Don’t Tune Out – Sound Healing and Sound Therapy
by Stacy Thomas | July 27, 2020
Anyone who is noise sensitive can tell you that sound matters.
If you live in an urban setting, the noises around you—traffic, construction zones, people yelling—are likely affecting you in ways you aren’t registering. Environmental noise can affect your work performance, your creativity, your relationships, and your overall well being. Conversely, being in nature and hearing nothing but the sound of wind rustling in the leaves, and water in streams has a soothing effect.
Sound healing and sound therapy use the effect that sounds have on us, to heal.
What is Sound Healing, Basically?
Sound healing uses instruments like gongs, singing bowls, chimes, drums, and didgeridoos in “sound bath” experiences to produce tonal frequencies that vibrate in the body and realign our energetic fields.
In sound therapy—which is distinct from sound healing—tuning forks are used on the body’s meridian lines.
These therapies have been shown to support people suffering from maladies like depression, sore muscles, and sleep disorders. During exposure to sound healing, our cells begin to resonate or “tune” in to the heavy vibrations coursing through our bodies. Sound healing methods effectively mimic the effect of listening to nothing, and are able to produce an altered state of consciousness in those who participate. Many feel that this altered state is vital for healthy functioning.
Sound Healing in History
Sound therapy might seem new-age, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Sound therapy has been in use since at least ancient Greece. Greek doctors used vibrations to heal indigestion and mental illness, using flutes, zithers and lyres.
In more modern history, the therapeutic effects of music and sound were first documented by Diogel in Paris in the late 1700s. His first paper on the subject demonstrated that music has the power to lower blood pressure, decrease pulse rates, and generally support the parasympathetic nervous system.
Why Do Sound Healing & Sound Therapy Work?
The Schumann Resonance, and the Brain’s Frequency
Our bodies resonate with the sounds around us. In 1952 Physicist Dr. Winfried Otto Schumann discovered that the Earth resonates at a frequency of 7.83 hertz—which is, on average, the frequency the human brain resonates at.
The Earth is a big electric circuit, bouncing electromagnetic waves between its surface and the ionosphere. These waves move through everything in the Earth’s atmosphere, including us. This matching frequency between our heads and the Earth’s core points to an undeniable connection—there is a link between us and physical nature that can not be ignored.
The theory behind sound therapy is that disturbances in our bodies, be they physical or psychological, cause blockages in our energy field.
Blockages can be removed by a sound healing practitioner.
The Perfect Fifth
Do you get stoked when you hear the first two notes of the opening song of Star Wars? There’s a reason for that, and it’s not because you’re about to see one of the most epic movies ever (again).
It’s because those two notes “doo…DOO…” are an example of a “Perfect Fifth.” This is a type of interval between two music notes. There are many styles of intervals, but the human brain loves this interval extra. In all examples of the perfect fifth the notes are consonant, which is part of what makes these intervals so powerful. They are stable. The perfect fifth is used in sound therapy practices around the world to induce mental and physical healing.
The idea that two notes ringing together can have a healing effect in the human body is part of the foundation of sound healing and sound therapy. Another example of a perfect fifth are the first notes of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.
We Connect With Music
Music resonates with us at a core level, because as creatures of nature we are ruled by rhythm and cycles. Every aspect of life, from sleep, to work, to menstruation, to life and death—is a cycle. When our cycles are in harmony, we’re happy. When we’re in discord, we feel frustrated, and we get sick.
Sufi teacher, author, scholar and master musician Hazrat Inayat Khan wrote in his book The Sufi Message of Hazrat Inayat Khan, Vol. II—
“Music is a miniature of the harmony of the whole universe, for the harmony of the universe is life itself, and humans, being a miniature of the universe, show harmonious and inharmonious chords in their pulsations, in the beat of their hearts, in their vibration, rhythm and tone. Their health or illness, their joy or discomfort, all show the music or lack of music in their life.”
Sound Healing in Practice
Music vs Sound Healing
Fernanda Cano, yoga and meditation teacher who has been studying and practicing sound healing for over twenty years says that sound healing goes beyond what music can accomplish.
The organized structure of even calm music, can be a barrier to achieving true release and connection, because the psyche is searching for a pattern. In contrast, the “sound bath” experience—which involves long tones played on instruments like gongs and singing bowls— allows recipients to more easily reach deep meditative states. As the resonance vibrates through the body, our energy field vibrates with it, and we are able to drift into a state of relaxation and self-reflection that we are rarely able to access.
We have time and space to reflect on where we are hurting and why. Self examination is one of the keys to the success of sound healing. According to Cano—
“It opens a soft awareness. It’s very simple, the sounds are just an imitation of organic nature sounds and vibrations. It brings us to a very primitive state of mind. I believe [it’s] that primitive state of mind that helps us reach a more simple state. We don’t have to imagine anything or think about anything. We can just listen and be present.”
Vibrational sounds being an imitation of nature is supported by science. Japanese-American geneticist and musician Susumo Ohno assigned musical notes to each of the four amino acids that make up DNA strands. He found that the sequences of notes that each strand produced made its own unique form of music, comparable to classical music compositions.
Sound Therapies Move Energy
When New York based reiki and sound healer Audrey Lobdell began using tuning forks in her practice she saw immediate, unmistakable, and sometimes shocking results like clear meridian opening, and spontaneous healing experiences—
“When you’re hearing an acoustic instrument, those vibrations are also hitting against your body and going into your skin, and there’s some frequencies that are really beneficial to the human body. So if you’re listening to certain tones, the cells of your body start to resonate with those tones. It brings people into balance in a very physical way.”
When Lobdell moves her tuning forks over a client’s body, she can feel vibrations when she’s reached a point that needs healing, be it a sore shoulder or a blocked meridian.
Our brains emit five basic frequencies: gamma, beta, alpha, theta and delta. The alpha waves, in the middle of the scale resonate at 7.83 hertz (the Schumann resonance) and generally help calm us, and help us access our creativity. When the brain’s waves are dominated by the alpha range, we are in a state of “flow,” or meditation. Studies have shown that introducing alpha waves can help healthy individuals reach enhanced creative states.
As human beings we are entwined with the rhythms and cycles of the universe. As we remove ourselves from nature, we fall out of harmony with our environment, our lives, our relationships, and our overall wellness.
Sound healing can be a powerful tool to assist us with realigning the rhythms upon which our well being relies. A sound healing, and sound therapy can help us calm down, heal, and reconnect with our natural selves. There are sound healers on the Which Doctor roster who would love to hear from you. Browse our many talented practitioners and get started on your healing journey today.
Stacy Thomas was born and raised among the orchards of the Okanagan Valley. She studied journalism in Vancouver, B.C., and has worked as a reporter in places such as Germany, Ukraine, Northern B.C. and rural Alberta. Passionate about nature, she now lives in Squamish with her partner Nicki and her rescue dog Harley. She is currently a student of creative writing at the University of British Columbia, where she draws comics and writes poetry.