As you step into the world of sound healing and therapy, you’ll find that it’s a fascinating and rapidly growing field. And when it comes to expert practitioners in this space, Alison Iati’s name stands out. A Sound Practitioner and VST Certified and Licensed professional, Alison has dedicated her career to exploring the power of sound as a tool for healing and transformation. With her extensive knowledge of sound therapy and a deep passion for helping others, Alison is a force to be reckoned with in the world of holistic wellness. In today’s Mystic Mag interview, we’ll explore her journey, insights, and experiences in the world of sound healing, and learn how this incredible practice can help us all achieve greater harmony and balance in our lives.
When did you discover the power of therapeutic sounds and that they could help you?
Watching the children learn relaxation through exposure to tranquil music is one thing that impacted my interest in therapeutic sounds. Years ago, I taught young children music and movement. When working with very young children, you can address the whole child’s development. Music can stimulate every brain area, so it is a beautiful tool to encourage growth, including emotional, cognitive, language, gross and fine motor skills. Relaxation is a learned behavior. Every class included a quiet time when the kids would sit or lie down, close their eyes, and listen to a relaxing piece of classical music. Quiet time was a way to teach children relaxation and expose them to many different works of beautiful classical music. I started with 20 -30 seconds of quiet time and built up to a couple of minutes. After a couple of months, they could sit and listen to classical music for a few minutes, and they looked forward to that activity. Music induces nervous system arousal. Tranquil music can arouse the parasympathetic nervous system, often called “rest and reset.”
How can therapeutic sounds help people from all ages, places, and economic backgrounds?
We live in a sensory world. You can close your eyes if you wish not to see, but you cannot close your ears. Variables like age, location, and socioeconomic status are not at play in a soundscape. Sound does not discriminate. One reported effect of therapeutic sound is relaxation. The relaxation response, documented by cardiologist Herbert Benson, M.D. and his colleagues, describes the physiological changes during transcendental meditation, including decreased heart and respiration rate, increased heart rate variability, vasodilation, and diminished muscle tension. Many people report the same effects from therapeutic sounds. Relaxation reduces symptoms of stress. Stress is a component in about 75% of health issues. Regular exposure to relaxation stimuli increases health and well-being.
What instruments and items do you use in a sound bath?
I am a classically trained musician, and it influences how I approach sound healing. I enjoy going to gong and sound baths where metal gongs and Himalayan bowls are the primary tools. However, when I play, I prefer the more musical-sounding instruments. I primarily use crystal bowls, chimes, harps, bells, rain sticks, and my voice.
What is the feedback you receive after a session? Did someone surprise you with a benefit that you didn’t know was possible?
The experience of deep relaxation, meditation, and trance differs for everyone. If it is a person’s first time, they are usually astounded by the effect. Some common feedback is feeling warmth and heaviness in the arms and legs, aches and pains that disappear, seeing colors and shapes that shift with the sounds, seeing angelic beings, recovering long forgotten memories, feelings of oneness in which you no longer have a sense of where you end and the world begins, and a peacefulness.
I am not surprised by the experiences, but sometimes I am moved by what clients share. The following is an account of profound emotional healing. Please read it with an open heart and the understanding that the mind is curious and capable of all sorts of things. After an evening sound bath, a new client sat on her mat while everyone else packed up and left. I knew she had something she wanted to share, so I sat and waited for her to speak. She was quiet for a few minutes, then told me she had been heartbroken over losing twin daughters in miscarriages. During the sound bath, the client experienced traveling through space. She heard the twins calling “Mom” from the other side of a black hole. She couldn’t see them, but she could hear them. They told her not to worry anymore; they were happy and okay. The woman thanked me, saying she finally had closure and felt at peace.
Do you believe that one’s personal favorite music (a band or a genre) can have a similar effect to help relax and even cure?
Relaxation requires tranquil music. If that is your favorite kind of music, it can relax you. I absolutely believe that your favorite music can be curative. I bet many of your readers have experienced the mood-lifting effect of singing or dancing to a favorite record. There is a study suggesting that exposure to well-like music increases episodic memory recall in Alzheimer’s patients. It was demonstrated that Parkinson’s patients with impaired mobility could more easily walk to the rhythmic beat of their chosen music. There are studies on the positive effects of music for pain relief during surgical recovery.
You wrote that relaxation is a learned behavior. Can you give us one tip to start learning and finally take the first step?
New behaviors are learned through repetition. You must do something every day to habituate to new behavior. Set aside 15 to 30 minutes each day for relaxation. Try regulating your breath. There are Apps to help with that. A good free site is xhalr.com. Remember to think about breathing low and slow and follow the visual cues. You can try autogenics, which is a type of self-hypnosis for relaxation. You can find videos for autogenics on YouTube.
But if you want an easy, fantastic way to learn relaxation, you can join me at LivingtheSoundLife.com, my new web-based App for sound meditation. The Sound Life is a 6-week course in stress reduction through sound meditation. It is coming out soon, so be sure to go to LivingtheSoundLife.com, sign up for notifications, and be the first to try it out. You can also contact me through LivingtheSoundLife.com. I am happy to connect with you and answer your questions.