In sound healing, energy healing practitioners use various sound tools and instruments to create tones that vibrate at different frequencies. These vibrations interact with the human energy field, such as via the chakras, meridians, or aura, and can help harmonize and balance life force energy (prana, chi, or qi) to encourage emotional, mental, spiritual, and physical healing.
Tibetan Sacred Sound Instruments
One branch of healing that uses sound energy focuses on the use of Tibetan sacred sound instruments that come from the Himalayas. These instruments are made of bell metal bronze, which is a high tin form of bronze, and their use in sound healing is derived from ancient Tibetan Buddhist rituals.
Tibetan Singing Bowls
While some Tibetan singing bowls do come from Tibet, the name is somewhat of a misnomer. The singing bowls are often more accurately labeled as Himalayan singing bowls, since the antique bowls and their modern variants are handmade in the Himalayas by clans who form the bowls through a process of heating the metal and pounding it with hammers. This process takes many days or weeks to create a fully formed bowl, and modern bowl making in the Himalayas uses the same process by which the ancient bowls were created. In Tibetan sound healing, practitioners strike (using a felt-covered mallet) or sing (running a wooden or suede covered mallet around the bowl's rim) the bowls to create vibrations that harmonize the human energy field. Striking the bowl produces a fundamental tone along with several overtones.
Tinghas are small cymbals made of bell metal bronze connected by a leather cord. When you strike the cymbals together, they create a sustained sound. Traditionally, Tibetan sound healing practitioners strike the tingshas three times at the start of a session to open it, and they may also use the tingshas throughout the session to listen for pitch variances that may indicate areas of the body where the energy field is out of balance and may need special attention.
Ghanta and Dorje
Also known as a bell and vajra, the ghanta and dorje consist of a heavily decorated bell metal bronze handbell (the ghanta) and a decorated bell metal bronze sceptre (known as the dorje or vajra). Only the bell makes a sound, although both instruments are always used together in sound healing because in Tibetan Buddhism, they symbolize the sacred masculine and feminine. Practitioners use the bell to move and break up or harmonize life force energy by striking it with a mallet, clacking it, or singing it by running the mallet around the rim. The dorje is frequently placed on the body in different ways to facilitate energy flow while the practitioner works with the bell. The ghanta has a bodhisattva carved into its handle and sacred Buddhist decorations as well as a petaled lotus on both the top of the bell and stamped on the ghanta's inside.
Western Sound Healing
Many practitioners also utilize more modern sound healing tools both during individual sessions or as part of a sound bath, which is a group meditative practice where you lie back and listen to a live performer play sound healing instruments.
Crystal Singing Bowls
Crystal singing bowls are made from quartz crystal that has been heated and spun in a mold to create a bowl with a specific pitch. Frequently, the tones produced by these bowls align with a single chakra to help balance a specific energy center. Some bowls may also have other crystals infused in the quartz to produce different energies and colors. Practitioners play these bowls by either striking or singing them.
Practitioners typically use two different types of tuning forks: weighted tuning forks (they have a little disc on the end of the fork), which work best with physical and mental healing, and standard tuning forks, which work best for emotional and spiritual healing. Tuning forks are made from steel and produce a single precise tone based on concert pitch, where A=440Hz. Forks may be tuned to correspond with each chakra, or they may have what's known as solfeggio tuning, which is based on pitch patterns used by monks in Gregorian chants. Practitioners strike the fork with a mallet or tap them against a soft/solid surface (such as a knee) and hold them near the body of their healing partner to help bring about healing.
Crystal Singing Pyramids
Crystal singing pyramids are made from quartz crystal molded into a pyramid shape. Practitioners strike various parts of the pyramid with a mallet, which produces a clear ringing sound that can balance energy.
Practitioners may also use hand chimes or wind chimes. These can help tune energy and clear energy fields or move stuck energy. Wind chimes are also popularly used in feng shui because of their ability to cleanse or transmute energy.
Gongs are another popular sound healing instrument. Typically, the practitioner plays the gong softly in sacred geometric patterns to elicit specific results. A gong struck loudly may also break up stuck energy and help it to flow correctly.
Indigenous and Shamanic Sound Healing
Shamans and indigenous people may use additional instruments to help promote energetic balance and sacred healing.
Rattles come in various materials and shapes. Shamans use them to focus, clear, or move energy.
Many indigenous cultures and shamans use drums for multiple purposes. In Native American culture, for example, drumming may be used to promote shamanic journeys. Drums can also move, focus, and clear energy.
In the hands of a skilled player, the didgeridoo can produce meditative states. Aboriginal Australians make the sacred instruments from eucalyptus or bamboo hollowed by termites.
The human voice is the easiest sound healing instrument to use and access. The chanting of mantras during meditation, for example, is a form of sound healing. People wishing to use the human voice can also sing tones or chant phrases or vowel sounds to help move and focus energy as well.
As with everything else, sound healing has also been given a digital makeover for the modern age. You can find smartphone applications and YouTube videos for any of the methods above. A few to consider:
- Glenn Harrold's solfeggio app is a great app for balancing your body's energy systems.
- The Chakra Box is an app that plays tones to balance and harmonize chakras.
- Binaural Beat apps utilize tones and frequencies played in alternating patterns through headphones into each ear to bring about different states, such as relaxation, delta brainwaves, or better sleep.
Sound Healing for Everyone
Sound healing can help balance and harmonize energy through the vibration of sound waves. Whether you work with a sound healing practitioner, attend a sound bath event, or use some of these tools on your own, sound healing offers a wonderful way to relax you and balance your life force energy.