Music is the background to our lives.
It’s on the car radio, keeping us pumped as we run, piped through the office, and irritating us in elevators.
Given how much music we listen to, wouldn’t it be wonderful if music could do something more than just entertain us, lift our mood, or make us want to dance?
Turns out it can.
Listening to music can make you healthier. We’re talking better concentration, relaxation, wellbeing, even pain relief.
But Beyoncé or Katy Perry won’t cut it.
This is sound therapy, a complementary therapy rooted in thousand-year-old practices.
I first heard of sound therapy over a decade ago, when a friend raved about the Jack Canfield-endorsed Holosync program, a sound system designed to facilitate deeper meditation.
He loaned me the CD so I could try it myself. I enjoyed the sound of rain falling and gongs, but I didn’t find it any different from other soothing kinds of background music. Only later did I learn that, without headphones, the benefits of this particular type of sound therapy disappear.
Holosync famously promises to help you “meditate deeper than a Zen monk at the push of a button,” but that’s not everyone’s cup of tea.
Some people just want to focus more deeply, study better, or get rid of a nagging headache.
There are audio tracks for those goals, too.
To find them, just do a YouTube search for “binaural beats.”
You’ll find page after page of audio tracks for sleep, healing, study, headache relief, and even out-there stuff like astral projection and lucid dreaming.
But do they really work?
First of all, let me clarify that sound therapy is not a proven science. Studies have shown benefits treating depression, pain, addictions, and stress, but others shrug off the claims made by sound therapists as pseudo-science.
As with all complementary therapies, your experience is what matters most.
If it helps, use it. If it doesn’t, discard it.
I’ve used music to aid concentration for over a decade. When I’m tired or my brain is foggy, I need extra help to focus. Binaural beats on YouTube have been a lifesaver. Frankly, they beat coffee hands-down.
But sound therapy isn’t just limited to pre-recorded sound tracks.
Sound therapists see clients one-on-one. They use a combination of Tibetan bowls, tuning forks, chimes, tones, and other instruments to work on the client’s energy body in real time.
Different therapists describe the healing mechanism of sound differently. Some talk about vibrational alignment and chakras. Others talk about meridians and the flow of chi.
Still others talk about the mystical meaning of the Solfeggio frequencies, while others wrap their explanation in neuroscience.
You don’t have to buy the explanation behind the efficacy of particular sound therapies to experience their benefits.
A friend of mine makes spiritually-inspired flute music. Her tracks help people experience relief from depression, pain, addictions, chronic inflammation, and weight issues. Is it really divine healing through music … or just the placebo effect?
If you’re feeling better as a result, perhaps the answer doesn’t matter.
What I find wonderful about sound therapy is the way it integrates so easily with everyday life. If you’re going to listen to something on your iPod anyway, you might as well pop in a track that’s going to make you healthier.
Unlike other complementary therapies, you can dip your toe in for free. Just look online.
As you’re wading through YouTube, you may wonder which track to pick. There are so many! Here are some tips.
- Trust your taste.
Don’t force yourself to listen to a track that irritates you. Some tracks are distracting or just plain annoying. Find something else.
- Plug in your headphones.
If you’re listening to binaural beats, you’ll need headphones. Without headphones, all you’ve got is soothing background music.
That’s because binaural beats work on the principle that a slight difference in the sound fed into one ear versus the other causes the brain to recalibrate. The “binaural beat” is the difference between the two frequencies.
- Check the Solfeggio frequency.
You’ll see tracks boasting certain frequencies: 528 Hz, for example, or 174 Hz. These are the Solfeggio frequencies, and each frequency is associated with a different goal, like pain relief, DNA repair, or making a life change.
- Check the brain state.
Certain tracks work to entrain the brain, dropping it to a different state of consciousness.
In everyday life, your brain is in the active beta state. If you want to relax or study, then you need an audio track that will drop you down to alpha. If you want to meditate, you want to drop even lower to theta. And finally, when it’s time to sleep, you want to drop all the way down to delta.
Do you think sound therapy will work for you?
Just plug in some headphones and try.
Then let us know your experience in the comments.