Every day we are inundated with noise. Cars, buses, phones, beeps, slams, rustles, distant voices, rustling leaves in wind. We have musical preferences. We prefer them timbre of a lover’s voice to that of an annoying sibling. Sound matters to our lives. Sound triggers thoughts and emotions on a conscious and subconscious level.
I’ve come to ascertain that many of us, especially young people, are lacking a sense of inner harmony in our day to day lives. That sense of balance and peace and calm that comes from an ordered and orderly existence. Who can blame any of us given the pressures of social media, higher expectations for success, job scarcity, and an uncertain economic future?
But we are seeking inner harmony. These things are outside factors. They cause us stress and anxiety when they infiltrate into our thoughts and emotions, certainly. But they also do not need to dictate our inner state. And in fact, we can use sound to help us achieve a greater sense of harmony.
I would like to recommend a meditation that combines two kinds of sounds to relax and harmonize you: Singing Bowls and ASMR.
Singing Bowls have been proven to have a beneficial effect on both blood pressure and heart rate (1) and a likely positive effect on chronic pain suffers (2). Among alternative healing practices, they are used to promote healing of the various energy centers in the body (also known as chakras) through vibrational resonances in sound.
Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response (ASMR) is a sensory phenomenon that causes a tingling sensation in the head, neck, and shoulder area and gives a general feeling of relaxation. It’s produced by a variety of binaural sounds, including whispering, tapping, crinkling, as well as personal attention and slow movements. ASMR has been shown to accompany a mental state similar to flow, which is when people generally operate at optimal creativity and productivity (3). This is a relatively new phenomenon (check out YouTube for many more videos) and is relaxing for most listeners.
I recommend the following meditation video that combines both singing bowls and ASMR. It’s excellent for general relaxation or before going to sleep, and it’s OK if you don’t listen to the whole thing in one sitting. If you prefer, you can also use keepvid.com to download just the audio for personal use on your laptop or smartphone. Be sure to use headphones to get the full ASMR experience. Put it on when you need a break and feel the harmonization in your body!
(1) Landry, J. M. (2014). Physiological and Psychological Effects of a Himalayan Singing Bowl in Meditation Practice: A Quantitative Analysis. American Journal Of Health Promotion, 28(5), 306-309.
(2) Terwagne, D., & Bush, J. W. M. (2011). Tibetan singing bowls. doi:10.1088/0951-7715/24/8/R01
(3) Barratt, E. L., & Davis, N. J. (2015). Autonomous sensory meridian response (ASMR): A flow-like mental state. Peerj, 3, e851. doi:10.7717/peerj.851
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