Sound for Meditation and Healing

In my recent past, I haven’t been one to meditate much. I did try it on occasion, but didn’t go for long bouts of meditation, or try unique focuses or guidance. But lately, I’ve been wondering more about it and doing it with my newfound partner, sound.

I just started a somatic coaching course held by Tijen Genco. She is introducing us to a variety of energetic based practices. One of our readings, The Subtle Body by Cyndi Dale, she talks about how sound has unique properties and effects on the human body. For instance, she notes how some researchers think that sound governs the body’s growth, potentially even affecting DNA.

In the book Sound Healing for Beginners by Joshua Goldman and Alec Sims, it states:

Although the ear is our primary organ of hearing, its roles extend far beyond. The ear is the starting point for pathways that reach down to the deepest levels of our physiology and govern many of our core functions. Of equal or greater importance to hearing, the ear is the primary regulator of our sense of balance. In terms of our neurological wiring, nearly all cranial nerves lead to the ear. To list a few, the ear is closely associated with the optic nerve, the oculomotor nerve (which controls eyeball and eyelid movement), and the nerves that govern the musculature of the neck. The ear is also intimately tied in with the vagus nerve, the longest nerve in the body extending from the brain stem to the abdomen.

The vagus is integrally connected with many primary functions. Most interestingly, the vagus nerve governs the larynx, which is the physical structure that plays with the most fundamental role in vocalization. Thus, listening is intimately interrelated to creating vocal sounds. What we are able to hear synergistically influences the sounds we are able to create.

The vagus nerve also connects to the bronchi, the heart, and the gastrointestinal tract. This opens the gateway to insights regarding how sound and the ear play crucial roles in affecting vision, breathing, heart rate, digestion, and many other bodily functions. When one considers its far reaching connection, the ear could truly be though of as our master sensory organ!

Sound Healing for Beginners, p. 28-30

I knew music could affect moods, but could it do more than that? Considering the connection between the ear and other body organs, it is exciting to contemplate using sound to do much more than just having it to dance to (or annoy you when it’s too loud and harsh).

In our somatic course, we started looking into Eastern methods and examining sound for healing in our coaching sessions, along with the chakras as the 7 main energy centers of the body. The first sounds I tried was a scale of tones called the Solfeggio scale, where each note corresponds to a healing function. However, upon trying music based on the Solfeggio scale, it didn’t do anything for me. In fact, some of the tones turned me off!

I then tried some chants that were attuned to my chakras. I bought 3 sets from Healing Sounds: Chakra Chants, Chakra Chants 2, and Crystal Bowls Chakra Chants. Now THESE DID SOMETHING FOR ME! I could feel the vibration going through my entire core.

I found out that sound is individual and that not every song or sound resonates with everyone. So you have to try some out yourself and see what does and what does not resonate with you, and what effect you are after. And now, after a few tries, I am getting more and more aware of the effect that I want to feel when I hear a song, assuming I have a particular purpose in mind.

I also determined a need for good sound equipment. Not necessarily expensive, but definitely something that would deliver the songs in as pure a way as possible. That also means the harmonics and every other hidden frequency that might be vibrating in the background. As I read in my readings, it is the harmonics that can affect us as well, whether they come from a singer’s voice or from a well crafted instrument.

I landed on the Shure SRH440 Headphones, Sandisk Clip Jam MP3 Player, and added a headphone amp from Neotek. Of course I could have spent a lot more but these came all highly recommended and with high reviews. Importantly, the Sandisk Clip Jam has a high quality playback, and is used in therapeutic listening applications where high quality sound reproduction is critical for their music to work. The Neotek headphone amp brought up the low frequencies perfectly as some of them were feeling low or lost without it. And the Shure over ear headphones sealed off the world perfectly for me to immerse myself in the songs.

What effects have I been getting? Intense relaxation, calming. Re-centering. Awareness of lingering thoughts and emotions related to a given physical position, whose presence were enhanced by the meditative songs.

While basic meditation was just OK for me, the addition of songs, and certain songs in particular, ramped up the effects tremendously. I look forward to more discoveries, and all its healing effects, as I dive deeper into the use of sound as a healing modality, and a modality for self discovery.