An Introduction to Sound Healing Therapy
Listening to soothing sounds aids in relaxation. Incorporating sound therapy into a massage session is a tool to elevate the therapeutic experience.
Deep relaxation is a wonderful state to be in. When you are relaxed, your body naturally finds regeneration (1). For many people, achieving deep relaxation requires an appropriate setting, typically one of familiarity, comfort, and trust.
The sounds that you hear in the setting are important. Sounds can help stimulate deep relaxation (2). Not all sounds will have the same effect. For example, a fire siren produces a different response than a rainfall or rustling leaves (3, 4).
How Sound Waves Interact with the Body
A sound is the movement of energy travelling through matter, such as air, water, or an object (5). The energy begins at the source as a disturbance of air. That disturbance moves further away from the source as air particles crash into each other, like a domino effect. The further that the sound travels away from its source, the more energy that dissipates, and eventually the sound disappears (6).
When the wave of sound travels far enough to meet our ear drums, our brain interprets it as sound (7). We learn to associate certain sounds with their source and understand their meaning (8). When we hear the sound of water, it is usually associated with safety. When we hear the sound of siren, it is usually associated with an emergency. The sounds we hear help us interpret our environment.
In addition to meeting our ears, sound waves also interact with our bodies. The wave of disturbed air particles meets our skin, just as it would another object. Perhaps you have stood in front of speaker at a rock concert before and felt the sound in your body. Just like any other object (9, 10), our bodies interact with sound (11, 12, 13, 14).
The Magic of Resonance & Reverberation
The particles that make up every object naturally vibrate on their own at a specific frequency (15). When a sound wave meets and matches an object with the same vibrational frequency, a phenomenon occurs called resonance (16). Resonance is what will make a crystal glass hum, or even break, on its own when you play the right note (17).
Resonance also occurs within chambers of air, such as when you blow over the mouth of bottle or pluck the string of a guitar (18). In this scenario, the trapped air resonates when it is matched by a sound of the same frequency (19).
Resonance occurs every day in our bodies (20, 21). The resonance created in our sinuses when we talk is one reason why every person’s voice sounds different (22). Resonance is the reason why you feel a vibration in your face when you hum (23).
Sound waves can also interact with themselves. When sound waves have enough energy to travel a certain distance, yet hit an object or wall before they reach that distance, the sound wave will bounce off that object. This is known as reverberation (24). As sound waves interact with each other, this can create some unique interactions of sound waves within a room.
Music As a Tool for Healing
Music involves sounds, but music not the same as sound itself. To make music, a collection of sounds are arranged in a pattern that is pleasing to the ear (25).
These patterns typically follow the rules of key and tempo. To create music within a key, notes are used in a certain pattern (26). Both major and minor keys follow these patterns and can start on different notes. To create tempo, each note is played at a precise speed, fraction of that speed, or multiple of it (27).
Like any other art form, music is a source of joy, inspiration, and pleasure to many. Music is an ancient practice, and the earliest instruments are thought to date back tens of thousands of years (28). For centuries, humans have enjoyed the enjoyable benefits of music.
Music is known to have physiological effect on the body (29). Research has shown that our heart-rate will slow or increase in response to music (30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35). It has been used to reduce anxiety in patients before surgeries, with Alzheimer’s disease, or other neurological disorders (36, 37, 38).
Music can also stimulate the mind. Depending on the music, it can make us feel more afraid, calm, or excited (39). That is why music is often used in movies to reinforce certain feelings. Repetitive patterns in music can even induce a trance or meditative state (40).
Sound Waves & the Chakras
Some sound healing techniques use single sound waves and resonance to activate certain energy pathways in the body. These energy pathways are referred to as chakras in eastern medicine. According to western tradition, the keys associated with each chakra are as follows (source A, B, C, D):
Sacral | 432 Hz | Key of C
Root | 480 Hz | Key of D
Solar Plexus | 528 Hz | Key of E
Heart | 594 Hz | Key of F
Throat | 672 Hz | Key of G
Third Eye | 720 Hz | Key of A
Crown | 768 Hz | Key of B
What is the Best Music for Massage?
In my treatment room, I like to use music that supports the whole person in achieving a state of relaxation.
Calming sounds such as sine waves, resonant instruments, and soothing humming are used. Some songs include nature sounds, such as falling water or birdsong. The brain often associates these sounds with situations of calm and grounding environments.
Each song has a slow tempo that matches that of a normal resting heart rate. There is one song that even has a tempo that decreases during the song and is known as “the most relaxing song in the world.” (Listen to it here on YouTube). The benefit of this is that when the heart rate is slowed, the body is then able to enter a para-sympathic or relaxed state.
The songs I have chosen also intentionally move through the key assigned to each chakra. Songs are grouped together by their key and (mostly) progress by perfect fifths. During a 60-minute treatment, five to eight minutes is spent in each key. By the end of the treatment session, you will have experienced songs in over a dozen different keys.
Book Your Next Appointment with Us
Sound therapy is an important tool for promoting relaxation of the body and mind. The body’s response to sound can elicit emotional, physiological, and energetic response. These responses can help a person achieve a state of greater calm. We hope you found this article helpful.
If you would like to request the addition of sound therapy with your treatment, please let me know. As always, the treatment you receive can be adjusted to suit your preference.
Le Soleil Health & Wholeness, Ltd.
Roots on Whyte Community Building
#201, 8135 – 102 St NW
Edmonton, AB T6E 4A4
Call (780) 414-1466
Grace of Being Massage Therapy
Strathcona Health Centre
#302A, 8225 – 105 St NW
Edmonton, AB T6E 4H2