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Sound Healing – What’s all the fuss about?

I chanced upon sound healing when I recently underwent a sound therapy session organized in my office. In the 60 minute session, the facilitator used Tibetan singing or Himalayan bowls of different sizes for creating powerful and harmonic sounds that resonated through the body creating a calming effect.

The following day someone showed me a fascinating video that demonstrated how sound vibration shifts and rearranges energies and restores it to its original structure. I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it since. If sound vibration realigns and rearranges distorted energies, it is not a wonder that it is used as a powerful healing tool.

What is sound healing?

At the core of sound healing is the foundation that all matter is vibrating at a certain frequency. It is believed that sound, or vibration has the ability to change the molecular structure of any substance. On that premise, sound healing has been used to realign energies in the body and mind for healing and to promote overall wellness. In sound healing, several techniques and tools are used to bring about a change in the energy patterns of the body.

For thousands of years, many cultures have been using sound or music for healing and helping people attain higher levels of consciousness. Through techniques like chanting, drumming, nature sounds, musical instruments such as the Tibetan singing or Himalayan bowls and overtone singing, a person is guided into a meditative and relaxed state where the sound resonates throughout the body and the healing takes place.

What are its origins?

Sound has been used by many civilizations for thousands of years as a healing tool. Be it mantra chanting among the Hindus or Shamanic drumming in Central & South America, these techniques are believed to restore balance in our lives. Modern medicine is only now waking up to the magical benefits of using sound frequency as a healing method.

In the Hindu philosophy, the word Aum, that represents the sound of the universe, is considered to posses very powerful frequencies and precedes every other mantra or prayer. In fact, chanting the Aum mantra in itself is believed to raise awareness levels of the practitioner.

Shamanic drumming is known to take people in to altered states of consciousness by gradually increasing the tempo of the drums leading the practitioner to a point where healing begins to occur.

The Tibetan singing or Himalayan bowls have been in existence for centuries and used for religious practices, to aid meditation, for relaxation and health care.

How does it work?

Joshua Leeds in his book “The Power of Sound” explains that everything has a sound or a vibration of its own. Everything vibrates at a frequency know as resonance. Even our body has its own natural resonance. Each time this natural frequency gets out of balance, diseases occur. These imbalances could be caused by factors like stress or illness. When Sound Therapy is administered on a patient, it helps return the body’s own vibrations to their natural states and healing takes place.

The singing bowls are usually placed on the body of the patient. The bowls are then either rubbed using a mallet or the side of the bowl is struck with the mallet to generate distinctive sounds that resonate through the body creating harmonic vibrations resulting in balance and relaxation.

Different types of sound healing techniques and their benefits

There are several sound healing techniques being used today:

  • Himalayan or Tibetan singing bowls – Originated in Tibet, the singing bowls are believed to be dated as back as 560 – 480 BC. They produce sounds that invoke a deep state of relaxation, ultimately helping one reach the meditative state. They are used for stress reduction, holistic healing, Chakra balancing and Reiki.
  • Mantra chanting – combines sound, breath and rhythm to channelize the flow of energy through the mind-body circuit to balance the chemical composition of our internal state reducing stress, balancing moods and creating an overall sense of well-being.
  • Shamanic drumming – Estimated to be between 20,000 and 30,000 years old, shamanic drumming is considered one of the oldest methods for healing. Believed to have originated in South America, this technique uses a single, repetitive rhythm played at a tempo of three to four beats per second.
  • Tuning forks – Tapping two BioSonic tuning forks is believed to instantaneously alter your body’s biochemistry and bring your nervous system, muscle tone and organs into harmonic balance.
  • Hang drum or Handpan – the Hang is a harmonic, spherical shaped instrument possessing eight different harmonically tuned notes. Depending on how the Hang is played, it resonates sound in a similar way to the steelpan or singing bowl.
  • Djembe – The djembe is a drum that originates from West Africa, and is made from wood, rope and a goat skin hide. It is commonly used to induce states of altered consciousness (trance) as well as calming the human spirit of stress and anxiety.
  • Rainstick – Believed to have been invented by the Aztecs, Rainsticks are often made from the bodies of dried cacti with objects such as small pebbles placed inside. As its name indicates, Rainsticks produce a sound similar to that of falling rain, and are used for inducing states of peace and calm.
  • Gong – When skilfully played (and not brutalized!), the Gong is a powerful therapeutic instrument that is said to resolve physical, emotional and spiritual dissonance. Used as early as 4,000 B.C., the Gong has been used in yoga, meditation and for other practices such as Chakra balancing.

  • Didgeridoo – Originating in Australia more than 1,000 years ago, the didgeridoo is an indigenous instrument commonly made out of wood and painted with traditional imagery. Its deep resonance is played by blowing through one end, and is often used in music therapy to clear emotional and energetic stagnation, as well as to assist meditation and mind body healing.
  • Native american flute – As the name suggests, this instrument originated with the Native American Indians, and is popularly used in modern day sound healing therapy. Native American Flutes are used to reduce the heart rate, increase resilience to stress, and promote psychological harmony.
  • Monochord – Said to be invented by Pythagoras, the Monochord is an ancient musical instrument whose vibrations are used to calm and re-energize the mind and body.
  • Harp – Well known for its angelic melodies, the Harp has been used all throughout the world, dating back to 3,000 B.C. The soft and sweet melodies from the harp are therapeutic to the mind, body and spirit. Harp’s are commonly used in modern sound healing therapies.

How can you use sound therapy?

Sound healing is now becoming more and more accepted in mainstream healthcare. It’s benefits are multi-fold and include:

  • Stress reduction
  • Deep relaxation
  • Ability to regulate emotions
  • More motivated in life
  • Improvement in attention span
  • Helps connect with your higher self
  • Helps cope with life’s challenges
  • Higher levels of energy
  • Relief from tiredness
  • Removes blockages and toxins from the body
  • Stimulates circulation
  • Fewer headaches

It’s interesting to see how the concept of Sound Healing has gained momentum in the last decade. We’ve experienced the therapeutic benefits of music and seen how it helps us relax and unwind. Recent studies on sound therapy are, however, showing us that the benefits of sound or frequency go beyond just uplifting our moods. With more and more people experimenting with alternative healing methods, it won’t surprise me if modern doctors will soon be prescribing sound therapy for treating medical conditions.

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