reid has shown that when you find a sound that creates a cymatic that matches a cell you can explode the cell by playing the particular sound really loudly.
One of the most researched systems on the market is the Cyma 1000. It is based on years of research done on the body. There are combinations of frequencies for just about every organ and physical issue. We provide you with a list of these frequencies and show you how you can use them yourself.
The Schumann Resonance
Schumann discovered a resonant frequency in the atmosphere that vibrates at 7.83 cycles per second. There are websites that monitor this frequency daily. This frequency entrains all brains on the planet into the brainwave state that is right on the threshold of theta and alpha. Because it has been around since the beginning of time, it has become a part of our makeup that we need. It is one our connections to nature. They have also discovered that astronauts are not as healthy when they go outside the atmosphere and don’t have it. Therefore, all astronauts are fed this frequency now. It is also obscured by electro-magnetism in the city, however we can use sound to get it back into our system.
There has been a huge amount of research showing that when your voice is missing certain frequencies that it can affect your health. One five year research project in hospitals showed that specific missing frequencies can be correlated to weaknesses in organs and even relate to specific diseases. Therefore, we can use the voice to see what frequencies we need to enhance our health.
The Healing Frequency of a Purr
Two separate research projects have found that the frequency of a cat’s purr (around 45 hertz) regenerates bones. If you ever have a broken bone, go buy some kitty treats!
Sound Healing is an effective and proven modality that uses vibrational sound to help reduce stress, alter consciousness and create a deep sense of peace, well being and better health. Sound has also been shown to be a vital part of our healing process following illness, injury or surgical intervention.
A fundamental principle of sound healing is that our body supports an underlying energy field which generates symptoms of emotional, physical and mental behaviours; if we change the energy field we change the resulting behaviours.
Equally every part of our body displays synchronistic frequencies, if part of our body is out of sync with the rest that part may become, or already be, dis-eased. Sound has the capacity to synchronise our body frequency. “Continued and sustained harmonies fed into a field of disharmony will harmonise the field”. Correcting and rebalancing our body frequencies empowers wellness.
Certain frequencies are very healing for the human body and when two systems are oscillating at different frequencies there is an impelling force called resonance that causes the two to transfer energy from one to another. When two similarly tuned systems vibrate at different frequencies there is another aspect of this energy transfer called entrainment. Entrainment causes those systems to align and to vibrate at the same frequency.
Because Sound does not appear solid in nature but expresses as vibration, it has the ability to carry right into our cells and even rearrange our molecules. Correct sound frequencies can enhance the resonant frequency of our body, restoring balance, health and harmony to our physical, emotional, mental and spiritual selves. Sound Healing is totally non invasive, there is no touch, no ingestion or no injection involved.
Optimum wellness results when we are vibrating in harmony at our natural and inherent resonant frequency. When one of the resonant frequencies of our body begins to vibrate out of sync dis-ease or ill health occurs. When this happens, an imbalanced sound pattern or vibration has been established within one or more levels of our being. Sound Healing can help us to restore the inherent vibration via sympathetic resonance.
Sound Healing works through entrainment, which is a law of physics. Entrainment occurs when two or more oscillating bodies lock into phase so that they vibrate in harmony with one another.
This law of physics also applies to other more complex structures such as the brain. Brain wave entrainment relates to the brain’s actual electrical resonance to rhythmic sensory stimulation, such as pulses of sound or light. When the brain receives stimulus either through the eyes, ears or any other of our senses, it emits an electrical charge, a cortical evoked response. If the brain receives a repeating stimulus, it responds by synchronising these electric cycles to the same rhythm. This is called Frequency Following Response, or, FFR.
FFR is used in sound healing to stimulate special brainwave frequencies that are associated with positive well-being. As brainwaves are intimately related to mental states of consciousness, by creating sounds associated with brainwaves that lead to peace, calm and healing, we bring about positive changes. FFR is also linked to the creation of deep spiritual states including deep meditation, lucid dreaming and moments of realisation. An example of this can be found when working with 4-8Hz, Theta brainwave frequency. Theta is associated with both sleep and deep meditative states. Working with 4-8 Hz sound pattern is extremely helpful in manifesting the sleep/meditative state and can be used as a basis for any Sound Healing delivery for any person suffering from insomnia, stress, tension and general anxiety.
