The Being & The Doing EPISODE 13:
Stress Management with Sound Wellness
If you are looking for ways to help manage stress in your life, then this episode will give you some new things to try. My special guest for this The Being and The Doing conversation is Sharon Carne. We dive into the topic of sound wellness and how music can improve your life by helping to reduce stress. We touch on how sound can help you have a happier and healthier life and give you some simple ways you can begin using music or sound to improve your wellness.
*A full transcript is posted at the bottom of this page.
How to Use Music to Reduce Stress
Here’s a blog I wrote that has 7 ways to use music to reduce stress.
Tibetan Singing Bowl Chakra Guided Meditation [free download]
Click Here to Download.
Using the sounds of Tibetan singing bowls, this meditation is designed to help balance the chakras, leaving you with a greater sense of peace and relaxation. Chakras are the energy centers which run from the crown of our heads to the base of our body. Each chakra is represented by a musical note which can be produced by different singing bowls. Give this guided meditation a try if you want to feel calmer and more relaxed.
Guest: Sharon Carne
My guest for this episode is Sharon Carne.
Sharon is an author, international speaker, musician, recording artist, sound healer and trainer. She is the founder of Sound Wellness, the Sound Wellness Institute and more recently, the co-founder of the Emergent Workforce.
You can learn more about her and sound wellness on her website.
This Episode’s Homework
Something to think about:
Where can I add conscious and intentional sound into my day?
Something to try:
Sigh more. Take a big breath in and sigh it out whenever you are feeling a little tense or frustrated or crazy busy. Let the tension go with a sigh. Listen for when you naturally sigh – it’s a good indication that something needs to be released.
Or try the little technique Sharon demonstrated about using your voice to go from high to low to help you relax.
Love to hear what you have to say – please take a moment to rate, review and/or leave a comment or question.
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CREDITS: The Being & The Doing podcast is produced by Neela Bell. Voiceovers by Jason Harris. Music is GoodMorning Sunshine by Yoav Alyagon and Firefly by Scott Buckley.
Full Transcript of the Show
Intro: Welcome to The Being and The Doing, a podcast about well-being and the practices that help us have more calm, focus, purpose, and presence in our busy lives. Here’s your host, author and life coach Laurel Vespi.
Laurel: Hey, lovely ones welcome to Episode 13 of The Being and The Doing. You know, back in 2001 when Steve Jobs unveiled the first iPod and the idea that you could have a thousand songs in your pocket that seemed revolutionary or at least it seemed revolutionary to me. I grew up with vinyl, not vintage vinyl; like original actual vinyl and cassettes and, yes, an 8-track player in the car, which wasn’t technology’s finest moment at all. Not an easy way to access music. And my parents, they played records on their big old stereo; like a honking big hunk of furniture, but they played their music on it and they had very different tastes in music, and that was okay because that just exposed me to a wider variety of artists and songs.
And as a teenager, I listen to all kinds of music, those were the Disco years. So, yes, there was that music, but I also love jazz and what we now call Classic Rock and folk music, but you didn’t have a thousand songs in your pocket. You needed some kind of big clunky equipment to actually listen to music.
Now, fast forward to today and with streaming services, you can have any music you want anytime in your ear. But did you know that besides helping you get through your workout or I don’t know, setting the mood for a romantic evening or having a dance party in your kitchen, music can actually help you have a happier healthy healthier life?
So in today’s show, we’re going to dive into the topic of sound wellness and how music can improve your life by helping to reduce stress among some other cool things. And to do that, I have a special guest joining me for a ‘being and doing’ conversation.
So besides being a delightfully lovely person, Sharon Carne is an author, international speaker, a musician, a recording artist, sound healer, and trainer. And she’s the founder of Sound Wellness and the Sound Wellness Institute and more recently, the co-founder of Emergent Workforce. She actually has a lot of cool things on the go. She also performed at the book launch for my book, To Be Awake, which was a really lovely treat for everyone who was there. So I’m so pleased that she is here today to help you think differently about sound and music. Welcome, Sharon.
Sharon: Thank you so much, Laurel. I am so absolutely delighted to be here.
