HOW SOUND, FOREST & ENERGY THERAPY PROMOTE MENTAL & PHYSICAL HEALING 100% NON-INVASIVELY
"I experienced some of the deepest feelings of peace and wellness during this session."
Sound baths are a practice that immerse you in healing frequencies known to convert beta waves to theta and alpha waves in the mind. Beta waves are active when the mind is most alert, and theta and alpha waves are active when the mind is in a state of relaxation. Elevated beta waves can make the mind anxious, distracted, and cluttered. Theta and alpha waves do the opposite, helping to relieve anxiety, improve concentration, and clear the mind. They can also bring blood pressure to a more restful state that promotes natural healing. Sound baths are devised to bring about this change to bring the anxious or distracted mind and body to a state of much needed calm and concentration.
EVIDENCE OF SOUND BATHING'S HEALTH BENEFITS
Stress: Frequency-Based Light & Sound Neurotherapy (LSN) Research: A Review of the Research (2017) “... researchers have also found that frequency-based light and/or sound stimulation increases brain metabolism and cerebral blood flow. On the biochemical front, Kumano and associates found that multiple LSN sessions generated positive changes in the brain by increasing B-endorphin levels and decreasing plasma cortisol, a marker for stress.”
Anxiety: A prospective, randomised, controlled study examining binaural beat audio and pre-operative anxiety in patients undergoing general anaesthesia for day case surgery (2005) “Recently, it has been demonstrated that music can be used successfully to relieve patient anxiety before operations, and that audio embedded with tones that create binaural beats within the brain of the listener decreases subjective levels of anxiety in patients with chronic anxiety states.”
Depression: Is Alpha Wave Neurofeedback Effective with Randomized Clinical Trials in Depression? A Pilot Study (2011) “Our results indicated that the asymmetry neurofeedback training increased the relative right frontal alpha power, and it remained effective even after the end of the total training sessions ... The neurofeedback training had profound effects on emotion and cognition …. [and] replicated earlier findings that enhancing the left frontal activity led to alleviation of depressive symptoms.”
Creativity: A theory of alpha/theta neurofeedback, creative performance enhancement, long distance functional connectivity and psychological integration (2009) “Working memory and meditative bliss, representing cognitive and affective domains, respectively, involve coupling between frontal and posterior cortices, exemplify a role for theta and alpha waves in mediating the interaction between distal and widely distributed connections. It is posited that this mediation in part underpins the integrational attributes of alpha–theta training in optimal performance and psychotherapy, creative associations in hypnogogia, and enhancement of technical, communication and artistic domains of performance in the arts.”
FOREST THERAPY & GROUNDING
Forest therapy doesn’t mean talking to a therapist in the woods (unless you have a radical therapist without borders, which is sort of what I aim to be), but immersing yourself in the forest and allowing your senses to soak it in. Practicing it means spending time in the forest without an agenda (no reaching the summit in under two hours, no tracking your steps) outside of consciously slowing and taking in your surroundings — fresh air, sunlight, sights, smells, sounds — and making contact with the soil, the trees, the plants, and as corny as it might sound, yourself (and any human or animal friends you might be with, or encounter).
As for earthing, this has close ties to the concept of forest therapy and is essentially the practice of putting your bare skin in contact with the earth to reduce pain and improve immune function, like taking a half hour every day to walk barefoot in the grass. This also sounds too simple to be effective, but it has some incredible implications for health.
Forest therapy and earthing are such simple concepts that it’s almost silly to give them names. However, there is great power in their sheer simplicity, and a lot of power in giving something a name, I’ve been realizing. This is a common tool with anxiety and other mood disorders, like this shero who named her anxiety Clive. Now that these practices have been given accepted names, they’ve become concepts we can more easily talk about and appreciate — and that can be studied by researchers and proven as beneficial to human wellness, for those who like the support of studies, which I actually do — science is magic.
Over the years and across the world the practice of deriving healing from the forest has taken on many names, but the names that have become popular recently have originated from Alaska and Japan.
Alaskan naturalist and filmmaker Steve Kroschel recently popularized the terms “earthing” and “grounding” after his personal discovery of the benefits of connecting directly with the earth, often barefoot in soil and mud, after seeing how it affected him and others in the small town of Haines in Alaska’s rural wilderness, seeming to shorten illness, reduce pain, and contribute to overall healing. In the 1980s the Japanese Forestry Agency coined a phrase to encourage citizens, many suffering from skyrocketing stress levels in the economic boom, to spend more time in nature. They called it shinrin-yoku, which translates to "forest bathing."
In other cultures, it has been called forest therapy, nature therapy, and many other things in between. As the Association for Nature and Forest Therapy writes, “There is a long tradition of this in cultures throughout the world. It’s not just about healing people; it includes healing for the forest.” I like the name forest bathing because it evokes a great image and goes well with the practice of sound bathing, so I want to acknowledge that I have at times use this translation from the Japanese interchangeably with forest and nature therapy, but am now moving away from this phrase in an effort to stop borrowing language from a culture that isn’t my own.
