Still reeling from the events of the past year? Here are some new age healing methods that have been catching on among self-care aficionados.
Different types of music give rise to different feelings within us, so it shouldn’t be surprising that there are certain therapeutic sounds that can help your body relax.
“When we hear a sound that is therapeutic, we shift from a fight-or- flight response to a space that harnesses the body’s natural ability to heal itself,” says Elaine Victoria Yang, who has been offering sound healing sessions at Reiki Glow since 2016. Each session typically lasts 45 minutes to an hour.
Sound healing involves using sound vibrations to relax the body and mind, and can take on various forms, like music and vocals. However, many practitioners use instruments like gongs, tuning forks, and Tibetan singing bowls. In Elaine’s case, she mainly uses Alchemy crystal singing bowls. She creates the sounds by either striking the bowls or moving suede mallets around the sides or rims of the bowls. The larger the bowl, the lower the octave and note produced.
“Studies have shown that the sound of specific frequencies entrain the brainwaves to move into alpha state (restful and meditative state) or theta state (a deeply relaxed state, just before you go into sleep), which supports self-healing. Sound healing also helps us shift into meditative states of consciousness, which expands awareness, and gives us more clarity,” she says.
Elaine reckons that sound healing is for everyone and has seen an increase in clients over the past few years. Want to give it a go? It’s important that you find a sound that most resonates with you, and if you like the idea of personalised sound healing, you can opt for a customised audio recording from her.
“Healing is cumulative, so regular sound healing sessions can be helpful, but there’s no prescribed frequency of sessions. Rather, it is about finding a frequency that will help you sustain a more balanced state of being.”
The use of crystals may not be new, but it sure hasn’t waned in popularity. In fact, with the boom in local online crystal shops over the past few years, it’s clear that there’s still a lot of interest in these stones.
It’s no secret that many people believe they emit positive vibrational energy and swear by their curative properties. If you want to start a collection for yourself, it’s important to choose crystals that “call out” to you.
“Take your time to see and touch the different stones when shopping. You should be comfortable with the way they look and feel,” says Yvonne Law from Secret Crystals. According to her, the five most popular healing crystals are rose quartz (believed to restore trust and harmony), black tourmaline (to repel negativity), selenite (to instil deep peace), amethyst (to dispel stress and rage), and citrine (to boost confidence).
“If you don’t have good vibes about certain pieces, I would suggest that you don’t buy them. Different crystals give off different vibes to different people,” says Yvonne.
However, she adds that you should bear in mind that the way you feel about crystals can change.
“Some people feel like they work at first, but not after a period of time. Plus, they work differently for different people because everyone has a different state of mind.”
Yvonne also points out that whether or not crystals have a placebo effect, the effect will not be strong if one is sceptical of their powers.
Apart from wearing them in the form of rings, bracelets or pendants, you can also display your crystals on your bedside table and work desk, or wherever you spend a fair bit of time. But whether you’re hoping to tap into their good vibrations or just want pretty things to look at, you ought to be meticulous about keeping them in good condition, so don’t let them collect dust, and be sure to cleanse them regularly.
The absence of sound can have as much of a positive impact on your mood as a healing sound, and in this instance, it’s intermittent silence – simply being in silence for a period of time.
“Intermittent silence has some similarities to meditation, even though the practice is very different. However, the goal is exactly the same, and that is to take your attention away from what is creating emotional, mental or physical imbalance within you, and bring your attention to calmness,” says Maria Micha, a clinical mental health counsellor, hypnotherapist and health coach.
Scientifically, it works by slowing down our brain waves, which in turn lowers our stress levels. Also, it doesn’t actually require complete silence –it’s just about disconnecting from the chatter and noise of everyday life, so you’ll still be practising it if you power down your electronic devices and find yourself a quiet spot, or head out into nature and listen to the sounds of the wind, water or animals.
According to Maria, it is best practised in the morning shortly after you wake up, or at night just before you go to bed, because that’s when your brain still has theta brain waves, which will allow you to achieve greater calmness and tranquillity.
But that’s not to say you can’t practise it in the middle of the day, particularly when you’re feeling stressed and your mind is going into overdrive.
“If you have to, say, do public speaking, attend a difficult meeting or have an emotional conversation with a loved one, instead of stressing over it, it would be a lot more beneficial if you just sit down and disconnect from everything that upsets you. From there, you can ask your subconscious mind, ‘What is the right solution for this problem I’m facing?’”
Maria recommends intermittent silence to her clients and finds that those who are diligent with the practice function a lot better in general.
“It changes their lives because they always have a tool in their toolbox whenever they’re feeling stressed. They can just calm themselves down and find the answer.”
When two slightly different sound frequencies are played into each of your ears, you perceive a single new frequency tone – a binaural beat. Controlled studies have shown that binaural beats were able to significantly reduce anxiety in patients who are about to go for surgery, as well as patients who were admitted to the emergency department at a hospital.
And here’s the interesting thing: a binaural beat is really an auditory illusion. There’s no third beat; it’s just your brain compensating for the different tones by finding a frequency in the middle.
“If a 100Hz pure tone is played in one ear, and a 108Hz pure tone is played in the other, you will perceive a third tone of 8Hz, the difference between the two tones,” explains Jean Reiki, a DJ and producer who has been leading binaural beat sessions for the past two years. She produces “consciousness-shifting sounds” under the alias Mind of the Cosmos, and conducts soundscape meditation sessions at Palm Ave Float Club.
There are different types of binaural beats to achieve different mental states: proponents believe that they can be used to induce deep sleep (in the 1Hz to 4Hz range), reduce anxiety (in the 4Hz to 8Hz range), promote positivity (in the 8Hz to 13Hz range), and enhance focus (in the 14Hz to 30Hz range). Jean says that these effects are produced because the consistent beat synchronises the left and right hemispheres of the brain and influences the brain waves.
“This sort of exploration is kind of like self-medication to ease your mood. If you want to rely less on stimulants like coffee, sugary drinks or prescribed medication to improve the chemical levels in your brain, audio is definitely one of the most accessible tools out there,” she adds.