il_fullxfull.370605713_e6klRecently, I was compiling some notes for an upcoming interview – there will be an article coming out about me and my work in The Vancouver Courier sometime next month. The interview ended up being mostly about my somatic work with trauma and nervous system physiology and how that relates to spirituality (which was cool), but at first I thought it was just going to be about the sound healing aspect of my practice so I wrote up these notes about how sound promotes healing in the body and mind.

  • The neocortex and the ventral vagal complex (VVC) are the two most evolved portions of our brain (the neocortex) and nervous system (VVC).

  • The neocortex is what enables abstract thinking about concepts such as science, the arts, spirituality, philosophy, etc..and also supports activities within those disciplines. Essentially, it is the main part of our  brain that differs from other mammals. Use of the neocortex is best facilitated by a smoothly running, well-developed ventral vagal complex.

  • Pleasant sound positively stimulates the ventral vagal complex by engaging the inner ear which the VVC enervates.

  • In a therapeutic setting sound is a great “non-content” stimuli (i.e. – disconnected from any story or painful memories – unless the client has negative associations with those particular sounds – something to ask about beforehand!). It can be a gentle way to wake up the social engagement function (that which enables us to be comfortable and attuned with others) which facilitates a feeling of safety.

  • By attuning to the client and responding appropriately with varying sounds, tempos, rhythms and volume, we can build tolerance for emotion and sensation.

  • Our brains and nervous systems did not evolve in an industrial setting, yet in our industrialized world we are constantly bombarded by mechanical, low-pitched vibrations and loud industrial sounds that are very often subconsciously perceived as threat. Taking time to come out of that noise into a quiet space and be exposed to the pure tones of things like drumming, crystal singing bowls, and the human voice greatly promotes ease in the system. It can help people get into the ”rest and repair” portion of their physiology, which helps everything.

  • On the more esoteric end…Sound is also therapeutic in that it not only passes into the ear, the sound waves penetrate and pass through the entire body. Sound carries with it the meaning that surrounds it’s creation – this may expressed in lyrics or the emotion of the singer, or by the intention of the practitioner. I can focus on my compassion and universal love for my client, or on repairing a connection between chakras, etc.. while singing and playing the singing bowls and that intention is literally carried into their body, riding on those sound waves – creating those “good vibrations” the Beach Boys sang about.