We all know that listening to certain types of music can make you feel uplifted, energised, relaxed and even sad – and it’s all depending on the melody, beat and rhythm of the song, or perhaps the memories that it might bring up for you personally. But does it go beyond this? Is sound really a powerful way that does more than just help us to communicate with others and the world around us?
What is Sound?
At the very basic level, sound is energy and is created when particles of energy vibrate. These vibrations produce sound waves that then travel through solids, liquids and gases. When these reach our ears, the sound waves are transformed into nerve impulses that are conveyed to the brain – these are interpreted as sounds.
The types of sounds we hear depend on the strength and speed of the vibrations. It’s also worth noting that we, as humans, can only register sounds between a range of vibrations or within certain frequencies whereas, dogs, cats, dolphins and bats can also hear within most of the human range, and also at much higher frequencies that are undetectable to the human ear.
The History of Sound Healing
Sound has been used across cultures and throughout history to heal and promote physical health and emotional and mental wellbeing. In Ancient Greece, music and sounds were used to cure mental disorders. Native Americans incorporated sounds in their rituals and ceremonies by chanting and singing to help the sick. Australian aborigines used sound for their traditional healing rituals where the Didjeridoo was been used to heal broken bones, torn muscles, and all sorts of illnesses. And although some of these beliefs and rituals are still practiced in varying forms today, much of the modern world has lost this fundamental concept of being in touch with energy – the source of life itself.
How Does It Work?
When you think that everything that exists is made of energy, all in constant motion and vibrating at their own patterns and frequencies, it’s not hard to believe that these interactions will cause a change within our bodies, being made of energy as well. So it’s not just hearing a happy tune that can bring a smile to our faces, there’s also much more going on that’s not as obvious. Firstly, water is the perfect conductor of sound waves, and our bodies are made up of around 60% water. This means that our bodies are perfect conductors of sound waves. So when the body is out-of-balance, certain sounds or vibrations, can promote wellness physically, emotionally and even mentally.
Sound and vibrations are measured in units of hertz (Hz), and human beings can hear between the ranges of approximately 20 Hz to 20,000 Hz. Although, this doesn’t mean that frequencies beyond this range don’t affect us even if we can’t hear it. And when you have two vibrating entities next to one another, the effect is that the stronger vibration will affect the weaker one and eventually the two will synchronise.
So when you think about your body and how we are made of energy – or atoms and molecules – there is a natural balance that allows our bodies to function harmoniously and in balance. When there is a condition that arises, such as stress, this means that something is out of balance. When this imbalance is prolonged, then it starts to affect other areas of our health, both physically and emotionally.
Sound therapy is similar to other modalities where the body’s natural balance is restored – in this case through sound waves and frequencies. In other modalities such as crystal healing as an example, the frequencies emitted from the natural crystals will also influence the vibrations within the body, allowing the weaker vibrations (the body) to be influenced by the stronger vibrations.
Can Sound Therapy be Dangerous?
With everything you do, it’s important to look at your own individual circumstances and if in doubt, always consult a medical professional. But in general, sound therapy is not dangerous; however, there are inherent risks when doing anything that isn’t followed according to its intended use.
For example, although there is no evidence that sounds such as Binaural Beats are harmful in any way, there is the inherent risk of Noise-Induced Hearing Loss (NIHL). So if you listen to these sounds at high volumes and for prolonged periods of time, then common sense would tell you that this could damage your hearing if done to an extreme. There are also cases where some Binaural Beats will have a sudden outburst of sound – this too, should be monitored with common sense and done with caution.
Emotions can also be stirred up with some practices, as not all vibrations are equal and some much more powerful than others. Where some people may experience joy and bliss during a sound bath, some may find themselves crying uncontrollably. This normally is considered an emotional release where stagnant energy may have been blocked up within the body and is being released by the sound vibrations. But again, be sure you are comfortable with your practice and being led by a qualified and reputable practitioner. And if you feel continued resistance or discomfort, then perhaps it’s best to stop and try something else that provides a better outcome for you.
Although science is still catching up with how the body works and how sound can heal, there have been countless articles, research papers and medical publications that show strong evidence on physical, emotional and mental benefits to sound healing. Some benefits include: relaxation, pain relief, increased blood circulation, lower blood pressure, reduced anxiety, improved sleep, just to name a few!
But regardless of whether you believe in specific sound healing methods, it’s undeniable that at the very least, a happy tune will likely result in a lifted spirit. So next time you’re feeling down, why not turn on the radio? In time, you may just find yourself humming along, tapping your feet to the beat or even singing along to the music.
Click here to read the article, “5 Ways Sounds Can Help You Heal”.