Sound Healing Therapy
The basis for sound as a tool for healing and expansion of human consciousness is the understanding of the law of physics, that all matter is vibrating at different frequencies, the chair we sit on, the food we eat, the rocks. the trees, and that each of us is vibrating on many levels from the subatomic to the cellular level, from the rhythm of our respiration to the pulse of our heart, and the micro electrical pulses of our nervous system. Science is proving that everything in the Universe is vibrating, and that it is this vibration that is at the core of what connects and coheres everything.
Sound as a modality of energy medicine, employs sound vibration to access healing and promote wellness in the human system, including the expansion of consciousness.
Sound has been used as a tool for promoting physical and emotional health since before the written word and, as a healing science and practice, is deeply rooted in ancient cultures and advanced civilisations across the world. For thousands of years, from Pythagoras, Plato, and the chants of the Vedas in India and the Tibetan monks in the Himalayas, sound has been used to heal. Even though people from different cultures have been using vibrations for effective healing practice for centuries, only recently scientists have begun studying the impact music and sound on human emotions. It was in the 1950’s that a distinct research team ventured into the realm of sound therapy and its benefits.
Since then, a growing body of evidence points to the effectiveness of sound therapy and the positive emotional results it has in people undergoing drug rehabilitation.
Sound Healing, mental health and recovery
Anxiety and stress are primal factors that stand in the way of substance misuse and behavioural addiction recovery. Sound therapy uses resonance, rhythm, and vibration to create positive changes at a cellular level and relieves stress. Evidence shows that the outcomes of sound therapy are positive and beneficial to patients’ behaviour, especially when paired with other scientific methods, such as individual therapy, behavioural therapy, etc.
The human body is a living system of vibrations and wavelengths, and a healthy body vibrates at its own natural frequency. Where there is a physical or mental and even emotional imbalance, for instance due to stress, anxiety, depression, trauma, old childhood emotions that were traumatic to any extent and that have not been resolved, this natural frequency is disturbed and out of tune. When sound through a consistent vibration is introduced to the physical and energetic field, these vibrations spread quickly because the body is about 90% water and sound travels faster through water. Sound travels through energy pathways of the body, helping the system to come back into tune with its own frequency. For example, some of the common sound healing instruments such as crystal bowls, singing bowls, tuning forks, gongs etc., as well as all the vowels that can be sounded through the human voice, create coherent (healing) vibrations and alter brain waves to produce various levels of relaxation (Alpha, Theta and Delta waves), increasing the production of serotonin, dopamine and endorphin and are thus, excellent for treating depression and relieving anxiety, stress, and emotional blockages.
Using sound, rhythm, and vibration in conjunction with other conventional or alternative therapies, such as individual or group sessions, yoga, exercise or breathwork, it enables patients to tackle not only the physical effects of the addiction, but the emotional and mental ones too.
Often, addiction also leads to the development of a co-occurring conditions (or vice versa), such as depression, and cleansing the body of the substance isn’t enough for a complete and lasting recovery, patients must also address the physiological and emotional issues that may have led to the abusive behaviour in the first place. Sound therapy allows us to tackle addiction at brainwave level, thus making it easier for patients to achieve a meditative state and come to terms with their problems.
In addition, sound therapy can offer our clients a path to rediscover their emotional core using music or sound to get to deeper issues that might be at play. Sound therapy may also alleviate boredom and loneliness, two intense relapse triggers for most fighting addiction and mental health disorders. Offered in tandem with other modalities for treatment like meditation, music and meditation tracks can become a powerful ally to help you discover the purpose and meaning of your life.
Sound therapy is already widely employed in hospitals, schools, and psychological treatment programmes as an effective treatment to reduce stress, lower blood pressure, alleviate pain, overcome learning disabilities Sound therapists world-wide are successfully treating everything from stress to Parkinson's disease to hormonal problems, misaligned vertebrae or depression.
If we understand what sound is, we will understand what benefits arise for our health from its vibrations.
Sound is not only the very substance of matter, the science of cymatics shows us that sound also has a strong impact upon substance. Renowned sound therapist and researcher Dr. John Beulieu, ND, PhD explains:
"The fundamental principle of Energy Medicine is that an underlying energy field generates physical, emotional, and mental behaviours or symptoms. If we change the energy field, the physical, emotional, and mental behaviours will also change."
In ancient Sumerian society and science for example, this was a known fact. This is why practices like chanting and vocal toning were highly valued in advanced cultures and still are an integral part of the health and spiritual practices to this day. The seed syllable, OM, for example, causes a certain frequency to imprint upon the energetic field around it, and in this way changes matter. The harmonics of sound work to create order out of chaos. Disease, mental and physical, one might say, is a form of chaos in the body and energetic field.
Each sound has its own velocity, intensity, frequency, pitch and wavelength, and it is not necessary that one be consciously aware of a sound for it to have a healing effect because sound creates a response in the entire body, not just the ear.
