Written By Marian Kraus
Since its development as a therapy in Australia over 40,000 years ago, sound healing has been used in nearly every culture to aid in the treatment of both mental and physical illnesses and injuries, as well as to assist individuals in the dying process.
Though originally performed using only the yidaki, or didgeridoo, sound healing now involves a wide array of instruments (e.g., gongs, tuning forks, singing bowls, drums, ultrasonic devices) as well as human and animal vocalizations.
Additional articles about the many benefits and modalities of sound therapy are here. If you wish to learn about some of the commonly used tools in sound healing, including the didgeridoo, please go to the instruments page.
How sound affects the body
A cranial nerve connects the eardrum to every organ in the human body, minus the spleen, so externally generated sounds can have profound and direct effects on internal systems. By subjecting patients to various frequencies, healers harmonize cells, organs, and biological systems which may have been disrupted, blocked, or out of sync with the remainder of the body and its environment.
In the contemporary medical field, technologies have been developed for using sound outside the range of normal human hearing, which is commonly between 20 - 20,000 Htz. Ultrasound is a popular tool for the imaging, diagnosing, and treatment of many conditions. First developed in the 1930s and 40s, ultrasound devices offer both diagnostic and therapeutic properties by emitting an oscillating sound pressure wave at frequencies above the hearing range of humans. While their most popular use is as a non-radiation imaging device, ultrasound machines are also effective in the management of pain associated with scar tissue, arthritis, and many other conditions. Medical devices based on infrasound, sound below the hearing range of humans, have started being developed more recently.
Vibration and resonance
The fundamental principle underlying the theory of sound healing is that all matter vibrates at a specific frequency through which it can both influence and be influenced by all other matter. Thus, everything on the planet and beyond can be considered interconnected through resonance.
Under this principle, there are two main theories detailing how sound can facilitate healing. The first posits that when a structure—such as a human organ—vibrates at a frequency disharmonious with its surrounding environment, it cannot absorb energy as efficiently and becomes vulnerable to disease. Vibrational energy practitioners can then target specific areas of the body to restore them to their natural states, in harmony with other biological systems.
Alternately, some think sound vibrations act to clear channels of transport within the cell, facilitating the movement of energy across the cell membrane and making it easier for cells to receive. To get a visual demonstration on how sound and vibration affect matter, visit our Cymatics entry.
In a typical sound healing procedure, applied either in a one-on-one or group setting, and now also more frequently as a virtual online sound bath, practitioners select several instruments and/or devices to use in a 30 or 60-minute therapy session. To achieve a greater state of relaxation, participants / patients lie on a table or floor, while others prefer to sit. Practitioners then apply sound in their chosen modality (i.e. with gongs, tuning forks, didgeridoo, singing bowls, drums etc.), as an all-enveloping sound stream (“sound bath”) or specifically over the energy centers (chakras) and other trigger points on the body.
Sound healing can also be applied as a self-therapy practice through visualization or intention setting while listening to preferred sounds, i.e. music, chants, singing bowls etc. Some individuals choose to practice Tai Chi, Qigong or Yoga during the session. On sound in conjunction with meditation and how it raises awareness read more on a previous entry on meditation. Explore guided audio sound meditations to feel how they affect your own system in a relaxing, soothing and therapeutic way.
In conventional medical settings, ultra and infrasound are commonly used to diagnose and treat various ailments. The procedure varies depending on the nature and location of the condition.
Benefits of sound for healing
Sound has been used all over the world as a powerful healing therapy, but only in recent years have the effects of traditional instruments, such as the gong, didgeridoo and singing bowls, been studied scientifically. Numerous scientific studies have been conducted and the following are abridged excerpts:
Simply by listening to music for relaxation can decrease heart rate, blood pressure, and anxiety—even in high stress situations. A 2013 study examined the effect of live, spontaneous harp music on pre- and post-operative patients in an academic hospital’s intensive care unit (ICU). A group of 100 participants was randomly assigned to either the control group or the music intervention group.
Participants in the intervention group received a private 10-minute harp concert in their hospital rooms, while patients in the control group were instructed to simply lie quietly and relax during the 10-minute period. Patients who experienced the music intervention reported a 27% average decrease in pain, while patients in the control group did not report a difference in level of pain.
The music did not, however, affect respiration rate, oxygen saturation, blood pressure, or heart rate. While the significant decrease in pain is encouraging, the study is flawed in that the harpist did not play the same music for each of the 50 patients in the intervention group. Instead, she intuitively selected the style and tempo of music she thought would be appropriate for each patient. Future research should control for this potential confounding variable.
A 2010 study investigated the benefits of didgeridoo playing and singing in aboriginal Australians with asthma. Participants reported that the six-month intervention, which consisted of weekly didgeridoo lessons for males and singing lessons for females, improved their quality of life and helped them manage their asthma.
A 2005 study measured the body’s electric responses to toning and playing of quartz crystal bowls by recording electrodermal readings of 40 acupuncture meridians on the hands and feet. The participants’ left hands and right feet showed increases and decreases, respectively, in energetic readings during the playing of the bowls.
