Alternative, often ancient, practices are gaining in popularity, especially amongst young people
Welldoing.org therapist Karen Bresloff, who is also a sound healer, explains how sound therapy works
Sound healing, alternatively known as Sound Therapy or Vibrational Medicine, is the practice of using sound and frequency for relaxation, healing and personal development. It’s currently enjoying a large following and much curiosity. Articles in national newspapers, magazines, and events across social media have raised the profile of gongs, Himalayan and crystal singing bowls and tuning forks as sound healing instruments, with enthusiasts signing up in increasing numbers to lay down with a comfy blanket and cushion and enjoy an hour of relaxation.
And relax you it can. With the capacity to slow down your respiratory rate, relax your brainwaves patterns, lower your heart rate variability and calm your nervous system, sound healing is at the cutting edge of healing along with meditation and yoga. It’s non-invasive and can be inexpensive and social.
Sound healing can reduce your stress and anxiety, improve your sleep, create a deep sense of wellbeing, and promote healing that goes well beyond simple relaxation. Participants with conditions such as Parkinson’s are benefitting, as are the elderly, and those with PTSD and other mental health difficulties.
How does sound healing work?
According to the law of physics everything in the universe vibrates with frequency. Human beings have their own frequencies too, also known as resonances. Sound healing is based on the belief that disregulation or disease in the body is a result of our natural resonance being out of tune or off balance, whether due to stress, illness or environmental factors, and that working with frequencies can bring your body back into healthy vibration.
Lets use the example of sound healing using gongs. When we work with gongs they produce a wide range of frequencies, which you not only hear but also experience at a physiological level. Human bodies are 70 per cent liquid and great conductors of sound, so when you have a sound healing session the frequencies have the potential to correct imbalances of dense stuck energy deep down at a cellular level.
Gongs are a tool for relaxation and raising consciousness. Your brain and the rest of your body are totally interconnected so when your brainwaves are out of balance you will experience corresponding emotional and physical health issues. Over or under arousal of the brain is linked with problems like anxiety disorders, sleep difficulties, hyper-vigilance, anger, depression, and migraines to name just a few.
The gongs can lower your rate of brainwaves, from Beta waves which dominate your waking state and take up a lot of your energy, into Alpha waves; a nice resting state, to Theta waves, where you go deeper into relaxation and meditation, and might access and process subconscious memories or worries, to the low frequency of Delta waves, where profound healing can occur.
Where does sound healing come from?
Sound healing isn’t new. Eastern spiritual traditions used instruments like gongs for ceremony and healing over three thousand years ago. And more recently ultrasound, an accepted and frequently medical intervention, is a form of sound healing using focused and fast vibrations.
But in the 21st century who is a sound healer? Anyone can buy and play a gong. There’s no regulation and no governing bodies. However there are many responsible sound healing practitioners with good intentions; experienced musicians or those with prior training in another healing or medical modality, who all share a belief in the healing power of sound healing and a desire to set some standards for the safety of the public. Training organisations like the College of Sound Healing (COSH) offer substantial training courses, certifications, CPD requirements, and ongoing support for sound healers.
With training comes responsibility. At a festival or other large public group gong bath you are unlikely to be asked about your physical or mental history, but contra-indications do exist, for example its unadvisable to have a gong bath in the early stages of pregnancy, or soon after an operation. Always consult with the practitioner involved if you have concerns.
So here’s what do you need to know:
- Whether participating in a group sound healing session or having an individual treatment, ask the sound healer something about their experience and training.
- Know that while you are most likely to have a very relaxing time, as with any healing experience there is a potential you might have a more powerful response, and that this is ultimately positive for bringing things to the surface, emotionally or physically, so that you can process and feel better.
- After a session drink lots of water, and rest.
- And finally, enjoy! Sound healing is the most amazing experience either as a stand-alone treatment or combined with other therapeutic work.