An Exploration of Sound Healing
Sound healing is an alternative modality for the senses that utilizes specific tones for healing purposes. It is based on brainwave entrainment, precise frequencies used to induce mental states, and sound resonance, the synchronization of the energy in our bodies (including matter such as cells) to the sounds being played.
To explain this phenomenon, when two grandfather clocks are placed near one another, their pendulums will begin to swing in the same rhythm. Another example is to place two tuning forks with the same frequency next to one another. When one tuning fork is made to vibrate, the second will begin to vibrate in unison. If you then stop the first tuning fork from vibrating, the second will still continue to vibrate until all of the original energy has been expended.
Sound healing has been around since man began interacting with one another and has been found across populations around the world. In ancient times, Tibetan and Himalayan singing bowls were used in spiritual healing ceremonies to induce mental states. The Australian Aborigines used the didgeridoo for healing. Drums, bells and rattles were also used for healing purposes among various cultures.
Today, many of these instruments are still being utilized. Tibetan singing bowls have made their way into popular practice, and crystal singing bowls have been added to the mix. Technology equipment is also now used to obtain specific frequencies to achieve an assortment of healing results, both mental and physical.
Frequency and Brainwave States
The distinctive mental states we all possess have unique brainwave frequencies that can by identified with EEG (electroencephalogram) imaging. By using frequencies of the same wavelength, we can then induce these states for deep meditation, sleep, and various healing purposes.
Sound frequencies are identified by their wavelengths, or hertz, and can be used on their own, or blended seamlessly with music. The boundaries of brainwave lengths overlap to some degree so there is some discrepancy in the specific boundaries between them. They are listed below from fastest to slowest:
Gamma (30 - 80 Hz)
Heightened cognitive ability, insight, concentration, and problem-solving capacity.
Beta (12 - 30 Hz)
Awake and alert, learning, and engaging. The state we are typically in most of the time.
Alpha (8 - 12 Hz)
Mental and physical relaxation, reflection.
The state that helps us absorb new information and increases creativity.
Theta (4 - 8 Hz)
A very relaxed state, the zone between waking and sleep, deep meditation, dreaming.
The state where healing becomes more obtainable.
Delta (0.5 - 4 Hz)
Deep dreamless sleep, healing and restorative.
There are some common pulsing sounds used for brainwave entrainment and resonance with our bodies and chakra energy fields. These include Solfeggio Notes, Isochronic Tones, Binaural Beats, and Monaural Beats. As previously noted, these frequencies can all be used alone or blended with music.
The Solfeggio scale dates back to ancient times and is reported to be mathematically aligned with our universe. It is believed to have powerful effects on our wellness and healing abilities, bringing balance to the mind, body, and soul. The frequencies were created by a Benedictine monk, Guido d’Arezzo, and the scale was used by monks in their Gregorian Chants.
There were 6 original notes that mysteriously disappeared for several centuries. The 12-tone Equal-Temperament was then created and is the scale we use today. However, in the 1970’s, the Solfeggio scale was rediscovered by Dr. Joseph Puleo, and in more recent history, Dr. Leonard Horowitz identified 3 additional frequencies. These 9 tones are believed to align with our chakra energy fields.
The Original 6 Solfeggio Notes
· 396 Hz (Root Chakra)
· 417 Hz (Sacral Chakra)
· 528 Hz (Solar Plexus Chakra)
· 639 Hz (Heart Chakra)
· 741 Hz (Throat Chakra)
· 852 Hz (Third eye Chakra)
The 3 More Recently Discovered Frequencies
· 174 Hz (Physical body & energy -
decreases physical pain & provides a sense of security)
· 285 Hz (Physical healing properties -
helps heal organs, tissue, & immune system,
& balances and aligns our energetic systems)
· 963 Hz (Crown Chakra)
Isochronic Tones use a single frequency that is repeatedly turned on and off at evenly spaced intervals. This creates a rhythmic pulsating sound. These are commonly used in the brainwave range of theta for meditation and healing, the delta range for sleep and healing, and the alpha range for studying or working on creative projects.
With the use of headphones, or properly arranged surround sound, one frequency is played in the left ear while another frequency is played in the right ear creating an illusion of a third tone. This tone is the difference in hertz between the two beats. For example, if you listen to the frequency of 770 Hz in one ear and 800 Hz in the other ear, you will hear a third beat of 30 Hz. Binaural beats are played to induce various brainwave states.
Monaural Beats are similar to Binaural Beats with two different frequencies being used, but Monaural Beats are combined to be heard together from the same source. Nevertheless, your brain still perceives a third beat. To be clear in illustrating this, using the first example, 770 Hz would be combined with 800 Hz to create a 3rd auditory illusionary beat of 30 Hz. This eliminates the need for headphones or surround sound.
