In recent years, there has been a much-needed shift on focus on the importance of our mental health. We have turned to recognizing its importance as been equal to our physical health and from this has spurred a multitude of therapy types to better help our mental health, of course we turn to talking therapy, CBT, hypnosis and so on when we feel ourselves dipping, but there are other types that are equally beneficial.
Sound is one of them, aural stimulation can be very beneficial to us, just think of how you feel when you hear your favorite song. Sound therapy has been around longer than you think, but it is only now becoming more widespread. So, could this be an option for you?
- 1 Introduction
- 2 What Is Sound Therapy?
- 3 Sound Therapy Vs Music Therapy: What’s The Difference
- 4 The Benefits Of Sound Therapy
- 5 The Different Types Of Sound Therapy
- 6 What Does Sound Therapy Treat?
- 7 How Does Sound Therapy Work?
- 8 Types Of Healing Sounds
- 9 The Type Of Healing Instruments Used
- 10 Getting Started With Sound Therapy
- 11 How To Set up Your Own Sound Therapy At Home
- 12 Summary
What Is Sound Therapy?
Sound therapy uses sound, music, and specific specialist instruments played in therapeutic sessions, combined with deep self-reflection techniques to better improve our health and wellbeing. We all know that there are deep ties between our mental and physical health, so not only can this make you feel mentally better, but it could also ease those aches and pains as well.
Improves physical and emotional health
Sound therapy can help you to clear any energetic blockages and ensure healing on both physical and mental levels, some of the benefits of this can include the reduction of stress levels, and fewer mood swings.
As we know, stress can cause physical ailments, so sound therapy reducing stress levels can help alleviate ails as well.
What does it involve?
Sound therapy is as simple as listening to music, of course there is music therapy too, but more on that later.
Listening to music and singing along to music
Sound therapy deconstructs music into pure sound, using the knowledge that sound can have a very powerful effect on how we feel and our emotions. Sound therapists believe that we are all made up of different energy frequencies to interact with these, therefore attempting to rebalance the bodies’ energy.
Sessions are typically performed with a trained specialist, you may sit or lay down while listening to the sounds from a speaker or instruments, or having vibrations applied using a tool such as a tuning fork or Tibetan singing bowl. The harmonizing effect produced by these sounds can create a soothing effect throughout the whole body. When these sounds and vibrations are created it will impact the body and its meridians helping to promote a deeper relaxation, release trauma, stress and anxiety thus releasing physical and emotional pains.
Sound Therapy Vs Music Therapy: What’s The Difference
Sound therapy and music therapy are both similar in many ways, using aural cues to help heal the mind and body, however, although they are similar they have a few small but distinct differences too.
The intent of sound healing is to facilitate and direct specific sounds and their resulting vibrations to impact your wellbeing.
Music Therapy – A new discipline
Music therapy is a therapeutic approach to music that utilizes the naturally mood-lifting properties of music to help people improve their mental and physical heal. This type of therapy can include an array of things, such as;
- Making music.
- Writing songs.
- Listening to music.
- Discussing music.
This can be very helpful for people who have depression and anxiety, and it can help to improve the overall quality of life for those who suffer with physical health problems. It is not restrictive to certain people, either, and you do not need a background in music to reap the benefits of it.
Sound Therapy – Addresses symptoms, such as stress
Sound therapy is not all that different to music therapy, however, it is more targeted. It uses sound vibrations to relax your mind and body, thus addressing symptoms, and targeting things such as stress — which can make you both mentally and physically tense.
Sound can shift frequencies inside us from low energies such as guilt and fear, to higher and more positive energies such as love and joy.
This uses sacred instruments or voice to release energetic blockages inducing a state of ease and harmony inside the body, and while there are many types of sound therapy available to us, all of them produce vibrations that can alter your brainwaves to exert positivity in the place of negativity.
The Benefits Of Sound Therapy
Before you engage in any type of therapy, it is normal to want to know what benefits you may reap from it. There are many benefits you can reap from sound therapy, and not only in terms of your mental health and psychology. There are many physical benefits you may also reap from this therapy.
Lower heart rate and blood pressure
As your doctor may tell you, stress can increase our blood pressure and make our heart rate increase. These issues are part of what makes stress a killer, as a high heart rate and a high blood pressure can cause problems in our physical make up that can lead to severe complications and even heart attacks.
While we usually attribute these complications to diet, and lifestyle, stress is one of the biggest causes, and ridding ourselves of pent-up stress through sound therapy can regulate our heart rate and blood pressure, preventing any health problems like such.
Relaxes muscle tension
We do not always realize it, but stress will often have us tense up our muscles. The reason for this is in our most basic biology. Stress induces the body’s fight response, and muscles will tense up to guard against injuries and pain, even if the source of stress is mental.
