Profile woman in brown knit sweater holding Tibetan bowl

Sound Healing

“In sound we are born. In sound we are healed.”

Mehtab Benton, sound therapy teacher and author

Three Tibetan bowls near glass canister with herbs inside

Since I was a little girl, I have always been fascinated with sound. More specifically with church bell sounds. I would stay aware whenever it was almost 6 p.m. when the bells from the church near my house would go BLAAAAAM BLAAAAAM. I swear to you I would take some deep breaths and at that moment contemplate the sound of that gigant metal being slammed. I’m not sure if it felt “sacred” but it felt like something I should stop and contemplate.

It’s been years since that, and through my life of energy practices I’ve heard it all kinds of bells, drums and flutes. I have some of them myself: a large shamanic drum, one metal singing bowl, a chime bell and one Chilean Cactus RainStick (makes the sound of rain). I don’t use them on other people, just for myself, for my own relaxation.

What I could never imagine – however – is how well developed sound healing is here in Los Angeles. You can literally find a GREAT QUALITY sound bath everywhere. It’s a sound bath fever over here. And now, as quarantine takes over, we can find more and more of those baths online (not the same vibration, but good enough to keep us in track during this period).

So… let’s talk a little bit about sound healing?

It was Edgar Cayce, the father of holistic medicine, who said that sound would be the medicine of the future. Science tells us every cell in the body is vibrating, both emitting and receiving information through vibratory frequency. The vibration of sound has the ability to activate our cells to create more harmony, releasing and clearing out dissonant or stuck energies that cause dis-ease in our system. Sound healing utilizes the powerful vibration of sound to entrain and restore our physical, mental, and emotional bodies back to wholeness. 

And who doesn’t want more of that?

I know I want!

The first recorded use of sound healing is by the indigeous people of northern Australia who played the didgeridoo more than 40,000 years ago. The ancient Vedics, Egyptians, Greeks, and North American indigenous peoples all held sound sacred and understood its powerful healing qualities (see more on Gaia). 

Let’s be real here, folks: ancient cultures were sooooo more in tune! They definitely know the drill!

Sound, and the vibrational frequency it emits, has the power to stimulate the vagus nerve (which carries signals between the brain and body), the parasympathetic nervous system (which allows the body to go into rest and repair), eliminate toxins, improve immune function, release emotional blockages and stagnant energy, promote recovery from illness or trauma, and even lengthen life span. Whaaaaaattttt? Yes, baby – you can add THAT to your wanna-stay-young skincare routine! 

The vibration of sound has been proven to change brain waves from beta states (normal consciousness) to alpha, theta, and beyond, creating relaxation and promoting deep meditation and even altered states of consciousness. So literally if you’re alive, sound can assist in your healing.

“There’s no organ system in the body that’s not affected by sound, music, and vibration. You can look at disease as a form of disharmony.”

Mitchell Gaynor, MD, pioneering oncologist and author

As I mentioned, there are many types of instruments that can produce healing. 

Today we’ll cover sound baths using singing bowls. They are called signing bowls because of the beautiful and melodic way the bowls “sing” while being played. There are two types of singing bowls, crystal and Tibetan.

Tibetan bowls are made from an amalgamation of metals that represent the planets as well as the chakras. The bowls were first created 6,000 years ago in the far east and were so prized for their healing that they were smuggled out of Tibet during invasion under the guise of simple rice bowls. 

Many people say, however, that “Tibetan Bowls” – the most popular name – is not accurate, as they first appeared in the Himalayan region (initially from Nepal and India, just later brought to Tibet).

Crystal bowls are unique transmitters of healing sound frequency, as crystals are the only geological structure that can be programmed to retain vibration or hold memory. This means singing bowls made of crystal are actually living beings of consciousness. 

How amazing is that? We’ll talk more about Crystals on future posts, but let’s explore just a little bit more of the subject here: our bodies react so well to crystal bowls because we are made up of millions of crystals – our teeth, bones, and skull vibrate and harmonize with the frequencies of the crystal bowls. Most bowls are quartz, but there are also alchemy bowls which are created with various metals and gems to create even more specific effects. Plus, they are gorgeous to look at as well as listen to. 

Tibetan bowl

“A person does not hear sound only through the ears; he hears sound through every pore of the body. It permeates the entire being, and according to its particular influence, either slows or quickens the rhythm of the blood circulation; it either awakens or soothes the nervous system.”

Hazrat Inayat Khan, Sufi Teacher

The bowls are tuned to the corresponding musical notes of each of the 7 chakras (also known as energy centers) within our bodies. Playing the D note bowl, for example, entrains and balances the sacral chakra. A sound bath (someone playing the bowls while you relax) with the  singing bowl of each note correlating to each chakra can help bring the body back into balance through entrainment. 

So how exactly does entrainment work? Have you ever been in a stressed out mood, then been around someone who was peaceful and calm and felt more peaceful and calm yourself after the interaction? You’ve experienced entrainment to their energy. This is what happens with our energy centers when we have a sound bath; they become entrained, or harmonized, restoring homeostasis of the body’s biofields (energetic/spiritual body, mental body, emotional body, physical body). 

On top of the myriad health benefits, singing bowls are also a sacred tool for accessing deep, meditative states. As mentioned, they are powerful enough to entrain brainwaves, bringing both hemispheres of the brain back into balance. The vibration emitted from the bowls quiets the analytical part of the brain – you know, that part that’s always thinning, worrying, etc. – allowing an opening to the peaceful place within, gateway to connection with divine union. 

Thanks to its profound effects on the brain, sound healing is beneficial for everyone, especially those experiencing anxiety and depression. So are there any cons to the miracle of sound healing? There can be a bit of discomfort at times, while things are getting worked on. Think of it like this; if there are leaves clogging your gutter, it will take a little force to get the flow moving again. You may have to push down hard on the leaves to set them free. This is what all energy healing can do, and is also true in the case of sound. If you find yourself feeling a bit of discomfort while listening to the bowls, it’s best to remember this, breathe through it, and relax and surrender, knowing the vibration is doing the job of removing the gunk. 

Plus, it’s important to keep in mind that the bowls, however, have a really powerful vibration that can be harmful to certain neurological and heart conditions, so I would recommend getting permission from your doctor before moving forward with sound therapy if you have any severe health condition.

There are many sound healing recordings available for free on youtube and assorted meditation apps. You can also check for live sound healings near you or online. Other amazing sound healing tools to explore are tuning forks, the gong, and various drums. The world of sound healing is beautiful, vast, and fun, and it is a wonderful compliment to other energy healing techniques. If you’re ready to learn more about sound healing check out the work of Jonathon Goldman, my personal favorite sound healer who said “Frequency plus intention equals healing” which I couldn’t agree with more. At his website you can explore his books, healing tracks, tools, and courses. The Healing Power of Sound and Sounds of Healing by Dr. Mitchell Gaynor are  wonderful books to dive into as well. 

Have you experienced a sound bath? 

Let us know in the comments!

p.s.: This text was written in partnership with my go-to-Sound-Bath-girl: the amazing @sugarheartlife. I encourage y’all to schedule a session with her! AMAZING!

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