More and more, the soothing sounds you hear in spas go beyond trickling fountains and relaxing music. A growing number of spas are furthering their holistic approach to enhancing well-being by including sound therapies based on ancient traditions. Used to clear blocked energy, bring relaxation, alleviate pain and increase the benefits of more conventional spa treatments, sound therapies are amplifying the spa experience--and you need not even disrobe to reap the benefits.
The use of tuning forks, Tibetan bowls and other instruments in today's spas may be a recent trend, but sound therapy has been practiced throughout the world for thousands of years. In the Old Testament of the Bible, for instance, David played the harp to soothe King Saul's despair; the ancient Greeks treated gout and sciatica with flutes and lyres; and Tibetan bowls made in the Himalayas have been central to meditation and traditional ceremonies for centuries.
The human voice is yet another time-tested, therapeutic instrument. Vedic chants (expressions of hymns from 3,000-year-old Hindu scriptures) are still practiced today. The Greek philosopher Pythagoras, credited with discovering harmonic ratios, used songs and incantations to treat diseases of the body and mind. And one can only guess how long mothers have been soothing babies to sleep by singing lullabies.??
The Body as Orchestra
Rhythm and music can be used therapeutically, but much of sound therapy utilizes specific tones (as opposed to entire melodies) to benefit mind and body via powerful vibrations. This is often referred to as vibrational medicine or vibrational healing. "Sound therapy relies on the fact that from the smallest atom to the largest galaxy, everything has a specific frequency of vibration," says Mary Lopiccalo, lead resonance therapist at Mii Amo, a destination spa at Enchantment Resort in Sedona, Arizona.
Even at rest, your body is moving internally, and therefore you are constantly vibrating. "Movement is vibration, and vibration is sound," explains Robert MacDonald, director of healing at Exhale spas. Your heartbeat, nervous system and other systems all vibrate at different frequencies, creating various sounds. In a sense, the body is like an orchestra. In terms of sound therapy, when we experience mental, emotional or physical problems, our healthy vibrations in one or more areas are disrupted, and we are "out of tune."
Lopiccalo says that according to sound therapists, our cells can be restored to their normal vibratory state by introducing sound waves of an appropriate frequency. The human body is about 70 percent water, making it an excellent conductor of sound. "The body knows exactly what it needs to come back into a frequency," says Amrita Cottrell, a sound therapist for The Healing Music Organization. "The body is looking for a resonance, and when it feels that resonance, the body starts to entrain with it."
Clearing and Balancing Energy
Noninvasive and pain-free, sound therapy stimulates and recharges energy (also called "life force") in the body that has become stagnant or blocked. "The treatment principle of vibrational therapies is to ensure that healing takes place on the deepest and most complete level, and this is achieved by first balancing an individual's energy body," says Angela Derks, skincare development director for Six Senses Spas. According to Traditional Chinese Medicine and Ayurveda, energy blockages or imbalances in the body can cause health problems--from emotional issues to physical pain to compromised immunity.