Good Vibrations: Sound Baths for Better Health

One good thing about music, when it hits you, you feel no pain. –Bob Marley

Had your Sound Bath this week?

If so, you probably feel a lot more tuned up, connected, and maybe even pain-free. And a lot more in tune with the promise expressed in the wisdom that, “Sound will be the medicine of the future” as the late healer Edgar Cayce, put it.

Actually, that future is now.

Sound (no, not the kind on your Spotify playlists) can be used creatively as a tool to connect us to inner healing and expanded states of awareness. After all, scientifically speaking, all creation comes from sound, and from sound comes light. Sound has been used since antiquity to cure humans of bodily, mental and emotional distress, according to the Sound Healing Institute in Sausalito, California.

And The National Institutes of Health agree.  Their Trans-NIH Music and Health Working group led a workshop in 2017 bringing together neuroscientists, music therapists, and supporters of both biomedical research and the arts. They discussed the current research on the interaction of music and the brain as well as how music is used as therapy.

Sound is good medicine. The NIH is spending $20 million over five years to study music’s potential to ease symptoms of an array of disorders including Parkinson’s disease, stroke, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Sound-healing therapies are also being used to address fibromyalgia, digestive issues, and autoimmune disorders.

But serious illness aside, sound healing is a pleasant (even blissful) passive experience. Listening to specific sounds and letting their vibrations echo through your body can be a safe and drug-free route to lowering ordinary stress, processing emotions, and blocking pain. Using tuning forks, especially so-called osteophonic tuning forks (which vibrate at lower frequencies), sound healing facilitators can stimulate the release of nitric oxide, a free radical molecule that positively affects pain transmission and control. In other words, these frequencies create a physiological reaction, while the sound itself helps to influence the auditory system, modifying the body’s relationship to what hurts.

Sound healing can use various musical instruments.  Even better, it can use the human voice. Vocal sound healing taps into the power of intention, focus, energy, and harmonics to activate energy flow, release tension, and often reverse trauma and depression.  And it is in your hands and in your voice to create a stable frequency for fluctuating brain waves to attach to. This is called “entrainment.”

Once you entrain your brainwaves, you can begin to down-shift normal beta state (normal waking consciousness) to alpha (relaxed consciousness), and perhaps even reach theta (meditative state) and delta (sleep, where internal healing can occur). Ahhhh…

Ready for a sound bath tune-up?

Remember, just as no one yoga pose or nutritional supplement or breathing practice is right for everyone, no form of sound therapy is up everyone’s auditory alley, either. You will have to experiment with it to see what speaks to your own unique mind and body.

In short, a sound bath is an immersion in an environment of sound created by instruments or the human voice for the purpose of healing. Here’s how to do it yourself


Simple but profound and requires no musical aptitude. And you’ve already done it if you’ve practiced yoga (think “OM”) or done the hum in certain Hindu and Tibetan spiritual practices. According to  Healing Sounds, humming can increase, lymphatic circulation, create new neural pathways; even improve the health of the sinuses. Take a few deep breaths, and hum with your mouth closed through your nose. You can hum for a constant 15 seconds or in an on and off pattern. Or humming for a set period with pauses.  Create your own pattern. You can hum in different registers, high or low. And for a deeper vibrational effect, cover your ears with hands or noise-blocking headphones.


Just as you break down eating patterns into 3 meals a day, you can do the same with music. Practitioners suggest you start the day listening to music that fosters gratitude and appreciation for life’s gifts. Pause mid-day to feed your body and soul with 5 minutes of music that answers the need you feel—for calming, or inspiration, or for transport to another time and place (maybe a 1990s polka, maybe a burst of Mozart, maybe Tibetan singing bowls). Before bedtime, turn on meditative music or nature sounds music to invite sleep.


*The most passive method for sound healing to promote serenity is simply to lie down and let yourself be bathed in sound waves. The best choices are music that features gongs, crystal singing bowls, Tibetan bowls, chimes, harps, rattles, Native American and Peruvian flutes and drums, and tuning forks.

*Spend some time listening to different instruments and arrangements at different tempos and design your own program(s). You can “bathe” for as little as five minutes or as long as an hour.

*Remove all distractions including artificial light, electronic devices, outside noises, and other stimuli.

*Cover up with a blanket or use an eye mask.

*Headphones or good quality speakers can improve the experience.

*Love Tibetan singing bowls? Consider investing in an inexpensive set for home use.

*Alternately you can do some stretching or yoga moves while you listen, or even watch a YouTube video devoted to sound healing using color therapy or meditation or nature scenes.

“Where words fail, “said Danish fairy tale author Hans Christian Andersen, “music speaks”. And heals, he might have added.

-Frances Goulart


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