Do you find the sound of waves crashing, birds humming, or rain hitting the window soothing?
If so, integral sound healing will likely be right up your street.
Sound healing sessions have grown in popularity in recent years, leading us to question, “Is this just another wellness fad?”
As someone who has been a regular sound healing practitioner for many years, I can tell you it is not a fad at all!
In fact, the more I learn about the science of sound healing, the more hooked I become.
Trust me – If you feel like your mind is always racing and you struggle to think clearly, sound healing could be what you need to find peace and stillness.
But how exactly does sound healing work, and how does it benefit us? Read on to learn all about the healing power of sound therapy!
- 1 What is Sound Healing?
- 2 Where Does Sound Healing Come From?
- 3 Understanding the Science of Music Therapy
- 4 The Magical Benefits of Sound Healing Therapy
- 5 Choosing The Right Sound Healing Therapy For You
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What is Sound Healing?
Integral sound healing is a non-invasive, holistic yoga healing practice that utilizes the power of sound vibrations to improve mental and emotional well-being.
It involves various instruments, such as gongs, singing bowls, and tuning forks. It can also feature the human voice ( vocal toning or mantra chanting) or specific sound frequencies, such as binaural beats.
This type of music therapy is known to promote sleep and relaxation, improve mental health by reducing stress and anxiety, and enhance energy levels.
Sound healing comes from the idea that specific sounds and frequencies can positively influence our minds and emotions. This is not a new concept by any means; in fact, although sound healing has only gained popularity in recent years, the method has been used in ancient cultures for centuries!
Where Does Sound Healing Come From?
Sound healing has a rich history, dating back to multiple ancient civilizations. For example:
- Tibetan monks used Tibetan (or Himalayan) singing bowls in Buddhist ceremonies.
- The Greeks used flutes and lyres.
- Native Americans used drums in healing rituals.
- Indian yogis chanted mantras.
- Aboriginal Australians played didgeridoos for spiritual ceremonies.
Today, mantra chanting and Tibetan singing bowls remain a popular type of sound healing, often incorporated into yoga and meditation classes. Let’s take a look at these two methods in more detail.
Tibetan Singing Bowls
These bowls are traditionally made of metal (usually copper or brass), producing a resonant sound when struck by a mallet. It is believed the first singing bowl was made over 5,000 years ago, but these instruments did not appear in written records until 1972.
As these singing bowls create powerful yet calming vibrations when played, they were commonly used by Tibetan monks to help them access deeper meditative states.
The earliest recorded Sanskrit mantras date back thousands of years, appearing in ancient Vedic texts.
In Hinduism, Sanskrit mantras are associated with specific deities. Devotees chant these sacred phrases to call on blessings, protection, or spiritual transformation from a deity. For example, in modern-day yoga classes, we chant “Om” to facilitate a deeper connection with divine consciousness.
Modern Day Sound Therapy
Today, sound therapy often involves a combination of ancient methods, along with some newer practices. Thanks to advancements in technology and a better understanding of human psychology, we can use specific frequencies for targeted healing, such as:
- Binaural beats: These are a perception of sound our brain creates when we listen to specific frequencies, helping to synchronize our brain waves.
- Isochronic tones: These are single tones that pulse on and off at regular intervals, a process known as brainwave entrainment.
- Solfeggio frequencies: These are nine tones derived from numerology, which were used centuries ago in Gregorian chants. Each Solfeggio frequency is believed to have a specific effect on our mental and emotional bodies and is linked to the chakra system.
To comprehend how sound frequencies work, we need to understand more about our brains, which we’ll dive into in the next section.
Understanding the Science of Music Therapy
Our brains contain millions of neurons that connect through a vast network of neural pathways. The neural activity in our brains results in a “brainwave” (or neural oscillation), which determines our state of consciousness.
These brainwave states are measured in Hertz (Hz), which indicates the number of cycles per second. The five primary brainwave states are:
- Delta (0.5-4 Hz) – Delta waves are associated with deep, dreamless sleep and unconsciousness but can also be assessed in certain trance states and during deep meditation.
- Theta (4-8 Hz) – Theta waves are found in deep relaxation, daydreaming, and during REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep. Theta waves are associated with creativity, intuition, and meditation.
- Alpha (8-14 Hz) – Alpha waves are present in a state of relaxed alertness. When you are awake but calm and not actively processing information, you are likely in an alpha state. Alpha waves are also associated with light meditation.
- Beta (14-30 Hz) – Beta waves are associated with active, analytical thought. They are present when you are awake and engaged in mental activities, such as problem-solving, decision-making, and focused concentration.
- Gamma (30-100 Hz and above) – These are the fastest brainwaves associated with higher mental processing, including perception, problem-solving, and consciousness. They are linked to insight and peak performance.
So, how does sound healing relate to brain waves?
Well, sound frequencies can influence and change our brainwave states. Hearing specific frequencies or sound waves can shift our brains from the normal waking “beta” state (14-20 Hz) to the relaxed “alpha” state (8-13 Hz) or “theta” state (4-7 Hz).
This is why attending a sound bath makes most people feel super relaxed and like they have just had a lovely nap. Moreover, with regular sound baths, you’re more likely to access the Theta state, which promotes healing and rejuvenation and thus can help with various health issues.
