Do you like listening to music? For many, listening to music is a therapeutic activity — a way of relaxing, easing your mind, or restoring your energy.
In more ways than one, sound healing has the same effect. However, it is important to differentiate sound from music, even though they both have healing capabilities.
Music organizes the components of sound, the specific tones and frequencies as well as the intervals for the purpose of expressing or creating an emotional response.
Sound healing, on the other hand, focuses on vibration from harmonics and its ability to entrain or harmonize your physical body with your emotions and your outer world. In other words, the purpose of sound healing is to create change and bring you into balance.
When our outer world or inner world is chaotic, music can calm us or uplift us. However, the purpose of sound healing is not to worship or manipulate our emotions. Instead, sound healing is meant to harmonize our state of being and to raise our consciousness.
Thus, the process of listening to music is classified as a leisure activity, whereas sound healing is used primarily for restoration or spiritual awakening. You can learn more about how sound healing is based on the principles of quantum physics in my blog post “What is Gong Bath Meditation?”
Now that we’ve established the difference between listening to music and sound healing, we can better understand why sound healing requires certain tools to get the job done. The question is: What are these tools, and what makes them great for sound healing?
Many instruments can be used for the purpose of sound healing and we are going to examine just some of them.
First, let’s look at the gong.
The gong is one of the oldest and most powerful healing instruments out there. It also has the broadest range of tones of any musical instrument. The sounds generated from a gong bathe the participant, uniting him or her with an electromagnetically charged field. This field is created when the electrons of the metal gong become activated when the instrument is played. The activated electrons separate from the atoms of the metal to join other atoms in the environment. Thus, in sound healing, your body becomes unified with the field created by the gong. When the gong stops playing, the electrons return to their original source and the field collapses. However, by this time, your whole self would have already experienced an energetic shift that can be felt for hours or even days!
As you feel united with the sound, you lose your sense of time and self. As you lose your identity to the material world, you are transported to another dimension that expands your sense of awareness. The sounds and vibrations rebalance and realign your parasympathetic nervous system, as your consciousness shifts from beta to alpha-theta and possibly delta state. This is when maximum healing can be experienced — and this is why, as a sound healing instrument, the gong is practically indispensable.
Next, let’s look at the bowls used in sound healing. Tibetan Buddhists believe sound is a source of spiritual strength and enlightenment. The ceremonial use of the Tibetan bowls is mysterious, despite them being centuries old. It is believed that the bowls are composed of seven metals: gold, silver, mercury, copper, iron, tin and lead. Each metal has its own distinctive sound, and the proportions of metals, as well as the shape and size of each bowl, are what give them their unique sound.
The bowls are not only beautiful to see and hold, but their sounds also vary considerably despite all external circumstances appearing to be the same. In other words, the magic of these bowls is that the same bowl will not sound exactly the same all the time. Each bowl has subtle overtones and undertones that seem to want to be expressed at particular times. I believe that the scientific theory on electromagnetic fields (described above when I discussed the gong) explains why the sounds generated by the bowls can vary depending on who is in the environment.
Quartz crystal bowls are also powerful healing instruments. The crystalline structure of the bowls respond to various forms of energy and create unique vibrational frequencies. These frequencies, in turn, resonate with the entire body. According to Marcel Vogel, a scientist who researched quartz crystals, the vibrations of the crystals radiate the energy and intention of the user, allowing the body to naturally align with the physical structure of the crystal. This is resonance at its best.
The last instrument we're going to look at is the voice.
In fact, it is possible to use the power of your own voice to create change within you by first hearing the frequency variations of the sounds you make and then increasing the variations.
Now, there are two ways of using the voice for sound healing. Mantras are a type of chanting which have been used historically throughout the world for spiritual awakening and healing. Mantras can be a sacred word or phrase; in truth, any sound created with a sacred intention can be a mantra. Mantras help slow down brain waves, which subsequently slow down your body rhythms. Their repeated use helps you sink into deeper states of consciousness — and that is why they are often used to aid meditation.
Kirtan is a type of mantra used in group ceremony. Kirtan means “chanting the holy names of God or singing songs about God.”
Mantras and Kirtan are used to strengthen your soul’s relationship with the divine.
Kirtan is often practiced as a call and response type of chanting using music. It is naturally rhythmic because the phrases and patterns are repeated in cycles. Group chanting can be very powerful, creating an energetic field that affects not only the individuals within the group, but the group as a whole entity.
Toning is another method of using sound for healing and enhancing enlightenment. It can be done alone or within a group. Toning is much more fundamental than Kirtan because is does not rely on words or musical rhythm. The purpose of toning is not to worship the Divine, but to restore the vibrational pattern of one’s whole self and align it with the other world. Basically, toning shifts your consciousness and increases well-being.
Gong Bath Meditations are one of the most effective forms of restorative healing practices. The sound vibrations create an effortless and profound sense of physical and mental relaxation and restoration. As a result, stress is naturally released and healing takes place on a molecular level. If you’re interested to know more about the science that supports sound healing, feel free to read my blog post, "The Science of Sound Healing".