Laurel: Great. So let’s just start by how did you get into this sound wellness work? You know, like I think you really are a bit of a Pioneer in terms of allowing people to see the power and the beauty and the benefit of sound. How did you get into this work?
Sharon: Oh gosh, it was almost by accident. I love how these things happen that shift your focus and your direction a little bit. I’ve been a musician on my life. And when I was 16 years old, I fell totally in love with the classical guitar and all of its music so much so that I ended up getting two degrees in music, in guitar and continue to teach for many many many years, still do.
And at the same time, I also became really interested in holistic healing and I found it helped me with a deep sensitivity and probably off the scale as far as Myers-Briggs sensitivity measurements. So I found the holistic training was really helpful to me in helping me to manage my sensitivities to everything around me.
And it was a bunch of adults students, probably gosh, about 20 or 25 years ago now, that was terrified to perform in front of other people. So I ordered every book on stage fright that I could find and we found an exercise that worked really well. So I booked coffee shop gigs, I booked Art Gallery openings and we practiced.
And what we found this exercise was imagining a color while you’re performing. So what it basically does is distracts that critical part of the mind that says, “Oh you just screw up. Oh, man, you’re almost at the end, whew!” All that stuff that’s going on in the background, it distracts it and quietens it down. But the oddest thing we found every time we did this and every time we did it and every time I did it in my performances, somebody got the color.
I started to ask the question, what on Earth is it about sound and music that makes it a carrier for thought?
Laurel: Wow, interesting. Because I know from things that I that I’ve listened to you doing or things that you’ve written, this whole idea of sound and our connection to sound goes back a long, long way. This isn’t some kind of 21st-century phenomenon that you’re talking about.
Sharon: Oh my goodness. No, there’s bone flutes that have been found that are anywhere between 30 and 60 thousand years old. So music has been with us as long as we’ve been on this planet.
Laurel: Yeah. I think I recall you saying one time something about like that sound and music like kind of predated language and conversation.
Sharon: There are some very interesting theories in the field of language and the history of language, where a lot of people believe that. And in some of the Neuroscience, particularly, in what Daniel Levitin has been researching in music and Neuroscience where music helped, he believes,
in the theory that music helped to develop the brain, especially the frontal lobes enough to be able to handle language.
So it was the drumming, the singing, the ooh, the aah, all of the different ways that you can imagine people communicating without words that helped us to grow the brain enough and that’s a fascinating theory.
Laurel: Yeah, well, we know there’s all sort of interesting things that go on around music. Like why is it, Sharon, that I can remember the words to songs that I maybe haven’t heard for decades and the song comes on and I can sing along and remember it but I can’t remember why I went downstairs or what I was getting at the grocery store?So there’s something about sound and song, music maybe, and memory too about how that interacts with our brain because that’s a fascinating thing to me that we can recall songs when we haven’t heard them for a long long time, but somehow they’re really plugged back into our brain.
Sharon: Oh my gosh, yeah, that’s so funny. I found the same thing and actually whenever you’re playing music or singing with other people or even listening to your favorite song, you are using more of your brain than for any other activity the human being ever does.
Laurel: Wow, very cool. So for people who the term sound wellness is a new term they haven’t heard before, what exactly is sound wellness?
Sharon: Well, it’s interesting. I created sound wellness after being asked to participate in a study in stress at Mount Royal University. I received a call from the Integrated Health Institute in 2008 to create a program in this study on stress. To study how well music and sound help to release and reduce symptoms of stress. And the people in my group loved it so much that I taught that about a month after my participation that study, I created sound wellness as a way to get information to people on how sound and music really can help, in particular, to reduce symptoms of stress but to help you in so many ways.
Laurel: So, can you share a little bit about that? Let’s talk first about stress. What is it that sound and music can do for us with respect to stress?
Sharon: That’s a great question and it goes back to what sound is, in the first place. And the main definition for sound is vibrational energy and we know that everything at the atomic level is moving in vibrating. All of matter is in constant motion at the atomic level and sound is vibrational energy that in order for it to move, it has to push against atoms and molecules.
