The Science of Sound Healing & Music Therapy

How music can reduce your stress, improve mental health and soothe your body and soul.

Woman Exercising With Headphones
Photo: Freepik

If the life changes, isolation and uncertainty from COVID-19 have left you jittery, unfocused, or unable to sleep, you aren’t alone. Stressors like these leave lasting effects on our bodies while a relaxed nervous system can encourage physical and mental healing. While it might seem impossible to relax these days, music can help through a process called sound healing.

What makes sound healing special is that it’s readily available and can affect your body and brain in several ways. Listening to music floods our brains with dopamine. It also releases oxytocin, a natural painkiller. 

When one tone is played to one ear, and a different tone is played to the other, the two hemispheres of the brain connect and create a third (internal) tone called a binaural beat. This synchronizes the brain, providing clarity, alertness, and greater concentration. Our own favourite playlists can be shown to have similar effects. 

Sound healing uses various techniques to address specific issues. For example, vibrational therapy uses vibrations from gongs and tuning forks to relax the mind and body. Binaural beats use auditory stimulation to synchronize and balance brainwaves to achieve a state where learning and healing can occur. With the body relaxed and blood pressure lowered, circulation and respiratory rates improve. 

Sound healing also stabilizes the limbic system involved in motivation, emotion, learning, and memory. The body is calmed, breathing becomes rhythmic, and the muscles relax. Insomnia can be greatly improved because sound healing allows the mind to move into slower rhythms that lead to sleep. 

Those with depression have been found to possess lower levels of serotonin or dopamine. Sound healing is believed to enable the brain to produce more of these neurotransmitters. PTSD patients often respond to low-pitched or slow music which help bring a state of deeper relaxation to enable the body to regenerate and heal. 

Sound therapy can also retrain your brain to relax, cooling down your fight or flight response. That’s why it is often used for chronic pains and migraines as well as more serious illnesses. Since 70 per cent of the nervous system is in the brain, it makes sense that body’s healing process begins there as well. 

So turn up the tunes and get your groove on. It’ll do your brain good! 

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