Using sound as a medical remedy has existed for thousands of years. Ancient Greek physicians used music to treat mental disturbances and insomnia. Using music for medicine can also be found in ancient Egypt, Tibetan culture, and yogic groups.
The healing power of music and sound fell out of fashion in western medicine, but the practice is returning and becoming increasingly more popular. A recent study found that Tibetan music can be an effective tool for reducing anxiety.
At SoCal Mental Health, our sound healing provider, Tania, understands the benefits of sound healing. Sound healing can be a helpful practice for overall wellness and helping with mental health disorders.
What is Sound Healing?
Sound healing is using sounds to provide some form of medical benefit. A trained practitioner often provides sound healing therapy. While more research is needed to fully understand the benefits of sound, recent studies indicate that sound healing can be quite effective for mental health.
Several types of instruments may be used, with the most popular being:
- Tibetan singing bowls
- Tuning forks
- Harmony balls
- Tongue drums
- Crystal Singing bowls
- The human voice
What are Sound Baths?
A sound bath is when participants receive sound healing therapy. In most cases, the participant lies on the ground in a relaxing position while the practitioner provides the sound through an instrument. This creates a relaxing and meditative experience for the participants. The sound can make it easier to practice mindfulness, focus on one’s breath, and silence mental chatter.
Most sound bath practitioners will use a variety of instruments. Each instrument provides its range of vibrations, and switching during the sound bath can be more beneficial. Some sound baths will be accompanied by a guided meditation, while others have no instructions.
Sound baths are easy to attend. They don’t require any unique clothing or equipment. Some practitioners may recommend bringing minor equipment such as yoga mats, pillows, eye pillows, and other items that aid in relaxation. The typical sound bath lasts 60 to 90 minutes, although some can be much longer or shorter.
Benefits of Sound Healing
Sound baths’ benefits are wide-ranging and can be similar to meditation and mindfulness. Sound vibrations can positively impact the body and improve overall wellbeing.
Deep relaxation is the most notable benefit of sound healing. Relaxing helps bring the mind back to a state of harmony, making it easier to avoid the sensation of being overwhelmed. When the brain is relaxed, completing tasks without the dread of anxiety can be more manageable.
Relieving Stress-Induced Ailments
Stress can cause noticeable ailments. It can contribute to high blood pressure, stomach pain, joint pain, and depression. Engaging in a sound bath can help reduce stress and facilitate healing.
Singing bowls, in particular, have been used as a tool to create a relaxation response as a result of reducing stress. Healing and energy recovery can also occur with the reduction of stress.
Poor sleep can lead to a myriad of problems. Sleep deprivation can contribute to chronic pain, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, poor focus, anxiety, and depression. Attending sound baths can make getting a good night’s sleep easier. Some sound bath sessions are deliberately designed to improve the quality of sleep.
Supporting Emotional Wellbeing
As sound baths help with stress and sleep, it is only natural that it would also help with emotional well-being. Sound baths help return the mind to a state of balance, making it easy to address everyday problems with focus.
A stressed mind and body are destined to become exhausted. Soothing sounds can make it easier to relax, recharging the mind and body. Not only can sound healing increase energy levels, but it can bring about more positive energy.
In some cases, sound baths can reduce physical pain. A 2016 study found that participants reported that sound baths reduced pain levels. Participants in the study would rank their pain on a scale of 1 to 5. After the sound bath, the group average reported a decreased amount of pain.
The Difference Between Sound Healing & Music Therapy
While the two therapies sound pretty similar, there is a significant difference between sound baths and music therapy. A sound bath typically relies on one instrument being used at a time and is played by the practitioner. The instruments in sound baths tend to produce deep and relaxing vibrations, leading to a meditative and relaxed state.
Music therapy is more about participation and is usually guided by a trained music therapist. Music therapy often relies on the participant creating music with instruments to express complex emotions. The goal of music therapy is an expression, whereas sound baths are designed for relaxation.
In most cases, sound baths should work with other treatments instead of replacing them. While it can be a very helpful tool in achieving mental health goals, sound baths alone are rarely a practical solution. Working with a mental health professional can help determine how sound baths should be incorporated into your mental health regiment.