what is sound healing therapy?
Updated: Oct 20, 2022
I recently qualified as a Sound Healing Practitioner, and I would love to share some thoughts on what it is and how can it benefit you.
Sound Therapy uses sound and vibrations (vocal or instrumental), played in a therapeutic manner to improve health and wellbeing. It is usually combined with self-reflection techniques.
As with many other wellness practices (mindfulness meditation, crystals etc), sound healing is having a major moment right now, but it’s been used by cultures such as the Aboriginal peoples in Australia and Tibetan monks for centuries! Throughout history, we have seen music and sound used in many ways - from boosting morale in military troops to improving productivity in workers or even aiding people living with dementia to remember their “golden years” and feel calmer. If you are not sure that you believe in the “magical”, curative powers of music and sound healing therapy, just think about your favourite song or musical track and how it immediately works as a mood-booster.
Given that everything has a vibrational frequency, including ourselves, it makes sense that sound frequencies impact how we feel. The adult body is about 60-70% water, and water is a great conductor for sound vibration. As vibrations move through the water in the body, they go to a deeper, cellular level. The sound waves spread through lymphatic fluids and blood, into larger groups of tissues – muscles, organs, bones. It helps to improve and stimulate circulation to allow muscle relaxation. It allows the glandular and nervous systems to activate distress responses in the body and assists with rejuvenation.
In my practice, I use mainly Tibetan singing bowls. According to common beliefs, the existence of singing bowls dates back to the days of Buddha (around the 5th century BCE). They have been used in Tibetan culture since then. They are made from an alloy consisting of five, seven, or even nine metals. These metal bowls come in different sizes and each bowl produces a unique, deep sound vibration which resonates on separate parts of the brain and body. This is why different-sized bowls are often used in sound healing sessions.
So, how does it work?
Before coming to the sound healing session, it is good to take time to reflect on the areas of body-mind (or life) that need support and healing. It is said that “energy flows where attention goes”. You can share it with your therapist, but you don’t have to. Setting an intention for each session helps in activating a part of your receptivity.
During a sound healing session, you will typically lie down on the floor or a yoga mat, perhaps cuddle up with a cosy blanket, and simply listen as a practitioner plays a variety of instruments. It is like a “meditative acoustic sound concert”. According to the method I learned from my teacher - Charlie Christie, healing with Tibetan singing bowls can be done in 3 different ways:
directly on a person, it is called sound massage,
around a person, as sound therapy,
in group meditation setting, with a lovely name of a sound bath.
Since all matter is energy vibrating at different rates (and we know it already from the school physics lessons!) - all parts of your body vibrate at different frequencies, too. When an organ or another part of the body starts to malfunction, the energy flow is disturbed, and the organ in question drops its healthy frequency. The bowls produce sound frequencies that come into resonance with the parts of the body and brain where there are deficiencies, and restores and harmonises the flow of energy.
Your only “job” during the session is to relax as much as possible. Most people will feel very relaxed and peaceful during a sound healing; some might have visualizations or receive creative downloads. Others may go to a mental state in which one is not quite awake and not quite asleep. It often feels like you are floating peacefully through time and space. Meanwhile, some people may emerge from a dreamy sound bath feeling more wired than blissed out. You might like and dislike certain sounds. Emotions might come up with the sounds, or even an experience of physical pain. Try to accept it, knowing that they will be all gone by the time you fully awaken. Feel free to discuss it with your therapist after the session, if you like. Again, each experience is unique. As with most alternative healing modalities and meditative practices, everyone's experience is different, and new things may come up in each session.
Deep relaxation is one of the most significant and universal benefits of sound therapy, as well as a peace of mind and mental clarity, reduction of stress, anxiety, or depression. Benefits may also include improved sleep, reduction of chronic pain and blood pressure, or even lowered cholesterol, and a decreased risk of heart disease... Although, for professional help with these conditions, please see a qualified medical practitioner.
From my personal perspective, sound healing helped me to reconnect with my emotions and aspirations and reintegrate them into my current life. It helped me accept that my intuition is a big source of knowing, rather than something to ignore, and also supported my self-governance and connection with like-minded people. A gentle touch of happiness.
"When one bell is rung, by the sound of that one bell other bells will also vibrate. So it is with dancing of the soul... it produces its reaction, and that again, will make other souls dance"
~ Hazrat Inayat Khan (Sufi Master)
How does it resonate with you?