Sound Healing is a complementary therapy in which sound is used to induce altered states of consciousness in order to provide relief and manage symptoms of distress: whether that manifests physically, mentally, emotionally or spiritually.
Sounds cool, right?
… BUT HOW?
Demystifying the magic behind Sound Healing is actually just down to that ol’ thing called science.
It is the extensive observation of the ways in which our brains operate and how we navigate the World within and around us.
So forget about ears for now – we really want to be investigating that beautiful brain of ours.
When we look at the effect of Sound on our cell-ves, what immediately springs to mind is:
the physical, mental, emotional and if we are really feeling the absolute feels, the spiritual elements of our Earthly existence.
For the sake of content and to not overwhelm, I’ll be starting with the physical aspects in this blog post with a series going into detail on the other areas of existence as instalments.
There is so much to this, for me to even fathom condensing it into one mere blog post would do no justice.
So, without further ado, let’s start with the physical aspects
Sound affects us on a physiological level in an array of ways.
Whether it moves us (literally like a sway, tap, bop or shimmy) or increases/decreases our heart and/or breathing rate this results in physiological changes occurring in the body both consciously and unconsciously.
A.K.A that hit of dopamine et al, the sense of relaxation or absolute anxiety depending on the hormones and neurotransmitters activated and unleashed.
We recognise this when we are at the pub, the club, a music festival and for the introverts out there, TV and movies.
Our bodies unconsciously react to the auditory stimuli that surrounds us which is literally constant.
The huge take away from my sound journey is that true silence does not exist, unless you’re in a vacuum.
Much like time, it is subjective and a human construct. To what extent we hear or do not hear, still has an effect on our life, consciously or unconsciously.
Since studying sound, my search for 2 + 2 has now been found and at last, put together and I am super excited to share.
Our brain is the boss
It’s all about the brain
We have different brainwave states ranging from Gamma to Delta which are bandwidths of brain activity measured using hertz or cycles per second.
As you are reading this blog post, you are likely to be in a Beta state – this is the everyday, conscious, we-out-here doin’ what we do state.
But when it hits bedtime and we are just about starting to feel the weight of our eyelids, we can recognise this as a shift from the Beta state into the Alpha state ready to descend into Theta or Delta.
We are still conscious but on a way lower vibe at Alpha… around 8 to 13hz to be precise.
Our bodies, like the World around us, operate in cycles much like our brain waves in cycles per second.
The lower the frequency, the longer the cycle will take to complete as opposed to a higher frequency – where the completion of a cycle is faster and more frequent.
We can compare this to the classic pre-coffee/post-coffee situation or pre-workout/post workout situation.
We may feel lethargic, shlubby, the resistance of gravity and moving through space & time in slow motion before that first cup of joe or before hitting the pavement/mat/place of exercise.
But after? There’s a buzz. A surge in the circuit.
A state of “well, hot damn! I am competent and alive!”
Our brainwave activity is a direct reflection of where we’re at, what we are able to achieve and the capacity of what we can process.
Sometimes, we fall out of sync with our cycles.
Our sleep schedule gets replaced with insomnia or we might hit a wall by 1pm. Maybe we can’t get out of bed. Perhaps we feel stuck in the fogginess and feelings of disassociation when operating at a low alpha state trying to complete a task or do some work (which requires a high alpha minimum, ideally a mid-to-high beta).
All of our brainwave states serve a purpose – especially the lower end – as it facilitates our body to rest and fully restore.
The issue arises when there isn’t a balance between these cycles – when we can’t switch off or conversely can’t switch on fully.
This is where sound comes in
Different sounds, the technique and the application in which the sound is used influences our brainwave patterns and states through the process called brainwave entrainment and sympathetic resonance.
Let’s say we struggle with getting adequate sleep. We could use a variety of different instruments to induce and alter the brain’s state of consciousness, but for the sake of example, let’s say a drum and singing voice.
The bpm, rhythm and overall pattern alongside the voice has the ability to entrain/influence the brain to match the frequency or cycle per second that the instrument is producing according to the duration and consistency in which the instruments/rhythm is played.
Remember, our brain loves to look for ways to process and make sense of the world around us. By attuning to the influence the frequency provides (known as sympathetic resonance) it induces an altered state of consciousness in the form relaxation and rest. As a result of the lower cycle per second employed in this example, it facilitates a newfound state of clarity as we have created sonic space and container for adequate processing/restoration for this clarity to come through.
baby we need some time alone, we need to let it breathe
As the great Blu Cantrell ft Sean Paul’s 2003 R&B hit ‘Breathe’ states – we need to let it breathe. Frankly, this sage advice is particularly essential when it comes to the sound healing process on a physiological level.
Our brain needs oxygen in order to operate. It’s a no brainer.
But how often do we allow ourselves to rhythmically and deeply breathe in order to oxygenate all our lil bloody blood cells and provide the gaseous nutrients to enrich our cranial epicentre?
Meditation ain’t easy and comes in so many forms – so don’t let dogma get in the way of finding the process that best suits you.
If you ever find that you beat yourself up because you can’t find space for ‘silence’ remember silence is a construct.
Take a moment, take a breath and exhale to full stop that self-back chat-chatter and simply observe.
It gets better with practice, you’re a human living a human experience.
It’s damn hard work being a complex corporeal machine with a current of consciousness.
This is the end of an incredibly condensed blog post on how sound affects us on a physiological level and how we can use it for healing.
I hope you’ve been able to take away and digest the mind blowing powers that be and the ways in which we can apply sound for wellbeing.
Stay tuned for the future instalments covering the other areas of our Earthly existence and the ways in which Sound Healing affects them.
experience the power of sound for yourself
i’ll be hosting Sound Bath Sunday via zoom on the 7th of February 2021 from 4pm – 5:30pm GMT.
If you would like to join me for a collective sound bath or to experience the power of sound + to set intentions for the month ahead you can click the link below.
or if you’d like to book a 1:1 session with me
If you feel called to connect, comment or share this juicy knowledge and context, I encourage you to do so!
You can connect with me over on instagram
Take care + sending love,