Healing Through Sound - More Than Just Music
Some people prefer bubble baths, others prefer sound baths - I actually prefer both. However, this week's blog post is focusing on sound immersion therapy so I'll put my bath sponge to the side. My sister gifted me a Tibetan singing bowl from Australia a few years back so I decided to do some research and learn how to use it for meditation and relaxation purposes. The first time I played the singing bowl successfully I felt great, feeling the vibration travel through my body and hearing just that steady sound was more calming than I thought it would be. When I discovered there was such a thing as a "sound bath" where I could experience those same sensations 10x over I already knew I wanted to incorporate it in my routine for holistic wellness.
Sound is said to be one of the most ancient, effecting and accessible tools for healing. Think of those times where you felt extremely sad, but soon after playing one of your favorite upbeat songs you find yourself in a better mindset and mood. Sound and music are a huge part of human culture and it can have an impact on both our mood and emotion - It seems like there's a lot more to it than what we may think. It is believed that when we are experiencing a physical, spiritual or mental ailment there is an imbalance in the cellular vibrations of the body. Sound therapy can help optimize the flow of energy in the body improving well-being. There are multiple instruments that are used for sound baths and the selection of which one is dependent on the need of the individual or group. Different tissues, body systems and chakras vibrate at different frequencies and tools used for sound immersion can tap into each depending on what chakra or energy meridian is the focus for that session. Sound immersion is currently being used successfully as an integrative healing modality all around the world and after my experience I can absolutely see why and can only hope it continues to spread and be offered to others. Types of sound healing include sound meditation, sound massage, and sound therapy. In this blog I share my experience with sound therapy but also discuss benefits of sound bath meditation.
"If we accept that sound is vibration and we know that vibration touches every part of our physical being, then we understand that sound is heard not only through our ears but through every cell in our bodies."
-Dr. Mitchell Gaynor, director of Medical Oncology and Integrative Medicine, the Cornell Cancer Prevention Center
A sound bath is a general term used for an experience of relaxation through sound and vibration. Sound bath meditation differs from standard meditation due to the use of multiple Tibetan or crystal bowls, gongs, chimes, tuning forks or chants. The term 'bath' is used because of reports individuals have made stating they feel like they are being submerged in sound and being 'washed' in the sound waves of the tools and instruments used. The goal of this method is to achieve a deep meditative and relaxed state through sound immersion by restoring the normal vibratory frequencies of the body, mind and soul. One of the most common tools used for sound healing is the Tibetan singing bowl. Tibetan singing bowls have been around for more than 2000 years making it an ancient sonic frequency technology for simulating brainwaves. These bowls create a pulsating tone that can produce Theta brainwaves which is important for healing mind, body and spirit in the upper end of this range. It's said that at 7-8 (hertz) cycles per second our deeper intelligence, creativity and self healing mechanisms are activated - commonly referred to as being "in the zone". Whatever you are using meditation for, there is a frequency that will help your focus and clarity of purpose.
“If you want to find the secrets of the universe, think in terms of energy, frequency and vibration.”
Sage Journals published an observational study that was conducted to determine the impact of singing bowl sound meditation on anxiety, mood, tension, physical pain and spiritual well-being. Remarkably, a significant difference was found in all areas further proving the beneficial effects to sound bath meditation on a number of markers related to well-being. For more details and information on this particular study, you can find it HERE. The influence of sound on health is still being explored further, including the benefits of binaural beats which is when two tones of slightly different frequencies are played in unison. Binaural beats therapy is said to be linked to improved sleep, increased confidence, focus and psychomotor performance as well as the other benefits of singing bowl meditation and sound baths. There is one study that was conducted by Dr. Vincent Giampapa, M.D (a previous president of the American Board of Anti-Aging Medicine) relating binaural beats to the production of 3 hormones (cortisol, DHEA and melatonin) recognized as key factors in long life and well-being, but the study size was small so more clinical evidence will be required before confirming those effects.
The Experience - Sound Immersion Therapy
If I were to give an extremely detailed explanation of my experience with one on one sound immersion therapy it would read something like a comedy, only because it's really something that is next level. But I do want to share what I can with the readers to provide a frame of reference for those who may be interested in trying this form of healing and relaxation.
My one on one sound immersion therapy session began with introductions and a brief explanation on what will be done over the next 45 minutes including the use of sound, vibration and light touch to reach peak meditative states and balance. I laid comfortably on a covered massage table fully clothed and she began at my feet feeling the bottoms and pressure points, it reminded me of how I ground my clients when performing Reiki sessions. From there the action started, tuning forks were used for their sound and also placed on areas of my body where the vibrations traveled all throughout. There was a build-up effect for instruments used, layer by layer a new sound was added but all still blended together beautifully. Before I knew it I could identify gongs, chimes, bells, crystal singing bowls, and several other instruments I couldn't identify were in the mix as well. The coolest thing about the session was how I noticed the sensation changes in my body as it progressed. I experienced what felt like a weight being lifted off of my body and had a light and airy feeling, I had a pleasant tingling in most of my upper body and I was very in tune with the sound of my breath and heartbeat. At a certain point I was fully immersed in sound and there was no separation between my body and my surroundings, very cool feeling. After the session was over I felt energized, refreshed, and excited! It was like a breath of fresh air and I was able to speak to the sound immersion therapist after and she had similar views when it comes to combining Eastern and Western medical practices to reach optimal health. For those on the fence about trying a group sound bath meditation or one on one sound immersion therapy session I say take the leap and go for it! Keep an open mind and be prepared for a VERY interesting experience!
"One reason sound heals on a physical level is because it so deeply touches and transforms us on the emotional and spiritual planes. Sound can redress imbalances on every level of physiologic functioning and can play a positive role in the treatment of virtually any medical disorder."
-Dr. Mitchell Gaynor
Below you'll find a video where you can listen to healing sound immersion! Although it's nothing like physically being there for a session, it can expose you to some of the sounds and you can see how it's done!
I hope after reading this you not only learned something new, but also are inspired to try sound immersion therapy for yourself! Feel free to reach out and contact me via email if you have any questions or are interested in booking any of my services listed on the website HERE.