It’s an energy that starts a movement in atoms and molecules and it goes through pretty well everything, including you. Sound goes through you, goes through the fleshier parts of you four and a half times faster and it goes through the air and it goes through your bones 12 times faster than it goes through the air. And as it’s going through you, it’s pushing against every single atom and molecule setting everything into a state of vibration.
And if you can imagine taking a glass of water and shaking the willies out of it, so it just goes everywhere and the same thing happens to your own atoms and molecules. It shakes everything up and as it is shaking everything up, it allows for the possibility of resetting because our bodies know how to be healthy. Our bodies know how to be well. That’s ingrained into the human beings natural state of well-being, particularly through the endocrine system.
So sound is moving all your atoms and molecules and when the sound stops, it allows the entire being to do a reset. And often what it does, depending on the sound, it allows everything to reset back to its normal, natural, healthy function.
Laurel: Wow, that’s sort of an interesting thing that we’re always looking for ways that we’re going to kind of reset ourselves, that we’re going to begin again, we’re going to begin again our healthy eating or exercise or whatever it is those habits are. It’s just kind of cool that there’s this other thing that we can use that on a different level in our body, we can hit that reset button.
Sharon: Yeah, and it’s so complementary. It works with so many other modalities and so many other ways that we use to be well.
Laurel: Besides dress and being able to use music and sound to help manage stress, what are some of the other things, like positive things that music and sound can do for us?
Sharon: Oh, we are so wired for sound, this is so fun. One of the things that music does, the beat of the music does, is it changes your heartbeat. Because your heart is wired to match the beat of any music around. So if you walk into the grocery store, for example, and there’s music playing it takes only about 4 to 5 minutes for your heartbeat to come close to matching the beat of the music. And many grocery stores know that if you play slow music in a grocery store, it relaxes everybody and they buy more. Sales have gone up by 40% in some of the marketing articles that you see in music in stores.
So the heartbeat changes with the Beat of the Music and the heartbeat is deeply connected with your breathing rhythms and your brainwave rhythms. So if you change the heartbeat, if you slow it down, then you’re slowing down your breathing and you’re slowing down your brain waves so that the body automatically starts to go into a relaxation response.
Laurel: I’m sorry Sharon. I was just going to say that for listeners, like the thing that might help them really get that pieces, for people who are using music while they’re working out that it’s not just any old song to be working out to, it’s about picking songs that have the right beats per minute for the type of activity that you’re doing so that you actually get the benefit of the music working with you.
Sharon: Absolutely. Absolutely. Your own music collection is such a great resource to support your health and well-being. So if you need a pick-me-up, if you need to to get more focus, if you need two more energy than you pick something with a faster beat. And if you need to relax, you pick something out of your music collection with a slower beat or nature sounds; that’s another way we’re wired for sound.
Nature Sounds are the healthiest sounds there are for the human being; particularly birdsong and water sounds and wind.
Laurel: And is that because of the type of sound that it is or is that also connected to through this deep connection that we have to nature and sort of that draw about being into nature. Is it both of those things?
Sharon: I agree. I think it’s both of those things, Laurel. As far as using sound to support your well-being, there are two principles that are present in most nature sounds. One of them is that, low-frequency sounds tend to help us discharge stress from the nervous system. So that includes the sounds of water, the sounds of some winds and big waves crashing on the beach. There’s also the rhythms of waves and all those things that helps the heartbeat to calm down and the breathing to calm down.
Now, what you also get on the reverse of that, there are high frequencies which help to charge the nervous system and the brain, creating more productivity, more focus, more concentration that’s much easier. So Birdsong is on the high range of sounds that helps to charge our nervous system, but our ancestors also knew, as they hunted in the forest, that as soon as the bird stop singing, they’ve got to look around for danger because birds will stop singing when they sense danger; when the birds are singing we feel safe. So there’s also that whole aspect of nature sounds.
Laurel: So actually, in your workplace like in your office, you could create a program of nature sounds depending on what it is that’s happening. So if you need to be really productive, you’d be listening to perhaps bird sounds and if you’re needing to calm down after the last meeting because it drove you crazy, you might be coming back listening to water sounds; is that right?
