Traditional western medicine operates based on assumptions based in biology and our current pharmaceutical treatments are rooted in chemistry. Practitioners from this tradition have been somewhat slow to embrace the emerging field of energy medicine which is perhaps better understood from the perspective of physics.
Nonetheless, there is compelling evidence that our experiences of resonance and vibration - whether through practicing an ancient technique like Qi Gong or participation in a group sing-along - can have profound impacts on our health and well-being.
Here are five ways that you can access the healing power of these good vibrations:
Sing — There is plenty of evidence that singing is good for your physical, cognitive, and emotional health. Among other things, scientists who study singers have documented increases in endorphins (our natural pain-killers), oxytocin (the bonding hormone), and immune globulins (that fight infection). They've also found reductions in cortisol (the stress hormone) along with reduced feelings of loneliness, depression, and anxiety. Ongoing research is exploring the ability of music to enhance the well-being of older adults and people with neurological disorders.
Drum - Drums have been used for thousands of years in healing circles. Now, we understand more about why rhythm has such a positive impact. Researchers have found that drumming boosts our immune systems by increasing natural killer cells (the cells that fights viruses and cancer). Drumming also improves our well-being by improving mood and reducing burnout. In fact, genetic research has demonstrated that drumming actually reverses a number of genes that turn on the stress response! (To experience the power of community drumming, check out my new workshop "The Art of Powerful Listening"!)
Tap - Emotional Freedom Technique is a relatively new technique that pairs rhythmic tapping motions over specific points with affirmations. So far research has documented that it benefits depression, PTSD, and other anxiety related conditions. To learn more about tapping, check out this Nudge call by Mary Charles Blakebrough.
Listen to music — Don't consider yourself a musician? You don't have to actually have to sing or make music yourself to enjoy the benefits. Even listening to music has been shown to reduce stress, relieve pain, improve immune function, improve memory, and improve exercise effort!
Practice Qi Gong — One of my new personal new favorite wellness tools is Qi Gong. It is an ancient Asian practice that balances qi (or energy) through movement, breath, and sound. Research has found Qi Gong to be an effective tool in addressing a multitude of conditions including poor balance, hypertension, depression, bone health, cardiopulmonary fitness and related biomarkers, physical function, falls prevention and balance, general quality of life and patient reported outcomes, immunity, and psychological factors such as anxiety, depression and self-efficacy.
One easy Qi Gong practice is known as the Six Healing Sounds. This practice is based on the idea that each sound creates a specific vibration that is healing to particular organs or organ systems within the body. Here are the particular energy areas and the sounds that relate to them.
Liver - Xū "shu"
Heart - Hē "ka"
Spleen - Hū "hu"
Lungs - Sī "sha" or "ss"
Kidneys - Chuī "chri" or "twee"
Triple Warmer - Xī "shi"
This video demonstrates how to use these Qi Gong sounds with movement, but you can also use the sounds by themselves.
What about you? Which of these practices are part of your life, and what have you noticed about them? Please share your experience with us in the comments below!