Sound baths are an ancient form of acoustic healing that’s undergoing a modern revival as more people seek natural stress relief. Contrary to the name, sound baths don’t involve water – instead the participants bathe in healing sounds with the goal of reaching a deeply restorative, meditative state.
Advocates of sound bathing say the healing tones help them clear their minds and reach a meditative state faster than silent meditation alone. Although it’s tempting to save money and simply listen to meditative music at home – which is certainly relaxing – a portion of a sound bath’s benefits come from the actual vibrational frequencies that the instruments release when played.
Sound baths are typically hosted at a spa, yoga studio, or other gathering space with enough room for attendees to sit or lie comfortably. The session leader is often a sound therapist or meditation teacher who will bring their own collection of sound bath instruments, including Himalayan singing bowls, crystal bowls, drums, bells, and chimes. The leader will play different tones and rhythms to guide the class through a meditative journey. Some classes and therapy sessions may have a specific goal, like becoming more grounded. In that case, the sound therapist can use instruments that primarily affect the lower chakras.
healing benefits of sound baths
Sound healing has captured the attention of doctors and scientists world-wide because it offers such healing potential at a more affordable price than many medications. The studies, below, all show promising benefits of sound therapy:
- A 2014 study found that participants’ blood pressure and heart rate responses were enhanced when they were listening to Himalayan singing bowls.
- Various studies on the benefits of binaural beats (two tones played in unison at slightly different frequencies) have found that the therapeutic tones reduce anxiety levels and enhance mood.
- A 2017 study found that participants reported significantly less tension, anger, fatigue, and depressed mood after listening to sound therapy. Feelings of spiritual well-being significantly increased across all participants. The same study found that the therapy seemed to have the largest impact on participants between the ages of 40 and 59.
- A 2013 study found that Tibetan Sound Meditation improved short-term memory and cognitive function in breast cancer patients.
how to prepare for your first sound bath
Mentally, you can prepare for a sound bath by recognizing the fact that you’re about to partake on a deeply personal, meditative journey. Take a few minutes to think about what you’d like to gain from the experience – would you like to relax as fully as possible, or would you like to find additional clarity on an issue? Prepare to release other distractions from your mind and consider leaving your cell phone at home or in your car.
Dress as though you’ll be taking a nap in public. Wear loose-fitting, comfortable clothing that you can sit or lie in for 60 to 90 minutes without feeling the need to adjust. Leggings, cozy sweaters, and a sports bra (or no bra!) are all great options.
Arrive about 15 minutes before the ceremony begins so you can find a comfortable spot and begin to relax your mind. The session will likely begin with a simple breathing exercise and then you’ll be prompted to lie on a mat in savasana, which is flat on your back with your arms at your sides.
As the session begins, it’s normal to feel a range of emotions. Some people feel themselves gradually sink into a meditative state while others may feel various emotions bubble up that they’ll need to sit with and work through first. Know that whatever you feel is OK. When needed, bring yourself back to the present moment, your goal for the session, and the ancient sounds that you have the unique opportunity to bath in.
When your session is over, revel in your heightened state of relaxation. Try to hold onto the serenity throughout your evening, and if all goes well then you’ll hopefully have a wonderful night’s sleep.
Visit our Events Page for Sound Bath Sessions in 2020, we are going to have a lot!