Have you ever felt an emotional and physical response at the sound of your favorite song? That’s because sound has the power to heal. Sound healing has been around for thousands of years and is practiced all around the world. You may also know it as music therapy or vibration healing.
According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), studies show that listening to music can reduce pain, blood pressure, anxiety, and ease depression (NIH, 2010).
Sound healing is an established health profession and practitioners use a variety of sounds, including music, chanting, gongs, bowls, and music. Sound therapy can be used alone or combined with other therapies like massage and acupuncture.
Certified Cross-Cultural Music in Healing Practitioner Loretta Brown tells Natural Choice Directory that her fascination with sound began when she was three years old. “I discovered I could imitate the sound of thunder on the low notes of the piano and the rain on the high notes. The sound was already speaking to me, and for years I searched for a way to utilize sound and music in healing.”
ABOUT SOUND HEALING
“When disease spreads in the body-mind,” says Ms. Brown, “it is due to the detuning of one or more cells in that organ or part of the body. This can be from an emotional or mental level, or from a trauma, etc. The basic concept of sound healing is to remind the body-mind of its normal ‘tune’ or ‘tone.’ In theory, once the body ‘hears’ its proper tone, it will retune itself – and the body can ultimately restore itself to perfect health.”
As with any form of healing, there are no guarantees, but “One can observe that sound helps reduce stress, alleviate pain, improve sleep and concentration, and create a deeper sense of well being,” says Brown. “It nurtures your nervous system, enhances the parasympathetic nervous system, and invites the brain to relax into theta (rhythm), where emotions are calmed and released.
“At this point we have a deep relaxation response, as well as anti-inflammatory response, in the body-mind. Here, the flight or fight mechanism is dismantled, anxiety is eased, and the mid-brain releases all those beneficial, peaceful hormones. This actually creates a huge response in our entire system, and this deep relaxation is often overlooked as unimportant. However, it is from this place that the body can find the energy, the path – and even be reminded of what health, balance, and harmony are all about – and find its way to healing. At a deep level, sound has the potential to release old wounds, ignite our spirit and reunite us with our inner Divine truth.”
HOW TO CHOOSE A SOUND HEALER
Professional sound healers don’t diagnose health conditions or promise cures. In some cases, physicians may refer patients to sound healers. Unfortunately, most health insurance policies do not cover sound healing, so inquire about cost in advance.
Do your homework before booking with a sound healer. Find one who is certified and make sure the certifying body is legitimate. Certification may be in cross-cultural music in healing, or specifically in use of tuning forks, gongs, etc.
THE SOUND HEALING SESSION
In a sound healing session, you may be asked to remove your shoes and lie on a table. You will be prompted to relax, breathe deeply, and let go.
“In my practice", explains Brown, “I utilize singing bowls, tuning forks, mantra, voice, bells, rattle, drum, or sounds as directed. Some clients simply want the bowls, as they are so profound. I also utilize specific recordings and often use sound in my Reiki treatments, as sound helps move energy through the body and through life.”
Brown chooses sounds based on her experience and on her clients’ needs. Interestingly, the sounds she chooses to begin with aren’t necessarily the most pleasing. Her goal is to match the vibrations to the vibration level of her clients. Sometimes that means using chaotic noise in order to neutralize the mood so she can take people to a quieter place.
Sacred Sound: Everything is Related to Everything
According to Brown, sacred sound means you’re putting it into a certain context for the purpose of healing, mending, blending, connecting, and knowing yourself at a deep level – allowing music to take you where you need to go – or where the music needs to take you.
Sound yoga is mantra and chanting. Brown leads chanting groups utilizing mantras from India, Tibet, Sufi, Christian, etc. “The idea is to utilize your own voice and inner instrument to produce these sounds. This type of sounding massages the inner body, the inner brain, and the inner body-mind in a way that can only be experienced thru the utilization of your own voice. People in the class keep track of their own healing journey.
“We also do sound circles where those of us who have practiced the mantra, embodied it, as we say, chant for those in the circle for specific purposes. Remember that these ancient mantras have ancient form and intention around them, so we tap into that and bring it forward into a modern Western concept. It’s great!”
GOING IT ALONE
Music is more than entertainment – it’s therapeutic. You can use music to improve your body-mind connection and enhance your own health and wellbeing. However, a professional sound healer can help you advance beyond that.
THE HEALING POWER OF MUSIC AND SOUND
Most of us have experienced that powerful surge of emotion at the sound of a favorite song or a babbling brook. Music and sound stir the soul, allowing us to express and deal with our emotions so we can move forward.
The NIH is currently funding a clinical trail to study the effectiveness of music therapy. In the meantime, it’s easy to see why people seek out sound healing. You don’t need a study to tell you when you feel better.
“Most want an experience of relaxation, release, calming, quietness, and the ability to let go,” says Brown. “Many just come for the experience of it, because it is so soothing. Sound will seek to balance their system whether they believe it or not. Most people enjoy deep relaxation.”
You can’t argue with that.
Ann Pietrangelo is the author of "No More Secs!"She is a member of the American Society of Journalists and Authors and writes for sites all around the web.