Sound healing is the new buzzword in the wellness industry. From ancient singing bowls to nature soundscapes, everything claims to make you more peaceful and stress-free. But before spending any time or money, it’s essential to find out if sound therapy works, and what it can and cannot do.
Sound massage works to take away stress as it calms the mind and relaxes the body. Although it’s not a cure for severe stress, your mind’s ability to cope improves as you continue to undertake sound therapy, and you find yourself dealing with stressful situations more easily and skillfully.
There’s a lot more to sound healing than just stress relief. Read on to learn the various benefits of sound massage apart from stress reduction, the best instruments for it, and the scientific evidence behind it.
How Does Sound Therapy Reduce Stress?
To learn how sound massage can help you lead a more stress-free life, let’s understand what stress is and how sound therapy works to combat it.
Stress is the body’s response to anxiety and fear. Whenever the mind perceives a challenge, demand, or threat, it responds with physical, mental, or emotional tension, also known as the fight-or-flight response. Stress isn’t always a bad thing; it makes you more focused and alert. But if you continue to experience it for a prolonged period, it can cause physical damage to parts of your body.
Since stress is natural, the best thing we can do is learn to cope with it healthily. We can do this by training the brain to remain calm and composed even in stressful situations. That’s where things like relaxation techniques, meditation, yoga, and sound massage come in. These techniques improve your physical, mental, and emotional well-being, giving you a greater ability to handle pressure circumstances.
Sound therapy uses different aspects of music and vibrations to provide healing. It’s an age-old practice, dating back to ancient Greece when people used music to cure mental disorders. Studies have shown that sound massage restores the nervous system’s normal functions, improves sleep quality, and promotes inner calm.
During a sound massage, you become quiet and obsessive thinking is reduced. It helps you achieve a meditative state that can be retained throughout the day. As you continue to engage in sound therapy regularly, your brain’s ability to cope with stress increases. You’re able to handle difficult persons and situations without getting anxious.
What Kind of Sounds Can Reduce Stress?
Every kind of music, whether it’s Beyoncé or Krishna Das, elicits a particular reaction from the body and mind. Some songs may make you feel nostalgic, while others may fill you with energy. So the question arises: what kind of music is used in sound therapy?
Depending on the purpose of the session, different instruments, tones, and frequencies are used. For example, nature sounds like a waterfall or forest offer white noise, alleviating pain by calming the nervous system. On the other hand, we can use steady, upbeat music to improve focus and increase energy.
Some common instruments are gongs, crystal bowls, tuning forks, voice, sound bowls, and chimes. Sometimes, pre-recorded sounds, like ambient music or white noise, are also added to enhance the effects.
Sound therapy is not just about one particular sound or several sounds; it’s about developing receptiveness and intention in the listener. Since relaxation is the goal of most sound therapy sessions, sounds with slow melodies, depth, slow transitions, and lower frequencies are the most suitable.
Sound Healing Is More Than Just Stress Relief
While sound massage is excellent for greater stress-coping abilities, stress relief isn’t the only benefit of this ancient practice. Sound therapy offers many more physical, mental, and emotional benefits that contribute to our overall well-being. Here are some of the remarkable things sound healing can do for you:
- Reduces headaches
- Boosts confidence
- Improves focus
- Gives you more energy
- Increases attention span
- Dramatically improves sleep quality
- Improves your health by helping you combat common ailments
- Balances the mind and enables you to think more clearly
- Alleviates depression and anxiety
- Lower blood pressure and cholesterol
It’s unclear how exactly sound healing produces these effects. But there are several theories explaining the process. The most popular one is that sound is vibration, and vibrations can touch every part of your physical body. So the vibrations ‘massage’ every cell in the body. They penetrate your skin and reach every muscle, tissue, and organ, all the while transforming everything they touch.
What Does Science Say?
You might be thinking that everything you’ve read so far probably sounds woo-woo. Since this industry isn’t well regulated yet, it’s easy to find many ‘specialists’ surrounded by singing bowls and tuning forks promising all kinds of benefits. However, it’s not all mumbo-jumbo; there is some scientific evidence that backs up sound therapy benefits.
An observational study published in 2016 concludes that sound healing through singing bowls improves your mood. It has also been found to reduce depression and anxiety and enhance well-being. Research on tuning forks shows that sound massage reduces bone and muscle pain.
Another 2016 study on singing bowl meditation suggests that this form of meditation reduces blood pressure, eases pains and aches, lowers breathing and circulation, and strengthens the immune system.
When vibrations and sounds are applied directly to the body, they penetrate you on a cellular level. This process is known as vibroacoustic therapy. Recent research proves that vibroacoustic treatment can be beneficial for injury recovery and chronic pain.
Although the scientific evidence isn’t as conclusive as we would like it to be, there’s no harm in trying sound therapy. Sound healing sessions are offered by all kinds of wellness centers, spas, therapists’ offices, and yoga studios. You can find several options near your location just by searching on google.
There are no side effects, and they are neither expensive nor invasive, which means you have nothing to lose except some bucks and an hour or two.
What Does Sound Massage Feel Like?
Like most healing and meditative practices, everyone’s experience of sound massage is going to be unique. Most people will feel calm and relaxed after the session. Many of them report a quiet and clear mind. This feeling can last up to several days. Apart from the sessions, you’re usually taught techniques or exercises to keep yourself in the ‘calm zone.’
If you’re very skeptical, you can try listening to pre-recorded sessions on YouTube or other streaming platforms. However, it’s best to feel the real sound by booking a session. You have two options when it comes to in-person sound therapy: group sessions and one-on-one sessions. Both of them are excellent ways to experience the transformative power of sound.
However, The Guardian advises pregnant women not to take part in sound therapy. People with serious mental illnesses must also consult their doctor before trying alternative therapies such as sound massage.
Sound healing has been around for a very long time, and modern science has also been exploring its benefits for the past few decades. It reduces stress, depression, and anxiety symptoms, which means your mood and happiness also improve. Although the science is yet to explore this field fully, it is entirely safe to try sound healing as an alternative therapy to see if it produces any positive effects.
There’s also a lot of hype and lofty claims by many ‘sound healers.’ Avoid getting tricked by such people when exploring this field. The bottom line is that sound massage is not a cure for people with severe stress or pain, but it undoubtedly offers various benefits and is worth a shot.
- Sound Therapy International: Stress Relief and Sound Therapy
- Prevention: Inside the Life-Changing Benefits of Sound Therapy
- Shape: WTF Is Sound Healing, Really?
- Healthline: The Uses and Benefits of Music Therapy
- First Post: What is sound bath healing and can it relieve stress and anxiety?
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