Sound Therapy: The Power of the Voice
By: Michaela Bekenn
PART 2: The Power of the Voice
One of the most ancient tools for healing, used around the globe, is an instrument that is compact, inexpensive, and innate: the human voice. Let’s dive into practical tools that you can apply to create harmony from the inside out.
Go ahead and take a deep breath in, then let it out with a sigh or audible yawn. Perhaps create an elongated sound of “AH” on your exhale. This is not meant to be pretty. Instead this sound is one of active release. Try creating the open vowel “AH” a few more times, experimenting with volume, pitch (high/low sound) and duration. You might explore making different sounds one at a time such as “UH” “OOO” “EH” “EYE” “AUM” etc. Creating defined sounds in an intentional way with the voice is called vocal toning. It is important to release judgement, and see this as a fun experiment. Find out what feels good and natural for you!
What do you experience in your body when you engage your voice? How and where do you feel the sound vibration? Does it travel, does it seem isolated to one region? Perhaps try placing your hand upon the area of the chest or belly while making a sound. lf you turn your awareness inward, what sensations, both physical and emotional do you notice?
Using sound for therapeutic outcomes begins with setting an intention to be carried through the vibration. What are you looking to bring into your life today, what sentiment are you offering yourself or others? Care, attention, forgiveness, love?
Now gently begin to hum, by slightly pursing your lips and keeping your tongue to the upper palate. Focus on directing an “MMM” sound to the front of your face. From there you can direct the sound to different regions of the body. Perhaps to areas that feel tight or tense. There is no wrong way to do this. The voice is intuitive and wise all by itself. The first step is trusting what comes out naturally.
Now you might be wondering, where is the science-based evidence that proves using the voice in this way is effective? Here’s a fun fact: sound travels faster in water because the particles are more densely packed. When sound is made in water the liquid will often change shape and produce intricate patterns. The human body is made of about 60% water, therefore it naturally responds to the effects of sound and can literally reorganize itself based on the sound frequencies it absorbs.
When we hum and create sound through the voice, there are a long list of benefits. Think of the relaxation that can be achieved for those who like to receive massage therapy for aiding pain, tension, or injury. Humming is a vibrational massage for the organs, tissues, and cells!
Research proves that when someone is engaged with humming for prolonged periods (5 min or more) the following begins to take place:
- Increased oxygen to the blood, brain, and cells
- Lowered blood pressure and heart rate
- Reduced stress
- Activating the parasympathetic nervous system (responsible for rest & digest response)
- Release of oxytocin (hormone responsible for feelings of love, trust, and belonging)
- Increase of nitric oxide (neural transmitter that creates lymphatic circulation, boosts immune system, and relaxes the muscles)
- Release of endorphins (creates a lift in energy and blocks pain receptors)
- Production of melatonin (sleep hormone that aids relaxation, natural anti-aging and anti-inflammatory)
The list goes on! For further reading I highly recommend a book by leading pioneers in western sound medicine The Humming Effect by Jonathan Goldman and Andi Goldman found here.
The voice is a deeply personal and powerful tool. It is always there for you. Next time you find yourself in a stressful moment, perhaps tune into the sounds you can detect, take a breath, and begin to hum for a few minutes. Notice how quickly your energy shifts. Heightened emotions such as stress, fear, worry, can be soothed by being transformed into soundwaves. You could also make sound with the intention of projecting a vibration of love or peace out across the planet. Sound has the power to disperse your intention. Composer, sound therapist and researcher Steven Halpern said “sound is the carrier wave of consciousness.”
To deepen your journey of healing with sound, join me for a weekly self love sound bath hosted by Tigerlily Foundation. Enjoy the soothing vibrations of crystal singing bowls, chimes, guitar and more, while experimenting with simple vocal toning and humming exercises. May you stay curious, and unleash the healing benefits of sound through the power of your own voice!
Check out Michaela’s weekly Sound Bath Thursdays at 7pm on Zoom. Register Here: https://www.tigerlilyfoundation.org/programs/support/pure-cat-initiative/