Sound studio

What are sound baths? Experts discuss the new wellness trend

In your quest to relax or improve your mental health, you may have heard that “sound baths” can help. But what are sound baths? Essentially they are a form of meditation and relaxation where the listener is “bathed” in sound, Sarah Herington, a yoga teacher and writer tells TZR. “They are effective and accessible,” she says. “Basically, you lie down, get comfortable and quiet, and the practitioner plays a variety of gongs, singing bowls, and chimes to create layers of sound waves and vibrations that help relax the nervous system, calm mind and take you on a bit of an inner journey. The effect is restorative and therapeutic.

So when it comes to reducing stress, sound baths might be the new method to try this year. “They guide participants not only to physical healing, but also to mental and energetic rest,” adds Herrington. The instruments used downgrade the beta brainwaves we use daily into alpha (relaxed) and theta (a meditative state) brainwaves. “You will notice that the sound waves help calm your thoughts and expand consciousness while encouraging healing,” she explains.

Dominique Fisher, BIAN Chicago’s director of creative and meditative exploration, says that all things in our universe are constantly in motion, in vibration. “Every part of you creates a frequency, and sometimes those frequencies are out of sync,” she told TZR in an email. “Sound baths allow the synchronicity of our personal vibrations.” In a sound bath, an instrument is played not to create a melody, but to create a frequency that surges through your body. “Because there is no melody to follow, the mind stops doing things right,” she adds. “You let yourself be lulled by a thrum: a mind that does not think. You may find yourself in a lucid dream or enjoy full body relaxation.

Roxie Sarhangia sound healing practitioner and artist, says that during her sound sessions she plays seven crystal bowls, a symphonic gong, an ocean drum, Koshi chimes and Tibetan bowls. “I want individuals to walk into the experience and immediately feel a positive shift in their mood,” she told TZR in an email. “Sound baths may seem ‘in’ right now, but sound has been used as an ancient healing modality for centuries.”

Indeed, sound healing was often used in religious and cultural ceremonies. Chinese gong chimes date to around 500 BCE and ancient Tibetans used bells and chimes also for healing ceremonies. Meanwhile, the old The Greeks commonly used flutes and lyres – dating back to 323 BCE – for music therapy and its healing effects. Researchers began to investigate the correlation between music and healing more closely towards the end of the 19th century. Today, singing bowls are widely used in Buddhist rituals and in meditation and yoga studios around the world, as well as in homes.

And no two sound baths are the same. holistic coach Jennifer Herrera is trained in primordial sound meditation and uses earth and nature sounds, such as birds or the sound of the ocean, in her sessions. “Especially for people who find it difficult to meditate, listening to sound can help take an active mind away from constant thought and help create the sense of grounding that deep meditation can bring,” she said. to TZR in an email. “The sound sessions are a favorite of my clients and my students. They always ask for them and comment on how relaxed they feel afterwards.

How sound baths can help your physical and mental health

Even though sound healing and baths may seem like a trend, research shows that they offer people many health and mental health benefits. A study, published in SAGE Journal, found that sound meditation helped improve people’s moods and lower their levels of tension, anger and fatigue. And because increased anxiety, stress, and low mood can lead to other health problems, including increased blood pressure, heart disease, and diabetes, the researchers concluded that mindfulness meditations, like the sound variety, can help calm anxiety and improve well-being. This is due to the body’s physiological response and activation of the parasympathetic (“rest and digest”) nervous system instead of the sympathetic (“fight or flight”) nervous system. And if you have trouble sleeping, research shows that sound baths can also help you sleep better.

Emma Louise Hillmanan energy healer, a sound healer and energy alignment guide says that the frequencies produced affect the body on three levels: emotional, physiological and psychological. “The rhythmic vibrations of the instruments change the energy state of your body as the body vibrates in resonance with the sound,” she told TZR in an email. “Because they don’t require much action from the patient, a sound bath is perfect for those who think too much, those who find it difficult to relax with silent meditation, or those who suffer from mental illness. As you allow yourself to lose yourself in the sound, it dissolves tension in the body and realigns the body’s internal frequency, in turn lowering your heart rate and leaving you feeling relaxed and calm.

A sound bath *in* real water

If you want to try a sound bath, of sorts, that takes place in real water, Murray Hidary, composer and creator of MindTravel, Is offer a variation of a sound bath in different American cities. MindTravel Underwater takes place, yes, underwater – and attendees are completely immersed (no pun intended) by his musical compositions as he plays the piano poolside. “By placing the speakers underwater, people experience the music both emotionally and physically – you can feel the vibrations through the water in a much deeper way than just through the air,” he told TZR in an email. “Water transmits sound much more efficiently, so we combine live piano music from MindTravel with binaural beats, which are known to aid relaxation and the brainwave state one achieves during meditation. or deep sleep.And since the music in MindTravel is improvisational in nature, it requires participants to be present in a way that simply listening to music you might recognize or be familiar with does. Similar to a sound bath, the music is constantly changing and evolving, not allowing the brain to recognize patterns.

But beyond relaxation, MindTravel Underwater opens up a sense of wonder, imagination and creativity, notes Hidary. “Once you can center yourself and have this experience of stillness, there is a freedom and weightlessness – both literally and figuratively – that becomes available as you float in this pool, immersed in the music. Participants move freely through the water during the experience, dance, play and reconnect with their inner child. On a deeper level, Hidary adds that the sound is otherworldly and takes participants back to the womb.” You spent the first 41 weeks of your existence in the water, so in many ways this MindTravel is like coming home,” he says. “And, simultaneously, you experience new levels of reflection and rejuvenation. Whenever we can welcome more relaxation and wonder into our lives, we increase our overall sense of well-being, and over time, this can have a profound positive impact on our mental health.

Why sound baths are worth trying

In or out of the water, sound baths are worth trying and require very little effort. “Whether we realize it or not, we’re constantly running in fight-or-flight mode,” says Hidary. “The amount of distractions we experience, the demands of everyday life, the constant stress of the state of the world…all of this creates anxiety and exhaustion. But being able to reconnect with yourself, be still and really relax?The benefits cannot be overstated.

Sarhangi, too, says there is so much noise there and it is easy to get caught up in it all. “We need an anchor – our own internal compass to ground us and let go of the external aspects of the material world to feel centered,” she says. “It’s even more vital in these times of great change and stress,” she says. “Sound healing is an opportunity to take care of yourself, deeply relax and let go of stress. Self-care is always important and is an act of self-love. She says people who attend her sessions have said everything from “I feel at peace” and “I feel so much lighter” to “the sounds took all my stress away” and “I never felt more relaxed.”

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Herrington says the sound baths have helped her through the stress and anxiety of the past two years, even doing them online. “They’re a great way to reset and heal deeply in an exhausting world, and they’re fun too,” she says. “It’s like the healing aspects of yoga without the poses. Especially if someone is unable to access physical yoga postures, it’s a great option for meditation, deep relaxation, and healing – without moving a muscle. In fact, I just bought my first crystal singing bowl so I could help create the sounds in my home. And, no matter where we go, the sound is there. “Sound is all around us beyond a designated sound bath,” adds Herrera. “These sounds, as well as listening to music, chanting or reciting mantras, can also have an uplifting effect on us. Just pay attention to them.”