Sound Healing Research Explored
There are some fascinating studies being explored in the field of sound energy healing with remarkable results. Here are a few examples:
In the field of tissue engineering, an area of scientific exploration focused on rebuilding bone and muscle by utilizing the body’s intrinsic ability to heal itself, researchers found a way to create new bone cells with the power of sound healing. Scientists from the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT) in Australia used high frequency sound waves to turn stem cells into bone cells.
High frequency sound waves were applied to the cells over a period of five days with 10-minute treatments a day. The researchers worked with sound wave frequencies over 10 MHz, which is far beyond our audible range. When this technique was applied, images revealed the development of collagen as the stem cells evolved into bone cells.
Previously, research aimed at regrowing bone utilized stem cells taken from bone marrow, an exceptionally painful procedure for patients. This new method would be faster and easier than alternative approaches. It is hoped that this research will ultimately lead to helping people with cancer and degenerative diseases. (As cited by Kaszubsk, 2022).
Dr. Jeffrey Thompson is a neuroacoustic researcher studying the healing abilities of sound wave frequencies. With the use of technology equipment to precisely tune sound frequencies, and sensors attached to the body to read the electrical information coming from the heart, he can pivot an individual’s autonomic nervous system from sympathetic to parasympathetic.
The sympathetic nervous system is the state of fight or flight. It is the state for many individuals who are living with chronic stress and those dealing with trauma, whereas the parasympathetic nervous system is the state of relaxation. This is where you need to be for healing to occur.
Dr. Thompson adjusts the sound frequency until the specific tone needed for the individual (everyone’s frequency varies) is found. This is identified when the nervous system responds. With the use of electronic imaging, he can see the bodies autonomic state by the wave frequencies. When there is zero stress from the autonomic system on the imaging screen, he knows the individual has reached homeostasis. This process can help retrain the body that has been otherwise frozen in a state that is not meant to be perpetual. (Noonan, 2017).
In a recent study, the effects of singing bowl sound meditation on mood, tension, and well-being were observed. The results were exciting. They found improvements with a reduction in anger, fatigue, anxiety, and depression. (Goldsby et al., 2017).
Although sound healing often refers to specific tones used for specific purposes, music has been found to have significant healing abilities as well. Over the last several decades, research has steadily revealed that live therapeutic music has the ability to reduce stress and anxiety, alleviate pain, and can regulate vital signs. (Music for Healing and Transition Program).
Many studies have also demonstrated that music can help restore loss of speech, decrease depression and fatigue, stimulate regions of the brain connected with the reward center and decision making, and can trigger the release of dopamine. Music has also been found to improve quality of sleep. (Musicians On Call).
Other areas of research are being explored with sound energy and music for healing a variety of ailments. Sound healing for improvements with autism spectrum disorder (AbediKoupaei, M. et al., 2013) and Alzheimer’s disease (Power of Positivity) have shown promising results.
The benefits of sound healing are undeniable, helping to heal both physical ailments, and unhealthy mental and emotional states. Moreover, this modality comes with no adverse side effects, only improvements. At its most basic value, sound healing sessions such as singing bowls are incredibly relaxing, which is good for the mind, body, and soul, and provide a truly enjoyable experience.
The recorded sound healing options available today for brainwave entrainment provide similar benefits, and the selections offered are growing exponentially. Be sure to use responsible resources for recorded options. Improve your state of wellbeing and give sound healing a try.
AbediKoupaei, M. et al. (2013). Sound Therapy: An Experimental Study with Autistic Children. Procedia – Social and Behavioral Sciences. ScienceDirect.
Goldsby, T. et al. (2017). Effects of Singing Bowl Sound Meditation on Mood, Tension, and Well-being: An Observational Study. Journal of Evidence-Based Complementary & Alternative Medicine. National Library of Medicine.
Kaszubska G. (2022). Sonic advance: How sound waves could help regrow bones - RMIT university.
https://www.rmit.edu.au/news/all-news/2022/feb/sound-waves-stem-cellsShort‐Duration High Frequency MegaHertz‐Order Nanomechanostimulation Drives Early and Persistent Osteogenic Differentiation in Mesenchymal Stem Cells - Ambattu - 2022 - Small - Wiley Online Library
Music for Healing and Transition Program. Research on Live Therapeutic Music.
Musicians On Call. Music Heals: Research on the Healing Power of Music.
Power of Positivity. Scientists Reveal How Light and Sound Therapy Can Heal Alzheimer’s.
Schomer, A. & Morrissey, R. (Producers), Noonan, K. (Director), Thompson, J. (Performer). (2017). Heal. [Documentary] Gaia Television.