By David Blyweiss, M.D., Advanced Natural Wellness
December 15, 2021
When I go to bed at night, I often use a sound app on my phone to help me sleep. I like to listen to cricket noises or rain. Anything from nature works. But sometimes I just want white noise. On those nights, I play an air conditioner background noise. It blocks out most other ambient noises and it’s constant.
But you would be surprised at the effect certain sounds can have on your health, and how sound is gaining ground for its role in relieving stress, soothing anxiety and positively shifting brain chemistry. In fact, we actually have two speakers in our March, 2022 “Planetary Health to Human Health” conference who will be speaking on the topic.
Sound has been used to soothe and stimulate since the beginning of time. For example, the unique sounds of the Andean panpipes, or pan flutes, have been around for thousands of years. Originally, they were made from bone and clay, but now they use bamboo.
The sounds produced by this instrument can be happy, sad, haunting and almost otherworldly. But Andean flute music is one of those relaxing sounds that you can listen to and experience an overwhelming sense of well-being.
And then there is the conch shell, also known as the “shell trumpet,” which has been treasured by both Hindus and Buddhists since ancient times. Conch shells were used as trumpets to get rid of negative energy and call for universal truth.
What is a Sound Bath?
Now, sound therapists and meditation instructors have created what are known as Sound Baths. They use unusual instruments to produce sounds of different frequencies that hum, vibrate and drone to relax and balance the body. Basically, you get “bathed” in sound waves. A sound bath administered by a professional includes guided meditation, along with the overlapping sounds.
Their arsenal of instruments includes things like singing bowls, chimes, tuning forks, rattles, bells and the voice – such as chanting “ohmm.” So it doesn’t have the rise and fall of melodies, harmonies and rhythms found in traditional music. It’s more like an audio collage of overtones.
The music produced by singing bowls, in particular, has been shown to significantly reduce pain levels, along with feelings of tension, anger, fatigue and depression.
And patients who meditate with singing bowl music show a greater reduction in blood pressure than those who meditate in silence.
When you’re feeling relaxed and balanced, when your pain levels are reduced and your blood pressure is lower, you will automatically lessen your body’s levels of inflammation. And as you know, inflammation plays a large role in your future health outcomes.
While a sound bath takes you into a deep state of meditation, you don’t necessarily need to go see a professional to gain the effects.
How to Create Your Own Sound Bath
If you like, you can create your own sound bath right in your home.
First, choose your sound bath. You can find a decent selection of free sound bath options here. I’m sure there are other websites with a lot of great options, just look around in the internet.
Then, darken the room and light a candle to set the tone. Put on some headphones to block out distractions, and settle down in a comfy spot.
Take a couple of long, deep breaths and then start your session.
I also like taking in natural sound baths.
You’ve heard about Forest Bathing or walking through the parks. Part of the reason they are so great at relieving stress is because of the noises you hear. The flutter of the leaves in the trees, the birds chirping or the gurgling of the nearby creek.
You can take a blanket with you and lay down with nature to get a 100% natural sound bath.
The ocean also provides a great place to immerse yourself with the sounds of nature.
You’ve got the gentle roar of the ocean, the waves breaking at the shore and the sounds of seagulls crying. While you’re at it, you get a good bunch of clean, ozonated salt air besides the sound.
No matter how you decide to get your sound therapy, just relax…listen… and enjoy.
Goldsby TL, Goldsby ME, McWalters M, Mills PJ. Effects of Singing Bowl Sound Meditation on Mood, Tension, and Well-being: An Observational Study. J Evid Based Complementary Altern Med. 2017;22(3):401-406.
Landry JM. Physiological and psychological effects of a Himalayan singing bowl in meditation practice: a quantitative analysis. Am J Health Promot. 2014 May-Jun;28(5):306-9.