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What is Sound Healing?

Can Sound Be Used for Self Healing?

Despite their ancient origins, sound and vibration focused practices are finally being "rediscovered" by modern medicine and not a moment too soon!

Sound healing or "sound therapy" are general terms that, similar to the term "exercise", can refer to different things depending on the context. It’s important to understand the main variations of sound healing and how they can affect the healing process.

The latest research points to a number of ways sound healing can be helpful.

The benefits of sound healing include:

I find it helpful to put sound healing practices into two categories — active and passive.

The difference between “active” and “passive” sound healing.

Active sound healing includes practices like singing, mantra or prayer repetition and vocal toning exercises like "Brain Humming". When you produce a self-generated sound, your vocal cords vibrate. This deep inner-body vibration stimulates the vagus nerve—the longest cranial nerve in your body. This nerve runs down from your brain to your abdomen, touching all of your major organs along the way.

When you stimulate this nerve, it activates your parasympathetic nervous system. This technique is called manual vagus nerve stimulation (VNS). When this happens, your body releases the natural chemicals that make you feel calm and at ease—putting you in the optimal state for healing.

The chemicals stimulated during sound healing based vagus nerve exercises include:

  • Endorphins
  • Dopamine
  • Oxytocin
  • Nitric oxide

It’s this combination of parasympathetic nervous system activation and vagus nerve stimulation that is responsible for the “healing” part of sound healing.

A common misconception is that sound and “healing frequencies” are some sort of “magical” cure for what ails you. The truth is that your body does all of the healing.

However, by learning to use sound more efficiently, you can better prepare your body to be in its optimal healing condition. 

That’s because using sound techniques on regular basis can help you learn to relax more deeply. And doing so at bedtime offers your body the best chance of doing its nightly repair work more thoroughly.

Contrary to some of the articles on sound healing out there, there is a wealth of peer-reviewed research from a variety of sources including The Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease and Frontiers in Neuroscience discussing the health benefits of sound healing — especially active sound healing practices. 

In fact, I went ahead and included a full list of articles below detailing the science and health benefits of active sound healing.

These articles also include citations to the scientific journals.

The Ancient 12-Minute Technique That Can Halt Early Onset Alzheimer’s

Johns Hopkins Recommends Sound-Based Strategies for Lung Recovery

The Powerful, Built-in Bodily System You Were Never Told About

My 4-Step Daily Defense Plan for Sound Immune Support

How Vibration ‘Clears the Path’ To Better Memory

The Secret Behind Sound’s Healing Powers

What is "passive" sound healing?

Passive Sound Healing activities like sound baths are based on a 6,000 year-old ancient Asian practice that can be a deeply immersive, whole-body listening experience.  

If you’re unfamiliar with sound baths, here’s what you can typically expect…

You will start by either sitting comfortably or laying down on a blanket and closing your eyes (if you prefer).

A facilitator will typically stand at the front of the room and guide you through some deep breathing exercises.

Then, they’ll softly start to play repetitive notes on a variety of soothing instruments—gongs, crystal sound bowls, chimes, harps, bells, cymbals, and didgeridoos—each of which possess their own powerful vibrational frequency.

Some facilitators also walk throughout the room, playing certain instruments near or above you to encourage deeper benefits and a more powerful experience.

The sounds of these instruments will reverberate throughout the room and your body, inducing a deep state of relaxation and bringing your focus away from your thoughts. The vibrations can feel like they’re enrapturing you, hence why it’s called a “bath.”

Skilled facilitators understand that a key purpose of a sound bath is to use vibration and a relaxing environment to elicit a person’s relaxation response (parasympathetic nervous system activation). 

A person’s reaction to a sound bath can vary depending on a variety of factors:

  • The competency of the practitioner.
  • Their personal tolerance for certain sound frequencies. 
  • The perceived safety of the immediate environment where the event is taking place.
  • The participant’s willingness to have the experience.

Regardless of what method you’re most drawn to, I want to encourage you to experience how good sound can help you feel for yourself.

Here’s one of my very best sound healing exercises that you can try for free. Simply click here.


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The material provided on this site is for educational purposes only and any recommendations are not intended to replace the advice of your physician. You are encouraged to seek advice from a competent medical professional regarding the applicability of any recommendations with regard to your symptoms or condition.

Copyright © 2021 by BlueBeat Media. Thank you for your interest in Jim Donovan. We do not allow republication of our full newsletters and articles. However, you can post a portion (no more than 90 words, 1-2 paragraphs) of our content with a live link back to our homepage, donovanhealth.com, or a link to the specific article you are quoting from.

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