The Science-Backed Path to Emotional Well-being.
Sound healing is the new shit. No it’s not. While sound healing, also known as sound therapy or sound baths, gains popularity worldwide, its origins can be traced back to ancient traditions among Tibetan, Himalayan, and Australian Aborigines cultures.
In this article, we explore the enduring benefits people have discovered in sound healing over years and delve into how frequencies can be harnessed to improve mental health. We explain an ancient practice supported by modern scientific research.
Understanding Sound Healing Frequencies
Sound healing is a therapeutic practice that utilizes specific frequencies and vibrations to induce relaxation, reduce stress, and enhance mental clarity. This practice is built on the premise that our bodies and minds are composed of energy, and when this energy becomes imbalanced, it can manifest as physical or mental health issues. The foundational principle of sound healing is resonance, where specific frequencies resonate with the natural frequencies of our body, restoring equilibrium and harmony. You can try this, by taking two tuning forks with the same sound, and when you put them close to each other, one starts to vibrate just like that other one.
Scientific Evidence on Sound Healing for Mental Health
As the positive effects of sound healing have been experienced for centuries, it has become an interest of researchers to understand its effectiveness from a scientific standpoint. Several studies have explored the impact of sound healing frequencies on mental health, and the results have been encouraging:
Reduction in Cortisol Levels.
Cortisol is a stress hormone which plays a significant role in our response to stress and anxiety. Studies on music have shown that sound healing therapy can lead to a reduction in cortisol levels, contributing to decreased stress and anxiety levels.1
Brainwave Activities and Mental States.
Neurological studies have proven that sound healing therapy can significantly influence brainwave activity, which in turn affects changes in mental states such as relaxation and increased focus. When hearing certain frequencies, our brain’s electrical patterns can change, making us feel calmer and more emotionally balanced.2
What happens during a sound healing session?
During sound healing sessions, various instruments, such as singing bowls, gongs, tuning forks, or specific types of music, produce specific frequencies and vibrations. These sound frequencies can influence brainwave activity through a process called brainwave entrainment. Entrainment occurs when the brain synchronizes its electrical activity with the rhythmic stimuli of the sound, leading to shifts in brainwave frequencies and corresponding changes in mental states.
For example, sound healing practices that use slow, repetitive sounds in the theta range may encourage the brain to generate more theta waves, promoting relaxation and a meditative state. Conversely, using higher-frequency sounds in the beta range might help increase alertness and focus.
While some studies suggest that brainwave entrainment through sound healing may have positive effects on stress reduction, relaxation, and mood, the research in this area is still evolving, and more robust studies are needed to establish the clinical effectiveness of sound healing on brainwave frequencies and overall well-being.
What effect does each frequency have?
The sounds used in sound healing can influence the brain's electrical activity, which we call brainwave frequencies. Our brain has different wave patterns, like fast waves when we are awake and slower waves when we are relaxed or sleeping. When we listen to certain calming sounds in sound healing, our brain tries to match those sounds, and this can make us feel more peaceful and calm.
Beta Waves (13-30 Hz): These are fast waves and happen when we are awake and active, like when we are actively engaged in mental tasks, involved in problem-solving or concentrating.
Alpha Waves (8-12 Hz): Alpha waves are associated with relaxed states, calmness, and a wakeful yet restful mind. They are often observed when a person is in a relaxed and reflective state, like during meditation or daydreaming.
Theta Waves (4-8 Hz): Theta waves are associated with a dreamy, drowsy, or meditative state. They are often observed during light sleep and deep meditation.
Delta Waves (0.5-4 Hz): Delta waves are prominent during deep sleep and are critical for restorative processes, memory consolidation, and physical recovery.
What type of music works best to relax?
Have you ever heard of binaural beats? Binaural beats work by presenting slightly different frequencies to each ear, which then leads to the brain perceiving a third frequency, the binaural beat. As you continue listening, your brainwave patterns start synchronizing, meaning that different parts of the brain start working together at the same speed. This can happen when we listen to special sounds like binaural beats. If the sound are in the alpha range (a specific speed of sound), our brain may produce more alpha waves. These alpha waves make us feel relaxed and calm. The effect works by just playing those sounds through a speaker, however to maximize the effect it is recommended to use headphones.
What type of music works best to focus?
Beta waves. If you are trying to focus and concentrate try freqcuencies between 13 and 30 Hz.This frequency range may help promote concentration and alertness.
We all know that certain songs can make us feel calmer, even if we don’t fully understand why. Similarly, during a sound healing session, our body responds to specific frequencies that resonate with it. This interaction affects our brainwaves and leads to different feelings within our body, ultimately leaving us feel more relaxed and at ease. While the exact mechanisms may not be completely clear, the positive impact on our well-being is evident.
Want to experience it in live? Tune in for our monthly Breathwork + Sound Bath event at Studio90.