“Since the human body is over seventy percent water and since sound travels five times more efficiently through water than through air, sound frequency stimulation directly into the body is a highly efficient means for total body stimulation, especially at the cellular level. Direct stimulation of living cellular tissue using sound frequency vibration has shown marked cellular metabolism and therefore a possible mobilisation of a cellular healing response”. Jeffrey Thompson, Director of the Centre for Neuro-acoustic Research, California Institute for Human Science.Speakers/Performers
Dorothy Coe has been studying and practising Sound Healing in Perth for more than 20 years. Dorothy founded Echoes after working for some years with Indigenous Elders and leaders learning sounds used by them for as far back as oral history carries.
Echoes provides a dedicated Sound Chamber, purpose built to suit its delivery in the discipline of Martial Arts..Echoes is an accredited provider of Complimentary Medicine.
Dorothy has been teaching Sound Healing through accredited channels continues teaching Sound Healing as a Martial Art. The Martial Art of Sound Healing in Perth will this year present five new black belt artists and has others in higher ranks. Intake into Black Belt program continues.
Sound Healing Is the New Self-Care Trend You Need to Know
Sure, some sounds are soothing (like ocean waves or wind chimes) while others are downright jarring (like a traffic jam or your neighbor’s new violin hobby). But can sounds actually heal you? Here’s the scoop on the trend.
What is sound healing? In short, it’s a practice that uses vibrations (vocal or instrumental-like gongs, Tibetan singing bowls and tuning forks) in order to relax your mind and body. Some proponents also believe it can relieve certain ailments, including anxiety and insomnia. Sound healers (often called “sounders”) say that it works by lowering blood pressure, improving circulation and reducing respiratory rates. Science says, well, not a lot. While there are plenty of studies on the benefits of music and meditation on well-being, few large-scale clinical studies have looked at sound healing in particular.
Why is it so trendy right now? Like a lot of other wellness practices (mindfulness meditation, crystals, etc.), sound healing is having a major moment right now—but it’s actually been used by cultures like the Aboriginal peoples in Australia and Tibetan monks for centuries. Credit the recent trend to celebrity endorsements (Robert Downey Jr. and Charlize Theron are both fans) and a general increase of interest in all things wellness.
What does it feel like? “Simply put, someone can expect to feel very calm after a session, with a profound sense of well-being,” explains Jas Neal of Tune Studio in New York City. “Issues which may have appeared dramatic or urgent no longer carry as much weight as before,” she adds. And if you’ve ever been in a kundalini yoga class, then you’ve already tried it (chanting is one form of sound healing). Sessions vary from just 15 minutes to several hours and can take place on your own with headphones or in a studio with others. But regardless of time and place, the effect should be the same—a general feeling of relaxation and contentment.
So, should I try it? Here’s the thing: Sound healing hasn’t been scientifically proven to actually heal anything, although there are some studies that suggest it may be beneficial to general well-being. But modern-day life is pretty damn stressful, and if you’ve tried other ways to relax with little success, this might help. In fact, some people find it less challenging than meditation because the sound keeps their mind occupied, making it easier to enter into deep states of calm. Now if you’ll excuse us, we have some ocean sounds to chill out to.
SOUND HEALING TECHNIQUES
Here is a list of Sound Therapy techniques offered in the Sound Therapy Center that students might do upon completion.
• Root Frequency Entrainment
• Vibroacoustic Therapy (Olav Skille)
• Voice Bio (Kae Thompson-Liu)
• Sound Healing with the Voice
• Neurophone Therapy (Patrick Flanagan)
• Chakra Balancing
• Tuning Fork Treatments
• Sound Design for the Soul (Custom CD Design)
• Computer Voice Analysis (Don Estes)
• Bio-Tuning (Jeffrey Thompson)
• HydroAcoustic Therapy
• Tibetan/Crystal Bowl Massage
Sound health work is now becoming more and more accepted in the mainstream. There are two distinct areas:
1) Sound and music for meditation, relaxation, learning, and productivity, and
2) The use of sound for medical uses.
Clinics and Complementary Healing Centers
Very specific utilizations of music are now being used in integrative and complementary healing centers, including:
* Office and treatment room ambiance
* Relaxation techniques, stress reduction, auditory biofeedback
* Pain control
* Reduction of anesthesia and medications
* Correction of auditory tonal processing difficulties
* Abatement of hearing sensitivities
* Correction of learning disabilities
* Birthing assistance
* Musical thanatology – music to help with dying
Using Music for Healing, Therapy, and Expansion of Consciousness
First there is the whole world of music. Music has been used for years to simply help relax people and put them in a better state of mind. After all it has been proven that when someone releases tension and relaxes, their immune system benefits. Application-specific audio includes pain control, neurodevelopmental remediation, relaxation and stress relief, meditation, sleep, accelerated learning, enhanced productivity, consciousness raising, and connecting to spirit. There is also a growing number of musicians that take Psychoacoustics into consideration when producing commercial albums.