When stress suddenly occurs, your muscles will tense up all at once, and then they will release their tension when the stress passes. This is what will happen when you do sound therapy. If you have long term stress, you will find that your muscles tense up a lot and due to the length of time, you will likely also get knots in your muscles. As you do sound therapy you will find that the tension in your muscles decreases, and with this, some of the knots in your muscles may also release or be easier to get out.
This ties into pain management. Many of our pains are also tied into stress, and muscle tension. Just as our muscles tense up when we are stressed, our bodies will react in other ways, by which we can end up experiencing other pains too. Stress will make our bodies release hormones, such as adrenaline, which is associated with fight or flight response. It will heighten our blood pressure, blood supply, and cause muscles to spasm. This can in turn create pain, especially over long periods of time.
Long period of stress can therefore cause more long term pains, such as muscular or joint pain, headaches, and so on, as your muscles may not be getting the chance to relax properly. Stress can be caused by anything, anxiety, depression, trauma, arguments, financial problems, relationship problems, and so on. Combating the stress through sound therapy can stop it from creating physical problems for you as well.
The Different Types Of Sound Therapy
There are plenty of different types of sound therapy that can be used. Each has its own benefits different from the others, although not every type is supported by sufficient research. It is best to simply choose the type that you feel will be most beneficial to you, and that resonates with you the most. There is also no harm in trying out a few different types to see which you prefer the most.
Of course, guided meditation is at the top of this list. Meditation is, already, considered to be a useful way to get rid of stress and relax our minds and bodies. However, sound therapy guided meditation is brilliant. It is a form of sound healing in which you meditate to voice instruction, in session, class, or using a video or app. It can involve chanting or repeating mantras or prayers. It can be customized to be best for you.
Meditation offers a vast number of health benefits, that sound therapy simply adds to, including; reduction in stress, decreased anxiety and depression, improved memory, a reduction in blood pressure, a reduction in aches and pains, lowering of cholesterol, and a decreased risk of heart disease and stroke (which can be onset by stress).
Neurologic music therapy
Music therapy is known to reduce stress and promote relaxation, it has also been shown in studies to be more effective than prescription drugs in reducing stress levels before a surgery. A study conducted and published in 2017 showed that 30-minute music therapy as well as traditional care after a spinal surgery reduced pains.
This type of therapy is conducted by a credentialed provider who will assess the individual needs of a person. It will include creating, listening, singing, or moving to music. It is used primarily for rehabilitation, pain management, and brain injury recovery.
This is also known as binaural beats. This is a method that stimulates the brain into a specific state using a pulsing sound to encourage your brain waves to align to the frequency of the beat. It is supposed to help induce enhanced focus, an entranced state, relaxation, and better sleep.
There is some more research required into how this works, but there is some evidence that this can reduce anxiety, pain and even symptoms of PMS in women, and behavioral problems in children as well.
Although not fully backed up by research, it is certainly worth trying out.
What Does Sound Therapy Treat?
Sound therapy is known to treat and ease the burden of many things, including but not restricted to anxiety disorders, depression, PTSD/ c-PTSD, dementia, autistic spectrum disorder and learning difficulties, behavioral and psychiatric disorders, cancer, fertility issues, chronic pain, stress-related illnesses, IBS, tinnitus, arthritis, and so on.
Let’s take a look at what and how it treats some of these.
Quiet but powerful sound can help release stress and anxiety and assist in creating an emotional balance, if even just for a while. It does more than just calm you down, having been found to work on normalizing many of the automatic functions inside our nervous system, working directing the ear to brain connection within us.
Our ears are linked to our nervous system and affect the functioning of our vagus nerve. Brain activity can be enhanced or depleted by sound, depending on the quality of the sound. Sound can be as good as a cup of coffee, or as relaxing as a Swedish massage. Sound therapy can therefore help to calm the brain, and restore normality to our nervous system, thus helping to ease the effects of anxiety.
One of the best types of sound therapy for fighting depression is the aforementioned ‘Binaural Beats’. You can listen to binaural beats with alpha, delta, or theta music, and it can offer many benefits. It can help you get into a deeply relaxed state, improve your mood, improve your motivation, assist in getting you into a better sleep cycle, help you to improve your focus, and reduce your anxiety.
It is best to listen to these through a headset, as binaural frequencies occur when two sounds of different frequencies are released, one in each ear at the same time. The brain adjusts to the sensory difference. When this was released by researchers, it was found that patients experiencing this would report alertness, restfulness, relaxation, and other types of emotional and cognitive responses.
