Sound Advice

Music and Mantras for Clients and MTs

By Dudley Evenson
[Savvy Self-Care]

Sound reaches into our very depths, affecting us emotionally and physically, resonating through every cell and molecule of our being. There are many ways to use sound for self-care and self-healing, from focusing on the music you use during a session to creating your own audible mantra.

During the Session

The relaxing, soothing music most often used by therapists creates a peaceful ambiance for clients, but it can help calm the practitioner as well, entraining the bodily and breathing systems to a more balanced state. Use the slow pace of the music to regulate your own breathing.

Along with the music, breathe in and out deeply and fully. Pay attention to your breath, noticing the thoughts that present themselves as you knead your client’s shoulders. A vast array of thoughts, some welcome, some not, proceed across the inner screen of your mind. What do you do with these thoughts? You can let their random interplay be an undercurrent of your massage process, or you can decide to wash them away and give your mind a break. 

To help clear your mind and enhance your focus, you might want to use a mental mantra. It could be something as simple as “I am. I am. I am.” Or “I give and receive healing.” Whatever you choose, by repeating the positive phrase, you replace random or negative thoughts by sending a more positive message to your inner self. Repeat the mantra out loud between sessions to refocus.

After the Session

Toning or humming can also help you release some energy, especially if you have let yourself take on some of the stress of the person you are working on. This involves audible sound and is best done alone—in nature or while driving. 

Take a deep breath in; as you exhale, allow yourself to make a sound that goes with the out breath. It can be a vowel sound such as “ahhh” or “ohhh,” almost like a long sigh. By attaching a sound to your exhalation, you slow down the out breath, ideally to at least twice as long as your inhale. Visualize that you are releasing any stored negative energy you may have picked up. If you choose to use humming, you will notice that the vibrations have their own positive effects. Practice quietly humming, even in public, to calm your inner self.

After a long day caring for others, you may want to use high-energy, rhythmic music to get moving and dancing. Aerobic exercise can help you let go of pent-up energy, and listening to music during the process can make that part of the release more effective and enjoyable. Of the many tools that help us deal with stress, music and sound can be complements to all of them. 


  Dudley Evenson is a writer, harpist, and creator of guided affirmations. She and her husband, Dean Evenson, teach online courses and have produced more than 70 albums of award-winning healing and world music through their label Soundings of the Planet. For more information, visit


What’s your favorite music to play during a bodywork session?

From ABMP’s 

Facebook page


Indian flute and tai chi music seem to be very popular with my clients, and soothing. They seem to help balance the energy in the muscles as well. —Dragonfly Therapies


I like nature sounds, especially the ocean or rivers. —New Life Massage and Bodyworks


Reggae sets a vacation feeling, I think. —Marissa Bauer


I love the Native American influence for music during sessions. —Tammy Wells


Classical acoustic Indian music. I love that there is no rhythm to get trapped in and the sounds are so full and warm. —Heidi OHair


It depends on the work and the client. I have played everything from nice spa music to rock to hip-hop. —Barbara MacNair


I work near a music college and several clients are professors and students. Many of them prefer sounds of nature to music, so I use a lot of thunderstorm and rain forest tracks. 

—Beth Fessenden


According to representatives of Pandora, “Consumer versions of the Pandora service (both the free ad-supported version and premium Pandora One subscription) cannot legally be used to play music in a commercial setting.” Pandora offers a Pandora for Business service in partnership with DMX, which is available for a fee at

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