BY SUSAN B. B. SCHABACKER
A harmonious stream of piano arpeggios and Tibetan singing bowls fills the room and I feel calmer and more focused. Used since ancient times, music as a healing force is becoming more popular since, unlike medications, which can have undesirable side effects, music offers multiple health benefits with no risk.
While ancient cultures traditionally used music to ward off evil spirits, today’s healing music improves well-being, focus, and even productivity in the workplace.
Current research on the healing effects of sound and music therapy suggests that music can improve a variety of illnesses and conditions, including PTSD, autism, learning disabilities, behavioral and psychiatric disorders, dementia, and depression.
Healing sound waves can benefit us at any age and are believed to be beneficial as early as in utero when pre-natal music therapy benefits both mothers and babies. Sounds and songs can influence a developing baby’s intelligence, and a fetus may respond to what she/he hears, including melody, rhythm, and vibration, as well as the mother’s unique voice.
We are biologically built to respond to sound stimuli, instinctively bobbing our heads, clapping or snapping, or tapping our feet to rhythms we hear and feel. In the same vein, our bodies, minds, and spirits respond to sounds that encourage health and healing.
You can reward yourself with music – ear candy – just like you might treat yourself to some dark chocolate, a good cuppa tea, or other pleasurable stimuli. Potential health benefits of healing music include lowered stress and anxiety levels, immune system support, stabilized moods, lowered blood pressure and cholesterol levels, pain relief, improved sleep, and lowered risk for cardiovascular disease and stroke.
Sound healing includes a wide selection to choose from. There’s something for everyone, from minimalist ambient soundscapes with abstract melodies to more complex, multi-layered arrangements with lyrics. Instead of just listening to music, healing therapy also includes singing, playing instrument(s), moving to music, meditation, and energy healing (like reiki).
TYPES OF HEALING SOUNDS AND SONGS
- BINAURAL BEATS– With this non-invasive, self-help sound wave therapy, the right and left ears receive different frequency tones, yet the brain perceives these as a third, single tone. Different frequencies, like delta, theta, alpha, beta, and gamma, can promote varying states of alertness, concentration, relaxation, and creativity while awake or asleep. Specific sound patterns with a repetitive sequence of 3, 6, and 9 may balance energy, improve relationships, and help overcome fear.
- NATURE SOUND EFFECTS– Ocean waves, birds’ songs, and running water. Bring the great outdoors inside and soothe your senses with sounds of the natural world. If you can’t go to the mountains for a hike, bike around a trail, go for a nature walk, or get outdoors at all, listening to sounds or songs with nature elements can help.
- SINGING BOWLS– Since the 12th century, Tibetan singing bowls produce a deep, resonant sound that relaxes and heals. Bowls can be used solo or together, like an orchestra. They are believed to reduce anger, stress, depression, and fatigue.
- GONGS– Gongs have been used for healing since at least 4,000 B. C. They transform you into a relaxed and meditative state within just 60-90 seconds of resonance. When tuning forks are calibrated and held up to specific parts of the body to relieve tension, they can assist with pain management, provide emotional balance, and open blocked energy channels.
- NEW AGE– One of the more difficult genres of music to define is New Age, which is an umbrella style for a variety of classical, ambient, electronic, jazz, and pop music.
Whether it’s the melodic or rhythmic vocals that move you most, ambient soundscapes that linger in the background, nature sounds that make you feel like you’ve just taken a walk through a forest by a babbling brook, culturally rich and expressive songs from around the world, or something else, there’s something for your ears.
Ever gotten the chills or felt a tingle in your spine listening to a song? You can tap the power of healing music and embrace healthy, mindful music that unites your mind, body, and spirit while cultivating natural healing.