The Science of Sound Meditation

By October 9, 2019October 17th, 2019No Comments

In two+ years of managing a mindfulness business, I’ve come to see an unsurprising trend: people love meditations that make them feel good. Perhaps the ultimate feel-good class we offer at Mastermind is Mindful Sound + Healing: a rejuvenating session that includes an introduction to the science of sound and a relaxing sound bath.

In a “sound bath” or mindful sound meditation, a mindfulness and sound expert plays instruments such as the gong, singing bowls, and tingsha bells to curate an immersive sound experience. Students simply let their attention rest on the sounds arising and passing.

Participants often report feeling re-centered and relaxed after the Mindful Sound + Healing class, and this anecdotal evidence is supported by science. Sound waves move through the body differently than air, since the body is 65% water. Sound meditation has been shown to incite the relaxation response, which promotes the parasympathetic nervous system and allows for deep rest. In this vein, a recent UC San Diego study showed that singing bowl meditation was effective in reducing feelings of tension, anxiety, and depression.

Sound meditation is often practiced lying down (so yes, it’s quite common to fall asleep). Your body still receives the benefits of transient sound waves even if you’re asleep. If you’re able to stay awake and present during the session, you get the added benefits of mindful awareness practice. In this way, sound meditation can both improve mental focus and bring about deep relaxation and healing.

Here are some mindfulness-inspired tips to explore the power of healing sound in daily life:

  • Listen: There are always varying levels of sound all around you. You can see even the most annoying sounds (honking horns, crying of your pet or child) as part of the soundscape, reminding you to be present.
  • Presence Through Sound: A wonderful informal mindfulness practice is to pause at any moment and count how many different things you can hear. This practice brings you into the present moment and invites you to be open and curious about your experience (rather than judgmental).
  • Experiment with Sound: Tune into your inner kiddo and make your own sounds! Tap on the window, brush your feet along the carpet, whistle… experiment with making sounds and noticing how they feel in your body and mind.
  • Use Apps for Healing Sound: Sound can act as a calming agent in many situations: falling asleep at bedtime, during your meditation practice, or simply throughout your day. SmartHome devices such as Alexa and Google Home have apps to play healing sounds. Insight Timer (a free mobile app) has Sound Healing Vibrations for Relaxation. Instrumental sound tracks can even be supportive for intense focus during worktime. Try [email protected] (a paid mobile app) for neuroscience-backed instrumental music that’s been shown to improve your workday focus and productivity.
  • Enjoy a Sound Bath: There’s nothing quite like reclining on a mat with a cozy blanket and letting healing sound wash over you! Find local offerings for Mindful Sound + Healing or similar classes. If you’re in the Dallas area, check out Mastermind’s next Sound class on Saturday, October 26, 1-2pm.

Have you tried a Sound Bath before? How do you experience sound in daily life?

Start healing through Mindful Sound at one of our upcoming Mastermind offerings! Learn more and sign up today by visiting www.mastermindmeditate.com/programs.

“If we accept that sound is vibration and we know that vibration touches ever part of our physical being, then we understand that sound is heard not only through our ears but through every cell in our bodies. One reason sound heals on a physical level is because it so deeply touches and transforms us on the emotional and spiritual planes. Sound can redress imbalances on every level of physiological functioning and can play a positive role in the treatment of virtually any medical disorder.”

Dr. Mitchell Gaynor, Director of Medical Oncology and Integrative Medicine at Cornell Cancer Prevention Center in New York and author of The Healing Power of Sound.

As Chief Mindfulness Officer of Mastermind Meditation, Dorsey Standish brings research-backed mindfulness and mindful movement to clients throughout the state of Texas. A lifelong learner and scientist, Dorsey has a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Pennsylvania and is enrolled in the UT Dallas Applied Cognition and Neuroscience Master’s Program. After mindfulness transformed her own work, health and relationships, Dorsey left her corporate role at Texas Instruments to share the power of mindfulness with others full-time. Dorsey’s teachings combine neuroscience research with her experiences in Jon Kabat-Zinn’s Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Program and multiple weekend and 10-day silent meditation retreats. Join Dorsey for one of Mastermind’s upcoming applied mindfulness programs at mastermindmeditate.com/programs.