Here is a short history of sound healing by Mandara Cromwell the founder and board chair of the International Sound Therapy Association.
Sound therapy has been around since the beginning of recorded history—the oldest surviving scriptural texts tell us so—and science may finally be catching up with sound-healing practices used by ancient civilizations. Most cultures share myths of creation that begin with a sonorous event. In the ancient Vedic texts, Lord Vishnu rests on the cosmic, shoreless ocean. The silence is broken with the cosmic hum we know as Aum. In the Bible, John 1:1 states, “In the beginning was the Word…”At the first vibratory universal note a system of mathematics and harmonic ratios are revealed. From macrocosm to microcosm, we exist and live in a sea of sound. Geneticists have decoded the musical expression of our DNA; NASA has captured the sounds of all the planets, even the sound of black holes; and in November of 2014 the European Space Agency’s Rosetta probe recorded the sound of a comet. It’s no wonder our bodies respond to therapeutic sound.
Since 4000 B.C., sound, light and magnetics have been inextricably linked. Tracing the thread from the Egyptian pyramids, Greek Asclepian temples and the Gothic styles of cathedrals and churches, we see common themes of resonant architecture. Many of these ancient sites were built near the sea or river, which contains relaxing, therapeutic sounds. Some say these were our first hospitals and recovery centres, with priests and priestesses serving as medical staff.
Sound in recent history
Sound in medicine is being researched throughout the world. In 2004, Smithsonian magazine introduced the work of Jim Gimzewski, Ph.D., of the University of California Los Angeles. Gimzewski coined the term sonocytology when he heard the sound of a cell.Missouri University’s assistant professors and biological engineering team Xudong Fan, Ph.D., and John Viator, Ph.D., made news when they created a photo-acoustic device that can detect as few as 10 melanoma cells in a blood sample. At Duke University, biological engineer Kathy Nightingale is also detecting disease with sound. Nightingale reports that “ultrasound maps differences in the acoustic properties of tissue. Muscles, blood vessels and fatty tissue have different densities and sound passes through them at different speeds. “Another interesting report from a team of Danish scientists refutes the common view that nerves transmit impulses through electricity, saying nerves actually transmit sound. The Copenhagen University researchers argue that biology and medical textbooks stating nerves relay electrical impulses from the brain to the rest of the body are incorrect.
Today, each therapist creates her own version of a healing place.