Binaural Beat Brainwave Entrainment
Binaural beats are created when two tones are detuned from each other by a small amount. The resulting third oscillation, which is the difference between the two frequencies, will automatically entrain the brain into different brainwave frequencies – delta, theta, alpha, beta, etc. This technique is used to help with sleep, learning, and enlightenment to name a few.MORE INFO
Music is also being used to help with the alleviation of pain. There are a wide range of surgeons who now use sound therapy before, during, and after surgery. It has been shown to substantially reduce the amount of anesthesia that is required. In a similar light, sound is also used to aid in both the birthing and dying processes. There are numerous tapes and CDs that have come out for making the birthing process smoother. As well, there are centers, such as Chalice of Repose who use sound and music as an aid to a beautiful death.
Drumming and Rhythm
There are drum and rhythm schools that use sound to facilitate all kinds of ends. And, of course, there are a huge number of CDs that use both sound and music to cure just about every ill you can imagine. For example, Village Music Circles in Santa Cruz has an entire program based around drumming and rhythm.
Frequencies in Us
There are many people who believe that we have a fundamental root sound and if we get in touch with that frequency, we get more in touch with ourselves. The same types of people also often believe that the earth also has its own frequency that is good to get in tune with. Some take this idea into more detail by mapping out the frequency of each Chakra or each Sepherod within the Kaballah’s tree of life. There is also a wide range of individuals who use sounds on acupuncture and acupressure points. Some people actually will sing into Chakras or acupressure points. More popular is the use of tuning forks or other electronic sounds that are applied to specific points on the body. Some practitioners believe that the resonant frequencies of crystals are even more powerful when applied to the body.
Chanting and Toning
Another more common technique is to teach people to resonate their body with their own voice. Chanting and toning are techniques for vibrating different areas of the body through singing. Not only does this provide a deeper awareness of the way sound resonates naturally throughout the body, it also is a lot cheaper once you learn the techniques!
Probably one of the largest areas of interest is that of Vibroacoustics. This is the application of sound to the body through special sound transmission devices such as sound chairs and sound massage tables.
Sound for the Alleviation of Learning Disabilities
Sound is currently being used to help correct certain learning disabilities in children. There are numerous clinics across the world that are using the research of Dr. Tomatis to stimulate the brain and nervous system. For example, The Listening Program uses his technique whereby low frequencies are increasingly rolled off in classical music until only the high frequencies are left. Then all the frequencies are rolled back in until the full audio spectrum is again present. It has been proven that using this technique over a few weeks significantly aids in the reduction of learning disabilities.
Medical Uses of Sound
There exists a wide range of techniques that range from simple sound massage to what is termed “sound surgery” where sound is utilized inside the body. This includes placing highly precise tones within specific organs. Of course, ultrasound has been used for years to break up kidney stones or plaque on our teeth. This type of sound application is also being explored on other diseases such as cancer. Fabian Maman shows cancer being broken up with sound in one of his books. One of our instructors used sound to completely get rid of large breast cancer tumor. The tumor has now been gone for five years.
Using sound to destroy diseases is an aggressive form of sound surgery. Sound now being used more and more to help restore tissues to a healthy state of being by resonating the frequency of healthy tissues. Doctors have now figured out the resonant frequency of healthy organs. By applying the correct frequency to a diseased organ, the organ is entrained into a healthy state of vibration. Sound can also be used to massage organs. For example, when the heart has a disease it is known to “freeze up” and not move freely within it’s own sac. Applying sound to the heart at the right frequency massages the heart, loosening it up so that it can move more freely.
Sound and Visuals
One of the most interesting evolving areas within the field of sound work is the use of sound correlated with visuals. Hans Jenny has done research in the field called Cymatics, which explores the mandala-like patterns that sound creates in water molecules inside each cell of the body. Jenny vibrated sand on a metal plate with different frequencies and timbres to create a whole range of dynamically changing patterns. David Gibson, is developing a system where by 3D visuals of sounds can be placed inside the body in Virtual Reality. This is also leading the use of 3D visuals of all types of geometric forms being able to be placed throughout the body. Many are now studying the effect of different types of complex, geometric shapes on our psyche, body and spirit. This whole field is referred to as “sacred geometry.” The interesting thing is that various geometric shapes correlate mathematically to different types of chord structures in music. Therefore, a goal is to create a 3D geometric pattern coupled with music that resonates throughout the body both visually and aurally. There is much research to be done on the effects that this has on the body, psyche and spirit.