Fabian Maman, one of the world's leading experts on vibrational sound healing, conducted a biology experiment in the early 1980s at the University of Jussieu in Paris, showing the impacts of sound on human cells and their energy field. He found that through a series of acoustic sounds, cancer cells
would explode and healthy cells
Here at QUINTA DA FE (FAITH RETREATS™), we use different ways to incorporate the healing power of sound and rhythm through vocal toning, sound baths and drumming circles.
Vocal toning is a simple yet powerful technique using the voice to harmonise and balance our cells and energetic pathways and centres (chakras).
Whereas chanting (also known to heal, open and harmonise) uses rhythm, vocal toning is the creation of extended vocal sounds on a single vowel. It is accessible to everyone regardless of vocal ability or training. By literally massaging body and mind from the inside out, meditative toning can help you focus and relax, release negative emotions, reduce stress, and improve stamina and concentration. Toning restores balance and harmony to the mind and body as it synchronises brainwaves and helps to relieve to tension within a few minutes.
A simple yet powerful toning practice that we regularly use at QUINTA DA FE (FAITH RETREATS™) is the toning of our chakras, or energy centres. The purpose of this practice is to explore and connect to energy inside and outside your body, which assists in tuning you into alignment internally through your own energy body. Well-known sound healer Jonathan Goldman's chakra toning system, came out of many years of intensive research into various mystical sound practices, through which he discovered the combination of certain vowel sounds with pitches can resonate the various chakras of the traditional Vedic system. The pitches will differ from person to person and even day to day, so it is interesting and important to spend time observing these differences during the sounding of each chakra to become attuned to the resonance in your own body.
You can use this as a tool for self-diagnosis and a sonic massage for the chakras.
Begin by finding a comfortable seated position, lengthening the spine up through the crown of your head and grounding down through your sitting bones.
Connect to deep breathing into your belly and to presence.
Allow your voice to ride the flow of your out-breath. It is not necessary to make loud sounds and push the breath out at all; simply let go and surrender to the sound. If doing this in a group, you may find that your sound naturally differs from those of others; continue to keep your awareness on yourself.
As you sound, or tone, observe what may arise in the body, mind, emotions, etc. Notice if you find it difficult to make a sound, or if the sound feels "stuck" in some way. Also notice if you feel pain or tension in the physical body.
After each chakra, allow for silence and observation.
Many different people have different approaches, and to begin with the centre, the heart and 4th chakra, is just one way. We find that it creates a solid foundation from which we can then explore the lower and the higher chakras.
Bring the awareness to the centre of your chest, to your heart space. On your inhale, breathe deeply into the heart and on the exhale, allow the jaw to lightly drop to form a sustained, open and clear "AH" tone (as in "father"). Experiment with the pitch of the sound until you feel that it is resonating your heart and continue to sound for several breath cycles.
Navel (Solar Plexus)
Next, draw your attention to your navel, the 3rd chakra. On your inhale, breathe into your navel and on the exhale, voice a sustained "OH" tone (as in "go"), which is slightly lower in pitch than the heart tone. Experiment with the pitch again to find where it resonates in the 3rd chakra. Continue to sound this chakra for several breath cycles.
Next, draw your attention to your 2nd chakra, often called the sacral chakra, located a few inches below the navel. Inhale into this space and exhale an "OOH" tone (as in "you"), which is lower in pitch than the navel. Experiment with the pitch until you find the most resonate sound, and continue this for several breath cycles.
Draw your attention to your 1st chakra, often called the root or base chakra, located between the genitals and the anus, connecting you to the Earth. Inhale into your root and exhale an "UH" tone (as in "huh"). Often this sound is at the very bottom of your range and can sometimes become guttural, into the throat. Experiment with the pitch until you find the most resonate sound and continue this for several breath cycles. (Note: Be careful to only allow the pitch to go as deep as is comfortable without straining the throat.)
Next, inhale deeply to tone back up from the Root through the Sacral and Navel to the Heart. Rest here for a few breath cycles toning with "AH" before continuing with the upper chakras.
Bring the awareness to the throat, the 5th chakra. Inhale into the throat and exhale an "EYE" (as in "I"), which is slightly higher in pitch than your heart tone. Experiment with the pitch to find where it most resonates the throat and continue for a few breath cycles. (Note: Sometimes in the throat we experience a voice "break" whilst toning this chakra; it is helpful to find a placement of the sound that is comfortable and does not strain the voice or cause need to push the breath out.)
Bring the awareness to the third eye, 6th chakra, located between and a little above the eyes, slightly into the forehead. Inhale into your third eye and exhale an "AYE" tone (as in "say"), which will be slightly higher in pitch than the throat tone. Experiment with the pitch until you find where most resonates with the third eye. Continue toning this sound for several breath cycles.
