In our continuing series about "Complementary and Alternative Medicine" modalities that may offer potential for treating PTSD, one item that's suggested in the literature is "sound therapy." To learn a little more about it, here's some information from some of the experts in the field, and, a few selected items for listening.
According to one Rodale guide, in its section about PTSD,
To ease anxiety related to post-traumatic stress syndrome, try listening to relaxing music for at least 20 to 30 minutes each day, says Steven Halpern, Ph.D., composer, researcher, and author of Sound Medicine: Music for Healing.
To get started, turn on the music, then sit or lie comfortably, close your eyes, and take a deep breath. Dr. Halpern suggests that you wear headphones to focus your full attention and to avoid distractions. He recommends, however, that you keep the speakers playing, so your body absorbs the sound energy. While the music plays, let your breathing slow down and become steady. Listen not just to the notes but also to the silence between the notes. Dr. Halpern says this will keep you from analyzing the music, which will allow it to relax you.
(Similarly, the emphasis for listening should be on "largo".)
When it comes to relaxing music, the key is largo. That's music played at a slow tempo, called largo, which can reduce your heart and breathing rates, calm your body, and help it heal itself, says Janalea Hoffman, R.M.T., a composer and music therapist based in Kansas City, Missouri.
Look for music that is played at 60 beats per minute or less. Most music is faster than that and won't help slow your heartbeat, Hoffman says. "What you are looking for is the largo section of each piece. That's the part with a beat that works." These composers are among those who have largo sections in many of their compositions: Johann Sebastian Bach, Antonio Vivaldi, George Frideric Handel, and Georg Phillip Telemann. Most records, tapes and CDS list the different sections of each piece, in order, on their covers. The problem is that these slow sections last only a few minutes. For longer listening, you will find lots of specially made tapes in music stores and can order even more from other sources.
Source: New Choices in Natural Healing: Over 1,800 of the Best Self-Help Remedies from the World of Alternative Medicine, Edited by Bill Gottlieb, Editor-in-Chief, Prevention Magazine Health Books. Emmaus, PA: Rodale Press, Inc. (1995).
Some well-regarded longer pieces in the sound health/sound medicine category are the following, all available at Amazon.com:
Inner Peace, by Steven Halpern, Ph.D.; Effortless Relaxation, by Steven Halpern, Ph.D.; Letting Go of Stress, by Steven Halpern, Ph.D.; Tao of Peace, by Li Xiang-Ting and Dean Evenson; Sound Body, Sound Mind: Music for Healing, by Andrew Weil, M.D. and Joshua Leeds; Relax and De-Stress: Music for Self-Healing, by Andrew Weil, M.D., and Joshua Leeds; The Tao of Healing, by Li Xiang-Ting and Dean Evenson; Sound Healing, by Dean Evenson;
and particularly for getting a good night's sleep, which is so essential for reducing anxiety and improving healing: