Bells, Gongs and Chants: The Benefits of Sound Healing
Would you believe that the future of medicine might be in sound healing? It’s actually an ancient ritual to utilize sound to help heal the body, but it’s making such a comeback that it’s currently merging into mainstream, being utilized in oncology practices and hospice care as well as psychotherapy and other medical practices.
Music has always healed the soul. Most people can agree on that. You may be practicing a sort of sound therapy if you agree that listening to music helps you reduce stress and tension. And you’re not alone and feeling this, as 82% of Americans agree that music brings them similar relief.
Hindu spirituality has utilized sound to heal the body and mind for thousands of years. This included chanting and reciting mantras. Sound stimulates healing through its vibration. It’s based on the law of physics and vibrational energy and frequency having an effect on the brain and body. Aboriginal tribes used a didgerido, an instrument they claim has vibrational healing powers. Singing bowls are utilized for sound healing in Tibetan practices.
Sound healing has helped many around the world to reduce stress, manage pain, heal faster from illness and injury, improve memory and cognition, improve sleep, boost energy levels and much more.
But, how does it work?
Resonance is the frequency in which all things vibrate. Even our bodies resonate; our organs resonate at different frequencies. Every part of us has its own natural resonance. Sound healing is based on the theory that disease is, in fact, dis-ease. This lack of ease is the result of being “out of tune.” We have to tune our instrument (body) in order for it to function as it should. Our toxic environment, lifestyle choices, chronic illness and even stress can cause us to get out of tune.
Scientifically, several theories try to drill down to the specifics of how vibrational energy and sound impact various systems. Binaural beats are thought to synchronize and affect brainwaves. This concept is known as brain entrainment. Studies have demonstrated its impacts on depression, relaxation and cognition.
A study of Alzheimer’s patients treated twice a week for three weeks with 30-minute sound healing sessions experienced a 13% increase in cognitive function, according to baseline vs post sound-healing testing.
Researchers explain these findings to be due to brain circuits currently dormant being stimulated along neuronal pathways through sound. The result is strengthened pathways, which translates to an increase in cognitive function, memory and even relief from the symptoms of depression and anxiety.
Sound vibration can also help those experiencing chronic pain, without the need for pharmaceutical intervention. Sound healing has been demonstrated to help those with post-operative pain, arthritis, muscle aches and menstrual cramps. It even increases blood circulation, reduces inflammation and improves mobility. It is believed that rhythm over melody impacts pain receptors, resulting in sound/vibration affecting one’s perception of pain.
A 2015 study published in the journal, Pain Research and Management, tested five weeks of low-frequency sound healing on patients with fibromyalgia. The findings indicated significant improvements in reducing pain and improving sleep. 75% of participants also were able to reduce their pain medications as a result of sound healing treatment.
Mood swings, anxiety and depression can also be managed with sound healing. A study published in the Journal of Evidence-Based Integrative Medicine found that one hour of sound healing helped reduce fatigue, anxiety, depression and tension and help increase feelings of relaxation and well-being. Modalities in the study included crystal singing bowls, gongs, dorges, didgeridoos and bells, with singing bowls utilized for 95% of the session.
A National Institute of Health (NIH) study has demonstrated sound healing effects may impact chronic disease states, such as diabetes and heart disease. The relaxation response elicited by sound healing has a physiological response in lowering blood pressure and activating the parasympathetic nervous system as well as regulating hormone levels.
Sound healing is expansive. Here are a few examples:
As simple as it sounds, humming has medicinal benefits. According to a study published in American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, humming can clear your sinuses and protect you from sinus infections.
Chanting can regulate heart rate, improve circulation, increase metabolism and lower blood pressure, according to research. It also helps alleviate stress and improve focus.
Singing bowls are made of metal or quartz and create a unique vibration and tone. Effects on the body include regulating brain waves and heart rate, reducing stress, slowing breathing and producing a sense of well-being.
Used by orthopedists to detect stress fracture in bones, tuning forks create vibrations that increase energy to parts of the body needing healing. Tuning forks help regulate your nervous system, promote increased energy as well as helping reduce stress.
This instrument produces a low frequency as well as vibrations, so it’s a seeing and feeling experience. Aborigines believe the didgeridoo helps the body free blocked energies, which may cause illness and low vibrational energy that impairs healing.
Studies of the impacts of sound healing with a didgeridoo include documented benefits for regulating hormone function, helping with depression and anxiety as well as supporting healthy bones and muscle.
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