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Alternative Medicine: Sound Therapy Can Ease Anxiety

separator It’s no secret that soothing sounds can make you feel more peaceful and calm. The sound of the ocean waves rising and falling, songbirds in a meadow, wind chimes, waterfalls…all of these things can help you to relax.

Now there’s a new type of therapy, called sound healing (also called vibrational medicine) that uses vibrations of the human voice and objects that create sound waves, such as tuning forks, gongs and bowls from Tibet called “singing bowls.”

Advocates of sound healing say that you can not only hear sound vibrations, you can also feel them. They say that the vibrations themselves can steady your heart rate, relax the patterns of your brain waves and slow down your rate of respiration. These effects lead to deep, slow breathing. As a result, levels of stress hormones decrease. It’s well established that when your body feels the effects of too much stress hormone, your immune system doesn’t function as well.

There’s a wide variety of ways that sound healing can work. Tuning forks can be applied to acupuncture points on your body. You could lie down while people gather around you to chant and strike singing bowls. You could be part of a support group in which everyone chants and creates sound vibrations. Some people even have their own vibrational implements in their homes, where they conduct their own sound therapy sessions.

There have been no large clinical trials that prove that sound healing helps in the treatment of cancer. And most responsible practitioners of sound healing wouldn’t say that sound healing cures cancer. Instead, they say that when people give themselves the space and time to immerse themselves in the “healing” vibrations, they may be able to break the cycle of constant stress and anxiety. Many cancer patients experience high levels of stress, fear and anxiety, which can affect their quality of life as much as, if not more than, the cancer, chemotherapy and radiation.

Although there’s no proof from large studies that vibrational medicine works, there is some evidence that it may reduce blood pressure and stress and heighten your sense of well-being. If you’re struggling with feelings of fear and anxiety as you go through cancer and recovery, you may want to give sound healing a try. There’s no indication that you’ll experience any negative side effects. And who knows, you could very well end up feeling calmer and more relaxed at the end of your session.

M. Gaynor, The Healing Power of Sound. The New York Times, “What’s the Buzz? Sound Therapy” 24 November 2005.
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