Sound therapy is a practice to help in promoting relaxation and aid us in healing, emotionally and physically. It also helps balance our emotions and quiet an anxious mind.
Sound therapists believe our bodies contain energy frequencies and that frequencies can be used to retune these energies when they go off key.
Sound Therapy Used As a Tool
Throughout the course of time, sound has been a tool for promoting the physical and emotional health of the body. Ancient civilizations and cultures used sound as a healing process.
Sound healing is a form of healing that uses diverse vibrations to heal the mind, body, and spirit. It works on two central beliefs: Dissimilar emotions vibrate at dissimilar levels. In addition, blocked, or unexpressed emotions, are the main source of various diseases.
For example, it’s fairly easy to express positive emotions…like joy and happiness, for most people, However, many individuals who feel negative emotions, are silent…they keep the off-putting emotions to themselves. They do not express their intolerable feeling in any form. If they do this for years, the poor vibrating trapped emotions stagnate in the body and cause disease.
The use of sound by ancient Egyptians consisted of vowel sound chants in healing because they believed vowels were sacred. In addition, Tibetan monks take advantage of singing bowls. The monks believe the singing bowls to be “a symbol of the unknowable” whose “vibrations have been described as the sound of the universe manifesting.
Furthermore, when some American Indian medicine women and men were summoned to heal an ailing tribe member, they would fast in order to receive a song in a vision or dream. This vision or dream was to instruct them in how to carry out the treatment of their patient.
Evidence Through Studies
Clinical case studies, documented by practitioners, demonstrate the positive effect of sound therapy. However, it’s a rather new practice, with many claims unsubstantiated and under-researched.
Nonetheless, a study conducted by the British Academy of Sound Therapy (BAST) found that 95 percent of their clients suffering from stress-related disorders felt improved calmness following treatment.
Another preliminary study conducted by BAST measured the effects of sound therapy on the autonomous nervous system (ANS). Clients were connected to a machine that monitored stress responses — similar to a lie detector.
Each client demonstrated a large decrease in arousal of the ANS compared to the control group, who were lying down relaxing. This study suggests that sound therapy has a deeply calming effect on stressed-out clients.
According to Dr. Suzanne Evans Morris, Ph.D., a speech-language pathologist:
“Research shows that different frequencies presented to each ear through stereo headphones…create a difference tone, or binaural beat as the brain puts together the two tones it actually hears. An EEG, monitoring the difference tone, identifies a change in the electrical pattern produced by the brain.”
For example, frequencies of 200 Hertz and 210 Hz produce a binaural beat frequency of 10 Hz. The difference in 210 Hz and 200 Hz is 10 Hz. Monitoring of the brain’s electricity shows that the brain produces increased 10 Hz activity with equal frequency and amplitude of the waveform in both, the left and right hemispheres of the brain.
Further Experiments and Research
A series of experiments conducted by neuro-electric therapy engineer Dr. Margaret Patterson and Dr. Ifor Capel revealed how alpha brainwaves boosted the production of serotonin.
Dr. Capel explained:
“As far as we can tell, each brain center generates impulses at a specific frequency based on the predominant neurotransmitter it secretes. In other words, the brain’s internal communication system — its language is based on frequency. Presumably, when we send in waves of electrical energy at, say, 10 Hz, certain cells in the lower brain stem will respond because they normally fire within that frequency range.”
Overall, the experience in a live study seemed to be more emotionally moving. Participants were able to put their experience into words. They also exclaimed that they experienced “joy.” This may be due to the presence of the instruments and that vibrations can be felt travelling through the body. Whereas the recorded sound seemed to create deeper introspection and a deeper ASC.
It’s like comparing listening to music at a live concert, as opposed to listening to a recording. The live performance is more exhilarating, whereas, in comparison, a recording is less exciting.
A Complementary Medicine
In essence, sound therapy is a complementary medicine designed to work alongside traditional medicine. It’s currently being used to treat individuals with chronic pain, arthritis, stress-related illnesses, fertility issues, cancer, tinnitus, mild depression, and anxiety, to name a few.
However, pregnant women are not advised to undertake sound therapy. Additionally, anyone with serious mental health difficulties should check with their physician before receiving treatment.
It’s interesting to think that something as simple as sound or music hasn’t been used much to promote healing. Nevertheless, it has proven to work through research.
If your mental health is of concern, try listening to a binaural beat to generate alpha waves between 8 and 14 hertz to produce more serotonin. Another option is to take advantage of music that promotes a relaxed alpha state in the brain such as classical music.