Somatic Healing: How Sound Healing, Breathwork, and Meditation Come Together to Heal the Body
Did you know that we hold trauma, stress, and grief within our bodies? Whether you realize it or not, most people are holding onto trauma – this can present itself as a sore neck, tight back, or constant pit in the stomach. Somatic healing, which when practiced in combination with sound healing, breathwork, and meditation, can help you locate and work through the places where you’re holding trauma by calming the autonomic nervous system and regulating the vagus nerve.
What Is Somatic Healing?

Somatic healing is a holistic therapy that works with our emotional, mental, spiritual, and physical states to find where we hold trauma and then address it. Somatic therapy differs from traditional therapy in that it incorporates the body and spirit, along with the mind. With somatic healing, we treat mental and emotional health issues that result from trauma by utilizing the connection between the mind and body.

Somatic experiencing is the most common type of somatic healing, in which people work with a therapist to both discuss their problems and connect with underlying physical sensations. This is done through breathwork and meditation, among other activities. This practice allows us to connect to our inner selves, finding where we hold trauma in the body so that we can sit with it, understand it, and work through it. We often don’t even realize that we’re holding onto trauma until we give ourselves the time to get present and look inward.

Somatic Healing and Sound Healing

Sound healing can be used in conjunction with somatic healing to physically calm the autonomic nervous system and heal trauma from within. Sound healing therapy uses the vibration of sound as it travels through us as a means to heal.

By using meditation and breathwork, we can zero in on the body in the present moment to understand our feelings and locate the places where we are physically holding onto things that happened in our past. Once we locate those places, we can stay with them and develop a deeper understanding of why they exist so that we can heal. At this point, we add in sound healing, which physically helps us recover.

How Can Sound Healing Calm the Autonomic Nervous System?

To understand the effects of somatic and sound healing, you must also understand what trauma is. We commonly refer to trauma as an event. While there are traumatic events, like a physical altercation, trauma is also our body’s response to an event. Trauma occurs when we face a challenge, which activates our sympathetic nervous system. If we are unable to meet the challenge, we go through periods of traumatic hyper-arousal and hypo-arousal. This eventually leads to us reacting a freeze response – whether that is actual immobilization, constricting your response, or dissociating.

This freezing reaction traps energy in the body, which can surface as constant fatigue – something that is often an underlying cause of chronic conditions. While breathwork and meditation can help you think about, locate, and analyze stored trauma, sound therapy can physically heal the body.

The autonomic nervous system is made of three parts: the sympathetic nervous system, parasympathetic nervous system, and the enteric nervous system. While the sympathetic nervous system controls your reaction to events (fight or flight,) the parasympathetic nervous system is responsible for bringing you back to relaxation by restoring basic functions.

Under the polyvagal theory, we know that the vagus nerve is the longest cranial nerve in the body, traveling from the brain to the lower internal organs. It’s one of the key players in regulating the parasympathetic nervous system. Since the ear is in close proximity to the vagus nerve, sound has a huge effect on the rest of the body.

The vibrations we receive through sound resonate in the eardrums and travel through the vagus nerve. Tuning forks, Tibetan singing bowls, and gongs are all used in sound healing to resonate with the vagus nerve and calm the body, triggering a parasympathetic response that soothes the body back into a nourishing state – effectively healing trauma.

Somatic Healing Influences The Body’s Healing

When we use sound healing, in addition to meditation, breathwork, and somatic healing, we can reach a deep state of relaxation, which creates a safe place for us to heal. Benefits of sound therapy also include:

  • Stress relief
  • Mental clarity and higher brain function
  • Better concentration
  • Increased physical energy
  • Enhanced effects of meditation and massage

Ultimately, everyone holds trauma. Society encourages us to ignore it and avoid the present moment, but addressing it and getting present is the only way we can heal. Somatic healing, sound healing, meditation, and breathwork are all extremely powerful tools that can help to heal trauma, stress, PTSD, grief, depression, and anxiety. This is completed not just through mental work, but also through the physical healing that sound therapy provides as it regulates the vagus nerve and autonomic nervous system.