I’ve always sought out music to match my mood—happy, upbeat songs during bright times and folks-y somber songs during times of grief, heartbreak, and…well, powerful bouts of PMS. When I’m in a sad state of mind, melancholic music feels like it was written just for me, serenading me through my own personal woes. During one particularly pensive phase, my friends gave me the nickname “Sad Songs” and collectively banned my playlists from all our get-togethers. I’m the first to admit that perhaps there’s a bit of wallowing at work here, but there’s also something cathartic about these dark playlists. Music is innate in all humans—and certain melodies resonate with us more than others based on what we’re going through. While my friends saw these songs as a buzzkill, I saw them as cleansing—a way to help me process my feelings.
It’s no surprise that music has been used as a healing technique since ancient times. And sound therapy uses music—or elements of music—to improve our emotional, physical, and mental well-being. As someone who’s naturally been drawn to music as a means to heal, I decided it was time to learn more, so I reached out to Ian Morris, intuitive healer, multi-instrumentalist, and founder of Listening to Smile: “frequency minded meditation music for healing and release.” In the past, Ian struggled with chronic illness, anxiety, and depression. To help facilitate his own healing, he began creating music with pure tones and other sacred frequencies. I talked with him about the power of sound therapy—from amazing success stories to tips on how to best incorporate it into our own lives. Here’s what he had to say.
There are different types of sound therapy, like vibrational sound therapy, singing bowl therapy, and neurologic music therapy, to name a few. Do you have a preferred type and, if so, why? Vibrational sound therapy is one of my personal favorites. Sessions where you can truly feel the vibration in all parts of your body is a very powerful experience. It is definitely a style that connects with not just the physical body but the mind as well. The experience brings the whole being into balance.
Sound therapy is used to treat everything from anxiety disorders and depression to high blood pressure and insomnia. Can you share an anecdote or two about the amazing results you've seen from sound therapy? I haven't seen an issue yet that sound therapy couldn't affect in a positive way. The trick is to treat the individual person with the right frequency, style of music, and tempo. I have worked with many different people, struggling with many different ailments or concerns such as cancer, autism, depression, and anxiety just to name a few. However, a particular example that comes to mind was when one of our clients wanted to pair our frequency music with their pre- and post-surgery for pancreatic cancer. The husband and wife team utilized the music daily for two weeks before and two weeks after the surgery. The results were undeniable. Basically, the frequency music helped him remove the stress from his body and mind and created an internal environment conducive for healing and recovery. His doctor even acknowledged this. The doctor was shocked because the recovery was 40% faster than normally seen with this surgery.
That’s incredible. Does one need to work with a trained practitioner to get the most benefits from sound therapy, or is this something people can do on their own at home? Everyone is different in the way they go about their healing journey, so there isn't a black-and-white answer to this question. However, this is exactly why I started my company Listening to Smile. We empower people to effectively heal at home with sound and frequency. Consistency is what is needed for frequency to make sustainable breakthroughs. This will not come from attending one sound bath a month or working with a sound practitioner once a week. Most sound baths are between $30 to $50 per ticket and sound healers are about $100 - $150 per hour. Most people will not find it feasible to have these sessions daily. We have created a model that is both transparent and informative for the purpose of supporting and encouraging mindfulness meditation paired with frequency healing in the comfort of your home. I developed this model because when I was first diving into sound healing, my first experience was with YouTube videos. As I learned more and got deeper into healing with sound, I realized that many videos had the frequency information mislabeled and YouTube channels were not transparent with the scientific/ sound therapy information. For example, they would list that the track was a binaural beat that helps you sleep, however they didn’t give you the brainwave states that they were targeting or the frequencies used in the creation of the track. In my personal journey, if I found a frequency that helped me with sleep, I wanted to explore that more because of my excitement in the breakthrough I was having. This is why we include a write-up with each album that lists the intentions, the frequency, song tuning and song description. We like people to have information that supports their healing journey. I grew up dyslexic and always had a hard time resting my mind. Some of my most powerful meditations I had were with stereo headphones utilizing pure tones and binaural beats. This was truly the first time that I can remember feeling relaxed in my entire life. Ultimately, this practice of incorporating frequency with stereo headphones at home daily is what led to my recovery from MS, colon cancer, and losing over 100lbs. It was life changing. It saved my life.
What are the types of instruments most commonly used in sound therapy and why? The most common instruments used in sound therapy are singing bowls, tuning forks, didgeridoos, and gongs. The frequencies and vibrations from these instruments can be very powerful for release work and healing. The reason why these are gaining in popularity is because besides the didgeridoo, the others are so easy to play and you don't need to be a musician or know about music theory to utilize them.
I've read that listening to music can help us better process our feelings. When my sister passed away almost 5 years ago, I found myself listening to sad music, which others found depressing, but I found cathartic. I'm still not sure if this was contributing to my sadness or helping me heal. Thoughts? The thing about music is that it is such a spiritual and personal experience that each of us relates to in our own unique way. Music is amazing in that it can convey mood, feeling, and tempo which are all vital for processing our own emotions. It's funny but I actually have friends that meditate to metal music and others who find sad music to be inspiration for their most creative endeavors. It sounds cliched, but it really is about the balance. At certain points in our life sad music is necessary so we can release and grieve and then at other times when we are dealing with depression, we may need more upbeat, happy music that gets us moving again. There really is a power in the intention, tempo, and style of the music that we choose to listen to. Just as people are getting more conscious about what they are putting in their bodies with organic foods and non-GMO, people are and will continue to become more conscious of the music they listen to.
What's the easiest way for people to start using music to improve their emotional and mental health? Is it listening to classical music while working? Listening to a certain instrument before bed? Daily, consistent use. Ten minutes of frequency minded music in the morning and 10 minutes of frequency minded music before bed. Listening is simply not enough. One must incorporate intention setting for the day and for their sleep and incorporate basic breathwork to slow the body and mind down to be truly present and absorb the frequencies. We have seen clients make major breakthroughs in their target focus in as little as two weeks utilizing our frequency minded music only twenty minutes a day.
What makes your sound therapy different? Each month Listening to Smile creates a new frequency minded album that takes into account the monthly astrological energies as well as current events and collective energies in order to facilitate a more balanced and relaxed state for our listeners. We achieve this through the use of frequency minded music that is composed utilizing chakra frequencies, planetary frequencies, Schumann resonances, and the Solfeggio frequencies. Along with the frequencies we incorporate many different styles, genres, and tempos of music for meditation, sound immersions, and movement meditations. Our music is used by affiliates and clients worldwide in 6 countries and over 22 states in the United States.
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