Physiology of Sound

ALL SOUND EFFECTS US. From the sound of rain against the roof, the crackle of an open fire to the drone of traffic in the distance. Even sounds we are not conscious of hearing – like air conditioning or electrical background sounds – impact our state of being, whether we are aware of them or not. Here’s how:

Sound vibrations from the ear drum interact with all the major organs of the body via the vagus nerve – the major nerve that runs from our brain along the length of our spine. The vagus nerve interacts with our inner ear, our heart, lungs, stomach, liver, bladder, kidneys and small and large intestines. Alfred Tomatis MD, a French physician who devoted most of his life to exploring the process of listening and the healing effects of sound, described the spine as ‘a receptive antenna vibrating in unison with the sound source, whether it be musical or linguistic.’

 Some interesting facts about sound and the physical effects on the body:

  • The heart rate increases when listening to fast music & decreases when listening to slow resonant sounds.
  • Different types of music subtly effect body temperature. The use of percussion and bass heat the body where as abstract, minimalist music has a cooling effect.
  • Music increases endorphin levels through an emotional response to music, so you feel elated.
  • Calm, soothing sounds reduce production of stress-related hormones.
  • Music stimulates digestion. Research has shown that people listening to rock music or fast-paced beats eat faster and larger portions than those listening to slower, classical music (notice the types of music played next time you’re in a fast food restaurant or a restaurant where you’re encouraged to take your time over a dining experience).
  • Sound is used for eye surgery. Sound waves (ultrasound) are used in eye surgery to break cataracts down where it’s too fragile to use surgical tools.


Sound vibration healing is used by many practitioners (kineasiologists, sound healers, surgeons to name a few) by altering the physical and therefore mental state of a client/patient through sound. The most effective way to experience sound is to listen (or chant) with a straight spine – allowing sound vibration to flow easily along the spine, supporting the flow of interaction via that major nerve that runs along the spine.

In one to one sessions or in a class setting, I use the Crystal Singing Bowls to create a sound bath for deep relaxation and healing. Come along to a Tuesday night relaxation class, combining yoga and crystal singing bowls and see, more info. Or, try a one to one sound healing, more info.

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