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Mind, body, spirit

Sound Meditation: Origins and How It Works

Sound-based healing dates back to prehistoric times when shamans chanted and drummed to heal people. Ancient cultures in Australia, Egypt, and India are all known to have used sound and music to facilitate healing. The first known culture to heal with sound are the Aboriginal people of Australia. For at least 40,000 years didgeridoo has been used as a healing tool. The Aborigines healed broken bones, muscle tears, and other kinds of illnesses using this enigmatic musical instrument.

Drums and rattles are two of the earliest known musical instruments in Egyptian and Babylonian cultures. The low frequency sounds from drums and the ultrasound created by rattles are now both scientifically known to accelerate healing. Ancient cultures in India believed that harmonious sounds could be used to heal the body at a cellular level. Nada Yoga is a modern manifestation of one such ancient science that celebrates the effect of musical vibrations on the human body.

Despite its rich history, Sound-based healing had almost disappeared in the West until the 1930s, when acoustic researchers rediscovered the medical properties of ultrasound waves. Today, there is a vast amount of scientific research on the healing benefits of ultrasound waves, examples include its use in breaking up kidney stones and shrinking tumors.

Although science is only now beginning to explain how sound heals, the power of sound meditation is endless! One study published in the Journal of Evidence-Based Integrative Medicine found that an hour-long sound meditation helped people reduce tension, anger, fatigue, anxiety, and depression while increasing a sense of spiritual well-being.

The study was based on sound meditation using a range of Tibetan singing bowls, crystal singing bowls, gongs, Ting-Shas (tiny cymbals), Dorges (bells), Didgeridoos, and other small bells. The main instrument involved was the singing bowl, which was used for about 95% of the session. People who had never done sound meditation experienced significantly less tension and anxiety afterward, as well as those who had done it before.

Another study of people with fibromyalgia found that ten treatments (twice per week for five weeks) of low-frequency sound stimulation improved sleep and decreased pain, allowing nearly three-fourths of participants to reduce pain medication.

Research has shown that sound-based vibration treatment can be helpful for managing pain (arthritis, menstrual, postoperative, knee replacement, etc). And it can also help improve mobility, reduce muscle pain / stiffness, increase blood circulation, and lower blood pressure.