Sacred Sound Healing is a guest post by Nina Passero. Read About the Author below to read more about her work.
“Every illness is a musical problem — the healing, a musical solution…” – NOVALIS, The Encyclopedia (1772-1801)
Ever wonder why music is so emotionally evocative? Why you can’t help but dance when a certain song comes on? Why you immediately relax when you hear the music in the yoga studio? Or why you get choked up when you hear Adele’s love ballads? (come on… I know I’m not alone).
Well it all goes back to sound — a seemingly simple, yet incredibly profound medium.
Sound is a powerful and transformative force that has been used for thousands of years as a tool for healing; and whether you are conscious of it or not, our bodies + minds respond to sound with an innate knowing — knowing when to get energized, when to slow down, when to relax, and when to focus. This is because our bodies were designed to be sensitive to sound, so much so, that it has the ability to affect us on multiple levels — physical, emotional, mental and spiritual. In fact, hearing is one of the first senses that develop in utero and the last sense before we transition out of this world. Our bodies are so intricately wired to react to sound that it is not only perceived through our ears, but also through our skin and bones.
So how does this all work?
Let’s take it back to elementary school for a quick review of energy. In basic science you learned that everything in the universe is made up of energy — and that energy can be neither created nor destroyed, only transformed. It is the building block of all matter — constantly flowing + changing causing every particle to vibrate at it’s own energetic frequency. The human body is no different as it too is composed of energy and vibrates at its own frequency.
Sound is a form of energy produced by vibrations through a medium, such as air or water, which is then perceived by a human or animal. When an object begins to vibrate it results in movement of the particles around it. These particles bump into one another, causing an outward expansion until the energy runs out; thus, sound waves are born.
When you listen to music, a compilation of varying vibrational frequencies, there is continual flow of sound waves. The vibrations from a song or instrument reach your body and quite literally move the energy within you; being that we are made up of air and water, the body can be influenced by other vibrations.
For thousands of years ancient healers from cultures all over the world recognized sound as an important modality for healing and restoring balance to the body. In fact, many ancients believed health was directly correlated to being in “tune” with one’s true soul path. The Ancients understood that everything was in a state of vibration and used that information to their advantage.
In Ayurvedic Medicine, sound is believed to have a healing effect on the listener as it restores any imbalances in the doshas. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, they have the “six healing sounds” which are believed to promote healing, as the vibrations create an internal massage for each organ system. In Ancient Egypt, pyramids were constructed with sound healing rooms to re-harmonize and heal the body. In Ancient Greece, Pythagoras “Father of Mathematics + Music” believed that music “contributed greatly to health, if used in correctly.” He even taught “musical medicine”, which was based on his findings that sound and harmonic frequencies could heal the body.
In recent years Dr. Masaru Emoto, the Japanese author of Messages from Water, studied how thoughts and vibrations affect the molecular structure of water. His studies demonstrated that frozen water takes on the expression of sound; revealing in a more concrete way, how one vibrational frequency influences another. Dr. Emoto photographed and analyzed the formations of frozen water crystals when exposed to different sounds (i.e., music, affirmations, thoughts, etc). He concluded that all sound is vibration and “positive” vibrations can indeed be a form of healing.
A study from the SUNY Neuroscience Research Institute revealed that when tuning forks are placed on bone or connective tissue, they create wave like patterns that ripple throughout the body. This internal wave results in a spike of nitric oxide (NO) from the cells. Nitric oxide (NO) signals our cells to relax, in turn enhancing: cell vitality, vascular flow, digestion, mental clarity, resistance to stress and more! There has even been research on the affects of sound on cancer cells. In Anthony Holland’s Tedx talk, “Shattering Cancer Cell’s with Resonant Frequencies”, Holland reveals an incredible discovery. His research has developed a way to kill 60% of cancer cells with specific resonant frequencies.
Modern day scientists are now rediscovering and affirming the practice of sound healing with the help of researchers such as Holland and Emoto, and the study sound perception, or psychoacoustics. This branch of science has provided scientists with the ability to understand the body’s psychological and physiological responses to sound. They are finding that regardless of background, culture, race or education we are all attuned to sound. Whether you like pop, rock, R&B, emo, or classical, at the end of the day you are affected by sounds that vibrate at frequencies which “move” your emotions. It could be a song from childhood or one associated with a high school heart-break, but good or bad, happy or sad sound has a way of peaking your emotional experience and creating a reaction.
Audible sound treatments, such as: sound healing sessions and sound baths are slowly regaining popularity. Each one taking you on an emotional journey within yourself as a practitioner gracefully guides you with: gongs, tuning forks, singing bowls, drumming, chanting and more. Through these healing musical “performances” you will find yourself “tuning in” and connecting to your mind, body and spirit.
So what’s it like, you ask? Well, the best way I can describe the experience is like a meditation in the ocean — my mind free of thoughts, waves of sound washing over me, moving through me. At times, I can feel years of stagnant energy being cleansed as I feel + experience, notice and observe — as I ride the ebb and flow; and no matter how many sound baths I attend or how many clients I work on, the nature of this work continues to amaze me — always taking me to new depths, unearthing emotions long forgotten, discovering parts of myself that have been suppressed.
Are you ready to explore? to dive to new depths? To understand the fluid nature of your body? Become the observer. Notice how your moods fluctuate with different songs. Discover where you find discomfort, understanding, or support in sound. Experience for yourself the magic of how sound moves energy.
Here are a few simple tools you can start using right now. Before engaging in any type of sound experience I like to bring awareness to my mind and body by closing my eyes and taking a few deep breaths — noticing where I feel tension, where I feel fluid, where I feel open. Then I ask myself what is my intention… what am I looking to heal? What do I want to invite more of? You may not know the answers to these questions right away and that’s okay! These tools will help bring awareness to your body and what needs healing. Trust that your body will tell you what it needs, all you have to do is listen.
- VOICE: Your voice is one of the most healing instruments of all. You can hum, sing, chant sounds (i.e., yogic chanting, chakra sounds, OM) or speak a mantra, the vibration of the words alone will shift the energy.
- CLAP: Clapping your hands helps to disperse energy and can be a very effective method for cleansing a space, especially when no other tools are around.
- Instruments: If you don’t have a formal instrument on hand, thats okay. Get creative — drum on the table, make a rattle, or ring a bell/chime. Remember its about the intention of the sound.
- Nature: Changing your environment is an easy way to use sound to heal. Loud city-like settings ramp up the nervous system, making you anxious. Going into nature will innately calm the nervous system as you listen to mother earth herself (i.e., the flow of a river, crashing waves of the ocean, birds chirping).
About the Author of Sacred Sound Healing: Using Sound to Heal the Mind + Body
Nina Passero began her professional career as a Speech Language Pathologist because of her love for language, expression, and helping others find their voice. Over the years, she has taken this skillset and combined it with her passion for whole-istic healing. Through her own physical + mental health struggles, Nina found true healing took place when her physical, emotional + energetic bodies were working together.
Today she is a certified reiki practitioner, sound healer, yoga teacher, and health/life coach who aids her 1:1 clients in reaching their full potential by connecting mind, body + spirit. Together they unearth the root cause of illness to promote healing not only on a physical level but also, mentally + emotionally.