Relax, recover, recalibrate with healing sound

Sound healing is an ancient practice that is becoming more and more accessible.  

Sound healing journeys are an ancient practice. -Valerie Sonnenthal

Humans have used sound throughout our history, whether for healing, like church bells and didgeridoos, or as weapons, like hovering helicopters or playing painful frequencies. Some say sound healing officially began in ancient Greece, where Pythagoras is credited for treating people with sound for stress, sleep, pain, and mental disorders, besides discovering overtones and the harmonic series. We know Native Americans, Aborigines, African and South American shamans, and Tibetan monks employed singing and chanting in their healing rituals, besides a variety of drums, rattles, flutes, and string instruments. The re-emergence of Sound Healing or Yoga Nidra (the yoga of sound) in the West was only a matter of time. 

Sound healing instruments can be found when walking into movement studios, schools, spas, homes, hospitals, and even businesses. Whether a single singing bowl or small metal tongue drum, sound healing instruments are becoming part of many people’s de-stress toolkits. You can visit sound and sensory interactive or experiential site-specific works in museums, galleries, and cities. For example, read about sound healing as meditation in Psychology Today (see I visited Island papermaker and Seastone Studio founder Sandy Bernat in San Miguel de Allende in February 2015, on my first and only visit to Mexico. I taught a “Hand and Foot Workshop” at the LifePath Center. One of my students requested a trade so I could teach her the MELT Method, and she could offer me acupuncture or sound healing. I chose sound healing, since I have a wonderful Island acupuncturist. I experienced a tongue drum about the length of my torso, which sat below the massage table I lay on, tuning forks (also used regularly by acupuncturists and therapists), and a 22-string monochord laid on me and played. For the next couple of days I felt energized and noticeably different, weirdly recalibrated. I could not stop thinking about the monochord vibrations through my torso, through my bones. When I got home I ordered the same string Monolini, made by Feeltone in Germany. When it finally arrived from Germany, there was a multi-arts Pathways event at the Tisbury Waterworks. I brought the instrument along, and had the opportunity to let participants hold it against their hearts and feel the vibrations. It turned out to be the most fun night I could remember, sharing the deep vibrations with nearly 200 attendees.
After working and playing intuitively, I realized I needed to learn more about this ancient practice, and attended NYC’s Open Center’s Sound Music Institute beginning in the fall of 2015. Sound healing events in NYC happened monthly then; now you can find events and offerings daily, while many elite spas and healing arts studios offer sound healing treatments worldwide. The range of existing instruments and newly created instruments employed by sound healers goes from rattles, drums, and chimes to string instruments, crystal and metal singing bowls, chimes, gongs, and so much more, along with vocal toning. Last summer I was hired for a private sound healing session with some Broadway singers and performers, who asked me to explain the difference between music and sound healing. Sound healing should not use recognizable music or words (no triggers), its aim is to reset your autonomic nervous system, retune your vibrations without the interference from everything in our environment. It allows the participant to drop into a deep state of meditation. I believe this is possible because we override the brain, yet our bodies respond on a cellular level, since we all were created in a vibrational sound environment (in utero).

When I started, “sound bath” was the more common term, one I never really liked, but still useful when looking for an event or practitioner. I have sought out sound healing events wherever I travel. No two practitioners or offerings are alike. The primary difference between attending an event and getting an individual treatment is whether instruments are laid on the body (or you lie on, under, or over an instrument), or instruments are moved over you and located near you. Most sound journeys or sound baths run about an hour; however, you could attend a Gong Puja (created by gong master Don Conreaux, credited with introducing gongs into American yoga studios in the 1960s), where you go to sleep for seven and a half hours as gongs are played.
If you attend a Peaked Hill Studio Sound Journey, you need not bring a thing, but can expect to lie down (chairs are available for anyone who cannot lie down), head on a pillow toward the instruments, a support under your knees, and a blanket to keep you warm. Instruments vary from journey to journey. If you cannot attend in person, you can always get a listening link to enjoy when you need it.

You can learn more about sound journeys at