Sharon: Absolutely and I created my own track I called Woodland song which I’d used to work with and it has the best of both worlds Laurel because it’s got beautiful bubbling gentle water sounds like a little mountain creek.
And that helps to keep the body relaxed and at the same time, it’s got a tract of bird song which keeps the mind focused because the high sounds, depending on the volume and the type of high sounds, stimulates the nervous system. Yes, but many of us have an over-stimulated nervous system so we need to be mindful of keeping the body relaxed and not over-stimulated, to keep the brain working at a top level of functioning when you need that.
Laurel: Wow, well, now I know why you’ve devoted your life to this work because it really is fascinating and sort of there’s another layer and another layer of how it all goes together. So if you were going to give the listeners some simple ways, some tips about how they can begin using music or sound to improve their wellness, what would you suggest? Where should they start?
Sharon: Well, one of them is with your own music collection and using the two principles. When you need to relax and really de-stress, look for something with a really slow beat and low instruments. And then, when you need more energy, then look for something that has a faster beat and sometimes higher instruments.
My favorite driving music is big band type dance music and also Latin guitar that keeps me tapping my feet all the way down the road and stay awake because I’m enjoying listening to the music. If I listen to relaxing music when I’m driving then I’m gone, not a good idea for me and so we all have a feel already for the kinds of music we listen to create certain moods in us. You can use it more consciously in order to support your well-being in that way. So your own music collection is already a great tool.
Now, another one is your own voice with the body and this is what I call the natural voice of the body. Your body makes these sounds all day long and they sound like, ooh, oh, ah.
Laurel: Yeah, we can attach different activities so that you’re thinking about, oh, I know what those sounds go with.
Sharon: Exactly. And this is what I call the natural sounds of the body. It comes from your body without even thinking about it. And actually, these sounds stimulate the nervous system to release hormones and endorphins that help your body heal and manage pain. For example, the sigh is the natural way the body releases stress from the nervous system. And if you do a vocalize sigh, it’s like putting the release of endorphins on steroids that creates more relaxation. So that simply sounds like this. [makes an exhaling sound]
So you just do a few of those sliding your voice from a higher sound, right into the lowest sound you can make and it’s like your shoulders drops three inches is so helpful to relax in seconds.
Laurel: Wow, which would be a really great tip for people at certain times during their work day when they begin to feel the stress and the pressure of everything that’s going on in the day, to be able to do that. Or maybe when they get home at the end of the day, you can kind of leave work in the car, if you did that before you got out of the car and came into the house.
Sharon: Absolutely and if the kids get stressed doing homework, you can do it with the kids.
Laurel: Great idea. I was really happy that you had agreed to collaborate with me on doing a little singing bowl guided meditation. And I’ll leave the link in the show notes for people where Sharon and I have worked together, where she provided some singing bowl sounds, Tibetan singing bowl sounds and put that into meditation because that’s another great way that we can use sound to be able to help us relax or re-balance. So I really appreciated you doing that with me.
Sharon: I can hardly wait to hear most of those singing bowls are absolutely rare and have a huge ability to create relaxation. It’ll be beautiful meditation.
Laurel: Yeah, and you know what’s really interesting is that someone said to me just in the past week, they didn’t actually understand that singing bowls made sounds. That they had seen Tibetan singing bowls in places and aren’t they beautiful and they thought of them just as these beautiful bowls but they had no idea that they create sound. Which I thought was really interesting that people may be missing that whole piece about singing bowls, or I know you do lots of work with Crystal bowls as well.
Sharon: Yeah, I’m finding also that that’s another part of what I love to share with people because remember, sound is a physical energy and when you’re playing, especially if you’re holding and playing a Tibetan bowl or a crystal ball or tuning fork, it’s moving your molecules and atoms in a very specific way.
Sharon: Yeah. Well, I know you have on your website lots of stuff about singing bowls and Tibetan singing bowls or crystal bowls so people can find some more information there on your website about that. So give us one more tip, Sharon, about some simple way that we can begin using music and sound to help us out.
