Close your eyes for a minute and listen to the world around you. What do you hear? Car horns, people, blaring stereos? Or gentle raindrops, laughing children, and the soothing strings of a symphony orchestra? It may make a difference. Sound therapists say that what you hear can help or hurt your health. Sound can relax you when applied the right way, it can help release energy and help your body help itself.
A friend of mine invited me to a sound therapy session and it was a truly relaxing and healing experience that I didn’t expect to receive. I liked it so much that I scheduled a personal session with a therapist which led me to research this field even more after how much it had impacted my wellbeing.
One theory holds that vibrations from sound waves can also have a direct impact on individual body parts. Science has long known that every atom vibrates, emitting sound waves even though they’re far too faint for us to hear. Since body parts are made up of atoms, they all produce sound waves. Some therapists believe that these sound waves are altered when disease or stress hits and they also believe that directing sound waves at the body or its parts can restore natural rhythms and encourage and support healing. This technique, called Cymatic therapy, is used in the US by holistic practitioners including acupuncturists, osteopaths and others.
Finally, there’s the theory that sound waves can balance energy centers, or chakras, in the body and promote health. Eastern philosophy holds that the body has seven chakras, which control function and energy flow in different organs of the body. It is believed that Chakras vibrate at specific frequencies that relate to the notes on a music scale. When there are disruptions to the chakras caused by stress, disease, or other factors, the frequencies are thrown off. By applying specific sounds or music to the body, the chakras can be returned to normal, and the body will heal itself
The Science of Sound
Though researches are still fuzzy on how sound therapy works, there’s plenty of scientific proof that it can be effective for everything from reducing stress to boosting your brainpower. Dentists have long known the value of sound. Back in 1960 a Boston dentist wrote that music completely relived pain in about 65% of 1,000 patients he tested, while another 25% had enough reduced pain that they didn’t need anesthesia. Some researchers speculate that distraction plays a big role in pain relief since the music takes the patient’s mind off the procedure. Others point to endorphins, claiming that music’s ability to make the body release these natural painkillers is the key to easing discomfort. I remember when I had my Lasik surgery done, music that was playing during the procedure definitely helped me to relax and not worry about my eyes as much so somehow, they knew their method would work.
Music may make you smarter, too — at least temporarily. A study from the University of California, Irvine found that college students who listened to Mozart for 10 minutes scored higher on intelligence tests then they did after listening to relaxation tapes or sitting in silence for the same amount of time. The 36 students in the study scored an average of 8 to 9 points higher on tests taken immediately after listening to the music. Unfortunately, the effect lasted only 10 to 15 minutes, after which scores returned to normal.
Sound therapy could also improve the quality of workouts. A study from Louisiana State University concluded that listening to slow easy-listening music lowered the heart rates and allowed for longer training sessions in a group of 24 young adults. Listening to hard-rock music had the opposite effect; heart rates increased, and workouts were shorter when the subjects tuned into rock’n’roll. A professor in the university’s department of Kinesiology, says the soft music may make the exercise seems lees difficult and allow people to work out longer.
A trained sound therapist uses a wide range of tools. Including musical instruments, tapes, tuning forks, machines that release sound waves at specific frequencies and even his own voice to help heal the body. If you want to find a private music therapist, a qualified one can be called either a registered music therapist R.M.T or certified C.M.T. Some Yoga studios provide their own sound therapy sessions using Tibetan Bowls, Gongs, Alchemy Bowls with different crystals.
Finally, experts say you should seek out natural sounds, such as leaves rustling in the breeze or wind, ocean waves, rain, birds. These are the sounds that soothe us, that bring us back into balance. These are what the body designed to hear.
Hum Yourself to Health
I personally also utilize my own vocal chords. Like Don G. Campbell, author and director of institute for Music, Health and Education in Boulder, CO says, “The sounds you can make with your own voice can be the most powerful healer of all.” He suggests sitting in your chair and ask your left rational side of the brain that may find this experiment challenging, permission to experiment with the tone. Ask your brain to explore the vowel sounds for 10 minutes. Then, close your eyes and focus on listening. Take a deep, easy breath and start humming “a soft resonant sound”, no need to worry whether the sounds are high or low. Gradually begin to sense the vibration of the sound in your chest and head. Campbell suggests that you allow the sound to naturally rise and fall without effort. Place your hands on your cheeks and let them feel the sound. Listen with your hands not with your ears. Continue toning with your hands, feeling your face and skull for 5 minutes. Then relax your hands and tone on just one sound, such as ah, for another 5 minutes, keeping your eye closed. When you are finished, just notice the relaxation that has come to your mind, body and breathing. I hope it helps some of you after this exercise!