Ancient cultures knew about the healing power of sound. There are sound healing chambers in the Egyptian pyramids, for example. They knew that every function of our mind, body and spirit is affected by sound. Nada Yoga is another example. It’s a 2,000-year-old system of wellness that includes the science of vibration, musical intervals, harmonics, meditation, deep listening and sophisticated use of ragas—musical modes that are used at specific times of day to create specific emotional and physical effects.
Currently, the principles of sound healing are being rediscovered and affirmed by modern medicine. Physicians are acknowledging what ancient mystics knew--that the right sounds promote healthy functioning of the immune, endocrine, autonomic and energetic systems.
Sound therapy is based on psychoacoustics--the study of how sound affects our nervous system. The physical vibrations of sound travel through our bodies four times faster than through the air. Through entrainment, sound alters our heart rate, breath, brain waves, and overall Chi (energy). Alfred Tomatis, a French medical doctor known as the “Einstein of the ear”, described sound as a “nutrient for the nervous system”. Higher pitch sounds charge our nervous system and brain, while lower frequencies discharge (relax) the system.
Psychoacoustics also explores how we actively listen to sound, as opposed to passively hearing it. Hearing is an automatic physical process that is never turned off, even when we are asleep or under anesthesia. Listening is how we pay attention to and interpret sound, what our psychological reaction is. A sound or song that is pleasing to one person may have negative associations for another. Listening also involves the impression of how loud a sound is. This varies from person to person, even if audiology shows they are receiving the same decibels through their ear. If we decide a sound is unwanted, i.e. it is “noise”, we may decide to “tune out” people or sounds that irritate us. Even so, the vibrations continue to penetrate our body.
Music therapy primarily uses the emotional experience of music to promote wellbeing. Songs that a client likes have more beneficial effects, physically and emotionally. One music therapy technique is to choose music that matches the mood of the client, and gradually elevate their mood by playing more uplifting music.
Sound therapy represents a convergence of modern physics, neuroscience, energy psychology, brain biology, music and spirituality. Sound is now being used to help people with cancer, learning disabilities, depression, pain management, high blood pressure and almost every condition you can think of. It’s an exciting, leading-edge field of healing to be involved in!
What is a typical sound therapy session like?
Each session is as unique as each client. A well-trained sound therapist will assess your condition and utilize treatments that are appropriate for you. Sound therapy may include live or recorded music, as well as vocalizing, drumming, chanting, various musical instruments, crystal bowls, tuning forks, Tibetan bowls and other sounds designed by the therapist to produce the desired effects. The client may sometimes actively participate, or may simply relax and let the sound wash over them. I often incorporate Reiki and clinical counselling with sound therapy treatments, as needed. Book a sound therapy session here. . .
NEXT TIME on the “Stay Tuned” blog:
Which sounds are harmful and which sounds heal?