Sharon: There are the sound tools especially but that’s something you have to go out and find. There is one more sound of the voice that we can use. If you find you’re having difficulty with focus, especially late in the afternoon when things start slowing down and the mind is getting a little sleepier, there’s a sound you can make with the voice that creates instant focus in the brain and this actually, is counter-intuitive a little to the two principles, but it’s like a shock wave that goes through the body from the inside out from your voice. And it’s this sound, it’s a ho like Santa, ho, with a very loud, deep, quick sound like this [makes a sound]
And when you do that a few times then that shock wave going through your body, like it brings you to the instant presence and it’s a wonderful way to wake up quickly when you need that instant presence.
Laurel: Wow, cool. Well here’s what I know that there are lots of resources that you have to be able to help people if they really want to dive more into that. So just from right now, people have got some great tools about being able to use their own music collections and paying attention to the type of music that they’re playing. Like more intentionally picking the music or being able to use your voice with that great sigh or that ho or looking for other tools, whether they’re singing bowls or tuning Forks.
So I appreciate you giving people something simple to grab onto but that they can also dive in and learn all kinds of other interesting stuff about sound wellness and how to bring that into their work or their workplace. I encourage everybody to visit Sharon’s website, which soundwellness.com. It’s easy and I know she has a free guide there about self-care tips, how to be using sounding music for self-care tips and you can grab that free guide on her website.
So, Sharon, let me ask you one last question before we wrap up. What’s your favorite piece of music?
Sharon: Depends on what mood I’m in, Laurel, and how I want to use it. If I’m not feeling well, I play Bach because there’s some sort of magic in Bach that just makes me feel exquisitely balanced. If I’m driving, I love Latin guitar; the fast, lively dancing music. I grew up with big band music so that’s a real favorite because it brings back all those memories of mom and dad and dancing in the living room, those kinds of things. Oh gosh, there’s so many.
Laurel: Well, that was probably a really unfair question to ask somebody who’s immersed in music all the time. Okay, pick your favorite. Thank you so much for taking some time to share not only your tips but just your passion and to give people a different way of thinking about things because sometimes I think we can get so stuck in looking for the complex solution to, how do I feel less stressed or even more focused as you’re talking about.
We’re looking for the complex solution and sometimes there are really simple things that are just sitting directly in front of us. Everybody’s got a playlist, we all have way more than a thousand songs now in our pocket and so just to be able to take a few minutes and kind of collect those up and organize them a little bit so that people can access them.
I really appreciate you coming and sharing your ideas with us Sharon.
Sharon: Thanks, Laurel. I’m just so grateful to be here and able to share them.
Laurel: Great. As I said, Sharon’s website, soundwellness.com, I really encourage you to go there and check it out and see all of the interesting training that she has or lots of other free resources that you can grab.
It’s time for a little ‘being and doing’ homework’ something to think about and something to try. So, grab a pen and write this down or of course, you’ll always find it in the show notes if you are doing something right now, that doesn’t let you write it down. So here we go, something to think about. Where can I consciously and intentionally add sound into my day?
You know, sound and music are around us all day long. This is more about thinking how can you proactively use sound or music as a stress reduction tool. Now if you’re stuck or you want some ideas, I’m going to leave a link in the show notes to a Blog that I wrote about using music to de-stress, which will give you a couple of ideas. And while you’re there, be sure to check out the singing bowl guided meditation, the one that Sharon and I collaborated on. The link is also going to be in the show notes.
Now, something to try. Sigh more or just take a big breath in and sigh it out whenever you’re feeling a little tense or frustrated or you’re just having one of those crazy busy days and let that tension go with the sigh. And also listen for when you naturally sigh because that’s a pretty good indication that something needs to be released. Or you can also try the little technique that Sharon demonstrated about. Using your voice to go from the high sound to the low sound to help you relax.
Now, next time on The Being and The Doing, we’re going to have a little mind shift. We’re going to take a look at gratitude, which is a pretty popular thing these days but it just might be time to raise the bar on this very powerful practice. So tune in and find out how grateful you really are. Until then, lovely ones, pause, breathe and enjoy your day.
Outro: You’ve been listening to The Being and The Doing with your host Laurel Vespi. If you liked this episode and think other people would, please subscribe, rate and give a review on iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts. Be sure to tune in next week for another conversation about The Being and The Doing. Thanks for listening.