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The Body & Sound: Stress and the Impact of Sound

When I embarked on my Yoga Teacher Training in 2008 I went to Sedona, Arizona to complete my training. When I wasn’t in class I had the opportunity to explore the beauty of the desert surrounding Sedona. When I would get out on hikes, I was always moved by the deep and profound stillness I could find in many of these places. It was such a stark difference from the noise and the bustle of the Bay Area from where I had come. In these modern times, we constantly find ourselves surrounded by noise: traffic, airplanes, the hum of electronics and the beep of machines. In an urban environment, it is rare to find these pockets of complete silence. While it can be easy to “tune it out” after a while, one wonders what the long term impact of all of this sound might be.

As someone who has worked with soundhealing for many years, I have seen the profound impacts of sound on the body. Just as negative sounds and noise can impact the body other sounds can help to bring us back into harmony. The body is made up of roughly 70% water, an excellent conduit for vibration and sound. The question then becomes, “what sounds do we want to be a conduit for?”

In a study conducted at Cornell University, Gary Evans an international expert on environmental stress, such as noise, crowding, and air pollution found: “…that even low-level noise can be a stressor. It elevates psychophysiological factors and triggers more symptoms of anxiety and nervousness.” His study makes an excellent case for the importance of finding an escape from these environmental stressors and also speaks to the importance of “re-tuning” the body through chanting, soft music and sound healing.

Eating for Spring with Chinese Medicine

In Chinese medicine, the spring is ruled by the wood element. This is the season to attend to the liver and gall bladder, the organs ruled by Wood. The spring is the time to eat less and often to cleanse, inviting the fats and heavy foods from winter to move out of the body.  This is a great time to bring in foods that are more yang, expansive, in nature: fresh greens, sprouts and other green foods are best introduced at this time of year.

As adapted from Paul Pitchford’s Healing With Whole Foods, here are some tips for bringing harmony to the liver as we move into spring:

1. Eat less!: Limit your intake of foods, especially fatty, heavy foods.

2. Stimulate the liver: eat foods such as onions, mustard greens, tumeric, basil, fennel, dill, ginger, black pepper, horesradish and rosemary are suggestions of moderately pungent foods and spices.

3. Bitter and sour foods to reduce excess of the liver: the most powerful and common remedy for removing liver stagnation is vinegar. Choose an unrefined apple-cider vinegar and mix with honey–one teaspoon of each per cup of water.

4. Detoxify the liver: mung beans and their spouts, celery, seaweeds, lettuce, cucumbers and watercress are recommended.

5. Accelerate liver rejuvenation: chlorophyll-rich foods, including cereal grasses (wheat or barley-grass juice powders) and micro-algae–spirulina, wild blue-green algae and chlorella.