What is it?
Whether it’s Mozart or Motown, music affects us all in different ways. But on a fundamental level, music is just organised sound. Sound therapy deconstructs music into pure sound, harnessing the knowledge that sound can have a powerful effect on our emotions.
Sound therapists believe that we are all made up of different energy frequencies. They use sound frequencies to interact with these, thus attempting to rebalance the body’s energy.
Before each session, the practitioner will ask the client about their medical history and any current health problems. The practitioner will then adapt their treatment accordingly, using relaxing or stimulating sounds to try to rebalance the body – gongs, drums, bells, bowls, tuning forks and the human voice are all used. According to practitioner Lyz Cooper: “Clients are wrapped up in like a cocoon, and allowed to go on a journey.”
Is there any evidence?
Practitioners have documented clinical case studies that demonstrate the positive effect of sound therapy, but it is a relatively new practice in the UK, so many of the claims are under-researched and unsubstantiated.
However, a recent study conducted by the British Academy of Sound Therapy (BAST) found that 95% of clients suffering from stress-related disorders felt an increased state of calm following treatment (though of course, this can hardly be called unbiased research!)
Another preliminary study conducted by BAST measured the effects of sound therapy on the autonomous nervous system (ANS). Clients were connected to a machine that monitored stress responses (much like a lie detector).
Each client demonstrated an overall decrease in arousal of the ANS compared to the control group, who were lying down relaxing. This study suggests that sound therapy has a deeply calming effect on stressed-out clients.
Where does it come from?
Sound has been used as a healing or calming tool for thousands of years. Himalayan singing bowls (standing bells that “sing”) have been used throughout Asia for thousands of years in prayer and meditation, and are now used to promote relaxation and wellbeing.
Sound therapy was formally introduced to the UK in 2000 with the establishment of BAST.
Who can do it?
Sound therapy is a complementary medicine designed to work alongside orthodox medicine. BAST attempts to treat indivuals with fertility issues, chronic pain, cancer, stress-related illnesses, IBS, ME, tinnitus, mild depression, anxiety and arthritis. BAST founder Lyz Cooper believes: “Whether you come for a regular tune-up or relaxation session, or have a chronic long-term illness, sound could help you to enjoy a better quality of life.”
What results can you expect?
Sound therapy is said to help not only physical illness, but also help balance the emotions and quieten a busy mind. Most people feel calm and relaxed following treatment. For some, this feeling will last several days. You may also be given exercises to practise between treatments.
Pregnant women are not advised to undertake sound therapy and anyone with serious mental health problems should consult their doctor before receiving treatment.
The British Academy of Sound Therapy and Soundworks.
How was it for you?
Patrick Keneally (sceptic)
I’m a bit of a sceptic when it comes to alternative therapies so it was with a little cynicism but an open mind that I agreed to go along to sound therapy. At least I like music and there were no potions involved.
I was sent to a small flat in north London where I met Anthar Kharana, a talented multi-instrumentalist and singer, who moved here from Colombia a few years ago. I was asked to lay down on a bed made up on the floor where I was covered up to my neck with a sheet. Around me candles, incense and a panoply of strange instruments were strewn.
Initially, I was taken though a meditation to clear my mind and relax the muscles before the sound began. Deep, elemental, notes came from Himalayan singing bowls. They sounded like a small UFO humming above my head. After a while, more sounds rose and fell away. They sounded, quite literally, like the seasons: winter rains, autumn winds and the hum of summer.
Anthar also used his voice, singing long, deep notes. It was good to concentrate solely on what I could hear for a change – on what Anthar calls “pure” sound.
After half an hour, the sound slowly faded and it was time to return to the noise of everyday life. Rising from the mat I felt like my head had been cleansed of noise. The therapy reminded me of a mixture between hypnotherapy – it moved me into a deeply relaxed state – and a quiet summer afternoon. If I wasn’t such a sceptic I might say that it felt like my chakras had been realigned.
Sound healing, like other mind-body treatments, he said, could act as a placebo, or it may distract the mind, breaking a stress cycle. “Even if it breaks your cycle for 15 minutes, that’s sometimes enough to have a therapeutic effect,” Dr. Vad said.
