How does Sound Therapy Work?
Sound Therapy is an opportunity to become resonant in your body with the vibrations occurring in the natural world around you. Sound Therapy is a harmonious and profound way to emotionally and physically heal through alignment with one’s self and some say (including Pythagoras) your divine nature. Since we live in a Universe of Intelligent Harmonics and/or Frequencies, everything in our environment and bodies are frequencies in motion down to the subatomic level. The fathers of 20th Century Quantum Mechanics such as Niels Bohr and Max Planck, two of the founding fathers of Quantum Theory, each received a Nobel Prize in Physics for their work on quanta as subsequent brilliant physicists tell us that all matter simply vibrates at different frequencies thus revealing their visible nature. All of this is managed by a cosmic law of attraction. Our intention is to begin an awareness of a well-functioning resonant and harmonic state of well-being.
Since everything vibrates at its own level or frequency, navigating daily life can compromise an individual’s well-being; (i.e., noise pollution, screen time, chemicals and day to day stress). By introducing “healing sounds” within a field of “harmonics” the body is receptive to receiving sounds which can eliminate disruption and stress – and start healing at the emotional cellular level. If you think of how we react in a positive way to beautiful music, consider how profound specific healing sounds may be utilized by first the ear, and then the body (Mind, Body, Spirit). For emotions have resonant frequencies as well. Think of it as a way of energetically re-tuning the body to match nature’s resonant frequency thereby returning to a natural state of healthy vibrations fully able to then meet the demands of daily stress with more ease, calm and clarity.
Singing Bowls, Bar Chimes, Tuning Forks
Acoustic instruments such as tuning forks and crystal or Tibetan bowls are widely used in sound healing in a variety of different ways. One of the best known tuning fork practices is called Acutonics, a system developed by an acupuncturist that uses vibrating weighted tuning forks on acupuncture points. It works on the same premise as acupuncture – that stimulation of these particular areas unblocks stuck or stagnant energy, improving energy flow through the body and supporting the body in healing itself. Acutonics is used in a variety of settings including some hospitals.
Crystal and Tibetan bowls are struck or rubbed to produce pure, penetrating tones, not very different from tuning forks. Metal bowls have been used in Tibet for centuries as an aid to meditation, while crystal bowls are a relatively recent development but the two are used similarly. Dr. Mitchell Gaynor, an oncologist and author of The Healing Power of Sound (2002), began integrating music, vocalization, breathing, bowls and meditation techniques in his work with patients in 1991, after first being exposed to a Tibetan bowl through one of his patients. He has observed many beneficial outcomes as a result of this integration.
The use of tuning forks, bowls and gongs, along with certain types of music appears to stimulate the relaxation response located in the body’s oldest nervous system, the enteric nervous system (ENS). This is the “gut” intuition communication system via the Vagus nerve. The gut is where 90% of the body’s production of the neuromodulator Serotonin is produced. According to John Beaulieu, tuning fork expert and one of the authors of Sound Therapy Induced Relaxation: Down Regulating Stress Processes and Pathologies (2003), nitric oxide (NO) also appears to be released in the presence of certain music and sounds. According to Beaulieu, nitric oxide is not only an immune, vascular, and neural signaling molecule, it is also “antibacterial, antiviral, and it down-regulates endothelial and immunocyte activation and adherence, thus performing vital physiological activities including vasodilation” (Salamon et al. 2003).
The healing power of gongs and Himalayan singing bowls derives from a natural phenomenon known as entrainment – entraining or synchronizing the body to a certain sound. Entrainment occurs when the powerful vibrations of one object actually change the less powerful vibrations of another object.
Entrainment was first discovered in 1665 by Dutch scientist Christian Huygens. He set up a room full of pendulum clocks with their pendulums swinging at slightly different times. When he returned to the room the next day, he found the sway of the pendulums had all synchronized. Since that time there have been many studies targeting the ability to entrain the brain with positive results.
As gongs and singing bowls are sounded, the powerful rhythmic vibrations resonate throughout the body. The sound of these harmonic vibrations stimulates the alpha and theta brain waves associated with deep meditative and peaceful states that are highly conducive to healing. They also slow down the heart and respiratory rate, as well as lowers blood pressure creating a therapeutic effect upon mind and body. When the brain waves and body are synchronized, balance can be restored and stress released.
What does a Sound Therapy Session look like?
Before each session Dr. Darla will briefly talk with the client about their mind/body/spirit history and any current health, relationship or work problems. Dr. Darla will adapt your treatment accordingly, using various relaxing or stimulating sounds to try to rebalance the 3 Systems we are made of with the use of gongs, drums, Tibetan bells, crystal bowls, tuning forks and the human voice are all used. According to practitioner Lyz Cooper: "Clients are wrapped up in [these sounds] like a cocoon, and allowed to go on a mind/body and spirit journey."
The sounds are played into the body using voice, gongs, singings bowls, bar chimes and music specifically designed for relaxing and healing. These sounds can be utilized by the body on many levels as they themselves are multi-faceted (harmonics). Think of a beam of light. It is white when you look at it but when the beam is split by a prism or a crystal, you can see the individual colors. The same is true of a single note. It has many different layers, or ‘harmonics’, some of which can’t be heard by the human ear but they can be felt in a very deep way. Many of these harmonics are not heard by the human ear, but much in the same way we cannot see the full prism of a beam light, they are present and incorporated into the body on a cellular level. Through years of trial and error throughout centuries, starting with Pythagoras, the first sound healer, we have a pretty good idea of what tones affect different parts of the body, internal and external. However, most responsible sound therapists, play the full spectrum of specific scales which allows the body to take what it needs and disregard what it doesn’t.