And How it actually works
In recent years, there has been a resurgence of excitement about the power of sound. Around the country, group sound healing sessions, popularly known as sound baths, have surfaced, making claims of its healing properties & effects on the mind, body, and spirit. But what’s the deal with sound therapy? Are its claims founded on real evidence? In this article, we’ll demystify what sound therapy really is, and how it actually works.
What is Sound Therapy?
Sound Therapy is just a way of referring to sound used for the purpose of creating a therapeutic atmosphere in which the body can better heal itself. Yes, you heard right! Your body has a natural self-healing capacity to restore itself to prime health. It does this every time you get deep rest. Deep rest allows your body to stop worrying about stress and external distractions, and just focus on repairing itself.
So, how do frequencies of sound allow your body to reach that self-healing state of being?
How Sound Can Affect Our State of Consciousness:
Hearing is the first sense that develops while we are in the womb, and the last sense to leave us when we die. So, it’s no wonder that sound can have such a profound effect on our state of mind and body. We already know that certain sounds can drive us to annoyance or brighten our moods. But sound therapy is not just a matter of personal preference…
Sound is just a vibration of energy traveling through a medium, like air or water. When two vibrations are next to each other, the stronger vibration will have a pull on the weaker one, eventually causing them to synchronize to each other. (This is known as sympathetic resonance, or the phenomenon of spontaneous self-organization.) Neurologists have discovered that brainwaves are emitted at different speeds of oscillation, and that these differences in oscillation result in different states of consciousness.
Everything is matter in motion, including our brains that emit measurable frequencies. So, having a strong repetitive soundwave or pattern causes our brainwaves to synchronize with its vibration, allowing our brainwaves to shift into altered states of consciousness. This process is called entrainment.
Of the different brainwave states, the theta state is the one associated with deep meditation, creativity, dreaming (activating the subconscious mind), and memory. Some modern Sound Therapy instruments like crystal singing bowls, which produce powerful oscillating tones, and combinations of Tuning Forks, as well as other instruments played in certain repetitive patterns, can help entrain the brain into a theta state, creating an optimal altered state where the body can focus on repairing itself.
How Sound Affects the Physical Body
Recent studies have revealed that sound can affect the physical body in very real ways. In his book, “The Healing Power of Sound,” Dr. Mitchell Gaynor documented research on how music can lower blood pressure, reduce stress hormones during medical testing, reduce cardiac complications among patients who recently suffered heart attacks, and even boost natural opiates.
Other studies have shown how music has anti-inflammatory properties, lowering stress levels, in general. Because of the decrease in tension and anxiety, the body can then, maintain healthy internal processes and protect itself from illness, resulting in a stronger immune system.
This all makes tremendous sense, when we realize that the vagus nerve is the major nerve of the parasympathetic nervous system (sometimes referred to as the “rest and digest” system), which is responsible for regulating bodily functions when it is at rest.It decreases heart rate, respiration, relaxes muscles, lowers blood pressure, and helps to control hormone release. Why is this important? Because a nerve in your ear, known as the vestibulocochlear nerve, happens to connect to the vagus nerve. And so, sound vibrations, passing through the vagus nerve, can facilitate the body’s relaxation response.
How Sound Affects the Mind
Beyond states of consciousness and the body, sound therapy can also affect the mind by allowing your brain to easily access that meditative state of theta brainwaves, triggering strong feelings of clarity and calm. When this state is held for a prolonged period of time and with repeated frequency, the mind can develop a resource state of peacefulness, from which you can cope with stressors much more easily. By repeatedly accessing this state, therapeutic soundwaves do have the potential to rewire brainwave patterns, helping us to stop negative thought patterns in their tracks, and even, create and reinforce new patterns.
So, here’s the deal with sound therapy:
There are many different types of sound therapy with a lot of different claims. And though sound therapy proponents include academics and medical professionals, there is still plenty of misinformation and assumptions that are not exactly scientifically backed, with sound therapy certification or diploma programs not yet having an accreditation standard. Most of the mindbody effects we have just listed, however, are present in all therapeutic-grade sound therapy conducted by an experienced and skilled facilitator, who understands the science of sound and has relevant musical proficiency.
At the OM Shoppe & Spa, we hold the art and science of sound with the utmost respect. Our practitioners are trained and practiced in the different ways in which sound affects the mindbody, and so you are sure to get a therapeutic experience out of any of our individual or group treatments. To find out more about individual or custom sessions, explore our spa site here. To find out more about our group sound meditations, explore our spa site here. Keep in mind that we offer various classes and events around the topic of sound therapy & other vibrational medicine, so keep an eye out for the classes and events calendar listings.
And, of course, if you found this article informative or helpful, please help us spread the word about the wonders of sound, and consider sharing it with those, who may be interested via our share buttons at the bottom of the page. Follow us on Facebook & Instagram and like our posts to find out more about how sound and vibrational medicine can make a positive impact on your life!
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