Sound Healing

Posted on in Healthy Living by John Beaulieu

Expanding Consciousness
through Mindful Listening


Hearing, listening, and making sounds and music are integral parts of healthy living, functioning, and development. Sound is an integral part of the mechanisms necessary for reducing stress and restoring the body to balance. Sound healing, when integrated with mindfulness and breathing practices, is the quickest and most effective way to achieve relaxation. There are virtually no medical conditions, states of imbalance, or people that cannot benefit from relaxation. Likewise, there is no one that can manage stress, pain, or tension without sound.

When in pain, we scream or moan to restore balance. When sad we cry, when happy we laugh. Imagine touching a hot iron and not making a sound. Without the release of sound, the body would tighten and go further out of balance. Sound is necessary to restore the body to a balanced state, and that is why today we are rediscovering the sound healing procedures of past cultures, subjecting them to evidence-based research, and integrating sound healing into all aspects of life, as well as mainstream medical and wellness practices.

Sound has been used continuously throughout time and in all cultures and healing traditions. The ancient Rishis of India used mantras to expand consciousness and obtain high-level wellness, which they called enlightenment. The ancient Greeks used sonic intervals and musical modes to positively affect consciousness in order to stimulate dreams and heal traumas. Shamans of all indigenous traditions have used vocal sounds, whistles, rattles, drums, didgeridoos, flutes, and other kinds of sound-making instruments to enter altered states of consciousness or spiritual realms in their quest for healing individuals and entire communities. Sound healers use a method called mindful listening. Mindful listening is similar to mindfulness meditation, and the two techniques are complementary and easily combined. Each practice aims to go beyond the “rational-objective mind” to expand consciousness and to increase our awareness. During mindful listening, practitioners listen to a sound and become one with it. When awareness is located inside a sound, people report experiences that are similar to observations of subatomic particles described by quantum physicists. The inner experience of reality changes and comes into resonance with the vibratory patterns of the sound. This opens the possibility for healing: a change in consciousness that creates an inner sense of balance, harmony, and wellbeing. The following story told by a patient is an example of mindful listening that led to a therapeutic shift.

I was sitting near a waterfall talking with my friends. Suddenly, something within the sound of the waterfall caught my ears. I tried to ignore it because I wanted to talk with my friends. The sound kept coming back. Finally, I excused myself and sat on a rock very near the waterfall. The rock felt like “my rock,” and sitting on it gave me an immense sense of security. I just let go and dissolved into the sounds of the flowing water. I kept discovering new sounds, and all of the sounds were somehow related to each other in the most intimate ways. I became a sound flowing with the other sounds. I realized that there were trillions upon trillions of sounds, and we were all flowing and communicating as one.

man in earphones

During mindful listening she was able to enter the wave component of nature’s design. She entered into a universe of flowing sensory experiences that existed beyond the rational meanings we give designs and normal life experiences. It is one thing to say, “I like the sound of the waterfall” or “It is just the sound of the waterfall” and another to mindfully listen, transcend the rational label “waterfall,” and enter into a sensory-based vibratory experience.

The beauty of sound healing is its simplicity. Sound healing is the practice of using sound and listening in a mindful manner to transform and expand consciousness in order to enhance the body’s natural drive to regenerate and heal itself.

Today, one of the most popular forms of sound healing is sound baths, which are sound immersion experiences. In a normal concert the audience sits and listens to music. In a sound immersion experience people lie down or sit and mindfully listen to different sounds carrying healing intention. Mindful listening is the ability to be aware of and consciously enter into sounds by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment while calmly accepting thoughts, feelings, and body sensations without judgment. When our conscious awareness is mindfully focused on a sound, we simultaneously entrain with that sound. As our inner experience of reality comes into entrainment with the sound, our consciousness and inner awareness expands, and our rational-objective mind becomes an aware yet passive observer. This opens the possibility for healing via a change in consciousness that creates an inner sense of balance, harmony, and well-being.

For sound healers anything that makes sound is potentially a sound healing instrument, and anyone who makes sounds is potentially a sound healer. Sound healers often use instruments that are easy to learn and control, such as tuning forks, crystal and Himalayan singing bowls, gongs, whistles, didgeridoos, flutes, frame drums, rain sticks, the voice, etc. The general rule is to be like a child and have fun making and mindfully listening to sounds.

John Beaulieu, ND, PhD, is a naturopath, psychologist, and founder of BioSonics ( David Perez-Martinez, MD, is a psychiatrist specializing in sound healing.

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