Depression can feel exhausting, and like a trail on your brain, binaural beats can be like a healing ointment on your brain that helps you to relieve some of this exhausting depression.
Dementia is a cruel disease with no cure. There are many types of dementia, vascular, fronto temporal, Lewy body, and Alzheimer’s disease. While there is no cure, dementia progression can be delayed and there are also ways in which the symptoms can be eased.
Dementia sufferers live in a lot of pain, confusion, memory loss, and other symptoms can be very emotionally painful, and cause stress.
Sound therapy is extensively used by older people to help with issues such as dementia. It can offer solace and comfort, as well as inner calm, better sleep, and often more focus, awareness, and cognitive balance. It can activate parts of the brain relative to normal speech.
With dementia, it is important that sound therapy is introduced early on before any severe symptoms come to light. It can provide a sense of relief, and balance, much needed in people who suffer with such a terrible ailment.
Eases Insomnia – Promoting Deeper Sleep
Some people will suffer from insomnia as a result of anxieties or stresses keeping us awake and making our hearts race but faster than they should, stopping our bodies from relaxing enough to drift off at night.
As we grow older, and life becomes more exceedingly chaotic, we learn how hard it really can be to fall asleep at night. It becomes so much more difficult to clear our minds and enter the realm of dreams.
Sound therapy can help with this, especially if stress or anxiety are causing your insomnia. Sound therapy can reduce your stress, and it can reduce your BPM to something more reasonable, thus allowing your body to relax, heart to calm, and helping your mind calm, enough for you to turn your brain off and get to sleep.
It also helps allow more energy to replenish the way your body works in order to function, and then sleep.
Helps relieve tinnitus
People who suffer from tinnitus will often notice that it is more noticeable and annoying in a quiet environment, usually at night, and listening to sounds can make it less annoying. The deliberate use of any sound to reduce tinnitus awareness can be classed as sound enrichment.
Thus, tinnitus can be eased through sound therapy, stopping it from being as intrusive, and also helping you to relax enough at night. Tinnitus may make getting to sleep hard, and sound therapy can ease this. Binaural beats for example could be a great example of this.
Improves focus and concentration for learning and studying
It’s no secret that background music can assist in studying and concentration. It stops our minds from wondering, however, not all music will work. White noise/ sound therapy can be very beneficial for masking out annoying and intrusive sounds that could otherwise deplete your ability to concentrate.
Similarly, stress and a low mood can impact your ability to concentrate and therefore the stress reducing qualities of sound therapy can improve this aspect of your life too, reducing concentration killing stresses to help you focus better on your studies or learning.
You can find online playlists on Spotify and YouTube for this exact purpose, it is actually a rather popular method. Or listen to our album that we developed with studying in mind.
How Does Sound Therapy Work?
Depending on the practitioner of sound therapy, and the goal that you seek from this type of therapy as well the session type will vary greatly.
Some sound therapy sessions will start with basic breathing exercises, which will help to slow the mind and shift your focus onto sound. You can also have sound bath sessions, or vibrational therapy, for these you will likely have to sit or lay down comfortably, with an eye mask or blanket, and you will have bowls placed on your body and around your head.
Depends on which method is used
How sound therapy works is totally dependent on which method is used for the therapy. Some experiences will be more active, they could include yoga, or even tai chi.
Sound therapists will usually adjust their treatments for you via feedback, verbally, and non-verbally. They will focus the sound on areas of the body that need help relaxing the most.
These therapy types can last anywhere from just 20 minutes to two hours, or even more. Depending on your individual needs.
Usually experienced with a one to one practitioner.
Sound therapy is usually experienced in a one-to-one session with a qualified professional practitioner. Although you can use apps at home yourself to achieve a similar goal, especially if you are using binaural beats, or meditation. However, for the best results it is best to seek out a practitioner.
A professional practitioner will be able to best assist you in targeting the areas of you that need help the most, and this is also why the sessions are one-to-one as focus needs to be directed at your needs.
This all depends on you, what you seek to gain from this experience, and also what kind of sound therapy you seek.
Types Of Healing Sounds
Different people will find different sounds most effective. There are many different types of sounds that can be used in sound therapy, drums, harps, Tibetan singing bowls and so on are all instruments often used in sound therapy. However, other sounds can be used as well.
Nature sounds are often found to be very relaxing to us. This is why whale music, bird singing and so on are so often used in massage parlors, and why we often associate natural scenery with relaxation. The hustle and bustle of modern life, busy cities, loud noises, people talking and bellowing car horns are aggressive noises, but the trickle of a waterfall, the sound of a gentle breeze, or a crackling fireplace are gentle, calming, and peaceful sounds for us.
