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The Healing Power of Sound - Getting In Tune

Saturday, 01 May 2010 00:00

Written by Karen Olson, Experience Life

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The Healing Power of Sound
Getting In Tune
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But does it work? Yes, say sound therapists, who have successfully treated everything from stress to Parkinson’s disease to hormonal problems. Jonathan Goldman, director of the Sound Healers Association in Boulder, Colo., has seen tuning forks alleviate many maladies, including headaches and misaligned vertebrae. Diane Mandle, a certified sound healer in Encinitas, Calif., uses Tibetan singing bowls to bring her clients’ bodies back in tune.

In her article “Sound Healing With Tibetan Bowls,” first published by the Holistic Health Network, Mandle writes that her clients have experienced “relief from pain and discomfort, clearing of sinuses, shifting out of depression, [improved] ability to sleep . . . , revitalization and clarity, feeling of well-being, great connectedness, and deep personal transformation.”

Sounds good, right? And perhaps a little strange?

“Using forks and bowls for anything other than dinner may seem to some people like New Age nonsense,” writes Stephanie Rosenbloom in a November 2005 article in The New York Times. “But healers, sometimes called sounders, argue that sound can have physiological effects because its vibrations are not merely heart but also felt. And vibrations, they say, can lower heart-rate variability, relax brain-wave patterns and reduce respiratory rates.”

Stress hormones decrease under these conditions, which is good news for everyone, but especially for people with a serious illness. That’s one reason Mitchell Gaynor, MD, an oncologist and assistant clinical professor at Cornell University’s Weill Medical College in New York, uses singing bowls with his cancer patients. Gaynor sees sound as part of a broader trend toward the humanization of medicine in which the whole person, not just the part that’s broken, is addressed.

“I believe that sound can play a role in virtually any medical disorder, since it redresses imbalances on every level of physiologic functioning,” he writes in his book The Healing Power of Sound: Recovery from Life-Threatening Illness Using Sound, Voice and Music (Shambhala, 1999).

The Future of Healing
Sound therapy, many experts say, is at the cutting edge of healing. And soon, they insist, like yoga and meditation, it will enter the mainstream.

The truth is, you’re probably already using sound therapy in your life. Several years ago, three out of four people who responded to a Prevention magazine health survey said that they listen to music to ease tension and stress. Of those, 82 percent reported that it brought them significant relief.

So even if you’re not interested in investing in a fancy tuning fork or a singing bowl, sound healing is still available to you. The next time you need a little pick-me-up or mellow-me-out, hum a little tune, or, better yet, go for a walk and enjoy nature’s own healing harmonies.

Karen Olson is a Minneapolis-based writer and editor.

Experience Life magazine is an award-winning health and fitness publication that aims to empower people to live their best, most authentic lives, and challenges the conventions of hype, gimmicks and superficiality in favor of a discerning, whole-person perspective. Visit www.experiencelifemag.com to learn more and to sign up for the Experience Life newsletter, or to subscribe to the print or digital version.



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