Updated: Mar 30, 2021
By Laura Notton RSW, MSW
Clients routinely tell me they don’t have time to meditate or that they find the prospect of meditating intimidating. Others flat out tell me that meditation is not for them. Yet we need a way to pay attention to our inner world because our emotions and bodies are sending us important signals; often telling us we are becoming overly stressed and that we need to do something differently. If standard sitting meditation does not appeal to you, why not try using sound as a way to quickly reconnect with yourself and reduce stress?
I have found that deep listening to sound is the quickest way to meditate without trying to meditate.
From our fast-paced, deadline-driven, plugged-in realities, to the myriad of pressing social issues affecting us all, it’s hard to dispute the fact that we live in a society that induces stress. Throw in other stress-inducing factors such as family responsibilities, financial pressures, and strained relationships and it is no wonder that we are exhausted.
Stress is, of course, a normal part life and is unavoidable. But what is an acceptable amount of stress? Many of us are told that we should be able to manage the pressure of competing responsibilities and that we can, “do it all” without feeling overwhelmed. I don’t buy it and neither do our emotions and bodies. If we stay in prolonged periods of stress and routinely feel, “stressed out” this can be a sign that we are trying to manage more than we can cope with (1). Not addressing prolonged stress can deeply affect our mood and leave us feeling more anxious, irritable and without hope. Being too stressed also taxes the body by causing chronic fatigue, weight gain, decreased sex drive, headaches, high blood pressure, digestive disorders and more (2). Constant stress can make us more prone to engaging in unhealthy behaviours, i.e. binge eating, drinking excessively, compulsive shopping, etc., as a way to get some temporary relief from our inner discomfort.
How To Manage Stress
A key component for sustaining mental health and building emotional resiliency begins when you start to pay attention to the signals that tell you that you are too stressed (3). As always, sleeping enough, eating well, keeping active, reaching out for help and setting healthy boundaries without feeling guilty for needing limits, are all strategies for reducing stress. Other times we need to make larger decisions to end chronic stress, such as changing jobs or reevaluating certain relationships in our lives.
To accurately assess and address what is stressing you out and what you need to do; you need time to relax and reflect. Deep listening to sound can be an incredibly powerful tool for reconnecting with our authentic selves and even a few minutes of sound therapy can be beneficial. Sound therapy is one of the quickest ways to meditate without meditating. After trying standard meditation practices, many clients have told me that they thought meditation was impossible for them but found new hope after engaging in sound therapy. Clients have shared that they felt physical and emotional releases; or experienced pleasant sensations and happy memories during a sound therapy session. Others have shared profound insights with me about what they need to change in their life in order to feel better.
How Does Sound Reduce Stress? What is Sound Therapy?
Sound is vibration and vibration is measured in terms of frequency or Hertz (Hz). The powerful effects of sound and certain frequencies are believed to help regulate emotion and bring the body into harmony, which in turn promotes wellbeing (4). Sound reduces stress by inducing a meditative state where our brainwaves “entrain” to the resonance of the sound being heard. We can entrain the brain to shift into the different brainwave states – Alpha, Theta, Delta – associated with relaxation (5).
Sound therapy is currently increasing in popularity. It is in large part a rediscovery of ancient techniques and practices combined with emerging modern research in psycho-acoustics and physiology (6). Sound therapy can involve listening to live or recorded sound and/or making sound.
Sound therapy practitioners study the power of sound and intentionally combine vibrations from the human voice with instruments and objects that resonate, such as, but not limited to, crystal quartz singing bowls, drums, tuning forks, gongs, and shakers. Participants are bathed in soothing sounds and this is affectionately called a “sound bath”.
What is wonderful about sound therapy is that you do not need any experience with mindfulness or meditation to experience its stress-busting benefits. Sound therapy is an exercise in deep listening. Taking in recorded therapeutic soundscapes or attending a sound bath is an opportunity to slow down, breathe and solely focus on what you are hearing. The vibrations influence and stimulate your brain without you needing to “do anything”.
It is important to know that there is no wrong way to receive sound therapy or a sound bath. All you have to do is sit or lie down comfortably and close your eyes. These soundscapes can assist in both helping people process life’s challenges and imparting a sense of joy as pleasant memories are recalled. You may even fall asleep during a sound bath!
In combination with other positive practices and habits, incorporating sound into ones life can bring about a powerful shift with how we manage stress and make decisions.
Want to Learn More? Why Not Try Sound Therapy at Darou Wellness?
If you would like to learn more about reducing stress through sound and experience the benefits of sound therapy and sound baths for yourself, I invite you to register for the next installment of my interactive 3-part workshop. “Stress Reduction Using the Healing Power of Sound” will be taking place: March 14th, 28th and April 11th at Darou Wellness.
You can read more info and sign up for the event here
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