In recent years, sound healing or sound bath experiences have become increasingly popular. But how does it actually work to soothe the body and the mind?
Using sound to achieve a deep state of relaxation, or “spiritual” connection with the world around us, is an ancient tradition that dates back more than 40,000 years. Tribes in Australia, Central America and Tibet would use drums, flutes and chanting to guide those that had been experiencing mental difficulties to a safe and relaxing space, to aid with their recovery.
On a scientific level, research shows that when we are able to stimulate the Vagus nerve correctly through vibrational sounds, the body falls into a deep state of relaxation. This helps awaken the natural healing abilities of the body and mind. So as the Sound Healing experience uses vibrations, created when the practitioner plays the Tibetan bowls or Gong, they engage the tympanic membrane – aka the eardrum – and stimulate the Vagus nerve. The brain begins to “match” the frequencies released from the instruments – a process called entrainment – and our normal waking consciousness becomes noticeably relaxed, helping to restore and balance the body and mind.
In 2008, the journal Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine published a review of 20 studies looking at brainwave entrainment and patient outcomes. The conclusion was that brainwave entrainment is an effective tool to use on cognitive functioning deficits, stress, pain, headaches and premenstrual syndrome.
Neli Merris, co-founder of Seven Wellness Center (Yoga Studio and Vegan Café) on Reem Island, has been helping people in the UAE release stress, anxiety and fear from the mind and body through sound based energy healing for two years.
“After our sessions my clients say they are feeling a deeper sense of relaxation and peace, that they feel clear-minded and deeply connected to themselves and the world around them,” she says.
“Stress is one of the major underlying causes of all chronic illness and mental health imbalances. When we slip into the parasympathetic state of the nervous system, our energy is drawn to the extremities in anticipation of the basic instinct response of fight, flight or freeze.
“Our immune system is instantly compromised, as all resources are focused on our basic survival. This is why taking time for yourself, to relax the mind and heal the body is so important.”
In 2004 she was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s, an autoimmune disorder that can cause hypothyroidism, or underactive thyroid. The doctors and specialists she saw informed her that this was a life-long condition and that it was irreversible.
“I was already practicing reiki at this point, not too often, but I knew about the energies of the body and decided to start practicing more frequently. I made changes in my diet such as cutting out dairy and gluten and I did experience some changes to my health that helped improve my condition,” says Gonzalez.
“I noticed however, that whilst my health was improving, I was still experiencing panic attacks and anxiety and I had this inability to express myself authentically. This is when I discovered sound healing and immediately, I recognized the power of this modality.
“I had been suffering with insomnia and with the help of sound healing I could actually sleep through the night. It allowed me to relax down into my body and communicate with my subconscious mind. It was here that I could tune into my intuition and I learned to listen to what my body needed me to do,” she says.
Since this experience, Gonzalez has become a sound healer herself and helps clients have similar experiences.
“It is a powerful tool for self-mastery, that helps you actually feel the vibrations taking place within the body and heal yourself, build self-confidence and connect with your reality on a deeper level.”
Both Merris and Gonzalez stress that since sound healing and sound therapy can take many different forms, it’s important to find a version and a practitioner with whom you resonate.
As Merris says, “You have to feel safe with who you are with and trust the experience in order to gain the full benefits.”
- This article was provided by Seven Wellness center, which offers private sound healing sessions and sound therapy.