Sound Healing 101

Sound Healing 101

Sound healing therapy uses aspects of music and sound to improve physical and emotional health and well-being.[1] Energetically, it is said that sounds and frequencies can help balance chakras, of which there are 7. 

Greek physician Hippocrates was among the first to play music for mental health patients in 400 BC.[2] The philosophers Plato and Aristotle claimed that music affected the soul and the emotions. In Ancient Egypt, music therapy was a staple in temples. Native American culture uses song and dance to heal the sick. Closer to home, here in Malaysia, “Sewang” is an Orang Asli [3] religious ritual that involves music, dance and singing. Sewang is “performed to heal a patient’s illness, to propitiate (request permission, renew agreement and thanksgiving) or to revitalize the spirit, and as a form of entertainment.” [4] For Muslims the world over, there is the belief in the healing powers of zikir meditation and Qur’an recitation. Instances of sound healing therapy are limitless.[5]

Humans experience different types of brainwaves[6]:
  • Alpha waves (8-13 hz): when in a relaxed and calm state.
  • Beta waves (13-38 hz: when actively thinking or problem-solving.
  • Delta waves (below 4 hz): during sleep cycles.
  • Theta waves (4-7 hz): during sleep cycles and associated with deep relaxation and visualization.
  • Gamma brain waves (39-100 hz): during higher mental activity and consolidation of information.Screen Shot 2023-07-18 at 13.04.41

By using select sound frequencies and rhythms, you can manoeuvre and downshift your brain from the beta state (normal consciousness) to the theta state (relaxed consciousness). 

In 2006 study published in the Journal of Advanced Nursing revealed that those who listen to music feel less pain and experiences less anxiety than those who do not.[7]

In 2009, Nunung Febriany Sitepu of the Prince of Songkla University published his research that proved that zikir meditation is effective in the reduction of post-operation pain.[8]

In 2018, researchers examined the effects of sounds on salivary excretion of cortisol by participants exposed to various conditions (sound of water, relaxing music and 0 auditory stimulus) for ten minutes. They were then exposed to 10 minutes of a regulated psychosocial [9] task that was stressful. Participants’ cortisol levels were assessed prior to, during and after the task. The result? The effect of water sounds was significant in modulating cortisol levels, but not the relaxing music nor those who had zero exposure to any sound.[10]  In another study, it was found that when participants were exposed to natural sounds while laying in an MRI machine, their brain connectivity suggested an outward focus of attention, whereas those who were exposed to artificial sounds, their brain brain connectivity suggested an inward focus of attention. Inward focus of attention takes place when one is anxious or dealing with depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.[11]

Screen Shot 2023-07-18 at 13.10.50Tuning forks: when placed at certain points on the body, may help relieve muscle and bone pain. [17]

"Using different sound frequencies can stimulate cell production of nitric oxide, a vasodilator that opens up blood vessels, helps cells be more efficient, and mediates your blood pressure at a cellular level," says Dr. Mark Menolascino, Medical Director of the Meno Clinic – Center for Functional Medicine.[12] Being in a parasympathetic state "increases antibody production for better immunity, it helps decrease cortisol, which helps you decrease high blood pressure, and it increases alpha and theta waves so you can be more alert during the day and go into a deeper sleep, where healing really occurs.” Dr. Martinez-Perez[13] 

Different types of sound-healing modalities include [14]:
1) Vocals: passively listening or actively vocalising (by way of humming, meditation, prayer and song as a few examples) 
2) Musical instruments: tuning forks, drumming, flute, monochord, kalimba, etc
3) Tibetan singing bowls
4) Dalcroze method
5) Neurologic music
6) Bonny method
7) Nordoff-Robbins method
8) Binaural beats [15], also known as brainwave entertainment
9) Vibroacoustic therapy
10) Wind chimes

Screen Shot 2023-07-18 at 13.10.29The sound of fllowing water in nature can be healing.

Sound healing is commonly used in helping to treat stress, anger, anxiety, depression, high blood pressure, insomnia, and lots more.

Sound healing is non-invasive, and can be inexpensive. Whether you book an appointment with a therapist of a sound-healing modality, or you switch off all your devices and take some time out to carry out sound-therapy independently, what harm can there be in giving it a try?