Bring the awareness to the crown, the seventh chakra located on the top of the head. It is the highest you can comfortably create, an "EEE" tone (as in "me"). Experiment with this pitch to find where it most resonates the crown and continue toning for several breath cycles. (Note: Sometimes at the top of our range there is a tendency to strain the neck or throat to achieve a sound; remember to tone in a sustainable way and to follow what is comfortable in the voice.)
Next, inhale deeply and exhale to tone down from the Crown chakra tone through the Third Eye and Throat back to the Heart. Rest here in the Heart tone for a few breath cycles toning with "AH" before coming into silence.
What to expect
During toning it is common to experience yawning as you activate your energetic centres and blockages are released. It is important to continue the toning especially at that stage as such release is a good sign that the sound of your voice has an effect. Also notice if at any point you find it difficult to make a sound, if the sound feels "stuck" in some way or if and where you feel pain or tension in the physical body.
A sound bath with us is an experience in which gongs, singing bowls, tuning forks, chimes and sometimes drums are played in a way to promote a more relaxed mind and nervous system. Often these instruments are played from one place, sometimes the practitioner moves around the space and sometimes they are played over the body. These sounds can guide listeners on a journey of self-discovery and inner exploration, promote deep relaxation and peace, expansion of consciousness, and help to cleanse and activate the body’s entire energetic system.
Sound bath Etiquette
Arrive free of cologne, perfume, or strong essential oil scents.
Do not touch the sound bath instruments (even if you are super curious).
Arrive at 10 minutes early so you can be sound bath ready at the scheduled start time. This gives you time to settle in, get comfortable and cosy, and relax.
Do not talk during the sound bath and be mindful of how you move when adjusting your lying position. Often participants feel very relaxed and open during a sound bath and any disharmonious sounds can feel amplified and stressful.
What to expect
During a sound bath you may relax in a comfortable position, usually laying on your back, and simply listen and stay present with the sounds what you are experiencing. It is important to keep breathing consciously throughout the sound bath to receive optimal effect. Each sound bath experience is unique – sometimes more physical sensations are felt, other times it feels like an emotional journey, and other times people will see colours, shapes, or images like a waking dream. Occasionally the sound bath will activate the higher mind and people will receive creative insights or work out issues they could not solve prior. Generally, a deep state of relaxation of the body and mind is achieved, and most people look and feel brighter and more relaxed after a sound bath.
Drumming is an ancient approach to healing that focuses on self-expression. This therapy has been used for thousands of years by indigenous people to strengthen and maintain physical, mental and spiritual health as well as a celebration of community.
Drumming teaches focus in a playful way. Drumming can also release emotional blocks and relieve stress. A drum circle gets a group communicating, listening to one another and working as a team which establishes a sense of community and involvement.
Research reviews indicate that drumming enhances recovery through inducing relaxation and enhancing theta-wave production and brain-wave synchronization. Drumming produces pleasurable experiences, enhanced awareness of preconscious dynamics, release of emotional trauma, and reintegration of self. Drumming alleviates self-centeredness, isolation, and alienation, creating a sense of connectedness with self and others. Drumming provides a secular approach to accessing a higher power and applying spiritual perspectives. Drumming circles have applications as complementary addiction therapy, even for repeated relapse and when other counseling modalities have failed.
Recent publications reveal that substance abuse rehabilitation programs have incorporated drumming and related community and shamanic activities into substance abuse treatment. Often promoted as “Drumming out Drugs,” these programs are incorporated in major rehabilitation programs, community centers, conference workshops and training programs, and prison systems. Although systematic evaluations of the effectiveness of drumming activities are lacking, experiences of counsellors and clients indicate that drumming can play a substantial role in addressing addiction.
Evidence suggesting that drumming enhances substance abuse recovery is found in studies on psychophysiological effects of drumming and the therapeutic applications to addictions recovery of altered states of consciousness, meditation, shamanism, and other shamanic practices.
The drum circles at QUINTA DA FE (FAITH RETREATS™) are fun and rewarding, enabling us to release inner emotions as well as stress whilst getting into a meditative state.
What to expect
During a drumming circle some people may experience a sense of shame, especially if it is their first time with a drum or they believe that they need to have a skill in playing. For a drumming circle there is no skill needed. All you need is an openness to explore the experience with an open mind and to simply allow yourself to stay in the moment and have fun! Many people then experience moments of deep peace, unity with the group, happiness, freedom, focus, and flow. It is in these moments that we can re-discovery again the natural high that is so freely available to us and we once knew so well as young children, but what we have forgotten because other emotions and beliefs have begun to be more dominant in our lives.
Sound is a powerful tool for healing on a deep cellular and brain level, enabling us to holistically initiate change on a physical, emotional, and energetic level in a gentle and non-intrusive way.
Here at QUINTA DA FE (FAITH RETREATS™) our experienced practitioners work on an intuitive level, “tuning into” what is needed for the individual or the group at the time. This allows us to tailor each session to the needs of our clients, sometimes in subtle and sometimes in more apparent ways. We understand that healing is holistic in the true sense and that it is important to be in tune with our clients.