How Humming Helps
Have you ever caught yourself humming along to music on the radio, or when a song pops into your head? Humming is one of the most natural sounds the voice can make. I have never heard someone say, “I can’t hum well” or “wow you have a really good humming voice”. However, if we talk about singing on the other hand, a lot of people immediately feel a sense of performance anxiety, usually uttering something to the extent of “I can’t sing, I’m not the musical one in the family, ask [insert name], they can really sing well”. Singing has become synonymous with an expected aesthetic like that of the “singers” we listen to. Humming is far less intimidating than singing, and it has many benefits on various levels.
Improves and regulate your breathing
Why is it important to focus on breathing?
The automatic nervous system regulates among other things the rate of breathing. In other words, we don’t have to think about breathing, it just happens. However, because of its automatic nature, our breathing rate can easily fluctuate based on our level of anxiety, stress, physical activeness, and more. Becoming aware of your breathing rate allows you to be more mindful of your level of anxiety and stress.
How does it work?
When you hum, we can focus more on the inhale of our breathing as the exhale takes place as you hum. After you’ve hummed one note or a short melodic phrase a few times you will notice your breathing becoming deeper and more relaxed. As your breathing becomes deeper and you’re able to keep the humming going for longer, your heart rate decreases, and you should start feeling calmer.
Reduces stress and assists with grounding
Humming has been proven to reduce stress. The moment we become aware of our bodies, and we are able to focus on our breathing, our minds can quieten down. Humming can assist us to move into an almost meditative state of mind.
How does it work?
When we hum our parasympathetic nervous system gets activated. This causes the body to move into a state of relaxation. This can assist in reducing blood pressure, heart rate and promote digestion. When we work towards a conscious body-mind connection (i.e. focusing on our breathing) the mind becomes distracted from overthinking. Another way in which humming has been proven to reduce stress is that it releases endorphins (happy hormones), which lead to a shift in mood.
Creates self-awareness on both an internal and external level
Self-awareness is critical when we think about reflecting on our lives, our behaviour and our experiences. Gaining a better understanding of yourself creates so many opportunities for growth and healing.
How does it work?
When we hum an interesting thing happens. We experience our voices physiologically on both an internal and external level. Let me explain, the external level would be the actual sound that you hear, and the internal level would be the vibrations you feel in your chest or sinuses. This immediately connects the internal and external worlds with each other. When we hum with others a sense of connection takes place and we start becoming more attuned to the sound of our own voices, the voices of others AND the collective sound.
So how does humming help me better understand myself, you may ask. If we think about the connection between the internal and external experiences of humming it makes sense that through humming an awareness of our internal (what we think/feel, how we speak to ourselves) and the external factors of life can start integrating. I’ll be focussing a bit more on the connection between the internal and external voice in my next blog post.
So, for now, pay attention to your experience of your voice. How does it feel when you hum to yourself or with others? What shifts do you recognise when you slow down and take a moment to focus on your breathing and just hum? But more than anything, take time for yourself! Even if it is to sing along to a song in the car. Create opportunities for yourself to let go.
Be kind to yourself, and keep on humming!
The Humming Effect: Sound Healing for Health and Happiness by Andi Goldman and Jonathan Goldman