There are not so good sounds...and sounds that are really good for you
In today’s modern world, sounds are all around us: the hum of refrigerators, planes, honking horns, traffic, phone notifications and more. While we wouldn’t categorize those sounds as really “good for you”, there are sounds that are really good for you. We’ve compiled this list of sounds that are soothing to the ear. Why not take some time out of each day to listen and immerse yourself in any or all of these that you can?
These sounds have two categories: those that nature provides and those that humans create. Let’s dive into nature’s sounds first.
You probably already recognize water as a sound that's really good for you. Globally, about 70% of the human population on the planet lives within 5 km of a water feature. It’s no accident. Humans instinctively know that being near water is generally a good thing. Temps are cooler, the sounds of water are soothing, it can provide habitat for food, be a source of hydropower and commerce, not to mention providing beautiful views and opportunities for recreation. Furthermore, whether it’s a waterfall, the sound of a trickling stream, or ocean waves, water has the power to induce a sense of relaxation. It’s no wonder the majority of humans on the planet live near some kind of water source.
It could also have to do with the fact that your body is over 70% water. Because you’re mostly made of water, it makes sense that you would be drawn to it. Just being near water can induce a sense of calm. The body intuitively knows that it’s good to be around it. Even if you don’t consider yourself a “water person” (it’s the old “would you prefer to live near the ocean vs. mountains” question), your body releases a flood of neurochemicals of well-being just knowing there’s water nearby. Taking a shower has the same effect and can help your body and mind to reset.
It has been scientifically shown that even just listening to water can help bring about a sense of calm, as well. The heart rate slows down, you sleep better, cortisol and other stress hormones diminish. Water is absolutely beneficial for humans whether they're near it or just listening to it.
What are you waiting for? It’s time to find opportunities to be near water. Maybe head to a park with a stream nearby. Go to the beach. Sit by a fountain of water. Invest in a tabletop waterfall fountain for your desk. Or play water sounds in the background while you work. You’ll reap the calming benefits as you do so.
The Sound of Rain
We had to put the sound of rain in its own category because there is so much to love about it. To be sure, it is a water sound, but it truly is in a category all by itself. Rain happens. You don’t have to go anywhere to experience the sound of it. In fact, you don’t even have to see it - you can leave a window open and let it lull you to sleep.
If Mother Nature is providing clear skies when you feel like listening to rain sounds, you can always find an app, video, or white noise generator to help. Interesting to note, your brain doesn’t really care if the sound is digital or live. Studies have shown that whether the sounds are virtual or really happening around you, the brain responds favorably to the peaceful sound of rain. Though...there’s nothing quite like the real thing. Wouldn’t you agree?
The sound of rain has been shown to really relax your mind and body, slow down brain wave patterns into an alpha state, and help you to sleep better. It provides wonderfully soothing white noise that signals to the brain that all is well. You don’t need a scientific study to tell you that; just look at how you respond when you hear the sound of rain.
The smell of fresh rain - petrichor - also helps put you at ease. If you’re someone who really loves the rain, you might be a pluviophile. Loving the smell of rain, as well as the sight and sound of it may hearken back to when humans depended on rain for survival. It was something that represented hope for the future and greater chances of food yields, plant growth or signs of life in an arid landscape. Because rain fills our senses in terms of aromas, sounds, sights, and even the feel of it on the skin, it deserves its own category.
Did you know that the world’s beekeepers live longer lives than their counterparts who are not in the profession? Sure, they reap the benefits of the bees’ honey, the propolis, and the outdoors are beekeepers’ “office.” Even bee stings themselves have been shown to have healing properties. These are all good things. But beekeepers have one more benefit that adds to their longevity: exposure to healing sound frequencies from the buzz of the bees. You read that right: bee buzz is a sound that's really good for you.
The Buzz Frequency
You may not have known this before, but the sound of bees produces a calming effect (as long as they are not on you! Unless, of course, you are a beekeeper who doesn’t mind too much). It’s because the frequency of the buzzing is one that also creates a healing effect in humans. The country of Slovenia has a tradition of listening to bee sounds for relaxation because they have known this secret for a long time. In fact, there are spas in Europe that incorporate bee hives just for the healing sounds they produce! In North America, a “bee spa” recently opened up in Savannah, Georgia.
The buzzing of bees ranges from 10 - 1000 Hz, depending on whether the hive has a queen, whether the bees are calm or are feeling threatened, and even the species of bee will produce different sound frequencies. Bumblebees have an average buzz frequency of 270 Hz, resonating with a C-sharp on a piano (just above middle C). The frequencies that bees emit resonate with organic tissues that promote healing. In humans, the brain also can entrain to these sounds for an overall calming effect.
You might try (safely) sitting near bee hives sometime and note how it affects your overall mood and well-being. Or if you’re near Savannah, GA between March and October, schedule a spa day with the bees!
Here’s another sound you might not have directly associated with soothing and healing frequencies: the cat purr.
Although scientists don’t fully understand everything about why and when a cat will purr, they are sure contentment is one reason for purring. Cats also purr when they’re nervous, stressed, or even when they are dying. This leads to speculation that the cat purr is also a mechanism for healing.