Sylvia Pelcz-Larsen of Boulder, Colo., an acupuncturist who was suffering from excruciating back pain, tried a form of sound healing called Acutonics, which involves applying tuning forks to acupressure points on the body.
“I got a 10-minute session, and my back was about 80 percent better,” she said. “It changed my life.” Ms. Pelcz-Larsen now teaches classes through the Kairos Institute of Sound Healing, which is based in New Mexico but offers classes throughout the world, and has incorporated tuning forks into her acupuncture practice, along with Tibetan singing bowls, planetary gongs and chimes.
Using forks and bowls for anything other than dinner may seem to some people like New Age nonsense. But healers, sometimes called sounders, argue that sound can have physiological effects because its vibrations are not merely heard but also felt. And vibrations, they say, can lower heart rate variability, relax brain wave patterns and reduce respiratory rates.
When the heart rate is relatively steady, and breathing is deep and slow, stress hormones decrease, said Dr. Mitchell L. Gaynor, an oncologist and clinical assistant professor of medicine at Weill Medical College of Cornell University in New York and the author of “The Healing Power of Sound.” That is significant, he said, because stress can depress every aspect of the immune system, “including those that protect us against flu and against cancer.”
Sound can set a mood. The soundtrack in aerobics class gets us moving, for example, while the one in yoga promotes quiet concentration. Sound also has a powerful effect on how we feel throughout the day. Our bodies and minds react differently to the unrelenting noise of a jackhammer than to a trickle of water in a creek.
In other words, some sounds simply make us feel better than others. Whether our conscious minds are paying attention or not, our bodies take their cues from these sounds and rhythms, knowing when to get energized and when to slow down.
Now, a growing body of research suggests that when used in a directed way, sound can also help us reduce stress, create a deep sense of well-being and even promote healing. From playing Bach in the nursery to yogic chanting in the oncologist’s office, sound therapy is gaining popularity as both a preventative medicine and as a complement to more-traditional treatments. Good for both the mind and the body, it has been shown to help lift depression, clear sinuses and help cancer patients recover more quickly from chemotherapy.
The idea that sound affects the health of the mind and body is not new. Chanting and mantra recitation have been part of Hindu spirituality and the healing power of yoga for thousands of years. Given the recent interest in mind-body medicine, it’s not surprising that this ancient tradition is experiencing a modern-day renaissance.
So what, exactly, is it?
Using the human voice and objects that resonate to stimulate healing (think tuning forks and singing bowls), sound therapy is one of a growing number of subtle-energy therapies that make up the field of vibrational medicine. According to the law of physics, everything vibrates: the chair you’re sitting in, the food you eat, the rocks and trees.
“Whether or not we hear it, everything has a sound, a vibration all its own,” writes Joshua Leeds in The Power of Sound (Healing Arts Press, 2001).
That sound is called resonance, the frequency at which an object naturally vibrates. Each part of our bodies has its own natural resonance, and vibrational medicine is based on the idea that disease is a result of those natural resonances getting out of tune – whether due to stress, illness or environmental factors.
As opposed to the highly focused and fast vibrations used in ultrasound (a technology already employed in hospitals to break up kidney stones and check on the health of fetuses, for example), sound therapy works more gently – but just as powerfully – to return the body’s own vibrations to their natural states.
Getting In Tune
But does it work? Yes, say sound therapists, who have successfully treated everything from stress to Parkinson’s disease to hormonal problems. Jonathan Goldman, director of the Sound Healers Association in Boulder, Colo., has seen tuning forks alleviate many maladies, including headaches and misaligned vertebrae. Diáne Mandle, a certified sound healer in Encinitas, Calif., uses Tibetan singing bowls to bring her clients’ bodies back in tune.
In her article “Sound Healing With Tibetan Bowls,” first published by the Holistic Health Network, Mandle writes that her clients have experienced “relief from pain and discomfort, clearing of sinuses, shifting out of depression, ability to sleep . . . , revitalization and clarity, feeling of well-being, great connectedness, and deep personal transformation.”
Sounds good, right? And perhaps a little strange?
“Using forks and bowls for anything other than dinner may seem to some people like New Age nonsense,” writes Stephanie Rosenbloom in a November 2005 article in The New York Times. “But healers, sometimes called sounders, argue that sound can have physiological effects because its vibrations are not merely heart but also felt. And vibrations, they say, can lower heart-rate variability, relax brain-wave patterns and reduce respiratory rates.”
