We recently received a newsletter from Jonathan Barrett, owner of Sound Travels, who supplied The Hub’s magical Himalayan bowl and wind chimes. In it he interviewed Lyz Cooper, founder of The British Academy of Sound Therapy (BAST), who talks about using sound and music not only to improve health and well-being, but to help prevent illness in the first place.
She explains how she used sound therapy to climb out of a deep slump after being diagnosed with chronic anxiety disorder and depression. ‘I literally couldn’t go out of the house and really struggled to hold life together – in fact, there were times when I felt completely overwhelmed and terrified without really knowing why.
‘One day I was in the bath and started “toning” (a technique where you sing a prolonged tone – a bit like an “OM” but it can be any vowel sound). After a few minutes I felt so much better. I tried this again any time I felt anxious and it definitely made a big difference. It was such a profound effect that I had to find out more.’
Today Lyz is one of the thought leaders in therapeutic sound and is at the forefront of research and development into finding out how and why sound and music can be so effective, particularly for mental health. Below are Lyz and Jonathan’s tips on improving your emotional well-being through sound.
TIPS ON HOW TO USE SOUND TO IMPROVE YOUR MENTAL HEALTH
- First of all breathe
Make sure your exhale is longer than your inhale – this will help to switch off your sympathetic ‘fight or flight’ nervous system and switch on the parasympathetic ‘rest/digest’ nervous system. Bring your breath to your belly. Often we breathe from the upper chest when we are stressed. Be aware of when your breathing changes as this can be a sign before you’ve even realised you are stressed.
- Use a relaxation playlist
Having a playlist ready for those stressful times, or even just to maintain your calm can be a huge help. Lyz writes Consciously Designed Music which is available for free on Spotify or to buy on iTunes for a small fee.
- Sleep well
Getting plenty of sleep is good not just for physical health, but mental health too. The recommended amount is at least 8 hours. Some of Lyz’s tracks are written to help you get off to the land of nod quicker and she has put together a sleep playlist.
- Attend a sound bath
Sound therapy sessions induce altered states of consciousness which improve health and wellbeing. Research undertaken by Lyz Cooper shows the health benefits of altering consciousness with therapeutic sound.