The hectic pace of modern life leaves many of us feeling overwhelmed, disconnected from ourselves, and concerned for our health. We don’t sleep enough. We struggle with anxiety and/or depression. We work too much and check in with ourselves too little. Our physical and mental wellbeing take a backseat to our day-to-day demands.
We all want to be healthy in mind, body, and spirit. But when it comes to holistic wellness, it can be hard to know what’s a trend versus what will actually make a difference. If you’ve ever laid on a massage table with a crystal on your chest wondering, is this even doing anything?, you’re not alone.
Sound healing in particular has seen a surge in popularity in recent years, with celebrities like Gwyneth Paltrow and the Kardashians swearing by it. But this ancient therapeutic method is more than just a passing trend.
In this blog, we will explore the scientific benefits of sound healing for anxiety, depression/trauma, sleep, pain, and creativity.
First, what is sound healing?
Sound healing is a holistic practice that uses various instruments, music, tones, voice, and vibrations to induce deep meditation and full-body rest.
Healing sessions are often called “sound baths” because it feels like sound is washing over you, leaving you clean and clear.
Typically, I start my sound bath sessions with gentle movement, breathing exercises, and setting intentions. Then, we take it down to a chair or the floor – whatever is most comfortable. Once we’re warmed up, we begin the work with meditation and sound.
Sound healing instruments can include:
- Himalayan bowls
- Crystal bowls
- Ocean drum
- Vocal Toning
- Tuning forks
- Alchemy bowls
- Rain stick
- Practitioner bowl
- Crystal pyramid
Sound healing for anxiety
Anxiety is a very common mental health condition with a range of physical and emotional symptoms, including racing thoughts, restlessness, rumination, and dread.
Sound healing can help with anxiety by turning off the sympathetic nervous system – responsible for the fight-or-flight stress response – and turning on the parasympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for lowering blood pressure, slowing heart rate, and relaxing the body.
A 2016 study found sound meditation participants reported lower levels of stress and anxiety than those who didn’t get the therapy. Another study from 2018 showed that listening to the music of Tibetan singing bowls (often used in sound bath healing) affected heart rate and other vitals associated with anxiety.
Many people try meditation to help with anxiety and stress, but it can be challenging to learn how to meditate properly to get the full benefits. Sound healing is an easier alternative for busy people who don’t have that time to invest, as it induces a deep meditative state in the body with no expertise or experience required.
Sound healing for depression and trauma
Have you ever heard of the saying, the body keeps the score? They say trauma is stored in the body and it can show in how we respond to stimulation, the hormones we produce, and our future stress responses.
The power of music therapy in treating depression and trauma is well-documented. It has been shown to decrease stress levels, improve depression symptoms, and help with PTSD where traditional therapies failed.
According to the Director of Communications for the American Music Therapy Association, Al Bumanis, “Music therapists have worked with the Red Cross, with first responders, with kids from violent homes. We were at Katrina, we were at 9/11.”
Sound bath healing specifically can help release stored emotions and trauma from the body, allowing us to better process them. Many participants experience emotional moments of release where they were able to let go of something painful that had been weighing on them.
“People have these really profound experiences because, for a lot of people, it’s one of the first times where they’re laying their energy fields open, and they’re also letting go and letting their body open, letting their mind loosen up. I’ve had people leave crying. They’ve told me they’ve healed their inner child. Someone who I worked with said it was like the first time they had felt safe in years, somebody that had experienced a lot of trauma.”– Avi Sherbill, sound therapy practitioner with SoundRx
More than just improving symptoms of depression, sound healing can actually induce feelings of well-being. Relaxing sounds can promote the release of endorphins and “feel-good” chemicals like serotonin, dopamine, and oxytocin.
Sound healing for sleep
Have you ever listened to white noise or rain sounds at bedtime? If so, you’ve already experienced some of the benefits of sound for better sleep!
Studies show that music can help even those struggling with insomnia. Given the way sound bath healing specifically relaxes the body by reducing heart rate, lowering blood pressure, etc, it’s no surprise that it can help you in catching those Z’s. The binaural beats often found in sound baths can also induce Theta/Delta brain waves typically achieved during the deepest rest and sleep. It’s not an uncommon experience for clients to fully fall asleep during a sound bath session!
Sound healing for pain
Frustrated by the limitations of Western Medicine and healthcare systems, people with chronic pain often turn to alternative and holistic healing for relief.
Sound healing reduces anxiety, improves feelings of well-being, and reduces tension in the body, all of which can help with the perception of pain. One study shows that the combination of vibrations and music – both of which are used in sound healing – can actually reduce inflammation, promote blood flow, and improve cellular cleansing methods, potentially resulting in speedier recovery from injury. Another study shows that patients can feel significant relief in pain after sound meditation.
Sound healing for creativity
We all love those moments where we break through our mental barriers and find ourselves in the zone creatively. Sound healing can help us get into a state of self-reflection and clarity that promotes creative expression.
The parasympathetic state experienced during sound healing allows for full relaxation of the body. At that point, your brain is able to sort through some of your thoughts that you otherwise haven’t had time or space to consider. Additionally, the deeper Alpha brain waves reached during sound healing inhibit unnecessary functions and result in more unexpected and unusual ideas.
Get started with sound healing
Whether you’re looking to reduce anxiety, cope with trauma, get better sleep, manage pain, or get your creative juices flowing, sound healing can be a useful tool in your arsenal.
You’ll never know if you don’t try!
Next group event:
Level One Yoga and Sound Bath
Saturday, April 29th, 10-11:30 AM
$15 per personLocated at the Catonsville Clubhouse
10 St. Timothy’s Lane,
Catonsville, MD 21228
I also offer one-on-one sound therapy treatments. Learn more on my sound therapy service page.