Vibrational Sound Therapy
What it is, Where it is Used, and Research on the Benefits...
A Bit About Vibrational Sound Therapy
Vibrational sound therapy uses sound and low frequency vibration to penetrate the body on a cellular level. It calms the body's different systems and slows brainwaves to induce a state of deep relaxation, clarity and concentration. There are a range of potential emotional, physical and spiritual benefits to vibrational sound therapy. Some of these include:
• reduced stress and anxiety
• improved sense of wellbeing
• improved pain management and pain reduction
• improved sleep
• deepened meditative state
• energized, cleared and balanced energy
In my practice I use Himalayan singing bowls (a type of gong) and follow a Tibetan tradition of vibrational sound therapy. Following this tradition the client lays fully clothed on a mat while a series of singing bowls are placed on and around the body to create a sound bath. Each singing bowl has a different note that resonates with a different part or energy center (chakra) of the body. Because of this, the singing bowls are played in a series that reflects the identified needs of the client.
Different Fields of Work That Use Himalyan Singing Bowls
Himalayan singing bowls are used for a number of therapeutic pusposes. It largely depends on the practitioner's professional background. They are used in:
In an popular example from the medical field, Oncologist Mitch Gaynor used sound (including Tibetan singing bowls) extensively in his practice to reduce emotional and physical pain and improve treatment outcomes for cancer patients (See: http://gaynoroncology.com/). In another example, Diane Mandal, a certified Tibetan bowl teacher and healer, uses sound therapy to support emotional, physical and spiritual healing. A powerful example of her work was shared in her March 2015 newsletter for Sound Energy Healing. Her work with inmates in Vista jail led to a reduced recidivism (repeat offending) rate for those who participated in her meditation and sound healing sessions. What these specific examples point to is wide ranging benefits of vibrational sound therapy.
Resources on Vibrational Sound Therapy
The following selection of books, articles and research studies is a snippet of the work on the therapeutic use of vibrational sound and related therapies.
Tamara Goldsby, Michael Goldsby & Mary McWalters (2017). Effects of Singing Bowl Sound Meditation on Mood, Tension and Well-being: An Observational Study. Journal of Evidence-based Complimentary & Alternative Medicine 22 (3): 401-406.
Mitchell L. Gaynor MD (2002).The Healing Power of Sound: Recovery from Life-Threatening Illness Using Sound, Voice, and Music.
Jonathan Goldman (2002). Healing Sounds: The Power of Harmonics.
Boyd-Brewer, Chris, McCaffrey, Ruth. Vibroacoustic Sound Therapy Improves Pain Management and More. http://journals.lww.com/hnpjournal/Abstract/2004/05000/Vibroacoustic_Sound_Therapy_Improves_Pain.2.aspx
Lars-Olov Lundqvist, Gunilla Andersson, Jane Viding (2009). Effects of vibroacoustic music on challenging behaviors in individuals with autism and developmental disabilities. Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders 3, 390–400.
Eha Rüütel, Marika Ratnik, Eda Tamm & Heli Zilensk (2004). The Experience of Vibroacoustic Therapy in the Therapeutic Intervention of Adolescent Girls
Nordic Journal of Music Therapy 13 (1): 33-46.
Kim Salamon and Stefano J BeaulieuJ, (2005). Sound Therapy Induced Relaxation: Down Regulating Stress Processes and Pathologies
Med Sci Monit. 9(5): RA96-RA0.
Marie Menut. A personal account of using singing bowls in hospitals:
Research on the Benefits of Mindfulness
In my practice, mindfulness is used in conjuction with the singing bowls. Singing bowls and mindfulness work together to deepen the effects of the sessions. This short list includes a few studies on the different benefits of mindfulness and meditation:
Daphne M. Davis and Jeffrey A. Hayes (2011). What Are the Benefits of Mindfulness? A Practice Review of Psychotherapy-Related Research Pennsylvania State University. American Psychological Association. Vol. 48, No. 2, 198 –208.
S. Lazar, G. Bush, et al. (2000). Functional brain mapping of the relaxation response and meditation. NeuroReport. Vol. 11, 7, 1581-1585.
R. Semple, E. Reid, and L. Miller (2005). Treating anxiety with mindfulness: an open trial of mindfulness training for anxious children. Journal of Cognative Psychotherapy. Vol. 19, 4, 379-392.