Life in Singapore is stressful, and research conducted by risk management, insurance brokerage and advisory company Willis Towers Watsons just about proves that point. In a report in May 2018, they found that almost two thirds of employees in Singapore experience high levels of stress. Stress that’s left unchecked can contribute to many health problems, such as high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity and depression.
If you’ve tried conventional therapies and yoga, aromatherapy and meditation are not cutting it for you either, how about trying something new? We’re talking about sound healing. Sound healing uses different frequencies to restore balance in your body.
While the idea of sound healing might seem like some new age therapy or an alternative medicine that is espoused by free-spirited hippies, it cannot be further from the truth. The concept and application of music and sounds to soothe and rejuvenate can actually be dated back to ancient Greece, where it was reportedly used to cure mental disorders.
Below, we’ve rounded up what you need to know about this healing method and where you can partake in it.
What is sound healing?
Sound healing and sound therapy work on the principle that sound and music have the ability to improve your physical and mental well-being — much like how listening to torch songs after a heartbreak provides some level of catharsis and comfort.
Suraya Sam, co-creator of Ascend Yoga Therapy and House of Ascend, says the basis underlying this technique is the understanding that all forms of matter vibrate at different frequencies. “Factors such as stress, sickness or depression cause cells and organs to vibrate at non-optimal frequencies. Since sounds come at different frequencies and we too emit our own waves, healing with sound happens by matching frequencies of different sounds to those that are necessary and conducive to healing and relaxation in the person,” she notes.
When done in conjunction with meditation, these tones “can lead you into a state of deep relaxation in which healing and connection to a higher consciousness can take place,” adds Christina Nikolovski, founder of SPACE2B studio. This is done through a process called brainwave entrainment, a method where a stimulus such as sound and electromagnetic waves trigger the brain’s ‘frequency following’ response that encourages the brainwaves to align to the stimulus’ frequency. This practice helps people to get “into states that might otherwise be difficult to achieve, such as trance, enhanced focus, induced sleep or meditation” says Suraya.
The science of sound healing is expansive but in summary, this healing method harnesses the energy of sounds to bring zen and peace to the practitioner, by helping them get into a deeper meditative state or into a headspace where they can find inner peace and harmony.
How does sound healing heal?
When you’ve reached a state of tranquility and balance, the body is in a state where it can heal. Christine Shiu of The Singing Bowl Gallery shares how sound healing can be used to soothe physical ailments. “For example, we can relieve back pain, headaches and stomach discomforts by playing the singing bowl directly on our back, head and stomach,” she points out. In addition, sounds can leave a positive impact on the mental state. “The sound of a large singing bowl helps us to fall into a deep sleep easily, while certain sounds are good for bringing clarity to the mind and uplifting the mood. When our mind is clear, we are more able to connect with our inner wisdom and be at peace,” she adds.
According to a Healthline article, multiple studies have shown that various methods of sound healing resulted in the reduction of afflictions such as stress, anger, depression and fatigue and can be used to help people who are suffering from issues such as anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, dementia and other medical conditions. Done in tandem with meditation, the health benefits of sound healing can be amplified.
Sound healing and its various frequencies also correlate to the various frequencies of chakra points found around the body at places such as your head, heart and groin. The use of different frequencies created by different implements help unblock the chakra and facilitates the proper circulation of energy around the body that is believed to eventually lead to physical, mental and spiritual well-being.
However as with any healing method, caution needs to be taken. According to Brainworks, the use of sound to stimulate brainwave entrainment could possibly lead to ailments such as headaches, nausea and seizures in extreme cases, so start with a short session and don’t feel obliged to stay for the whole duration if you do feel unwell.
Equipment required for sound healing
Photo: Instagram (@houseofascend)
There are various implements used during sound healing. Amongst these include the gong, Tibetan singing bowls made of either metal or crystal, tuning forks, didgeridoos and the use of your own voice, depending on the class and practice you wish to adopt.
Studios and outlets offering sound healing sessions
Photo: Ascend Yoga Therapy
There are two broad ways that you can engage with sound healing. The first, which can be termed as either a sound bath or sound healing, refer to a session where you, the participant, receives sounds played by the healer while you engage in other activities such as meditation or yoga (or even do nothing). The second involves you being a more engaged participant, where you are training to conduct sound healing for yourself or for a class. If you’re having a difficulties find a sound healer or an instrument to pick up, Elaine Victoria Yang of One Heart Singapore advises to “go with what resonates with you”. Check these places out:
a. Ascend Yoga Therapy
Using the gong as their instrument, Ascend Yoga Therapy incorporates other yogic practices with their sound healing, such as yin, yang and flow yoga, as well as gong meditation. Some classes do require you to bring an eye mask along for an immersive experience. Ascend has also tiered their classes based on the practitioner’s level and comfort, starting with foundational techniques and ending with a full chakra healing experience.
#01-18, 79 Chay Yan Street. https://www.houseofascend.com/
Besides yoga and meditation classes, SPACE2B offers sound healing classes using crystal bowls and gong. They deal with the healing and awakening of various chakras, which are aimed at making you feel energised and rejuvenated after.
2B Stanley Street. https://www.space2b.sg/
c. The Singing Bowl Gallery
Founded by Christina Shiu, The Singing Bowl Gallery offers two types of sound healing classes. The first is a 90 minute singing bowl meditation which begins with an introduction to the singing bowl sound bath followed by a 10 minute breathing exercise and 40 minute sound bath. The last 15 minutes are for any queries you might have. The second are workshops that equip you with the knowledge to teach and practise sound healing on others.
#01-05, 33 Erskine Road. Tel: 9477-7533.
d. One Heart
Using crystal singing bowls with different frequencies that target different chakras of the body, One Heart has multiple classes with various focus. From yin yoga that uses a gentler meditative yoga style, a breathwork-focused class that combines vocal toning to chakra balancing and reiki (energy healing) to retune and heal.
37 Tembeling Road. Tel: 9752-4857. https://www.oneheart.sg/
e. Spa Esprit
Titled Super Vibrator, Spa Esprit’s latest concept touts itself as combining more than one alternative therapy in one to restore and nourish your mind and body. The 120 minute treatment begins with an energy reading that pinpoints your weaker energy centres (chakras) which informs the custom essential oil blend that will be used on you. Following that, a sound bath using Tibetan singing bowls and a 90 minute Hawaiian Lomi Lomi massage are then performed. The Lomi Lomi massage uses long strokes and stretches to relax the muscles and body. During the session, singing bowls will also be filled with warm water and placed on the body to balance your energies.
#03-19, Wheelock Place, 501 Orchard Road. Tel:6479-0070. https://www.spa-esprit.com/