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Experts on benefits of sound therapy and how to get started

Updated on: 05 April,2021 11:54 AM IST  |  Mumbai
Dalreen Ramos |

A recent study shed light on how listening to natural sounds can have significant health benefits. If you wish to explore sound therapy for your physical and mental well-being, experts tell you how to get started

Experts on benefits of sound therapy and how to get started

A past sound therapy workshop conducted by Kamakshi and Vishala Khurana

At a time when our homes have become our world, connecting to nature and achieving a sense of calm have become all the more essential. What helps to ease this process, as a new study states, is sound. The report by Rachel Buxton, a research scientist at Carleton University, and researchers from the Michigan State University, Colorado State University and the National Park Service, found that people who listened to natural sounds experienced decreased pain and stress, and improved mood and cognitive performance. The history of sound therapy dates back to prehistoric times, and it can be used to help with a range of conditions. Experts share how you can get started, and practices that work for specific ailments.

Decluttering your mind

Priyanka Patel using the tuning fork on a client in a session last year
Priyanka Patel using the tuning fork on a client in a session last year

“Sound brings your attention back to the present moment,” asserts sound healing therapist Priyanka Patel. The founder of Thane-based Sound Healing India practises a range of therapies that make use of gongs, singing bowls, tuning forks and verbal tones. The kind of instrument doesn’t matter in helping with a specific ailment; it depends what the client connects with. “If you use your voice and are able to connect with it in that moment, it will help you. So, when a client walks in, I don’t play one single instrument,” she says. Sound does not heal instantly. Menon insists that the process takes time. “If you come to me saying, ‘I have a migraine. Please heal it.’ It won’t happen. But eventually once you experience emotional release the migraine will be alleviated,” she explains.

Relieving stress and anxiety, and improving cognitive skills
Kamakshi and Vishala Khurana’s Indian classical music-led venture, The Sound Space conducts sound bath sessions. A sound bath is essentially an immersive experience where they create sounds using different instruments as well as their voice, at a certain frequency for relaxation. Although it is best carried out by a professional, Kamakshi shares that you can even try it out at home by following a video tutorial or buying a kit online — a quiet and comfortable ambience is key.

“Even one session of a sound bath has a lasting effect. But if you have a specific goal, like say if you’re working with children who are hearing-impaired, it can take at least six months to see results. Whereas, if you’re doing it for general well-being, one session every week for at least six weeks should suffice,” Kamakshi explains. Vishala adds that raagas and their note combinations can also help with relaxation. “Raag Darbari was created by Tansen especially for Akbar, who had stressful days in court. It is generally sung in the late evening or at nighttime, and all the note combinations that belong in it are soothing and relaxing. Also, different instruments have a different impact; percussion instruments make use of the left and right part of the brain and help in concentration, while string instruments may bring your anxiety levels down.”

As a music therapist and co-founder of the company MuzArt, Samay Ajmera says that the key to healing is to listen to the right music. “Simple, repetitive and instrumental is what usually works. When there are lyrics, people tend to make their own meaning out of it and it can cause more trauma. You can go to a streaming site and make a playlist of sounds you like. But you need to make a habit of listening to it or even combine it with meditation,” he informs.

Psychosomatic and musculoskeletal conditions

Dr Rashmi Menon uses Tibetan singing bowls in her practice
Dr Rashmi Menon uses Tibetan singing bowls in her practice

Holistic medicine practitioner Dr Rashmi Menon, says the benefits of sound therapy materialise immediately on ailments that are psychosomatic in nature. Take, for example, a person with joint pain that gets aggravated due to stress. Sound therapy, specifically through the use of Tibetan singing bowls and their vibrations, also helps when muscles are tense. “One of my patients, a singer, had problems with her vocal chords, which speech therapy did not help relieve. We made use of the bowls every day for two weeks and her voice became smoother,” she informs. The technique, she explains, is conducted after a brief history of the patient is taken. They are then put in a relaxed position through guided meditation. The appropriate bowl is chosen and then the problem area is targeted by keeping the bowl either on the body or around it, depending on the sensitivity of the area.

Some must-knows
There is no governing body for the domain of alternative practices like sound therapy. So, Menon states that word-of-mouth is the best way to proceed. If you don’t have anyone to help you out, she suggests checking out the International Academy of Sound Healing, which certifies practitioners through intensive training, for leads. 
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