Acoustic instruments such as tuning forks and crystal or Tibetan bowls are widely used in sound healing in a variety of different ways. One of the best known tuning fork practices is called Acutonics, a system developed by an acupuncturist, that uses vibrating weighted tuning forks on acupuncture points. It works on the same premise as acupuncture – that stimulation of these particular areas unblocks stuck or stagnant energy, improving energy flow through the body and supporting the body in healing itself. Acutonics is used in a variety of settings including some hospitals.
Crystal and Tibetan bowls are struck or rubbed to produce pure, penetrating tones, not very different from tuning forks. Metal bowls have been used in Tibet for centuries as an aid to meditation, while crystal bowls are a relatively recent development but the two are used similarly. Dr. Mitchell Gaynor, an oncologist and author of The Healing Power of Sound (2002), began integrating music, vocalization, breathing, bowls and meditation techniques in his work with patients in 1991, after first being exposed to a Tibetan bowl through one of his patients. He has observed many beneficial outcomes as a result of this integration.
The use of tuning forks, bowls and gongs, along with certain types of music appears to stimulate the relaxation response in the body. This may be due in part to the biological process of Nitric Oxide (NO) release in the body. According to John Beaulieu, tuning fork expert and one of the authors of Sound Therapy Induced Relaxation: Down Regulating Stress Processes and Pathologies (2003), NO appears to be released in the presence of certain music and sounds. According to Beaulieu, nitric oxide is not only an immune, vascular, and neural signaling molecule, it is also “antibacterial, antiviral, and it down-regulates endothelial and immunocyte activation and adherence, thus performing vital physiological activities including vasodilation” (Salamon et al. 2003)…. Eileen McKusick
The healing power of gongs and Himalayan singing bowls derives from a natural phenomenon known as entrainment – entraining or synchronizing the body to a certain sound. Entrainment occurs when the powerful vibrations of one object actually change the less powerful vibrations of another object.
Entrainment was first discovered in 1665 by Dutch scientist Christian Huygens. He set up a room full of pendulum clocks with their pendulums swinging at slightly different times. When he returned to the room the next day, he found the sway of the pendulums had all synchronized.
As gongs and singing bowls are sounded, the powerful rhythmic vibrations resonate throughout the body. The sound of these harmonic vibrations stimulates the alpha and theta brain waves associated with deep meditative and peaceful states that are highly conducive to healing. They also slow down the heart and respiratory rate, creating a therapeutic effect upon mind and body. When the brain waves and body are synchronized, balance can be restored and stress released.