The Science behind Sound Healing

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A question that students often ask is if sound healing is based on sound science or it is just a bunch of noise. Sound has been observed impacting the physical, mental, emotional as well as the spiritual state of a person. It has further been stated that certain sound frequencies that can be considered as healing have the ability to influence our brainwaves. Psychological abnormalities are increasing today such as depression, anxiety, attention deficit disorder…and the amount of medicines prescribed to relieve the symptoms have been criticized. For this reason, people are moving towards alternative ways of healing such as yoga, meditation, breath work, pranayama and sound healing.

You probably have been familiar with the effect of music and you might agree with me that even in the most tense situations great music has made you feel relaxed. But how is this possible?  Many students in our yoga teacher trainings are interested in determining the science behind binaural beats and sound healing in general. Deeply rooted ancient cultures and civilizations, when researched, have been observed considering sound like a tool that can be used for promoting the physical as well as emotional health. The ancient Egyptians believed vowels as sacred and for this reason, have used vowel sound chants in healing. Tibetans, on the other hand, have considered the singing bowls as a sacred symbol for rituals.

Auditory beats in the brain have been extensively studied by many researchers and it has been revealed that our different states of consciousness have a direct relationship with the chemical, electrical and as well as the architectural environment of our brain (Patel and Iversen, 2014). This architecture of our brain structure, as well as its connectivity, is altered by our thought processes and our daily habits together with the neurochemical and electrical oscillations of our mind. Understanding the fundamentals of sound in healing requires developing an understanding of the brainwaves. Generating from electrical pulses, these brainwaves have been divided into five different bandwidths with the slowest wave occurring during the state of sleep and then faster waves in the state of daydreaming.

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Our brain has the ability to absorb new information quickly, control our mood and our sleep patterns together with the healing responses. There are certain specific frequencies of sound that can be used for the generation of neurotransmitters. The different patterns of brainwaves are linked with the production of neurochemicals that are associated with stress release and relaxation. With concerns regarding the benefits, it is often recommended to listen to a binaural beat for generating alpha waves between 8 and 14 hertz because this is scientifically proven to produce more serotonin, the “feel good” chemical release of the body. On the other hand, music has also been observed in producing a relaxed alpha state relieving a person from emotional suffering and stress. Listening to music is shown to create peak emotions, which increases the amount of dopamine, a neurotransmitter that is produced in the brain and helps control the brain’s reward and pleasure centers. Interestingly, research also shows that playing or creating music can lower blood pressure, decrease heart rate, reduce stress, and lessen anxiety and depression.

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Sound healing is trending up the same way as yoga considering it a viable medium mainly to address stress which is so prevalent in today’s society. I am always amazed yet saddened to learn the main reason students come to our yoga school is to heal themselves of something such as anxiety or high blood pressure or some other health issue. Yoga is also a meditation system that is associated with cleansing and expanding consciousness and increasing energy. While binaural beats have now been significantly used during yoga sessions synchronizing the hemispheres of the brain through specific frequencies. The spiritual journey of yoga through these binaural beats is now significantly used to change the vibrations within our brain shifting us towards a more positive state of mind. In our yoga school, Bend it like Buddha we the yoga instructors and teachers have heavily brought their experience in yoga, therapy and neuroscience to their teachings and healing processes into their sessions which often involve binaural beats sound healing. Yoga instructors, today, have specialized in working with the subconscious mind in connection with the body and the emotions. In this way, sound has been observed playing a great role in guiding especially the one suffering from psychological distress towards a transformational as well as sustainable wellness of body, mind and soul. Binaural beats with guided meditation has become a great team for listening to the binaural beats music as a lot of binaural beats music has been designed to entrain the brain in a similar way as that of meditation.

Now recall your yoga experience, have you ever felt your  muscles relaxed with a particular sound vibration. The sound of your yoga instructor playing the Tibetan singing bowl during Shavasana perhaps? I love doing this for our students. This is just a tiny one example how sound medicine can heal the body along with practicing yoga or meditation.

Blog post by

L. Farrah Furtado ( E-RYT 500) 

Ashtanga, Meditation, Pranayama and Vinyasa instructor

Usui Reiki 3rd degree master

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Reference

Patel, A.D. and Iversen, J.R., 2014. The evolutionary neuroscience of musical beat perception: The Action Simulation for Auditory Prediction (ASAP) hypothesis. Frontiers in systems neuroscience, 8, p.57.

 

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