The Magical Benefits of Sound Healing Therapy
Now you have some understanding of how sound therapy treatment works, the following benefits of listening to healing sounds will make total sense.
1. Stress and Anxiety Reduction
While studies on sound healing are scarce, there is some emerging research that supports the belief that sound therapy can reduce stress and anxiety levels.
For example, a study published in Frontiers in Psychiatry found evidence that listening to binaural beats (a modern-day sound healing method) can reduce anxiety and regulate mood. Researchers recorded a 26.3% decline in anxiety after participants listened to binaural beats, which was more than double the rate of the placebo audio group (11.1% decline in anxiety).
Other research shows that sound healing can lower blood pressure and heart rate, which is linked to stress reduction.
What’s exciting about these findings is that sound healing has the same mental health benefits as meditation but is an “effortless” method that doesn’t require discipline or focus – you simply lay down and bathe in the sound.
2. Improving Sleep Quality
As explained above, integral sound healing slows our brain waves, moving us into the brainwave states associated with rest and sleep. Therefore, many people find listening to healing sounds before bed can help them drift off to sleep faster and experience fewer sleep disturbances.
3. Energy & Mood Boosting
While a sound bath may make you feel sleepy initially, these healing sessions can improve your energy over the long term. This is because they reduce insomnia and enhance sleep quality, meaning you wake up well-rested.
What’s more, some music therapy instruments, such as tuning forks, have been linked to the stimulation of nitric oxide in our bodies. Efficient nitric oxide production is integral for reducing high blood pressure (related to stress) and reducing inflammation in the brain (linked to mental health conditions like depression).
4. Better Brain Functioning
Finally, sound healing is an all-around brain booster known to improve cognitive function and reduce aging.
The Alzheimer’s Research and Prevention Foundation studied how mantra-chanting meditation affects the brain. Researchers found that just 12 minutes of chanting can activate several brain regions, including those associated with memory. They found evidence that chanting can increase cerebral blood flow and enhance cognitive function.
Choosing The Right Sound Healing Therapy For You
So, how can you go about experiencing the magic of integral sound healing for yourself?
Well, as you’ve discovered, there are various types of music therapy, and you will likely prefer some more than others.
For example, gongs produce an intense sound that can feel unsettling for some people, especially those sensitive to loud noises, and potentially evoke feelings of fear. However, for others, the powerful sound vibrations moving through your body can feel physically healing and mentally clarifying.
Singing bowls are the best sound bath for beginners, as their sound is not too intense. Some practitioners will also walk around the room holding the bowls over your body as they play them. This allows the sound vibrations to enter your subtle body and release blockages in the chakra system.
Tuning fork therapy is another excellent option. Tuning forks are commonly struck close to your body, offering personalized healing for physical ailments, including joint pain, inflammation, and tense or stiff muscles.
Group vs. Individual vs. Online Sessions
Aside from choosing the type of music therapy, you’ll need to decide between group or one-to-one sessions.
For beginners, I recommend starting with group sessions to see if you find it beneficial before investing. Look for yoga classes that include integral sound healing, such as a class that is one hour of yoga and 30 minutes of music therapy – this is the perfect introduction to healing sounds!
Of course, you can also listen to music therapy on YouTube or through a meditation app. While it is not the same experience as a live session, it can give you a taster of its benefits.
Here is a 10-minute Tibetan singing bowl sound bath you can start with.
And here is a binaural beats meditation I often listen to.
Feeling comfortable and cozy is essential in sound therapy. Placing a pillow under your head or knees can help to remove any discomfort while draping a soft cotton yoga blanket over you will prevent your body temperature from dropping too low.
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I also like to place this weighted eye pillow over my eyes. Along with blocking out bright light, the lavender scent promotes peace and relaxation.
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If you fall in love with integral sound healing, you can book individual sessions for a more personalized experience. In a one-to-one session, the practitioner will hold the instruments over your body as they play them, allowing the sound waves to penetrate your subtle body.
Sound healing is an accessible, effortless, and highly beneficial holistic therapy for healing, mental health, and personal growth. All you have to do is lie down and allow the powerful sound waves to relax your body, calm your mind, and soothe your soul.
So why not give it a go and experience the incredible deep relaxation state for yourself?
What is sound healing therapy?
Sound healing therapy uses different types of sounds or musical instruments to improve physical and emotional health and well-being.
How does sound healing work?
Sound healing works by using vibrations (sound frequencies) to relax your mind and body. These vibrations can reduce stress, alleviate pain, promote sleep, and potentially decrease high blood pressure.
Is there any scientific evidence supporting sound healing?
Yes. Various studies suggest that music therapy can provide numerous health benefits, such as reducing anxiety levels, improving mood states, and enhancing cognitive functioning among elderly patients with dementia.
Are there different types of sound healing experiences?
Absolutely! From gong baths to tuning forks to Himalayan singing bowls – each type offers a unique experience. It’s about finding what resonates with you best.
Can anyone try sound healing?
Indeed! Sound healing is non-invasive and considered safe for most people. However, it’s always best to consult with a healthcare professional before starting any new therapeutic practices if you have specific medical conditions or concerns.