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Posted at: Nov 16, 2019, 8:20 AM; last updated: Nov 16, 2019, 8:20 AM (IST)

A sound practice of healing

Sound therapy is being used to treat problems like anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, sleep disorders, etc. The healing benefits include improved quality of sleep, reduced blood pressure, pain management and lower stroke risk

Dr Prakriti Poddar

We are surrounded by sounds everywhere — everyday sounds, city sounds, at home, on roads, traffic, a congested train, even on an isolated road. Ruralscape has its own sounds. However, most of us charge through their day with being actively aware of the ambient sounds surrounding us. It is revolutionary to see the association each sound could have to us if we just gave it time. 

Sound healing is a practice dating back to prehistoric times when traditional medicine practitioners would use various sounds to heal people. After evolution through centuries, today it is being practiced as vibrational medicine with the use of music, singing, and sound tools that release frequencies to improve the psychological state of a person. 

Healing effect of vibrations

Quantum physics has proven that everything has vibrations, whether it  isan inanimate object like a table, a chair, or a living being, or a planet, or a cosmos. And wherever there is sound, there is a corresponding vibration. When sound is coupled with intention, which is the most important aspect of healing, sound vibration can be directed to raise the body’s vibrational frequency. 

Sound healing particularly helps with relaxation. Stress of any kind releases high levels of cortisol. Sound frequencies can quickly intervene to balance this stressed state of mind. It is, therefore, being used in conditions like anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, sleep disorders etc. Its healing benefits, apart from reducing stress, are improving quality of sleep, reducing blood pressure, pain management and lowering the risk of stroke. 

A study published in the Journal of Evidence-based Integrative Medicine examined the impact of sound meditation, specifically Tibetan singing bowl meditation, on mood, anxiety, pain, and spiritual well-being. A group of 62 persons, including men and women, participated in the study which found that sound meditation helped participants reduce tension, anger, fatigue, and depressed mood. 

Additionally, participants who were previously unaware of this type of meditation experienced a significantly greater reduction in tension compared to participants who had experienced this meditation earlier. Similarly, feeling of spiritual well-being also significantly increased for all participants. 

Low-cost alternative

A sound healing session can be held on a one-on-one basis as well as group healing sessions that allow for the individual to enter a place of tranquillity with the aid of music, tuning forks and drums. A session may involve sitting or lying down while listening to music or sounds from a speaker or instruments, or having vibrations applied using a special tool, such as a tuning fork. One may be encouraged to participate by singing, moving, even using a musical instrument, or remain still and quiet to let the sounds take effect. 

Vibrations that are believed to be most powerful in sound healing are the one that originate from within ourselves. Various methods incorporate different aspects of sound healing, sometimes only for people to quietly listen and take in the sounds, to other methods wherein there is a therapist client interaction to help ease the client, once he/she is in a deep state.

Many spiritual abodes use sound healing to help people better their mental, emotional and physical state and many a times the healing can be very overwhelming and surreal. The results of sound healing have proven to be magnanimous, allowing people to experience a true feeling of oneness, become calmer as well as get rid of unwanted physical pains or allergies. 

How it works

Sound healing creates a shift in our brainwave state by using entrainment; a bio-musicological sense that refers to the synchronisation (e.g. foot tapping) of humans to an external perceived rhythm such as music and dance. Entrainment creates a stable frequency in the brain. This allows for the mind to go from the normal beta state (normal waking consciousness) to the alpha state (relaxed consciousness). Quite similar to meditation which regulates the breath, sound healing influences the shift in the brain through its frequency.

Gaining ground

Although widely used all over the world, it is still a developing practice in India, specifically in urban areas. The use of Tibetan bowls that generate various sounds that resonate with the human body has now become more prevalent in India. Tibetan bowl meditation may be a feasible low-cost, low technology intervention for reducing tension, anxiety and depression, and increasing mental well-being. A WHO report says 56 million Indians suffer from depression while 38 million have anxiety disorders. For a country with such high rates of anxiety and depression, sound healing therapy is good low-cost alternative.

— The writer is Director, Poddar Wellness Ltd, Mumbai

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