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What is Sound Healing?

Karyn Maier
Updated May 17, 2024
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Sound healing, sometimes referred to as music therapy, is a method of promoting wellness used by many holistic health practitioners. While this may sound like a New Age discovery, the practice of using sound and music as a healing tool actually spans many ancient civilizations. For instance, Tibetan Buddhists have used singing bowls for centuries to fine-tune the body’s energy fields, or chakras. The effect is a balanced alignment between the emotional mind and the physical body.

Generally classified as a modality of energy medicine, sound healing is based on the premise that disease manifests as a result of the misalignment or blockage of energy flow. It also embraces a belief in cellular memory. This suggests that negative energy generated by past experiences may become trapped in the body and ultimately stored in the cells of organs and tissue. Unless released, this energy may eventually cause these organs and tissue to malfunction.

Sound healing enthusiasts point to the social and developmental significance of music and sound to support validity of these concepts. For example, music has long been regarded a vibrational language that is readily understood, thereby transcending language or cultural barriers. It is also interesting to note the fact that humans are regularly stimulated by sound in the womb, long before the powers of sight and smell are established. Scientists have also found that music positively affects a growing brain. In fact, research indicates that musical instruction stimulates cognitive development in children, an observation known as the “Mozart Effect.”

The mechanism behind sound healing rests in a physics phenomenon called the Entrainment Principle, which dictates that any two oscillating energies will come into sync according to the one with the higher vibrational frequency. This is the same principle that permits two pendulum clocks, for example, to eventually keep time at the same pace when placed near each other. This phenomenon is universally recognized in chemistry, biology, and other life sciences. In people, it translates to the regulation of body systems, including heart rate, respiration, and brain wave activity. In fact, research has shown that sound healing therapy increases alpha waves in the brain, which is associated with relaxation and improved immunity.

While the goal of sound healing is to achieve or restore health, it does not endeavor to do so directly. In other words, sound healing is not the cure. Rather, the objective of this form of therapy is to facilitate harmony between all the systems of the body to create an environment in which healing can take place. Sound healing is also an integrative practice and sessions may incorporate additional therapies, such as Reiki and balanced life coaching.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Karyn Maier
By Karyn Maier
Contributing articles to WiseGeek is just one of Karyn Maier's many professional pursuits. Based in New York's Catskill Mountain region, Karyn is also a magazine writer, columnist, and author of four books. She specializes in topics related to green living and botanical medicine, drawing from her extensive knowledge to create informative and engaging content for readers.
Discussion Comments
By burcidi — On Apr 27, 2011

I had read an article about depression. It said that sound therapy helps activate the cortex of the brain and helps us produce more serotonin. It completely supports this article.

I think many physicians are now recommending sound therapy to their patients. I used to see sound therapy CDs in stores but doubted that it would do anything. I'm completely convinced now that it works.

By turquoise — On Apr 25, 2011

We probably experience sound therapy from time to time without realizing. The only difference with sound healing might be to do that consciously.

Like if someone who is feeling sad listens to sad and pessimistic music, they are probably going to feel worse. But if you listen to up-beat happy music when you're feeling down, you will feel better.

Same with when you feel angry or worried. You will feel calmer if you listen to slow music, maybe a piece with piano or flute.

That's how I understand sound healing. I think it's pretty easy to do and very logical.

By discographer — On Apr 24, 2011

Sound healing doesn't have to be only music. I do meditation and yoga regularly. Yoga music is very relaxing, but I find the chanting of "om" at the end of yoga and meditation extremely relaxing and powerful.

Hindus and Buddhists believe that "om" is the sound of the universe and it helps us realign and re-balance our bodies. It also makes the mind very serene and peaceful. I often start meditation with racing thoughts and anxiety. After listening to yoga music and chanting om, it's like I'm relieved of those thoughts and I can breathe again.

By desertdunes — On Jan 31, 2010

Has anyone tried this? Have you noticed a real difference or is it more of a general relaxation overall?

I guess this practice views sound as energy too, so does "sound energy" have any other uses?

Karyn Maier
Karyn Maier
Contributing articles to WiseGeek is just one of Karyn Maier's many professional pursuits. Based in New York's Catskill...
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