Cat Purr Frequency
The frequencies of cat purrs range from 25 - 150 Hz. With these frequencies, studies have shown that bone density increases and overall healing can occur in humans. Not only that, other studies have suggested that people who have cats have less risk of heart attack and stroke by up to one third! It’s not surprising then, that cat owners have average life spans longer than people who do not have cats.
What if you’re allergic to them? Or, heaven forbid, you don’t like cats? Not to worry. You can still benefit from the sound of the cat purr. There are free cat purr generators online. You can set the frequency and let the purring...er...relaxation begin!
The following sounds are either created using handmade tools, or the human voice. They have healing qualities that are just as beneficial as sounds provided by nature, as you’ll see below.
For thousands of years, the Tibetans have been creating singing bowls to aid in mindfulness and meditation. You’ve probably heard about or been to a sound bath with singing bowls and heard the soothing variations in tones and sound frequencies. Singing bowls are made with different metals that produce different sounds and vibrations, depending on their size, and the type of metal they contain.
Singing Bowls Produce Healing Frequencies
Singing bowls have another special quality: they can produce sound waves between 7 and 13 Hz, consistent with the alpha brain-wave frequency. That is to say the tones from singing bowls will entrain your brain and bring you into a relaxed, alpha state. Some can bring you into an even more relaxed theta brainwave state, representative of deep meditation.
Singing bowls have long been a tool used in sound healing. In fact, a 2016 study using singing bowls concluded that they can help people release tension even as they promote physical healing, including a reduction in symptoms from Parkinson’s Disease and Fybromyalgia. People all over the world regularly report on the mental, physical and even spiritual benefits that come from using a singing bowl.
Purchasing your own singing bowl doesn’t have to put a dent in your wallet, either. You can find high quality bowls ranging from $25 - $75 and beyond.
The ability to talk means you have the ability to hum. When you hum, your voice produces calming, healing frequencies that instantly resonate throughout the body. You know the “love hormone,” oxytocin? That’s one chemical your body releases when you hum. In fact, your body releases all kinds of good-for-you hormones when you do this. You don’t have to have a perfect singing voice, either. Just the willingness to actually do it is enough.
What's that song?
Think about when you “get that song in your head.” You go around humming it over and over for days. Recall how you feel when you’re humming this tune. We’re willing to bet that you’re not sad, sick, or angry (except when you’re annoyed that you’ve hummed the same line 1,000 times over, amirite?). You were probably in a good mood, or otherwise feeling pretty good. It’s partly because your body also produces nitric oxide (yes, the “laughing gas” you’ve heard about), among other feel-good neurochemicals.
Humming is a sound that's really good for you
Humming is an incredibly powerful way to heal and calm yourself, and keep you healthy. It can aid in keeping sinuses clear, help you to breathe more deeply (thereby making you calmer), and can ease symptoms of depression. It’s no coincidence that some ancient meditation techniques include audibly humming different mantras, especially “OM,” which ends in a “mmmm” sound. It’s essentially a hum, and the benefits of chanting Om are well-documented.
There are no special tools or anything you need to hum. Take a deep breath and start sounding out your favorite song. Try not to worry whether you’re perfectly in tune or not - be kind to yourself, try not to judge, and have fun with it.
Quick: put your hand up to your heart.
Did you do it? Did you feel the beat?
Your heart is a drum! It’s the first sound you ever hear. While you’re in utero, you hear your mother’s heartbeat. The rhythmic beating has a powerful effect on our senses. It’s ancient. It’s life. It’s primal.
Drumming has calming effects
It’s no stretch then to understand how listening to drums or actually doing some drumming produces similar effects to humming and using singing bowls: your body releases all sorts of good-for-you hormones. There’s an added benefit here: your brain entrains to the sound of the rhythm of the drums you hear. Thus, a slow rhythmic beat will naturally slow you down and help you to relax, too. It helps your brain slide into a relaxed alpha state, and to bring both hemispheres synchronously online.
It’s an ancient practice. Drums are part of nearly every culture and have been around for at least 7,000 years. In other words, drums have staying power because they work.
You don’t even have to have drums to actually get started drumming. You can use a practice pad or make your own. And if you don’t want to do that, find your favorite rhythmic drum-heavy song and move to the beats or grab a pencil and start tapping.
This list wouldn’t be complete without mentioning our beloved HUSO. It is a sound device that uses human sounds to induce states of calmness and clarity as well as profound relaxation. To be sure, this is the most “technological” thing on this list, but in the same way listening to rain or water can create a more relaxed state, listening to human vocal sounds can also do the same thing. And that’s what HUSO is: human sound.
The Human Voice
The human voice is one that all humans can recognize and respond to. It’s the sweetest sound to hear someone else if you’ve ever been lost; it’s also extraordinarily calming if you’re ever in a stressful situation and someone takes the time to reassure you - in a calm voice, of course.
Human vocal sounds are...human. We are programmed to respond, and entrain to the human voice. Human sound healing creates tangible and beneficial effects for people, as well. The body releases all the neurochemicals of well-being as you listen to HUSO, with the added benefit of the pulses and vibrations from the ankle and wrist bands working together to calm the nervous system. It’s all a recipe for deep relaxation and healing.
There are lots of sounds that are really good for you!
Our world is full of sounds that are really good for you. The best thing about all the sounds on this list is that they are not hard to find. Why not challenge yourself to take some time each day to stop and listen? Not only will you feel calmer, but you will also benefit from the healing effects of all these sounds.
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