Sound Healing Brings Peace to Hospital Patients
Margaret Knight and Natalie Robinson participating in Music in Hospitals program. Photo by Music in Hospitals
Putting on your favorite song can change your mood instantly. Is it possible that sound can go deeper still and actually heal our bodies and minds?
The College of Sound Healing certainly thinks so. The UK-based non-profit has been providing training courses and workshops on sound healing since 1998.
Sound is now used in a variety of medical procedures, including breaking up kidney stones and detecting cancer cells. Sound can also be used to help relax patients and improve their general wellbeing, and it’s this that the College of Sound Healing specializes in.
What does it do?
One of the college’s instructors, healer and author Simon Heather, describes sound healing as “the therapeutic application of sound frequencies to the body or mind of a person, with the intention of bringing them into a state of harmony and health.” According to Heather, there are many different methods that the college uses to achieve this, including the use of vocals, playing instruments or simply listening to music.
“There are many benefits of sound healing,” says Heather. “It’s a natural way to treat pain and illness, is simple to use and has no harmful side effects.”
There is a growing body of scientific evidence to support these claims. Studies have shown that removing the stress frequencies in a person’s voice can reduce high blood pressure and speed up the body’s healing process, and that listening to slow rhythms can lower heart rate and decrease stress levels.
Another teacher from the College of Sound Healing, Chrys Blanchard has run an annual workshop called Soundscape at Abergavenny’s Nevill Hall Hospital for the past three years. The sessions are designed to put participants into a meditative-like state, which Blanchard believes helps patients relax and transport their minds away from the often stressful hospital environment.
“I feel that when we run Soundscape,” says Chrys “we are reminding ourselves that human beings need love and compassion as part of our healing.”
Soundscape also features a ‘harp chair’ that people can sit in to feel the vibration of the strings being plucked, and participants can also have their own ‘sound bath’, whereby they lie down and are surrounded by a chorus of gentle voices singing to them.
A participating patient, Sarah, commented after the event: “It was the most relaxing sound I have ever heard. It was a wonderful experience.”
Similar projects elsewhere
There are now a growing number of similar projects taking place in hospitals around the UK and elsewhere. The UK charity Music in Hospitals, for instance, provides around 5,000 live performances in healthcare settings each year, while the Alzheimer’s Society’s Singing for the Brain project has over 100 groups around the country, using singing to stimulate the memories of people with dementia.
The Irish Chamber Orchestra, meanwhile, has played in Dublin’s Tallaght Hospital, where 82% of patients said that listening to the music helped them to relax and 59% said that it made them feel happier. And Slappingskins, a music education group, has held drum workshops in several health facilities, including the UK’s primary spinal injuries unit in Stoke Mandeville.
The diverse range of healing sound activities taking place in hospitals shows that there is clearly a lot more to the healing properties of sound beyond the joy of an uplifting piece of music. Sound can connect with our bodies in unexpected ways and it seems that for many patients, it is giving them what they need on their way to recovery.