The last blog that I posted in this series was about Reiki and my session with Reiki Master Teacher Lynette Avis at her The Living Energy treatment rooms in Suffolk. As we have been friends and colleagues for some years now, at the end of the Reiki treatment, she invited me to try something new and exciting. She said she had been training to do Sound Therapy, a qualification she has now attained, and now part of her extensive range of treatments. She wondered whether I would be willing to try it. She said I would be amazed at the experience!
As we discussed the theory behind sound therapy, Lynette was laying out a range of different musical instruments (gongs, drums, bells, bowls, tuning forks, even the human voice can be used). She explained how certain instruments affect different parts of the body due to their different vibrational frequencies. Sound has been used as a powerful and effective tool for helping to improve health and well being for thousands of years. Himalayan singing bowls for example have been used throughout Asia for millennia in prayer and meditation, and are now used to promote relaxation and well being. Sound therapy was formally introduced to the UK in 2000 with the establishment of The British Academy of Sound Therapy (BAST) (http://healthysound.com).
Recently, science has provided valuable support and insight to these ancient techniques. If you were to look at your body with a powerful microscope you would see that it is not a solid object but is, in fact, a myriad of tiny waves of energy. Over time these waves are influenced by a variety of different stressors such as diet, lifestyle, environment, relationships, job and other factors that can cause imbalances and weaknesses in the body which can lead to poor health and disease. The use of sound can redress these imbalances returning the body towards full balance and better health and well being. In a sound therapy treatment the practitioner plays a combination of ancient and modern instruments to gently bathe the body in powerful, healing and balancing vibrations. A good sound therapist will know which instruments and sounds to use to help the system to balance itself by releasing the denser energy that can hold the body in an unhealthy state. Based on information about the client’s present medical conditions and previous medical history the practitioner will adapt the treatment accordingly, using relaxing or stimulating sounds to try to rebalance the body.
A study conducted by BAST measured the effects of sound therapy on the autonomic nervous system (ANS- the part of the nervous system that controls your heart rate, breathing and digestion etc). Clients were connected to a machine that monitored stress responses. Each client demonstrated an overall decrease in arousal of the ANS compared to the control group, who were lying down relaxing. This study suggests that sound therapy has a profoundly calming effect on people affected by stress at a deep level. Sound therapy is a complementary medicine designed to work alongside orthodox medicine. Sound therapy can be used to treat individuals with fertility issues, chronic pain, cancer, stress-related illnesses, IBS, ME, tinnitus, mild depression, anxiety and arthritis. Sound therapy is said to help not only physical illness, but also help balance the emotions and quiet a busy mind. Most people feel calm and relaxed following treatment. For some, this feeling will last several days.
After her initial joking introduction and having fully set up her treatment room for the session, my introduction to Sound Therapy began. I was again lying on the treatment table face up, fully clothed and covered by a blanket to keep warm. I closed my eyes and allowed the sounds and the vibrations to relax me and take me away to a very calm and peaceful place. Some instruments were used close to me while others actually touched me and I could feel the vibrating sensation move through my body. It was a deeply relaxing experience and extremely enjoyable.
On the BAST website, there is a wonderful quote from its founder, Lyz Cooper: “Our organs, chakras and different areas of our bodies, all sing a different note, which when blended together, produce a symphony as individual as a fingerprint”. I would say that the therapy experience not only made me feel relaxed, but also more harmonious within my body and within myself. It was a truly wonderful surprise to experience and certainly not anything I would have volunteered to do in the past. As to the future?…….. I would snap up another session in a shot!
Again, my thanks go to Lynette Avis for her patience and good humour in explaining Sound Therapy to me and introducing it in such a fun and exciting way- you are the consummate professional.
- Article by Patrick Keneally from The Observer, Sunday 6 July 2008 (http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2008/jul/06/healthandwellbeing5)
- The British Academy of Sound Therapy (BAST) (http://healthysound.com).