It is no surprise then that sound can be an evocative trigger for our emotions. For instance, consider the contrast between the way you feel when hearing a pneumatic drill on a city pavement and the rain falling gently in a forest. They are similarly created by vibration, but can also produce dramatically different emotions within us when combined with other sensory information.
What is sound healing? How does it work?Sound healing or cymatics, to use the scientific name, is the practice of focusing vibration on the body to improve health. “The frequency of sound synchronises with the brainwaves and activates de-stress responses in the body,” says Malbert Lee, a sound alchemist and Fivelements Habitat teacher.
“Humans develop a sense of hearing at an early stage as a foetus and begin to respond to sound as early as 23 weeks after the moment of conception. Our body has a water content of 70%, which is a great conductor of sound vibration too. We receive sound with our ears and through our skin,” he adds.
In his sound experience sessions, Lee immerses students in high-frequency sound vibration produced by a variety of instruments, such as gongs and singing bowls, to
elevate their physical and emotional energy. He explains that during sound relaxation, the brain waves slow down and achieve a peaceful state.
Sound vs. noiseSound is an energy that can be produced by any object. A relaxing sound for you may be irritating to somebody else because of individual preferences. A particular piece of music can be either pleasant or jarring depending on how you perceive the sounds.
Noise is subjective. It is any unwanted sound. Our negative perceptions of a sound usually depend on the amplitude or the size of a sound wave. Loud sounds, which have a high amplitude, can be painful to our ears. Our modern world that provides us with convenience has equally produced so much noise from vacuum cleaners and washing machines to loudspeakers, cars and airplanes.
But, when sounds are organised in agreeable terms, they are music to our ears. This means that when sounds create vibrational patterns that our mind and body can resonate with, they can be healing.
Ancient instrumentsFor thousands of years, gongs and singing bowls have been used in sound healing practices. The gong can facilitate a meditative state quickly because of the deep resonating tones it produces, says Lee. The Tibetan singing bowls create a deep sonorous tone when they are struck or rubbed with a wooden mallet, and can be tuned by partially filling them with water. Unlike gongs that produce their strongest vibrations from the centre part, the singing bowls generate maximum vibration around the rim.
“In an advanced yogic context, we may attain enlightenment through concentration on the subtle inner sound, which in all actuality happens in the heart,” says May Nogoy, Fivelements Habitat’s wellness curator. “To arrive at the foot of this practice is to first attune to the outer sounds, which we offer in the form of instrumental sound healing, mantra, and devotional music. We often relate the experience of balance with bones, and focus with eyes, but yet it is through our receptivity through listening with ears that assists balance in space and clarity of mind. The goal is that through our attuning with peace, one may experience the sound of silence, in that our sense of self is dissolved unto a more universal wholeness of being.”
Healing forcesIn his book The Healing Forces of Music, composer and music professor Randall McClellan describes the healing power of music. He studied the role of music in healing practices based on ancient rituals and contemporary methods in the East and West.
He says, “Music was regarded as the force that could bring about harmony within the mind and body of Man, within the human community and ultimately with the heavenly bodies themselves - the fluidity of energy changing and merging with energy, the primordial force of the universe.”
There are many ways to experience sound healing from a wide variety of sound sources. Why not try a sound bath, vocal healing, chanting mantras, or a crystal bowl meditation? It can be a simple way to relax and release stress away from the noise of the outside world.