Stress hormones decrease under these conditions, which is good news for everyone, but especially for people with a serious illness. That’s one reason Mitchell Gaynor, MD, an oncologist and assistant clinical professor at Cornell University’s Weill Medical College in New York, uses singing bowls with his cancer patients. Gaynor sees sound as part of a broader trend toward the humanization of medicine in which the whole person, not just the part that’s broken, is addressed.
“I believe that sound can play a role in virtually any medical disorder, since it redresses imbalances on every level of physiologic functioning,” he writes in his book The Healing Power of Sound: Recovery from Life-Threatening Illness Using Sound, Voice and Music (Shambhala, 1999).
The Future of Healing
Sound therapy, many experts say, is at the cutting edge of healing. And soon, they insist, like yoga and meditation, it will enter the mainstream.
The truth is, you’re probably already using sound therapy in your life. Several years ago, three out of four people who responded to a Prevention magazine health survey said that they listen to music to ease tension and stress. Of those, 82 percent reported that it brought them significant relief.
So even if you’re not interested in investing in a fancy tuning fork or a singing bowl, sound healing is still available to you. The next time you need a little pick-me-up or mellow-me-out, hum a little tune, or, better yet, go for a walk and enjoy nature’s own healing harmonies.
Karen Olson Karen Olson is a Minneapolis-based writer and editor.
Here’s What Happens During A Sound Healing Session
Whether it’s yoga, meditation or acupuncture, it feels like anything Eastern has had a sudden resurgence as a Western wellness trend. One example of this is sound healing, which is useful for a variety of both physical and emotional issues. Having tried everything for my debilitating lower back pain — from warm showers to yoga and chiropractic — I was open to another approach, so I had a private session with Los Angeles sound healer, Alison Ross.
In addition to being a sound healer, Alison is also a doula, yoga teacher, Reiki Healer and Ayurvedic masseuse.
Photo courtesy of Alison Ross
So how exactly does sound healing work? According to Alison, “Sound healing works on vibration. Everything is a vibration and you tune your body like you tune an instrument. Different instruments are set to certain frequencies. Sound healing allows your body to heal itself by slowing down your brain waves, which affect every cell in your body, shifting them from diseased to being in ease. It’s just aligning it with whatever you need.”
Alison, like many sound healers, uses a variety of instruments including crystal healing bowls, Tibetan healing bowls, tuning forks, bells, an Aboriginal rain stick and a gong. She also uses a grounding mat, which is sometimes called an earth mat. The mat is plugged into a grounded outlet. (She actually checked my outlet to see if the electricity was grounded). After she set up all of her apparatuses in my living room, I lied down and she put a pillow under my knees. She placed a buckwheat lavender sachet over my eyes. The entire set up felt incredibly calming.
The session started with her doing reiki on me and then massaging my hands and feet with oil. She used a crystal bowl near my hips and pitchforks tuned to the vibration of love around the same area. Alison explained, “The hips are where we can hold a lot of tension and emotion. The psoas muscle, which is known as the muscle of emotion or the spirit muscle, responds to the sympathetic nervous system when we are in fight or flight mode. Sound healing triggers the parasympathetic nervous system which is for relaxation.”
Then the sound bath began. Alison essentially gave a private concert in my living room. She used different instruments at different times and volumes. Every instrument is tuned to a different vibration in order to re-tune the body.
Photo courtesy of Alison Ross
In the meantime, I tried to relax and breathe into the sound, meditating. While I’ve never tried any psychedelic drugs, the entire experience felt very trippy. At one point, I even asked myself if people take ayahuasca before doing this. The physical vibrations of the instruments were intense. I felt a wave of energy above me, which kept me still on the mat, being pushed towards the earth. I could feel so much energy all around the room. Alison later explained that even deaf people benefit from sound healing because they can feel the vibrations.
As I listened to the sound, I couldn’t help but cry. This isn’t an unusual reaction, but I wasn’t prepared for it. While I tried to breathe and remain calm, tears poured out of my eyes. I kept trying to go back to the breath like I do when my mind wanders during meditation, but it’s not always easy. Before the session, I thought some of my back pain could be related to something emotional and this experience has re-assured me my intuition is correct.
Throughout the rest of the day, I continued to cry, but I felt both physically and emotionally renewed. I’m definitely open to another session.
In addition to privates, Alison Ross currently offers group sound healing classes at AZIAM Yoga in Brentwood Los Angeles. You can also follow her on Instagram @mymedecinemama or @alisonpremalove.