Sound massage: history, process, methods

Klangschale mit Reiber auf Hand

Calmness, relaxation, mindfulness – a sound massage allows you to find more of yourself again and leave your perhaps stressful everyday life behind. It can help you to better perceive your inner voice and your needs and thus maintain your inner balance. We would like to explain to you in more detail where sound massage originally comes from, how it is performed and what the differences are between the various methods of sound massage.

What is the sound massage?

Sound massage is a holistic relaxation method that addresses you both on an acoustic level and can affect your entire body and mind with its soothing vibrations.

People have always been influenced by the world of sound. It’s not without reason that in movies and series you’ll be able to hear romantic music during romantic moments, while scary situations are deliberately underpinned with unsettling melodies. You can also use this effect for your own personal relaxation rituals – a meditation with singing bowls and their soothing, gentle sounds can help you to let go of the stress of everyday life and concentrate completely on yourself for a moment.

In most cases, sound massage is performed with the help of singing bowls – but the powerful sound instrument gong is also used from time to time. Be mindful and observe how your body and mind respond to the sounds. The most important thing is that you can relax completely and that the sounds have a calming and soothing effect on you.

Where does the sound massage come from?

Meditation with singing bowls has a long tradition. The first reports about the use of singing bowls in the context of a sound massage can be found in the records of Indian healing artists. For more than 5,000 years, sound massage has played an important role there in bringing the body and mind into harmonious balance, thus providing relief from illness. In Indian culture, it was assumed for many millennia that man himself emerged from sound. And so it is hardly surprising that sounds are also used there to “heal” people. In sound massage according to Indian tradition, it is not so much the sounds themselves that are said to have the healing effect – it is much more the vibrations of the sound instruments that flow through the entire body and mind. Thus, even the ancient records on sound massage assume that the gentle vibrations can activate our self-healing powers.

How did sound massage come to Europe?

Sound massage is an ancient Indian tradition. And yet it only found its way to Europe a few years ago – through the pioneer and graduate engineer Peter Hess. In the mid-1980s, he traveled to India to gain new experiences and an impression of foreign cultures. There he also came into contact with traditional sound therapies, completely common locally, largely unknown in Europe. And just as quickly he was convinced of their effect. It took only two more years until he founded his own institute in Germany to make the effect of sound massage known here as well – the Peter Hess Institute (PHI), which is still considered one of the most important training institutes for sound massage according to Peter Hess. But his passion for sound massage goes far beyond that: in the meantime, he has developed his own singing bowls for sound massage, written numerous books on the subject, and travels all over the world to share his knowledge of sound massage at seminars and courses. The patented Peter Hess® sound massage is now practiced by more than 10,000 professionally trained people worldwide.

What is the effect of sound massage?

Sound massage can have a variety of effects on your body and mind – and yet it is perceived by each person individually. It is therefore difficult to make a general statement about how the effect of a sound massage will be for you personally. Nevertheless, the massage with sounds is said to have some effects that are perceived quite often:

  • reduce stress
  • Increase concentration
  • Releasing emotional blocks
  • Reduce tension
  • Relieve headache
  • Pain relief even with existing pre-existing conditions
  • Evoke inner harmony and balance
  • Activate self-healing powers
  • Reduce fears
  • Relieve the effects of depression, attachment disorders and burnout

Would you like to learn more about the effects of sound massage? Then feel free to take a look at our blog post where we go into more detail about the effects of sound massages and baths.

The different methods of sound massage

In sound massage there are basically no prescribed rules. So let me say in advance: If something is good for you, use it! Some people appreciate the soft, gentle sounds of the singing bowl, others like the deep, intense sound of the gong. If you find that a particular sound is particularly good for you, use it.

Nevertheless, there are two methods that are often spoken of in practice: The basic sound massage and the individual sound massage. We would now like to explain both methods in more detail.

Basic sound massage

During the basic sound massage, a total of three singing bowls are used: a universal bowl, a heart bowl and a pelvic bowl. These singing bowls were specially developed by Peter Hess to the frequency spectrum of the respective body region and are therefore particularly well suited for a holistic sound massage. At the beginning of the massage you can decide together with the singing bowl therapist in which position you would like to go. For a basic sound massage, lying on soft pillows or a mat is particularly suitable. Thus, the three singing bowls can be placed on the body regions for which they have been specially designed.Once the right position has been found, the actual sound massage begins. It usually lasts 45 minutes, plus a preliminary talk and time for reflection. Often there is a follow-up discussion afterwards, where you can share your experience and tell about the effect the sound massage had on you.

By the way, this type of sound massage was developed and shaped by Peter Hess and is considered one of the most popular types of sound massage worldwide.

Individual sound massage

Every person is unique and has their own unique needs. The individual sound massage is therefore a supplement to the basic sound massage, which can be adapted to your current needs. In the context of individual sound massage, other sound instruments are often used in addition to the singing bowl. Especially the gong is a popular instrument, which with its deep and intense sounds can lead to intense relaxation and activate the self-healing powers in the body. The number of singing bowls can also be increased during the individual sound massage. The sound spectrum can also be expanded by different mallets and playing techniques or the use of cymbals.

What all sound massages have in common

First and foremost, the sound massage should bring you complete relaxation. It can lead your body and mind to complete tranquility and touch your feelings and innermost being with sound and vibration – whether you choose the basic sound massage or an individual sound massage. The balanced sounds of singing bowl or gong can give you a feeling of safety, security and peace. The sound massage helps you to feel your body in all its facets.

Who can be helped by a sound massage?

A sound massage can help anyone to find inner balance and a moment of peace – in no way does this require the presence of specific ailments or stressful issues. The treatment is mainly focused on strengthening everything positive that is palpable for you at this very moment. This can be a sensation in an area of the body or a pleasant feeling that accompanies you that day.

Nevertheless, sound massage can also provide relief from certain ailments and challenges and strengthen the body’s self-healing powers:

  • For depression, burnout or general exhaustion
  • For problems with insomnia and anxiety
  • For physical pain, e.g. back pain, migraine or joint pain
  • For disorders of the cardiovascular system
  • In phases of mourning and relationship crises
  • For anxiety and panic attacks

Sound massage can also be used to support certain therapies or coaching. For example at:

  • Coaching for personality development
  • Self-discovery courses
  • In the context of consultations and therapies, e.g. pain therapy, trauma therapy, couples therapy, etc.
  • For medical therapies, e.g. chemotherapy

Is a sound massage dangerous?

A sound massage per se has no dangerous or harmful side effects. However, you may sometimes perceive certain sounds as a bit too intense – especially because of the sound waves that are transmitted through the sound and flow through your body. Which frequencies these are can vary from day to day. It all depends on what your body and mind need at that moment – or not. It is important that you always listen to your body’s signals and adjust the sound massage accordingly – or communicate anything unpleasant to your sound therapist.

Also, it may be that the vibrations of the sound instruments bring out emotions you may not have felt in a long time. A sound therapist can help you release these and process your experiences in the aftermath. so that you feel lighter and more relaxed after the treatment.

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