Acute Relaxation Response Induced by Tibetan Singing Bowl Sounds: A Randomized Controlled Trial

Author: Cristobal Rio-Alamos1, Rodrigo Montefusco-Siegmund2,3, Toni Cañete4, Joaquín Sotomayor1, Alberto Fernandez-Teruel4
1 Faculty of Medicine, Department of Psychology, Austral University of Chile, Valdivia 5090000, Chile.
2 Human Cognitive Neurophysiology and Behavior Lab, Locomotor Apparatus and Rehabilitation Institute, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Kinesiology, Austral University of Chile, Valdivia 5090000, Chile.
3 Centro Interdisciplinario de Estudios del Sistema Nervioso, Austral University of Chile, Valdivia 5090000, Chile.
4 Medical Psychology Unit, Department of Psychiatry and Forensic Medicine, Institute of Neurosciences, Autonomous University of Barcelona, 08193 Barcelona, Spain.
Conference/Journal: Eur J Investig Health Psychol Educ
Date published: 2023 Jan 29
Other: Volume ID: 13 , Issue ID: 2 , Pages: 317-330 , Special Notes: doi: 10.3390/ejihpe13020024. , Word Count: 219

The prevalence of anxiety has increased dramatically due to COVID-19, so effective preventive interventions are welcome. The main objective of our study was to compare the acute relaxation response (RR) induced by Tibetan singing bowl (TSB) sound-based treatment against progressive muscle relaxation (PMR) and a control waiting list group (CWL) in a single treatment session in an adult nonclinical anxious population. In this cross-sectional randomized control trial, 50 participants selected based on high state anxiety were randomly assigned to one of the experimental groups. Pre/post self-reported anxiety, electroencephalographic activity (EEG), and heart rate variability (HRV) were recorded at baseline (T1), minute 15 (T2), minute 30 (T3), and minute 45 (T4). The TSB group showed significant reductions in alpha power (from T2 to T4) and increased HRV (from T3 to T4) compared with the PMR and CWL groups. Moreover, TSB and PMR both showed significant reductions in self-reported anxiety compared with CWL, with this effect being more evident in the TSB group. We concluded that a single session of TSB treatment was able to induce a more evident psychological/physiological relaxation response compared with PMR and CWL. TSB could be a relevant acute intervention in stressful situations or crisis intervention and while waiting for conventional interventions.

Keywords: Tibetan singing bowl; anxiety; heart rate variability; music therapy; relaxation response.

PMID: 36826208 PMCID: PMC9955072 DOI: 10.3390/ejihpe13020024