Six Things You Need to Know about Sound
BY Sharon Carne
The use of sound for healing is as old as the human family itself. We evolved with sound as a healer. It’s in the genetic memory of every human being on the planet. Two flutes have been found in Europe that are believed to predate our use of language. Think about that. We likely had music before we could speak to each other with words!
In these chaotic times, where we are inundated with sound and noise, we’ve lost touch with that memory. With sound baths, sound healing and sound therapy popping up all over the planet, we are returning to those roots with an upgraded perspective.
Sound healing is a modality with enormous power and effectiveness because sound is integrated into every aspect of your being. Let’s take a closer look at some of your ‘wiring’ for sound.
1. Sound Structures Matter
Science has shown that all matter is in constant vibration. Even at the smallest level, the atoms in our body, everything is moving and vibrating. Sound is defined as ‘vibrational energy.’ It is one of the few methods that can change how matter itself vibrates.
The study of the effect of wave form (or sound) on matter is called Cymatics. With a cymascope, we can actually see sound. Dr. Hans Jenny, a Swiss doctor, artist and researcher, documented the effect of specific frequencies on sand, spores, water, turpentine, iron filings and other substances that were placed on a vibrating plate or membrane. Some of his original videos are still available on YouTube.
Because we are constantly surrounded by sound or music, we tend to ignore it. And it gets categorized as something unimportant or not worth noticing. Dr. Jenny’s work is remarkable because it reminds us that sound is a formidable energy that structures and affects matter itself. And that includes us.
2. Sound travels through your body faster than it goes through the air
Have you ever felt your whole car vibrate, including you, when one of those ‘boom’ cars pulled up beside you at a traffic signal? Sound and music are physical forces and create physical experiences in pretty well every part or your being.
Sound moves through the more fluid parts of your body four and a half times faster than it moves through the air. And twelve times faster through your bones. Sound has to push atoms and molecules around in order just to move. As sound pushes against your atoms and molecules, it sends them into a state of vibration. This can create an uncomfortable sensation, like a jackhammer. Or it can create a comfortable sensation, like the sound of a singing bowl.
3. Sound affects your cells
Experiments with tuning forks show how specific frequencies studied actually changed the chemistry with the cells in less than thirty seconds.
The nitric oxide cycle in the body is one of the essential natural cycles at the cellular level to maintain and sustain health and wellness. Nitric oxide is a tiny molecule with the biggest job. It is involved in almost every metabolic function in your body. This cycle is depressed or stopped altogether when we are overwhelmed or stressed.
Research conducted by Dr. John Beaulieu, music therapist and naturopathic doctor, and Dr. George Stefano, neurologist, showed that two tuning forks tuned to 256 Hz and 384 Hz stimulated the production of nitric oxide in the body’s cells in less than thirty seconds.
4. Rhythm alters your heartbeat
When you walk into your local grocery store, or a mall where there is music playing, it takes only minutes for your heartbeat to match the beat of the music playing. There is no off switch to this response. It works whether or not you are paying any attention to the music. This process is called entrainment.
It takes about four minutes for your heartbeat to be affected by the beat of the music. Your altered heartbeat then affects your breathing rhythm and your brainwave state. These three systems are intimately connected. When you affect one of them, you affect all three.
5. Volume matters
Sound is a form of energy. The energy in the sound wave, the intensity of the sound, is measured in decibels or dB. Damage to your hearing begins at 90 dB. Most people feel pain with sound levels between 110 and 130 dB. Industry standards recommend that hearing protection be used for any exposure to 85 dB or above for an extended period of time. The following decibel scale gives you an idea of the intensity of common sounds.
The decibel scale
0 dB Threshold of hearing
10 dB pin drops
20 dB whisper at one meter
40 dB quiet conversation
60 dB normal conversation
90 dB subway train
110 dB rock concert
130 dB jet engine
6. Sound is food for your nervous system
We all know that there is junk food, good food and super food. It’s the same with sound. There is junk sound, like traffic noise. There is good sound, like nature sounds. And there is super sound, that stimulates your nervous system to respond with hormones and endorphins that supports your immune system and promotes healing. In addition to this, when we play music together, the neurohormone oxytocin is released. Oxytocin is often described as the bonding hormone.
These six things about sound are the tip of the iceberg as to how deeply sound affects you. It is so easy to ignore the sound around you, but that doesn’t stop it from affecting you. I encourage you to become aware of the music and sound around you and how it makes you feel, physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. When you become more aware of the sound and music around you, you are empowered to make choices that support your wellbeing in so many ways.
Sharon Carne is an author, international speaker, sound therapist, publisher, musician and recording artist. From 1988 to 2016, Sharon was a faculty member of The Conservatory, Mount Royal University. In 2008 her work changed direction. Sharon is the founder of Sound Wellness, the Sound Wellness Institute and co-founder of the Emergent Workforce Program. Through the Sound Wellness Institute, holistic health practitioners receive the highest level of competency training in Canada in using sound and music to support their practice. The Emergent Workforce program is dedicated to restoring wellbeing, community, purpose, creative collaboration, and kindness to the workforce.