The Effect of Sound Therapy on the Mind: Wendy Morrison talks about Sound Therapy
Aug 31, 2011 11:33AM
By Linda Sechrist
It didn’t take years of practicing kundalini yoga, chanting mantras, and studying sound therapy for Wendy Morrison to embrace the concept that at our deepest and most indivisible level we are all resonant patterns of energy. From her earliest encounters with these ancient practices, the owner of Mother Nature’s Sun, a Kundalini Center for Oneness, resonated with the idea that the body is a symphony of sound and vibration even though she didn’t intellectually grasp the concept. “It just felt right to me,” says Morrison. The fact that inwardly directed exploration quieted the chatter in her mind and led to an internal sense of well-being provided the proverbial “icing on the cake”.
Like thousands of other individuals, Morrison struggles to find vocabulary words that help to explain why and how yoga, chanting, meditation, and listening to the sound of a gong or tuning forks have an impact on the mind and body. “You can explain the benefits and the physiological changes that occur with sound therapy, but it is the experience that stays with the person. Each experience is different” says the Integrated Sacred Sound Massage Therapist.
Although in the early days of her studies, Morrison’s attention vacillated between challenging personal circumstances and her practice, she still managed to notice that her emotions surfaced without effort and released themselves. “Old thought patterns and emotions would come to the surface when exposed to sound therapy,” she explains. “Often, my perception of a situation or memory shifted afterwards and I could view it differently through the lens of my heart rather than my intellect.”
Ancient mind, body, spirit practices lead an individual’s focus away from thinking, interpreting, strategizing, rationalizing, analyzing, and comparing, to a place in the body of feeling and intuiting. “We spend so much time living in our heads, listening to mind chatter, and trying to figure things out that we rarely direct our attention to the body unless it’s hurt or in a crisis,” says Morrison.
Time set aside for chanting, the rhythmic speaking or singing of words or sacred phrases, soothes Morrison’s mind. According to research conducted at Cleveland University, chanting creates a melodious effect in the body called Neuro-linguistic effect (NLE). When the meaning of the mantra is understood, it creates a Psychololinguistic effect (PLE). NLE and PLE effects are by-products of the production and spreading of curative brain chemicals such as the neurotransmitters that create positive emotional states.
A study by Dr. Alan Watkins (senior lecturer in neuroscience at Imperial College London) reveals that while chanting, heart rate and blood pressure dip to their lowest point in the day. Watkins purports that even listening to chants normalizes adrenalin levels and brain wave patterns. He also notes that the vibration of the sound calms the nervous system. Chanting also destresses and facilitates better concentration and memory.
In places where civilizations developed metalworking skills, people created instruments that produced purer tones. The gong, which originated in Asia, emits a range of tones, mostly low, that facilitate contemplative and meditative states.
According to Morrison, the gong produces a tone against a background of other tones. Each tone interacts with the next tone and they change each other, creating a complex pattern of sounds that the mind cannot decipher. It takes only 3 to 90 seconds for the gong’s sound waves to bring the subconscious mind into a balanced and meditative state.
“The sound of the gong reverberates throughout the room and penetrates the body,” explains Morrison. “Vibrational healing can be profound because our bodies are 61.8 percent water by weight, giving sound the opportunity to create a ripple effect throughout the entire body.”
Morrison finds that the Gong immediately calms her mind and gives her a sense of peace. “Many participants in gong sound meditations report that it is one of the most effective means of stilling the mind,” remarks Morrison.
In the quest to reach and influence the inner recesses of the body/mind, the use of the gong and singing bowls are now joined by newer instrument such as the SomaEnergetics tuning forks, which Morrison uses personally and on massage clients. Tuned to the ancient Solfeggio, sound frequencies used in ancient Gregorian chants, the tuning forks can produce a deep state of relaxation and relieve stress by centering the mind.
Morrison’s passions largely have one focus: sound and vibrational energy. Her personal practices have resulted in more confidence and a newfound sense of freedom, a desirable state of mind that anyone can benefit from.