Whether it’s yoga, meditation or acupuncture, it feels like anything Eastern has had a sudden resurgence as a Western wellness trend. One example of this is sound healing, which is useful for a variety of both physical and emotional issues. Having tried everything for my debilitating lower back pain — from warm showers to yoga and chiropractic — I was open to another approach, so I had a private session with Los Angeles sound healer, Alison Ross.
In addition to being a sound healer, Alison is also a doula, yoga teacher, Reiki Healer and Ayurvedic masseuse.
So how exactly does sound healing work? According to Alison, “Sound healing works on vibration. Everything is a vibration and you tune your body like you tune an instrument. Different instruments are set to certain frequencies. Sound healing allows your body to heal itself by slowing down your brain waves, which affect every cell in your body, shifting them from diseased to being in ease. It’s just aligning it with whatever you need.”
Alison, like many sound healers, uses a variety of instruments including crystal healing bowls, Tibetan healing bowls, tuning forks, bells, an Aboriginal rain stick and a gong. She also uses a grounding mat, which is sometimes called an earth mat. The mat is plugged into a grounded outlet. (She actually checked my outlet to see if the electricity was grounded). After she set up all of her apparatuses in my living room, I lied down and she put a pillow under my knees. She placed a buckwheat lavender sachet over my eyes. The entire set up felt incredibly calming.
The session started with her doing reiki on me and then massaging my hands and feet with oil. She used a crystal bowl near my hips and pitchforks tuned to the vibration of love around the same area. Alison explained, “The hips are where we can hold a lot of tension and emotion. The psoas muscle, which is known as the muscle of emotion or the spirit muscle, responds to the sympathetic nervous system when we are in fight or flight mode. Sound healing triggers the parasympathetic nervous system which is for relaxation.”
Then the sound bath began. Alison essentially gave a private concert in my living room. She used different instruments at different times and volumes. Every instrument is tuned to a different vibration in order to re-tune the body.
In the meantime, I tried to relax and breathe into the sound, meditating. While I’ve never tried any psychedelic drugs, the entire experience felt very trippy. At one point, I even asked myself if people take ayahuasca before doing this. The physical vibrations of the instruments were intense. I felt a wave of energy above me, which kept me still on the mat, being pushed towards the earth. I could feel so much energy all around the room. Alison later explained that even deaf people benefit from sound healing because they can feel the vibrations.
As I listened to the sound, I couldn’t help but cry. This isn’t an unusual reaction, but I wasn’t prepared for it. While I tried to breathe and remain calm, tears poured out of my eyes. I kept trying to go back to the breath like I do when my mind wanders during meditation, but it’s not always easy. Before the session, I thought some of my back pain could be related to something emotional and this experience has re-assured me my intuition is correct.
Throughout the rest of the day, I continued to cry, but I felt both physically and emotionally renewed. I’m definitely open to another session.