Stress-Relieving Sound Therapy

This self-care technique that applies sound and vibration to acupuncture points can help you relax, relieve stress, and have a profound impact on your well-being.

| July/August 2019

Photo by Getty Images/Bartosz Luczak

On a walk through our 35-acre property, you’ll hear and see chimes, bells, and gongs. We’ve surrounded ourselves with nature and music, and when we founded the Acutonics Institute of Integrative Medicine, we never imagined that our model for the direct application of sound vibration in all aspects of life would relocate from Seattle, Washington, to the mountains of rural northern New Mexico to better carry out that mission.

Since 1995, we’ve been involved in the development and teaching of an integrated curriculum that trains people in the applied use of specific sound vibrations to acupuncture points, trigger points, and points of pain. Our approach to working with sound is rooted in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), psychology, Western and Eastern sciences, music, and the arts, and the sounds that we work with are calculated from the universe around us. We train others to apply tuning forks, planetary gongs, hand chimes, and Tibetan singing bowls in health care, from clinical settings to their own homes.

This practice — called Acutonics® — has broad appeal because of its interdisciplinary nature, easy access, and people’s love for sound and music. Acutonics can be used in the comfort of your own home to reduce the symptoms associated with stress, such as poor sleep, anxiety, frustration, and anger, and it demonstrates tremendous promise in the treatment of pain as part of an integrative, holistic health care model.

Music in Medicine

The historic use of music and rhythm in conjunction with healing transcends any one culture. References to the power of sound to elicit a physical response trace back to ancient Egypt, Assyria, and Greece. In the earliest Japanese and Chinese creation stories, as well as ancient Hindu scripture, sound was the energy that created the universe. Both Plato and Aristotle believed in the power of music to heal, and that healing the psyche through music would also heal the body. Drums, which many indigenous cultures liken to the heartbeat of the Earth, have been used for thousands of years to help break up stagnation in a person’s spirit or mind, or to help root energy in the body. In aboriginal Australian culture, the didgeridoo is played to help both musician and listener feel grounded and connected within their physical bodies, and to reawaken their conscious minds.

Today, there’s a growing interest in the physiological and psychological impact of music in health care. Studies from the early 1900s to the present have shown that music helps alleviate some pain and anxiety associated with surgery, decreases dental patients’ need for pharmacological analgesia, and provides other immunomodulatory effects in those experiencing medical stress.

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