Does Sound Therapy Really Relieve Stress? MOJEH Investigates

Words by Naomi Chadderton

5 min read

In an increasingly chaotic and fast-paced world, finding solace and balance for our minds and bodies has become an essential pursuit. That’s where the ancient healing practice of sound therapy comes in…

Whether it’s soothing soundtracks that sing you to sleep, or upbeat music that gets you through your Monday morning workout, the benefits of sound have long been documented. Designed to help improve your mental wellbeing without a supplement, treadmill or face mask in sight, there’s one form of therapy that’s rapidly rising in popularity right now, with devotees claiming everything from reductions in stress and anxiety to healing migraines, chronic pain and insomnia. Enter: the sound bath.

An ancient method that is used to heal the energies of the body, Buddhist monks have been using metal Tibetan singing bowls in their meditation practices for centuries, while crystal singing bowls made of quartz came about in the 20th century. Today, both are being used to help modern women bring peace and tranquillity to their everyday lives, with sound healing sessions most commonly involving the use of instruments (think bowls, gongs, chimes and tuning forks) played at certain vibrations and frequencies to invoke a therapeutic response. “Stress, worry, overthinking, bad diets — all these things cause our bodies to be in a constant state of fight or flight,” Dubai-based energy and sound healer Eman Sadoun tells MOJEH. “Instead, we need to reach what is known as the theta state, where we can bring clarity to our minds, induce a state of calm, and heal. The vibrations that come out of each bowl when being hit with a mallet creates a certain frequency that affects the brain waves, bringing them into this state.

Considered a form of ‘energy healing’, benefits of sound therapy are not only mental — they can extend to physical pain relief too. In fact, it has even been observed that the practice can play a vital role in the healing process for cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy, particularly in managing pain and side effects. “Sound healing has so many mental, emotional and physical benefits,” Farzana Ali, sound therapist, wellness expert and author of Sound Healing: How to Use Sound to Beat Stress & Anxiety tells MOJEH. “Because it works by activating your parasympathetic nervous system, it slows down your breath rate, your heart rate and even lowers your blood pressure, which sends a signal to your body that you are safe and fully able to relax. Easing into a deeply restful trance-like state gives your brain time to reset essential mineral levels and organise your thoughts, leading to more mental clarity and an increased sense of emotional stability.”

Farzana, known to her fans as The Sound Therapist on Instagram, hosts both group and one-on-one sessions around London and internationally, the latter allowing for much deeper, more introspective work. “Just one session can make you feel more rested, relaxed and less anxious,” she says. “But if you build up a regular practice then, overtime, the therapy can help improve your sleep, address self-limiting beliefs, traumas and increase your resilience while also improving your general outlook on life. My clients describe an immediate sense of feeling more rested, happier and mentally refreshed.”

While the less open-minded may dismiss sound therapy as a whole lot of hogwash, there’s plenty of evidence going around to backup these benefits, with one piece of research finding that meditation aided by Tibetan bowls decreased stress levels, and another from the University of Bonn in Germany uncovering that using binaural beats helps ease anxiety — just two studies of many. “There is still so much to discover, and scientists are finding out that holistic healing is not just an old ritual that has been practised, but there is evidence and facts behind this beautiful way of healing.”

It’s no surprise then that some of the world’s biggest wellness brands are getting in on the act. Just last month, Clinique La Prairie announced that it would be the first partner to provide AudioVitality’s innovative technology in sound therapy, incorporating it into detox practices and therapies at its state-of-the-art facilities while, in May this year, London’s Bulgari Spa launched four new treatments featuring dosha-specific sound therapies curated by four female wellness specialists which are already proving extremely popular. And it’s not just internationally either — dedicated sound bath events have been popping up all over Dubai in recent months, many with waiting lists already.

Yoga House Dubai in the Greens will be running a number of different sessions with its resident certified sound therapists, using a combination of instruments including crystal singing bowls, Tibetan bowls and gongs to create a harmonious and healing atmosphere. We’re particularly looking forward to the cacao ceremony on 20 January, which begins with a heart chakra-based crystal bowl sound journey and uses the benefits of ceremonial-grade cacao, including boosting calcium, magnesium and iron, for a holistic experience that encourages letting go of what no longer serves you.

Elsewhere, SEVA in Jumeirah and Paus Wellness Café in Umm Suqeim are also hosting sessions over the coming months, so be sure to stay up to date on their social pages. “Sound healing has definitely caught people’s attention, and we see its popularity growing every day,” adds Eman, who teaches at various facilities around Dubai including Hub of Consciousness in Al Barsha. “I think that in a cosmopolitan place like Dubai, it’s a much-needed practice and should be a priority in people’s schedules. The energy of the city is amazing, but sometimes it’s important to escape the concrete jungle and find a calmer and more peaceful place. And that’s exactly where sound healing can take you.”

Read Next: Here’s Why Celebrities Are Obsessed With LED Light Therapy