Perhaps you have that one wellness-obsessed friend who waxes poetic about the benefits of sound meditation, how different frequencies align different chakras, and brings their crystal singing bowls to a picnic. As it turns out — they’re actually onto something.
Sound meditation is a type of mindfulness meditation that uses sounds to focus the mind. The idea is that listening to sounds helps you stay in the present moment and let go of distractions, inducing a meditative experience.
Pretty much any type of relaxing sound works well for a sound meditation practice, including binaural beats, solfeggio tones, and “color” noises like pink, green, or white noise.
Oura members can use the Explore Tab to access an ever-expanding library of meditation audio sessions with sounds of your choice. Plus you’ll receive instant biofeedback data after each session so you can identify the kind of meditation that works best for you. In the Oura App, you can also monitor your Sleep Score to track how sound meditation affects your sleep.
And it’s no wives’ tale: Your friend from yoga class who always waves her tuning forks at you is right. There is significant science behind the health benefits of sound meditation for both your physical and mental health.
5 Powerful Benefits of Sound Meditation
1. It Lowers Stress and Anxiety
One of the most significant benefits of sound meditation is that it can help reduce your stress levels. For example, one study found that listening to soothing sounds and vibrations for an hour reduced cortisol — the stress hormone — in 86% of participants, helping to lower their stress levels and induce deep relaxation.
But what type of sound should you listen to, and is one more effective than the others? One study measured the effects of listening to didgeridoos compared to a control group that did a silent meditation. The didgeridoo meditators reported experiencing significantly more relaxation and less acute stress than their silent meditator counterparts.
Another study assessed people who participated in Tibetan singing bowl sound meditation and found they reported significantly less tension, anger, fatigue, and depressed mood, as well as increased feelings of spiritual well-being. The researchers concluded that this type of sound meditation is a viable treatment for anxiety and depression.
Meanwhile, a meta-analysis of the research on binaural beats concluded that this type of sound reduces anxiety and has potential as a therapeutic tool for emotional regulation.
Therefore, like most things, the ‘best’ sound meditation is the one that works best for you, so experiment with soothing sounds until you find something that resonates.
2. It Improves Immune System and Heart Health
Because sound meditation reduces cortisol levels, it can also positively impact immune health. Chronic stress causes cortisol levels to stay high over time, which researchers say can provoke inflammation and inhibit immune function.
Practicing sound meditation regularly can, therefore, boost your immune system. In fact, one study found mantra meditation to be particularly effective in promoting immune function, including an increase in the number of natural killer cells, which help fight off viruses and cancer cells.
Multiple studies on the effects of meditation on heart health have found that it lowers your heart rate and reduces blood pressure. One study into the effects of different sound frequencies on hypertensive rats found that it lowered their blood pressure, indicating that sound vibrations may do the same for humans.
Meanwhile, another study found that participants who listened to Himalayan singing bowls before a guided meditation session had lower blood pressure and heart rates than the control group, who did the guided meditation session without listening to the singing bowls first. These findings suggest that adding sound to your meditation practice can enhance its heart health effects.
3. It Reduces Pain and Inflammation
A study into the effects of music on neurohormonal mechanisms found that passively listening to music can stimulate the release of endorphins, the body’s natural painkillers, indicating that sound may help manage physical pain.
In another study, researchers found that low-frequency sound stimulation decreased pain in fibromyalgia patients, allowing nearly 75% of participants to reduce their pain medication.
4. It Enhances Mindfulness
Like all forms of meditation, sound meditation can help you to live more mindfully as you move through the world. Although mindfulness means different things to different people, essentially, it’s about staying connected to the present moment and choosing your responses instead of reacting.
The vibrations used in sound meditation can help create a meditative state, allowing for a more profound connection to the present moment that strengthens the more you practice it. A regular sound meditation practice can lead to increased self-awareness, emotional regulation, and overall well-being.
RELATED: Can Meditation Help You Sleep?
5. It Improves Concentration and Focus
The study of the effects of binaural beats also found that its rhythmic sound patterns can help synchronize brainwaves, leading to increased focus and concentration.
This can be especially beneficial for people who find it challenging to stay focused for extended periods, such as those with ADHD.
RELATED: Revenge Sleep Procrastination: How ADHD Can Make You Struggle With Bedtime
Sleep Soundly with Sound Meditation
The benefits of sound meditation, such as reduced stress, lower heart rate, and less pain and inflammation all contribute to better sleep quality, so if you’re someone who struggles with sleep, you might want to consider incorporating it into your self-care routine.
READ MORE: The 7 Best Types of Sound to Sleep By