You know those delicious goosebumps you get when your favorite song comes on? Or the deep peace that inexplicably washes over you when Enya croons her ethereal tunes?
These are just a few of the subtle but powerful sensations that anecdotally prove that our bodies, minds, and very souls respond to sound on a level that goes far beyond music appreciation. With "healing" sound now being incorporated into yoga classes and meditation centers, people are gaining exposure to the ancient practice and enjoying the effects. Sound healing (also called sound bathing) brings about a meditative state that can nurture inspiration through opening up to the many therapeutic tools of sound.
Through voice and instrument, we’ve been cultivating a symbiotic link between the human body and sound since the beginning of time. Sound healing is mentioned throughout the Bible, the Vedas, and other ancient scriptures.
More recently, this primal therapy has expanded out of the religious circles and into more health-focused practices. Binaural beats are still all the rage, and Solfeggio tones are gaining in popularity, too. Who doesn’t love to kick back, pop in the earbuds, and take a mental health break?
Tools and Techniques
There are practically as many sound-based tools as there are maladies to heal! Seriously, there’s something for everyone. Here are a few tools and techniques:
- Singing Bowls
Striking a singing bowl with a mallet produces a resonant, healing tone. Not all bowls are created equal, however, so testing them out is key; find a tone that “feels” right to you.
If you’re into the chakras, you’ll be happy to know that each bowl resonates with a specific music note and, therefore, a specific bowl tone. Some practitioners mix it up and create healing symphonies out of complimentary music notes, delighting the mind with every strike.
- Tuning Forks
These small but powerful forks have helped musicians tune their instruments since the 18th century, but their benefits go beyond what is perceptible to the naked eye (or ear). Similar to singing bowls, tuning forks produce a sound when struck (or, rather, when they strike an object).
You can simply listen, soaking up the good vibes, or you can apply the tuning forks to specific areas of the body, particularly the chakra centers or meridian lines. This is believed to be a great way to release energy blockages in the body, as well as initiate a psychological reaction that helps ease pain.
- Rattlers and Rain Sticks
Shamans often use rattling instruments to channel animal archetypes, connect with the spirit world, and banish illness. It’s not unusual to see a shaman or healer rattling over a client’s body, or drumming during a spirit journey session.
Rain sticks in particular have a mysterious origin, but their calming, peace-inspiring effects can’t be denied.
- Chanting and Mantras
Chanting is often incorporated into yogic practices, enhancing the psychological benefits of the art and fostering a stronger mind-body connection. Using your own voice to heal is an intimate, profound experience that empowers and enlightens.
Not everyone can sing, but most of us can chant. And even when we can’t use our voices, simply chanting within the mind can have surprisingly intense results. Adopting a mantra gives us something to hold onto; an anchor when our minds become cluttered or our thoughts become overwhelming. Each one can be tailored to our needs, health issues, and personal preference.
It's no wonder that yogis and meditators specifically are drawn to the practice of bathing in sound. It's easy, accessible, enjoyable, and healing. Through a simple chant, strike, or pluck, we can improve our mood and reduce our stress levels. Let the music play!
Image credit: Alissa