The Power of Sound

The Power of Sound to Heal

BY JASON K. NORRIS

Close your eyes. Listen deeply. What do you hear? Where do you feel the sounds in your body? How are these sensations affecting your consciousness? Too often, we listen with only our ears. But sound is more than just auditory; it’s somatic. It permeates and resonates in our cells. Our bodies receive and are affected by the vibrations in which we are embedded, and everything vibrates. Considering that we are mostly water, it’s easy to imagine the effect sound has on us. Set a glass of water next to a stereo speaker, and the sound waves will become visible. With each vibration we encounter, our own vibration changes. Different vibrations resonate in different parts of our bodies. Lower frequencies tend to move us from our lower chakras, while higher frequencies tend to stimulate our upper chakras. Certain frequencies cause agitation, while others promote relaxation. The impact of a leaf blower is very different from a bird chirping. So too is the impact of a negative thought versus a positive one, for even our thoughts have vibrations. Tuning in to the quality of sound in our environments—both externally and internally—we can begin to understand the power of sound on our consciousness and everyday health. We can begin to envisage the future of vibrational medicine.

The art of sound healing is rooted in ancient wisdom traditions and spans cultures across time. It combines sound with the intention to heal and transform. While Indian sages chant mantras for healing, Peruvian shamans sing medicinal songs known as icaros. Tibetan monks ring singing bowls, and West African communities drum. The typical sound healer’s toolkit includes a variety of instruments: flutes, drums, harps, shakers, bells, singing bowls, didgeridoos, tuning forks, pianos, strings, synthesizers, and—one of the most powerful—the human voice.

The Greek word for soul, psyche, is also translated as “breath.” Toning, chanting, and singing are all effective ways to explore consciousness through the embodiment of sound. Today sound therapy is finding its place in Western healthcare as a viable alternative and complement to allopathic medicine. Currently, sound healing practices are being applied in hospice work, addiction recovery, injury rehabilitation, stress management, wellness programs, and in the treatment of a wide range of ailments, from mood disorders to osteoporosis and cancer. These new prescriptions of frequency and rhythm are based on a variety of concepts. The Architecture of Sound Space An emerging field in the science of sound is acoustic archaeology, or archaeoacoustics, which explores the interrelation between sound and location.

Sound needs a container, which also affects the sound. For millennia, cultures have mapped this out, building singing tombs, sound temples, amphitheaters, and cathedrals. Books such as Paul Devereux’s Stone Age Soundtracks: The Acoustic Archaeology of Ancient Sites and Susan Elizabeth Hale’s Sacred Space, Sacred Sound: The Acoustic Mysteries of Holy Places are great explorations of this. Sound can be shaped through architectural design and woven into the aesthetics of any environment. The science of such soundstates has become the focus of an emerging discipline called ecomusicology. Managing the dynamics of sound in our own environments can be as simple as unplugging electrical devices that buzz or ring at unpleasant frequencies, such as overhead lights and computers. If you enjoy the sound of running water, get a table fountain. If you like wind chimes, hang some up. Limiting sonic distractions to create a harmonious ambiance helps to reduce stress and balance energy.