Echoes

Sound meditation centre

Echoes is a sound meditation centre in Perth, Western Australia. It's the only such facility in Australia accredited in the field of complementary medicine.

Our principle instruments are symphonic gongs, played in a purpose-built sound chamber.

Our promise: a safe, effortless sound meditation that deeply relaxes your body, stimulates the mind and awakens the spirit

Science, meditation and gonging

Physics tells us light and matter are energetic, vibrating at different frequencies. Solid objects have atoms that vibrate at a low frequency, animals vibrate at higher frequencies, light vibrates at still higher frequencies.

But human beings are wired for sound -  audible vibration. It’s the first sense to come alive in the foetus and is the last to go before we die.

You already know some sounds exist above and below our hearing range; ultrasound is used for imaging and it’s used to destroy tumours and kidney stones. It’s non-invasive surgery. Whales and birds use sounds below our hearing range (infrasound) to communicate over great distances and for navigation.

So sound is a physical phenomenon. It travels through every medium, including our bodies,  and it can alter the chemistry of our cells. Although we think of it travelling around us and entering through our ears; it permeates and impacts our whole body - our fluids, our organs, our bones and our cells.

You’ve listened to music so you know that sound influences your mood. It can help us relax or excite us - that’s because one of the organs most obviously affected by sound is the brain. But the effects of audible sound are more wide-ranging than what is caused by speech and music.

The gong has the broadest tone range of any instrument and a vast array of harmonics. In our dedicated sound chamber the vibrations are reflected off 16 surfaces. This gives an immersive sound experience that quickly takes you into a meditative state, even if you’ve never meditated previously.

During meditation increased alpha and theta brain wave activity occurs. Alpha waves have been linked with creativity and mental health. Theta waves are difficult to measure in humans but in other animals are known to be linked to memory and spatial learning. Science now recognises that meditation has beneficial effects on physical and mental health, and cognitive performance.

Our brainwaves respond to environmental stimuli , including sound. The relaxed state and flow-on benefits from gonging are thought to be caused by neural entrainment. It's the synchronisation of neurons with the periodic vibration of a sustained acoustic frequency. It begins in the mid-brain and the top of the spinal chord; then moves to the thalamus (the area responsible for consciousness and alertness) and then the auditory cortex. The point is, entrainment operates at a more fundamental level than your conscious thought processes.

Many people also report healing outcomes from gonging sessions, though we do not promise therapeutic benefits. We can say it is scientifically demonstrated that auditory stimulation can improve your immune function, relax you, improve your mood, and reduce stress.

Neurological Music Therapy is used to treat neurological dysfunction like stroke, traumatic brain injury, Parkinson's disease, Huntington's disease, Cerebral Palsy, Alzheimer's disease, Autism, and MS (muscular dystrophy). This is a matter of intense and ongoing scientific research, as is brain imaging research on meditation.

So, which parts of the brain are impacted by meditation, and how is sound meditation different to other kinds of meditation?

The default mode network or resting-state of the brain has been shown to support specific functions, such as self-referential thoughts, emotional perspectives and levels of self-awareness. Described as a toggle switch between outwardly focused mind states and the internal or subjective sense of self, this network appears to include experiences such as imagining the future, the discovering of new possibilities (hopes), and the affective significance of aspirations. Source.

This article describes positive activation in the default mode network compared to rest state when people engage in non-directive meditation (i.e. what sound meditation is). The implication is that nothing puts the resting brain in a more connected state than non-directive meditation such as gonging.