What is Sound Therapy?
Sound therapy is the application of vibration and frequency of sound to promote relaxation, balance, and wellness.
The intentional application of sound through various healing modalities has been applied in every culture and spiritual tradition. Nature, instruments, voice, song, and music have been used to ground us to the Earth and uplift our spirits. Realignment with the natural rhythms and frequencies of life is integral to maintain internal and external balance and harmony.
In our modern world, this aspect is all too often ignored. The effects of this imbalance and disharmony can be seen in the world around us and felt within. However, we can always connect to that from which we came.
Through applying sound therapy practices, we can utilize these powerful instruments and techniques towards mental, physical, and spiritual balance and wellness.
How does Sound Therapy work?
The process of entrainment is important to understand how sound therapy works to promote deep relaxation and a restorative state that allows the body to heal.
Entrainment is the ability of your brain to “entrain” or synchronize to a nearby stimulus. In the case of sound healing instruments such as singing bowls, slow and low-frequency binaural sound waves entrain with our body, causing us to vibrate in resonance with those waves in a variety of interconnected ways. Sonic entrainment affects us on an energetic, emotional, and cellular levels, transforming how we feel and perceive ourselves and our connection to the world around us.
Through slower sound waves and vibration, our brainwaves naturally shift from our normal beta state (wakeful, alert ) to alpha (deep relaxation), theta (meditative), and delta (deep sleep) brainwave states through relaxed breathing and slower sound frequencies. Alpha brainwave states naturally lower stress levels and anxiety by relaxing the Sympathetic Nervous System (“Fight or Flight”) and activating the Parasympathetic Nervous System (“Rest and Restore”).
The premise that underlies sound therapy is that poor mood, stress, and high anxiety are linked to increased incidences of disease. AsDr. Mitchell L. Gaynor, oncologist and author of The Healing Power of Sound explained, “When the heart rate is relatively steady, and breathing is deep and slow, stress hormones decrease. That is significant because stress can depress every aspect of the immune system, including those that protect us against flu and against cancer"(Rosenbloom, S., 2005).
Numerous studies have shown the degree to which stress, pessimism, and feelings of hopelessness depress every aspect of our immune system. Through the process of sonic entrainment through sound healing, we can transform "negative" and repressed emotions and restore harmony within ourselves.
Water and Sound
Water is an excellent conductor of sound and travels five times more efficiently through water than through air. The human body is made up of of 60-70% water, with many of our organs consisting of even a higher percentage. This makes the body a highly efficient means for total stimulation through sound, especially at the cellular level (Gaynor, M., 2002).
Research on Sound Therapy
A recent peer reviewed study Effects of Singing Bowl Sound Meditation on Mood,Tension, and Well-being: An Observational Study (Goldsby, et al., 2016), the effects of sound meditation, specifically Tibetan singing bowl meditation, on mood, anxiety, pain, and spiritual well-being resulted in the following findings:
Tibetan singing bowl meditation may be a feasible low-cost low technology intervention for reducing feelings of tension, anxiety, and depression, and increasing spiritual well-being. This meditation type may be especially
useful in decreasing tension in individuals who have not previously
practiced this form of meditation (p. 401).
It is clear that singing bowls offer a safe, accessible, and pleasant method of therapy that allows the body to relax, restore, and heal.
Gaynor, M. L. (2002). The healing power of sound: recovery from life-threatening illness using sound, voice, and music. Boston: Shambhala.
Goldsby, T. L., Goldsby, M. E., McWalters, M., & Mills, P. J. (2017). Effects of Singing Bowl Sound Meditation on Mood, Tension, and Well-being: An Observational Study. Journal of evidence-based complementary & alternative medicine, 22(3), 401–406. doi:10.1177/2156587216668109
Rosenbloom, S. (2005, November 24). What's the Buzz? Sound Therapy. The New York Times. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2005/11/24/fashion/thursdaystyles/whats-the-buzz-sound-therapy.html
Alex Gray's painting "Gaia" (1989) portrays the choice we have of what world we want to create; one that is in balance with the natural environment and cycles of life, or one that leads to destruction of ourselves and our planet. https://www.alexgrey.com/art/paintings/soul/alex_grey_gaia-3
"Person Planet" (2000) Alex Gray https://www.alexgrey.com/art/paintings/soul/alex_grey_person_planet
This video is a cymatic image that captures the effects of sound on water, in this case a singing bowl. The beautiful shapes and patterns are identical to mandals, sacred geometry, and designs in nature.