What is Stress, and how is it defined? The National Institute of Mental Health defines it as, “the brain’s response to any demand”. So…how do we encounter stress? Many things can trigger this response, including change, which can be positive or negative, real or perceived. They may be recurring, short or long-term and may include things as simple as daily commuting or more serious experiences such as marriage, loss of a job or a serious illness.
Stress can be viewed as the wear and tear on the body. The National Institute of Mental Health identifies at least 3 different types of stress:
- Routine stress related to the pressures of work, family, and other daily responsibilities
- Stress brought about by sudden negative change, such as losing a job, divorce, or illness
- Traumatic stress, experienced in an event like a major accident, war, assault, or a natural disaster where one maybe seriously injured or in danger of being killed.
Depending upon the type of person you are, you will feel the effects of stress in different ways. Digestive symptoms, headaches, sleeplessness, depression, anger, and anxiety are just a few. Out of all the types of stress, routine stress may be the hardest to notice first, because the source could be constant, and the body receives no clear signal to return to “normal” functioning. Over time, continued strain on the body from routine stress can lead to serious health problems from heart disease to diabetes, and other illnesses. These health issues tend to build up over time, making them a time bomb of sorts.
A recent study conducted by The American Psychological Association revealed that 43% of women feel that their stress levels have increased over the past 5 years, with about 39% experiencing irritability or anger as a symptom of stress. Another study showed that 83% of Americans were stressed at work. The poll furthermore showed that woman were twice as stressed as men, and that people between the ages of 18 to 29 experienced more stress than other age groups. Family practitioners report that 66% of all doctor visits are for stress related symptoms. Statistics also show that we respond to stress in forms of aggression, fatigue, apathy, anxiety as well as depression – and to add to the above symptoms, many experience it as headaches, muscle tension, appetite change, grinding of their teeth, or as a reduced sex drive.
So how do we treat this epidemic? A 2012 article in Psychology Today Magazine, cited a healthy lifestyle, good nutrition, and stress reduction techniques as good intervention. Among several other holistic modalities such as meditation and yoga, Sound Therapy is an effective method to reduce stress. Sound….. an energetic vibration we are surrounded by every moment. Perceived at an early stage when our bodies take shape in the womb of our mothers, hearing is our first and last sense of perception. Over time during our lives we naturally develop associations, heightened sensitivities and preferences to various sounds. The source as well as the frequency, or pitch and energy of the sound, greatly determine the effect sounds have on the nervous systems of our bodies. Sound shapes our world.
Sound is vibration and vibration touches every part of our physical being. It is heard not only through our ears but also felt and recognized by our skin and bones, essentially, by every cell in our bodies. Ancient cultures from around the world knew about the soothing and therapeutic aspects of sound and harmonic frequencies. The ancient Indian texts of the Rig Veda point out the use of sound as a companion to the Ayruvedic system of health. Early on, many eastern cultures were aware of the positive effects sound has on our Chakra system, the symbolic presentation of energies which exist in the body, influenced by the subconscious mind.
Today it has been scientifically proven that sound therapy, when skillfully applied, provides far reaching and profound beneficial aspects from several directions in the body. From supporting a variety of cellular functions, it positively influences the calming of the body and mind, which in turn help to regulate the immune system. Sound therapy is among the many natural and holistic modalities that activate and support the body’s self regulating and healing mechanisms.
Two of the most powerful and oldest transformational and therapeutic instruments known to man are Gongs and Himalayan Singing Bowls, both used for relaxation and meditative purposes since the Bronze Age. Because their sound is relaxing, calming, centering, energizing, transforming and healing, gongs and singing bowls have been used in yoga, sound meditation and vibrational therapy from the distant past to present times. They provide a wonderful and effective platform for encouraging relaxation, centering and a re-balancing of the Chakras. A sensibly applied gong sound meditation can directly affect our emotions and in turn how we feel and also look. It can balance the subtle flow of energy in the body, similar to an Ayurvedic approach, by rebalancing or recalibrating our nervous system and bringing our minds and body to ease. It furthermore supports an inner transformation of our outlook and encourages our circulatory and respiratory systems to realign. Similar to the effects of a deep meditation Ayurvedic logic states – when the breath is balanced, symptoms are decreased.
And if you do not have access to directly experience a live gong sound session, then explore our downloadable versions or try your own voice. Say the word Om (pronounced Aum) out loud and keep the tone for as long as your breath carries it. To amplify your experience, cover the entry to your ear canals with your fingers and listen to the strong resonance in your head as you Om or simply hum…play around with the pitch and explore how it feels to you. Pretty cool? Ok, so now allow your Self to experience the “real thing”. Check out one of our events or book your own private session.
Portions of the above entry have been used with permission from a research paper by Mitch Nur, PhD of 9ways Academia