What is Sound Healing?

A new kind of sound therapy has begun to attract a following...
Sound healing is a practice used by cultures as far-flung as the ancient Egyptians, Chinese, Native Americans, and even the United States military to treat mental illness, restore balance and happiness, and achieve peak performance. It is claimed that sound healing can treat depression, developmental disorders, anxiety, PTSD, and help manage physical and mental pain. For healthy individuals, managing one's sound environment can be a way to recover from daily stress and enhance productivity, communication, and a feeling of well-being.

Our physical and emotional — perhaps even spiritual — state can be conceived of as a particular blend of frequencies, from our heartbeats and blood pressure to the pace of our thoughts and movement. Due to a negative feedback loop, the human body and mind can sometimes remain in a self reinforcing state of stress or imbalance. The common admonition to simply snap out of it is not usually helpful because of this. The human body and mind are exquisitely attuned to the environment, so a more helpful approach is to adjust the environment to help us feel the way we want. The basic principle of sound healing is to introduce a particular frequency and rhythm that we will adapt our internal frequencies to, and thus help us overcome internal conflicts, blockages, and illness. This can be a sound, vibrations directly introduced into the body via direct contact, or both.
Sound healing is not a single method, but a wide-ranging collection of practices. On the spiritual side, sound meditation, singing fork therapy, and tuning fork therapy typically involve the receivers sitting or lying in a comfortable position while a practitioner plays instruments and sometimes leads the group in vocal sound healing exercises. Drumming circles are another popular method. On the developmental side, practices such as the Dalcroze and Bonny Methods teach music and employ other aids such as paintings. Finally, more medically based practices include vibroacoustic therapy, which has the receiver lie in a specially designed mat where speakers are placed to introduce vibrations to penetrate into deep tissue. Sound healing can be almost completely passive, or it can involve
In the West, the most familiar sound healing instrument is the crystal singing bowl. Other common instruments include the gong, bells, metal singing bowls, various crystal instruments such as the crystal pyramid, drums commonly the African djembe, Native American flute, rain sticks (shakers filled with pebbles), tuning forks which can be placed directly on various parts of the body, special beds and speakers that directly transmit vibrations, and more. However, the most powerful instrument of all is the human voice. Chant, affirmation, prayer, song, humming, and vocal toning (enunciation of various syllables such as the familiar yogic Om) are all easy and transformative techniques.

In the 21st century, one of the most beautiful and powerful sound healing instruments, the RAV Vast, was invented in Perm, Russia. Look out for our next article, Sound Healing and the RAV, so you can learn how to use your beautiful steel drum for sound healing on yourself and others.
RAV Vast sound healing improvisation
The article is written by David Duan, all rights reserved, copyright 2018.
David Duan
Composer, cellist, and sound healer
A Dean's Recognition Award recipient and multiple concerto competition winner, he has performed around the world with a variety of ensembles and orchestras. A graduate of New York University and the Peabody Preparatory of the Johns Hopkins University, he lives in Maryland.

Please contact david.duan@nyu.edu for information, gigs, commissions, collaboration, and more.

Instagram: davidduan
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