In these modern times of technology overloads and a general sense of global fragility, the quest to quiet the mind and find new ways to achieve relaxation feels more important than ever. This quest has led us into a new era of wellness—one in which many people are exploring alternative healing practices that have actually been around for a very long time.
One ancient modality that's experiencing a surge in popularity is the sound bath. The process of manipulating sound for healing can be traced all the way back to the Greek philosopher Pythagoras, who utilized sound as a form of medicine to treat a variety of ailments.
Sound baths are a great way to get "in tune" with yourself, and many people turn to them for stress relief. Here's a primer to help you decide if this holistic practice is right for you and to get the most out of healing through sound.
1. Understand that sound baths are not a form of entertainment.
Sound bath practitioners are not performers. Rather, they work to utilize various instruments as tools to facilitate a shift in the participant's consciousness. They strip away the structural elements of music like rhythm and arrangement. When properly executed, the result is a slowdown of your brainwaves, shifting from a more active state (beta) to a more relaxed dreamlike state (alpha).
This experience is not a concert in the way a traditional music concert requires your attention and observation. A sound bath strips away the condensed structural elements that music has such as rhythm, arrangement, and performance. It's not about analyzing any these elements; it’s a facilitation into a deeper state and an opportunity to unplug from this hyperactive reality to gain perspective with what's going on within you. And if you enter a sound bath with the intent of analyzing what instruments are creating the sounds, it could ultimately take longer for you to settle into that relaxed state.
2. Know that everyone reacts differently to the sound and vibration.
Our body, mind, and spirit hold the energetic imprints of all of our experiences, and sound vibrations have a way of shaking things up. Because of this, they can induce a sense of bliss one minute and a feeling of unease the next. If these feelings do arise it's happening because the environment is promoting a release, so just breathe through it rather than letting yourself be submerged in it. Bring your attention to the rhythm of your breathing. Tune into your deep inhales and deep exhales.
3. Take the time to find a legitimate sound bath.
This experience can be very powerful, so you should make sure that any facilitator you visit has studied sound healing. Even though some musicians and DJs might have the best intentions when they use phrases like "sound healing" or "sound bath" to promote their events, it's extremely important to understand that facilitating a sound bath should not be about an individuals’ desire to express themselves to an audience.
A good facilitator knows how to relinquish the notion of self in favor of serving the community in a selfless way. A well-studied facilitator knows how to create and hold a safe space while introducing the power of sound.
4. You don't need to know how to meditate before you go to a sound bath.
What's so remarkable about sound baths is that even first-timers can accrue their benefits. After all, everyone has a relationship with sound. Sound is immediate and it has a way of having a direct impact on our whole being. Not to mention, sound baths don't require the discipline that meditation does. You don't have to be a well-practiced yogi or self-care practitioner in order to have a profound and positive experience with sound. In fact, a sound bath can serve as a gateway to these practices by introducing you to what it feels like when calmness enters the mind.
5. Establish a regular sound bath practice for maximum effect.
Visiting sound baths is a great way to quiet the mind, and considering how overstimulated we can be, regularly introducing a calming experience can definitely have a positive effect on our well-being. Each experience with sound healing will differ depending on your feelings and surroundings, and each new experience will teach you more about yourself. Sometimes you might have a visual experience, and other times it may affect the way you feel emotionally or even distort your perception of time. All of these contribute to your personal growth.