Sound is a fundamental part of who we are. Since time immemorial we have used sound to assess our surroundings (from early man listening for prey to more modern use of, say, nautical sonar), sense safety or danger, understand or share emotions and create a mood. The sound of our words enables us to communicate and share stories; musical sounds – an art form – enable us to uplift, soothe and restore both ourselves and others; sacred sounds make us feel able to connect to something beyond ourselves, alter our consciousness and nurture our spiritual connection.
Sound has the power to change not just our emotional and spiritual wellbeing, but our physical wellbeing, too.
The use of therapeutic sound is used in a specific way with the intention of healing mind, body and emotions, as well as for the transformation of consciousness (itself, as we’ll see, a path to wellbeing).
Our brains have evolved to respond to certain sounds in certain ways – for example, a scream sends a surge of adrenaline into our system and the soothing rhythm of the sounds of a lullaby have a relaxing effect on body and mind, encouraging us to sleep. We respond to sound not only with our consciousness, but also with our physical selves. Think of the times a song from your past gave you goosebumps (your brain triggers the release of dopamine, the chemical transmitter related to feelings of pleasure); or the cries of a baby have led to an overwhelming need to protect (your brain triggers the release of oxytocin, the love and bonding hormone).
The right sounds can energize you, lift your spirits, relax you and even send you into a trance. Equally, sound can trigger anger, frustration or anxiety – the endless hammering of a drill while you’re trying to concentrate, the nonstop crying of a baby or the unhappy sighs of a loved one, for example.
Sound affects each and every one of us at every level – physical, mental, emotional and spiritual. We use sound to influence our mood every day. If you were meeting your partner for a romantic date, what music would you choose to listen to as you got ready? Perhaps something that puts you into a loving and romantic mood. Now think about what you would play if you were meeting your best friends for a night on the town. You’d probably choose something energetic or uplifting. Music is one form of sound – but there are many more.
To know more, see What is Sound Healing? by Lyz Cooper.
This sound-file is part of a research project for a masters degree in Applied Music Psychology which aimed to explore the therapeutic benefits of sound induced altered states of consciousness (ASC).
You can read the results here.
Lyz Cooper, sound therapist and founder of the British Academy of Sound Therapy (BAST), has been involved inholistic health since 1982, with sound therapy since 1994 and was the first person in the UK to formulate a therapeutic sound method which was officially recognised by the Institute for Complementary and Natural Medicine (ICNM) in 1997. She has an MA in Education and an MSc in Applied Music Psychology, and in 2010 the ICNM recognised her work with a fellowship for her outstanding contribution to therapeutic sound worldwide. Lyz is co-founder of the Therapeutic Sound Association, whose aim it is to raise awareness of the benefits of working with sound. She is among those at the forefront of therapeutic sound research and training in the world, and her work is regularly featured in the worldwide press.