It might be considered new age wellness, but sound healing is hardly a new form of therapy. The ancient Greeks used music to cure mental illness, and in ancient Egypt music therapy was a staple in temples. Sound therapy has been proven effective not just in achieving a state of relaxation, but also in moving through blockages in the body. It has also been known to help in treating stress, anxiety, high blood pressure, depression, sleep disorders, PTSD, dementia, autism and pain.
"Everything in the universe has its own vibration and all we do is tune our bodies to it, just like you would tune an instrument. Sound healing allows your body to heal itself by slowing down your brain waves, which affects every cell in your body, shifting them from the diseased state to being in ease. It just aligns it with whatever you need," explained Rasha Hussein. In addition to being a sound healer, Hussein is also a Reiki healer and a meditation teacher.
So how exactly does it work? According to Hussein, when it comes to sound healing, the voice is the most powerful tool of all, especially your own voice, because then you are self-generating your own healing vibrations to clear and shift your energetic blocks.
"Sound can shift frequencies from low energy of guilt and fear to higher vibrations of love and joy," she explained.
Sound healer Rasha Hussien During a music therapy session.
During her sessions, Hussien uses vocal toning in addition to a variety of instruments including the Tibetan healing bowl, shamanic drums and shakers. She uses different instruments at different times and volumes and every instrument is tuned to a different vibration in order to retune the body. Healing bowls have been used in Tibetan culture since the 12th century. The metal bowls come in many sizes and each one produces a deep sound that relaxes and heals the mind while producing a unique vibration that works on separate parts of the brain.
Meanwhile, toning is the practice of making vowel sounds for an extended period of time for therapeutic or meditative purposes. It was developed in the 1980s by renowned sound healer Johnathan Goldman, who discovered a healing connection between our chakras, vital energy vortexes, and vowel sounds.
"Vocal toning uses seven tones based on vowels. Each one is connected to a particular chakra or area of the body. Using a specific tone allows you to access a particular point of the body and begin to heal it," explained Hussein. For example, the 'ah' tone reaches the heart chakra while an 'ee' sound goes to the crown chakra.
"Vocal toning involves using one steady tone to balance your cells and open your energetic pathways. It's very intuitive, something that we do naturally, like releasing an audible sigh of relief," Hussein noted. That is why many cultures throughout history, from ancient Egyptians and Greeks to indigenous tribes, have a form of vocal toning.
Late archaeologist Abdel-Hakim Awyan was an indigenous wisdom keeper who saw Egypt through the eyes of his ancestors. In the documentary the Pyramid Code, researched by Dr. Carmen Boulter in the Graduate Division of Educational Research at the University of Calgary, Aywan explains that the pyramids’ structure is a harmonic one that used the sound of running water through an underground tunnel to heal illnesses.
"The chamber within the pyramid has a specific harmonic replicating the harmonics of the cavities of the human body. And sound healing techniques were then used to restore the patient's body to the correct harmonics," Awyan explained in the documentary. Further taking the example of the Bent Pyramid of Sneferu in Dahshur, Hakim noted that the pyramid had two different chambers that produce two distinct sound frequencies. "These frequencies are in turn amplified within the pyramid walls to create huge fields of harmonic resonance that restore balance within a human body.
An illustrative image for Tibetan healing bowl.
"The adult body consists of 75 percent water, and water is a great conductor for sound vibrations," explained therapist Sherine Abdel-Khalik.
"When vibrations travel through the body, they promote circulation, energy flow, and rejuvenation. The frequency of the sound synchronizes with the brainwaves and activates distress responses in the body," she added.
"So even deaf people can benefit from sound healing because they can feel the vibrations," she noted.
Sound healing synchronizes brain waves to achieve profound states of relaxation, thus helping to restore the normal vibratory frequencies of the cells in our bodies. Throughout the years, science has proven that sound or vibration has a strong impact upon substance. The study of cymatics has shown how sound creates geometric patterns in matter. Moreover, Japanese researcher Dr. Masaru Emoto has even proven that sound changes the molecular structure of water.
"While I have never tried any kind of drug before, the entire experience felt very trippy," explained Rehab Adel, who took part in a sound healing session.
"As I listened to the sounds, I couldn't help but cry, and while I tried to breathe and remain calm, tears poured out of my eyes. I kept trying to go back to the breath like I do when my mind drifts off during meditation, but it wasn't that easy," she said.
"After the session, I felt both physically and emotionally renewed," she added.
"The physical vibrations of the instruments were intense. I felt a wave of energy above me, which kept me still on the floor as if being pushed towards the earth. I could feel so much energy all around the room," said Adel.