Music even to non-musicians is soul food. At some point or the other, the sounds of birds chirping, the gush of the waves brushing up ashore, or raindrops on window panes, have helped us feel calmer, more relaxed, and even centred. There might have also been instances where a tune, an old song, or even the sound of an instrument brings about a change in either one's conscious or unconscious emotions.
Music and sounds have acted as catalysts that result in evident changes both psychological as well as biological from the beginning of time. However, over the past few decades, the idea of sound spas and sound healing has caught steam.
And though it’s been around now for a while, I bet quite a few will probably squirm – “It’s all just mumbo jumbo! A fad that, like any other trend, will pass.” But is it though? Or can certain compositions, and arrangements in particular frequencies do wonders to heal us from within?
The Science of Sound Healing:
First things first – is this backed by science? Can sound penetrate our bodies and minds in ways beyond that which meet the eye?
Well, it’s common knowledge that sound travels faster (about 4x) through water in comparison to air. And since our bodies are about 70 percent water, imagine the rate at which it can move through us? Ultrasounds work under this very principle. The high-frequency sound waves being emitted from the machine help detect “disease and deformities” because it essentially maps the differences in the acoustic properties of tissues since sound passes through muscles, blood vessels, and fatty tissues at different speeds cause of the difference in their density.
Most people know Pythagoras as a mathematician, what most are unaware of, is that he is also credited as the Father of Music. It is he who discovered how harmonic intervals and the piecing together of certain sounds can create sensations which, in his words, ‘create soul adjustments’.
The History of Healing Sounds and Frequencies:
Peeping through the corridors of history, the practice of treating ailments via sound has been slowly developed over the years. Though we are only now beginning to truly understand the mechanisms that result in real change for our mental and physical wellbeing, it is something our ancestors knew and understood well. And while they might not have had the tools to demonstrate how back then, it certainly does work!
Earliest recorded use of music as a healing mechanism or tool came from the Australian Aborigines, who allegedly used the didgeridoo as a healing tool for more than 40,000 years.
Yogic and Chinese traditions also use certain spoken sounds as part of their chants, mantras, and meditations on different body parts.
The Greeks were known to use music to heal, Pythagoras’ discovery was further studied, and American doctors in 1896 found that music could improve blood form and thought processes. And since, music therapy was used in the 1940s to rehabilitate soldiers returning from WWII.
Soon after, in the 1950s, British Osteopath Sir Peter Guy Manners developed sound wave therapy by creating the first machine designed to produce sound vibrations for healing. This machine, if placed over the region of the body that requires healing and set to match the vibrational frequency of the healthy cells of that area, was believed to return the body part in question to a healthy state. And since, there has been no looking back!
So now that I have hopefully convinced you of its scientific merit – let me take you through a few DIY Steps (that work for me) To Get Started At Home, shall we?
Viewing music via the lens of mathematics birthed the belief that certain frequencies had healing or restorative properties. They’re known as the ‘Solfeggio Frequencies’ that demand we deep dive into its origins and more in another piece, else we wouldn't be doing it justice. And though it takes years of practice to train one's ears to distinguish between the frequencies, their healing properties, nevertheless, can be felt almost instantly!
Here’s an approximate 90 min Spotify playlist I put together, for you to give a go, in case you haven’t already!
Another well-known technique is the use of Binaural Beats, wherein, to put it simply, two tones at slightly different frequencies are played in each ear, and the magic is such that the brain ends up processing a beat at the difference of both the frequencies.
Here’s another playlist, I put together for you to check out!
And lastly, one that I swear by, is Chanting. Hailing from India, a land so diverse and rich in culture and traditions, we are not alien to mantras and chants. From the vibrational benefits of the healing sound of OM - 432 Hz (no, this is beyond the religious connotations one has associated with the word), the same vibrational frequency is found throughout everything in nature.
Here’s a guided meditation by Dr. Wayne Dyer that might interest you!
When meditating, pay attention to yourself. The naval, centre of the chest, the crown of the head as well as the mid-point between the eyebrows are a few spots where I can physically feel the vibration in my body, more so than anyplace else. I’ve also noticed that my palms feel different – hotter, and tingly, sometimes maybe cold or even ticklish, it varies.
So what I most often do is I place my left palm on my navel and right in the centre of my chest or the crown of my head, depending on how my body is reacting then. But this is what works for me, and it needn't for you. You will find tonnes of guides online and otherwise with different ways to hone your practice, but whatever you choose just ensure you listen to your body (and intuition) over all else.
Healing is an extremely personal and subjective journey. While something might work for me, it might not for you and vice versa. Just like two travellers embarking on an adventure together, though on the same route and enduring the same obstacles, often end up having contradictory experiences based on their mental make-up, their personality, thought processes, past lived experiences, and everything in between; similarly, no two people heal alike.
One of the most important aspects of my continuous unlearning over the years is - Take what resonates and leave out the rest. For everybody is on their own trajectory of growth, and much like a seed taking its time to sprout, few things one just cannot force.’
Though I have personally experienced its benefits and wrote this piece precisely because I would love it if you all could experience it too, needless to say, I am no expert in this field.
If you want to know more about sound therapy, you could check outAmerican Music Therapy Association, Himalayan Academy of Sound Therapy and if you’re based in the UK, try The British Academy of Sound Therapy or Nordoff Robbins Music Therapy Centre.
Happy Healing! x