Consider the sound of a waterfall, rain, a gentle stream, small crashing waves breaking on a golden sandbank. These are all sounds that can trigger relaxation. And to find them, you only need to look online or visit our sound catalog to find that perfect sound.
Think of the sound of leaves being rustled by a gentle wind, bird song, the scratching of small mammal feet in the brush, a breeze whooshing over the tips of a mountain. These sounds are relaxing and calming, taking us away from the business of cars, trains, meetings, and other stressful aspects of human life.
What is more calming than the sound of a warm log fire burning on a cold winter’s day, the cracking of the flames of the log, the low noise made as the logs slowly burn away. This sound is one that not only relaxes you, but can also warm you up simply by sound association.
White noise is a sound that has a flat spectral density. It has the frame amplitude or intensity throughout the audible frequency spectrum. As it includes all frequencies, it is something often used to mask other sounds. So, if you have trouble sleeping due to other noise, perhaps loud roommates or family members, if you live next to a bar or club, or if you live near a busy road, white noise can drown all that out.
The Type Of Healing Instruments Used
There are many instruments that can be used in sound therapy, including but not restricted to; gongs, tuning forks, singing bowls, and so on. There are some that are more favored than others, so let’s look at these.
Singing bowls are a favorite in sound therapy, they have been used in Tibetan culture since the 12th century.
They are available in multiple sizes, and each bowl produces a deep sound that is found to relax and heal the mind. As each bowl produces its own unique frequency and vibration that will work on different parts of the brain, it is not uncommon for different bowls to often be used together.
These bowls can also work on different parts of the body, they elicit a light dream state, and can therefore be placed on the body as well, in order to promote healing.
Throughout history, the harp has often been renowned for its soothing and calming sounds. The harp is well known as being a fantastic healing instrument, just listen to a gentle harp on YouTube and watch yourself grow ever more relaxed. There are sound therapy specialists that focus on the use of the harp to help you relax and realign yourself. The greatest achievement in harp sound therapy is the ability to provide a cradle of sound for each individual.
Getting Started With Sound Therapy
If the idea of sound therapy is appealing to you, you will want to know how you can get started as soon as possible. Of course, you could try it out using apps first, to see how it makes you feel and then transition to using a professional.
Apps will not work as well as professionally run sessions, however, they may give you an idea on whether this type of therapy is right for you, and if you enjoy it.
There are a few things you will want to consider and think about before you get started with sound therapy.
Music therapy usually lasts for 30 minutes
Music therapy will typically last for 30 minutes each time, however, it can last longer. So, do a trial session and then figure how long you want these sessions to last. Discuss it with your practitioner and find what timing will work best for you.
You can schedule music therapy weekly
You do not need to do music therapy every day, but weekly is a good balance, allowing you to release the stresses of the previous week each time, and walk out rejuvenated. You do not need to do it this way, however, it can be very beneficial to do so.
How To Set up Your Own Sound Therapy At Home
As we have previously said, you do not need to seek out a practitioner to reap benefits. There are plenty of apps, and you can find playlists, podcasts and so on, on YouTube and Spotify just for this.
Make Time For Your Sound Therapy
Always make time for your sound therapy sessions at home. Set aside however much time you want and ensure you will not be interrupted. Perhaps try to keep your home sessions at 30 minutes, so it is just enough time for you to fully relax and benefit from the sound therapy.
Choosing The Right Location
Ensure that wherever you position yourself for the sound therapy is comfortable, and private. You do not want to be interrupted, or it will hinder your results. Choose a calm and quiet place, comfortable and at the right temperature. Feel free to also add in some incense or candle to trigger your other senses to relax as well.
Choosing The Right Playlist
The right playlist is very important. You may have to search around for a while to find the one that resonates with you the most. Some people will benefit more from nature sounds than binaural beats, or perhaps white noise is better for you.
If it isn’t working for you, it doesn’t mean that sound therapy doesn’t work, it simply means that perhaps you need a different playlist, or to try out a different kind of sound therapy. Everyone is different, so you just need to find the one that works best for you.
Sound therapy is the use of sound to enhance our physical and mental health. It is a practice used to help alleviate ails and improve our mental state — thus improving our physical state too.
Stress is the cause of so many issues, it can dip our mood, make us angry, anxious, grumpy, and tired, and it can also cause physical health problems, some of which can be serious. Sound therapy helps to get rid of stress, and release its burden on our health.
There are many types of sound therapy, and many types of sounds that can be used in its practice. Finding the type and sound that is best for you is a journey, and at the end you will feel all the better for it.
Sound therapy can be used for anxiety, depression, insomnia, stress, tinnitus, dementia, lowering blood pressure and more.