Have you noticed the effect that sounds, or music, have on your moods? Do you find, when you’re feeling low, that listening to a cheerful song pulls you out of the depths of despair? Or when you’re stressed, or agitated, looking out at a peaceful scenery, listening to a variety of birdsong, immediately calms you down? This is because sound therapy, as in music or the sounds of nature, has a healing effect on us…on our minds, and yes, even on our bodies.
The ancient Greeks were the first to use sound therapy, when they used music to heal mental issues. Subsequently, music has been used in many different parts of the world to treat mental, physical and emotional problems. From the time when sound was created by chanting to fend off evil spirits; to music being used to boost the morale of soldiers; to music in the workplace to increase productivity; and finally (based on research) using music to heal physical ailments and boost immunity – sound, or music, has become an integral part of many healing practices.
Healing with sound can be achieved by:
- Meditating with music
- Singing along with music
- Playing a musical instrument
- Moving, if not dancing, to music
- Listening to music
Sound therapy doesn’t use only music, but also uses vibrations of special sounds to improve your brain waves.
Benefits of healing with sound
The benefits of sound therapy can include:
- Controlling mood swings
- Decreasing stress levels
- Lowering cholesterol levels
- Controlling blood pressure
- Managing pain
- Controlling insomnia
- Lowering risk of strokes and coronary artery disease
The healing effects of sound therapy has been known to successfully treat symptoms of various conditions:
- Psychiatric and behavioral disorders
Different types of sound healing/therapies
Although the efficacy of certain types of sound therapy are still to be proven, many people bear testimony to the benefits they have received from some other types of sound healing techniques.
- Guided meditation – where you close your eyes and follow instructions, on audio, video or app. You may be required to repeat prayers or chant mantras, or practice creative visualizations. The benefits of guided meditation include: Lowered stress levels; reduction in depression and anxiety; enhanced memory; reduction in pain levels; controlled blood pressure levels; reduction in cholesterol levels; and reduced risk of strokes and heart disease.
- Bonny method – this is a technique that uses guided visualization accompanied by classical music to explore and enhance your consciousness, personal growth and transformation. A study conducted in 2017 presented evidence that a number of sessions of the Bonny method can successfully treat adults with mental and medical issues, by addressing their physiological and psychological needs.
- Vibroacoustic therapy – this technique involves the transmission of sound vibrations and music to your body through speakers that are embedded in mattresses, recliners and mats. These vibrations are supposed to affect your breathing and blood pressure, among other body functions, to help reduce stress and improve your mental and physical health. The healing effects of this type of therapy has been known to reduce pain and increase relaxation in cancer and post-surgical patients.
- Tibetan singing bowl therapy – the Tibetans have used this form of sound therapy since the 12th century, especially in meditation. Bowls made out of a combination of metals are used, and a wooden mallet is run along the edge of the bowl, going around and round, to create a deep sound that keeps getting louder – and is said to heal and relax your mind. A study conducted in 2016 concluded that this type of sound therapy is beneficial to your mental, physical and emotional well-being, because it reduces fatigue, depression, anger, and stress, through singing bowl meditation.
- Neurologic Music Therapy (NMT) – this uses music and rhythm, coupled with research-based techniques, to treat the human brain. These techniques are used for non-musical goals affecting cognition, physical movements, speech and other nervous system issues. According to nmtsa.org, the definition of NMT is: “the therapeutic application of music to cognitive, sensory, and motor function due to neurologic disease of the human nervous system.” *
- Tuning fork therapy – this technique applies specific vibrations to different parts of your body with calibrated metal tuning forks. This is supposed to be similar to acupuncture, but stimulates points with sound frequencies rather than needles. It is said to balance emotional levels, boost energy and reduce tension.
These are just some of the sound healing techniques that are presently in use. Some have been substantiated by research while some are still being tested.
How does sound therapy work?
Different techniques use different facets of sound. Typically, all these methods are carried out in one-on-one sessions with trained, qualified and experienced practitioners. You will probably be required to sit or lie down and listen to sounds or music, on instruments or speakers. Or you may have applications of vibrations on your body, using tuning forks. Depending on the technique used, you may be expected to stay absolutely still while the sounds or music, work on you. Alternatively, you may be required to move with the music, or sing, or even use a musical instrument.
Hence, sound therapy uses different techniques, and different instruments, that work on your mind and body, with the help of music, sounds or vibrations, to achieve mental, physical and emotional wellbeing.
Some of the instruments used in sound healing include:
- Pan flute
- Tuning fork
- Singing bowl
Hence, if you feel that conventional methods of treatment have not worked for you thus far, and if you’re willing to try something different with an open mind, do consider the healing effects of sound therapy to solve your mental and physical health issues.