Sound therapy, also known as music therapy, is an ancient method dating back to when the Greeks used it mainly to cure madness. People who experienced stress in the form of headaches and those whose emotional wellbeing was disturbed also took part in music therapy sessions. Music is defined as the continuous flow of sound punctuated by brief moments of silence, hence sound therapy.
Purpose of Sound Healing
Through the controlled use of energy, sound becomes medicine. It serves to ease many adverse conditions and improve the health of the individual by strengthening body systems. This is through the augmentation of the natural circadian rhythms of the body that helps support the metabolic system (Eckel-Mahan & Sassone-Corsi, 2013).
A wide range of sound therapies and techniques can help a person reach specific goals. Some of these methods are preventive while others help enhance strength. Effects of these therapies include:
● Enhancing the immune system
● Reducing pain
● Personality transformation
● Improving alertness and clarity
● Rectify sleep disorders
● Helping with relaxation
● Improving one’s consciousness
● Reducing stress
● Becoming one with the inner self
Quality of Sound
The unit for measuring the loudness of sound is called a decibel (dB). Our breathing is 10 dB while a rock concert is 150 dB in intensity. Here are a few examples of the levels of sound.
Sounds Intensity in dB
The inside of a library 40
A quiet room 40
Light rainfall 50
Regular conversation 60
Busy traffic 70
Vacuum cleaner 70
Alarm clock 80
Jet plane take off 120
Car stereo 120
Band practice 120
Loud Rock Music 150
Other Tonal Qualities of Sound
Sounds can also be in the form of a mantra, such as Sanskrit words repeated over and over, or singing in one tone. It helps bring the body and mind to one frequency that alleviates illnesses and calms the mind.
In modern sound therapy, many sound machines produce a single or multi-tone sound. The various sounds used in this healing process include the following:
● The sound of water droplets dripping onto a surface
● Water passing through pitch pipes and creating a sound of the desired frequency
● Use of tuning forks and bowls to activate the sound
In this process, the person enters an Altered State of Consciousness (ASC) when they hear these sounds.
Understanding the State of Altered Consciousness
To understand this process, you must understand the working of the brain. Most of the time, the left side of the brain has a dominant role in the thought processes. The various functions get split between the brain hemispheres as imaginative and real. Typically, one side of the brain controls the process as a whole.
The left side of the brain controls these functions:
Thinking in Words
Words of Songs
The right side of the brain controls these functions:
Arts and Motor Skills
Tune of songs
When a person gets exposed to an immersive sound field, the control that normally belongs with the left side of the brain, shifts to the right side. People who undergo hypnosis or do meditation also experience deviations from the normal working patterns of the brain.
Studies conducted on ASC in specific fields of brain reactivity have found the following results. (SOUND AFFECTS: SOUND THERAPY, (n.d.)).
Field of Study Observation
Elemental Imagery a) One could see patterns even with their eyes closed
b) Colors appeared even with their eyes closed
Disembodiment Subject felt a sensation of floating
Experiencing Unity Everything blended into one single entity
Ineffability a) Not being able to describe this feeling in full
b) The experience went beyond words
Complex Imagery Subject saw many complex patterns behind the eyelids
Positive Mood A feeling of tranquility and utmost peace
Transcendence of time a) Subject lost the usual sense of time and space
b) Subject could sense a new space without boundaries
Audio-Visual Analysis Sounds seem to affect what subject saw
Insightfulness The experience moved to an intuitive level
Physical Relaxation a) Subject felt their muscles relax
b) Subject felt a decrease of physical tension
c) Subject’s breathing became steady and relaxed
Definition of Altered State of Consciousness
While consciousness relates to the awareness of people and things around you, an Altered State of Consciousness deals with temporary alterations to your conscious state without becoming unconscious, due to changes affecting the brain waves at different frequencies.
Different types of consciousness include wakefulness, trance, daydreaming, dreams, sleep deprivation, panic and unconsciousness (Watters, 2018). ASC deals with out-of-the-world experiences and out-of-the-ordinary feelings and experiences. ASC does not necessarily define a new sensation; it only shows the reaction of the person to a new experience.
Specific Frequencies for Certain Benefits
Different frequencies affect different regions of the brain. In sound therapy, the following frequencies traditionally have this correlated effect:
1. Focusing on one-ness – 963 Hz
2. Getting rid of anxiety and overthinking - 852 Hz
3. Aiding intuition and problem solving – 741 Hz
4. Releasing inner conflict - 538 Hz
5. Releasing negative energies/begin healing - 432 Hz
6. Undoing emotional patterns – 417 Hz
7. Letting go of fear and guilt - 396 Hz
8. Rejuvenated energy – 285 Hz
9. Pain reduction – 174 Hz
The other applications include sounds to cleanse self-doubt and improve positive energy, sounds for whole-body regeneration, and sounds that improve the concentration power of the mind. You can even use these sound therapies on your pets – more on that later!