Research on the benefits of making music
Research shows that creating music also has many therapeutic benefits. A 2003 prospective study examined the effects of recreational music-making on burnout (i.e., emotional exhaustion and reduced personal accomplishment) in 112 men and women employed at a continuing care retirement community. Half of the participants were randomly assigned to the music intervention, for which they met in groups with a trained facilitator weekly for six weeks. Each one-hour session involved various social activities and mindfulness practices structured around music-making using hand drums, bells, maracas, keyboards, and other instruments. Compared to participants who did not experience the music intervention, the employees exhibited decreased burnout and greater productivity levels.
‘Alive Inside’ is an award winning movie that clearly demonstrates how patients with Alzheimer and Dementia came ‘back to life’ when being exposed to music. It s a joyous cinematic exploration of music's capacity to reawaken our souls and uncover the deepest parts of our humanity.
A 2006 study found that sound resonance therapy (SRT) is a highly effective treatment for fibromyalgia, a condition which is generally very difficult to manage. SRT is administered using a vibro-acoustic apparatus which “stimulates the auditory and the somatosensory system of an individual, triggering long-term memory” - the therapy reportedly allows emotions to surface so they may be processed cognitively. This has encouraging implications for a vast number of medical conditions which may have underlying emotional or psychological causes.
Sound used to heal fractured bones
Many biologists and other natural scientists have studied the potential applications of sound in clinical settings, with compelling results. Several studies have found infrasound to be an effective rehabilitative therapy. Through the controlled application of high intensity, low frequency sound, postoperative adhesion formation can be minimized—at least in rodents.
A 2013 study showed that fracture healing can be accelerated and supported through use of infrasound therapy. A group of rodents with a fractured femoral bone was subjected to local infrasound for an hour a day for 42 days. Compared to the group not exposed to the infrasound treatment, the experimental exposed to it “showed a more consecutive and smoother process of fracture healing” and had “significantly higher average bone mineral content and bone mineral density.”
Another study used an infrasound generator “designed to replicate the infrasonic emissions measured during external Qigong treatments” and exposed cancer cells to this frequency during drug delivery. When used in conjunction with chemotherapy, infrasound was found to be an effective inhibitor of glioma tumor cell proliferation. Further research is necessary to examine the effects of an infrasound-chemotherapy treatment on cancer cells in relation to normal tissue. To find more information on the benefits of sound on cancer learn from an interview with Dr. Mitchell Gaynor who extensively used sound as an adjunct therapy in his oncology practice.
Another thread in the field of sound therapy involves the natural vibrations of cells themselves. Sonocytology, a term coined by physicist and nanotechnologist Jim Gimzewski, refers to the study of the vibrational movements of cell walls, which can be subjected to an amplification process and subsequently heard by the human ear. Gimzewski found that the pitch of the tone produced by a cell changes in response to its environment; introducing sodium or alcohol, for example, causes the pitch of a cell’s vibrations to decrease and increase, respectively. Because compromised cells produce a different sound than healthy ones, sonocytology has exciting implications for the early detection of diseases such as cancer and malaria. An extensive research paper on sound and cells can be found here.
The aforementioned studies show that cells not only emit sounds of their own, but react to external sounds as well, making it capable for externally produced sounds to impact internal biological systems. Further research is necessary in both traditional and conventional avenues of sound healing to continue exploring its applications and underlying mechanisms.
Following ancient wisdom and practice
We at Delamora believe that science is rediscovering what has been practiced by various ancient cultures all along. Devoid of scientific equipment, they discovered the benefits of sound through application, feeling and intuition. Those of us contemporaries who experienced the sound of gongs, singing bowls, tuning forks, didgeridoos, drums and other instruments can easily relate. The many healing and revealing aspects of sound therapy and sound healing are experiential in nature. If you wish to explore the positive experience of a virtual sound bath or in an in person group event, we offer both.
One aspect that is important to be pointed out when applying sound as therapy is the intention (of the practitioner and recipient alike) brought to the individual treatment or experience with sound. In other words, the setting of a desired energetic flow for the particular occasion. And then the awareness to allow oneself to “disappear” in the sound to travel as far and deep as one wishes.
Find out about some additional ways to expand your awareness in our online store offerings.
We found the above article in our archives and the source is unknown. Our heartfelt gratitude to the scientists and authors.
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In sound healing, resonance principles are engaged to re-harmonize cells that have been imprinted with disruptive frequencies. Such troublesome imprints may have been a result of toxic substances, emotional traumas, pathogens, or long-term exposure to noise pollution.Is sound healing scientifically proven? ›
Sound-based vibration treatment has been shown to help people with pain from arthritis, menstrual pain, postoperative pain, knee replacement pain. Sound-based treatment has even been found to improve mobility, reduce muscle pain and stiffness, increase blood circulation, and lower blood pressure.How does sound healing work science? ›
In practical terms, this means that your brainwave frequencies synchronize with the frequencies produced by sound healing instruments. The positive frequencies allow your cells to operate in harmony with each other, healing organs, bones and uncomfortable emotional states.What are the theories of sound healing? ›
The fundamental principle underlying the theory of Sound Healing is that all matter vibrates at a specific frequency through which it can both influence and be influenced by all other matter (Gaynor, 1999; Roosth, 2009). Thus, everything on the planet and beyond can be considered interconnected through resonance.