Sound has a powerful influence on our lives and it can be very therapeutic, helping us clear blockages and return to balance. But how does it work, and what is the science behind sound healing?
Sound is in essence a vibration: compressions in the air that come to your ear (and to the nerve endings in your body if you are in the same space as the source of sound).
The ear translates this vibration into electric signals, and the auditory nerve carries this to the brain. Millions of neurons respond to that signal, and rhythmic stimulation of sound affects brain chemistry and can therefore impact our mental and emotional states (such as by releasing feel good chemicals and weakening pain signals), as well as our physiology (by activating the parasympathetic nervous system which regulates heart rates and breathing).
What is really fascinating is that we don't just listen with our ears, we listen with every cell in our bodies - in fact, cell membranes have antenna-like structures that receive and respond to vibrational energy fields such as sound and light. If a vibration in our environment resonates with the receptor's antenna, it can alter the charges of the proteins in that cell, causing it to change shape. So sound is a force that influences our entire being – down to the cellular level.
Now the way that sound from the gong can bring us back into balance is through the phenomena of brainwave entrainment and sympathetic resonance.
The complex overtones and smooth flow of sounds from the gong entrains our brainwaves from the beta state (normal waking consciousness) into the lower alpha and theta states (where the mind is relaxed and can restore). Spending time in the alpha and theta states has been proven to reduce stress, improve blood pressure, and stimulate creativity, memory, focus and support an overall peaceful mood.
This happens whether you are enjoying a gong bath virtually or in person because of the unique effect sound has on the brain.
When experienced in person, the tangible vibrations and wide range of frequencies produced by the gong also restore vitality to the body through the phenomenon of sympathetic resonance. The idea here is that every part of your body (every organ, every cell) has a resonant frequency – a frequency that it most naturally wants to vibrate at. These frequencies get out of balance with illness and stress, but you can restore them to optimal vibrancy through exposure to a stronger vibration at the same frequency. The powerful vibrations from the gong travel through your body (since bone and water are effective conductors of sound), allowing you to re-tune those frequencies where you might be lacking.
I realize this is all very technical and we are only scratching the surface, so we’ll do a deeper dive into some of these topics in future posts. In the meantime, pop your questions below and we’ll do our best to answer them or point you in the right direction!