EVIDENCE OF FOREST THERAPY’S HEALTH BENEFITS
In studies, forest therapy has shown incredible effectiveness for lowering heart rate, lowering stress hormones (cortisol, adrenaline, and noradrenaline), strengthening the immune system, boosting NK (natural killer) cell activity, improving mood, and reducing chronic stress. Some of these beneficial effects have be found to last up to 7 days. And interestingly, some are attributed to natural essential oils emitted by trees, called phytoncides, meaning that breathing in trees is actually healing.
Prevention: The physiological effects of Shinrin-yoku (taking in the forest atmosphere of forest bathing): evidence from field experiments in 24 forests across Japan (2010): “...results show that forest environments promote lower concentrations of cortisol, lower pulse rate, lower blood pressure, greater parasympathetic nerve activity, and lower sympathetic nerve activity than do city environments. These results will contribute to the development of a research field dedicated to forest medicine, which may be used as a strategy for preventive medicine.”
Chronic Stress: Psychological effects of forest environments on healthy adults: Shinrin-yoku (forest-air bathing, walking) as a possible method of stress reduction (2007): “...forest environments are advantageous with respect to acute emotions, especially among those experiencing chronic stress. Accordingly, shinrin-yoku may be employed as a stress reduction method, and forest environments can be viewed as therapeutic landscapes. Therefore, customary shinrin-yoku may help to decrease the risk of psychosocial stress-related diseases, and evaluation of the long-term effects of shinrin-yoku is warranted.”
Immunity: Effect of phytoncide from trees on human natural killer cell function (2009) “We previously reported that the forest environment enhanced human natural killer (NK) cell activity, the number of NK cells, and intracellular anti-cancer proteins in lymphocytes, and that the increased NK activity lasted for more than 7 days after trips to forests both in male and female subjects. To explore the factors in the forest environment that activated human NK cells, in the present study we investigate the effect of essential oils from trees on human immune function...Phytoncide exposure significantly increased NK activity and the percentages of NK, perforin, granulysin, and granzyme A/B-expressing cells, and significantly decreased the percentage of T cells, and the concentrations of adrenaline and noradrenaline in urine. These findings indicate that phytoncide exposure and decreased stress hormone levels may partially contribute to increased NK activity."
EVIDENCE OF EARTHING'S HEALTH BENEFITS
The effects of grounding (earthing) on inflammation, the immune response, wound healing, and prevention and treatment of chronic inflammatory and autoimmune diseases (2015): "Accumulating experiences and research on earthing, or grounding, point to the emergence of a simple, natural, and accessible health strategy against chronic inflammation, warranting the serious attention of clinicians and researchers. The living matrix (or ground regulation or tissue tensegrity-matrix system), the very fabric of the body, appears to serve as one of our primary antioxidant defense systems. As this report explains, it is a system requiring occasional recharging by conductive contact with the Earth’s surface – the “battery” for all planetary life – to be optimally effective."
"I experienced some of the deepest feelings of peace and wellness during this session. Emily's safe and healing presence is one that I trust and appreciate deeply."
- Mariko, a fellow lover of forest therapy who has been such a great gift for exploring this simple, wonderful practice — in fact I have never once spent time with Mariko without spending time in nature, often with her dog Kuma, Japanese for Bear. I was so happy to share these other healing tools with her to add to the forest therapy we already loved to practice.
The energy healing I like to combine with the two practices above are gentle postures and movements with breathing and meditation designed to reset the human energy field to a state of relaxation and healing, blending elements of energy worker Jason Quitt’s postures, including the Salute to the Sun and the Salute to the Moon, with others I’ve picked up from others, like movements learned from a local teacher that she called “spirit flow” and some that I’ve created inspired by these. While I’ve moved away from bringing qigong or tai chi into these sessions as these are from the Chinese tradition and again, not my own culture to claim, it is another situation where names allows a style of practice used worldwide to be studied and acknowledged for its benefits. Below are some of the ways this modality has been studied.
EVIDENCE OF ENERGY HEALING’S BENEFITS
Anxiety, Depression, and Stress Response: A Comprehensive Review of Health Benefits of Qigong and Tai Chi (2011) “Anxiety decreased significantly for participants practicing Qigong compared to an active exercise group. Depression was shown to improve significantly in studies comparing Qigong to an inactive control … In another study examining blood markers related to stress response, norepinephrine, epinephrine and cortisol blood levels were significantly decreased in response to Qigong compared to a wait-list control group.”
Immunity: A Comprehensive Review of Health Benefits of Qigong and Tai Chi (2011) “Manzaneque et al reported improvements in a number of immune-related blood markers, including total number of leukocytes, number of eosinphils, and number and percentage of monocytes, as well as the complement C3 levels following a 1-month Qigong intervention compared to usual care. Antibody levels in response to flu vaccinations were significantly increased among a Qigong group compared to usual care … similar non-RCTs have suggested that Qigong improves immune function and reduces inflammation profiles as indicated by cytokine and T-lymphocyte subset proportions.”
I really believe in these practices and am happy to book one of my sessions with you that combine these three modalities. Sessions last 30 - 45 minutes, but I allot an hour to get to/from a wooded area. See my APPOINTMENTS scheduler to book.