The Benefits of Sound Therapy
Sound Therapy: Is This What Has Been Missing from Your Self-Care Routine?
Last Sunday we were able to host our first in-person event since March and it was SO nice to be able to hang with our lovely members face to face. We gathered in the park, enjoyed a qi gong lesson, and finished with a sound bath by yours truly. It was the first time I had played the bowls in an outdoor venue and it was incredible how much more relaxing it was.
So that made me think, “okay, I already know the benefits of grounding on the nervous system, so what does science say about the benefits of sound therapy?!”
Of course, in my certification course on sound therapy, I learned quite a bit on the topic, but I wanted to look into the research for myself. Read on to learn what I found out!
The Science of Sound Waves
Sound waves are used for a myriad of purposes: from detection of objects in ultrasound technology, echolocation, and sonar, to even creating electricity! But when you think of sound waves, the first thing that probably pops into your minds is music.
We know music can be used to alter our emotional state. Watch a dramatic movie clip with the soundtrack removed, and you’ll understand how impactful music really is on us. Music has been shown to increase stamina and improve athletic performance during workouts. Research has also shown the benefits of listening to soothing music to promote relaxation and minimize stress.
If you’ve ever been to a crystal sound bath, you’ve felt the total-body relaxation effect of music for yourself. But sound baths are so much more than soothing music—the frequencies of the bowls actually alter your brain waves, bringing your brain from a typical waking-state level of consciousness (beta), to a state of relaxed consciousness (theta), all the way down to the delta state, where internal healing is able to occur!
What Science Says about Sound Bowls
Vibrational frequency is measured in Hertz (Hz) and everything in the universe vibrates at a specific frequency. This includes us! In the brain specifically, neurons fire at different frequencies based on information they receive from internal and external environments.
As a rule, relatively stronger vibrations affect weaker ones. This is how sound waves can impact our brain waves and the vibrations in other systems in our bodies. If subjected to strong vibrational frequencies for an adequate amount of time, weaker frequencies in the body will begin to vibrate higher to match up with the stronger vibrations.
So how do crystal bowls and sound baths specifically affect our health? It all comes down to the vagus nerve. The vagus nerve is the main parasympathetic nerve in the body, and during a sound bath it is stimulated by its connection to the tympanic membrane in the ear, which vibrates in response to sound waves. Why is this important? The vagus nerve plays a major role in hormone balance, blood pressure, heart rate, blood glucose levels, inflammation, and digestion in the body.
There are many ways to stimulate the vagus nerve, the frequencies from crystal sound bowls being one of them! This takes us to the benefits of sound therapy.
Benefits of Sound Therapy
In a nutshell, healing can only happen in the body when you’re in a parasympathetic (“rest and digest” or “stay and play”) state. This is how crystal sound bowls work their magic.
Sound baths can shift brain waves, reducing fatigue and improving energy during the day, while deepening sleep at night (double-win!) They have been shown to improve mood and reduce tension and anxiety. They can also reduce cortisol levels which in turn may improve hormone balance. Even your immune system benefits from an extended amount of time spent in the parasympathetic state!
Anecdotal evidence also praises sound baths for pain management, reduction of depression and anxiety symptoms, and improving focus. Not to mention, the emotional benefits of taking time to become still and focus your attention on what’s going on inside of you.
In truth, there is still a lot of research to be done on the benefits of sound baths. But the amazing thing with this form of sound therapy is that it is non-invasive and not harmful. So, whether you’re just looking for something to help you reduce stress or provide a bit of relief from an acute or chronic illness, you might want to try out a sound bath! There are so many alternative healing modalities from energy work and acupuncture, to sensory-deprivation tanks, why not add this one to the list? You may find it’s exactly what’s been missing from your self-care repertoire.
I want to know—based on the information above, do you feel you received the benefits simply listening to a recording? I’d love to hear about what you think! And if you loved this meditation and would like more like it, let me know in the comments below!