–3 min read–
By Ece Ozkan
If you are into holistic health you have probably heard about sound baths, which can be defined as a powerful sonic meditation that involves instruments like singing bowls, crystals and gongs. Given the first Sound Bath class at Mandala on March 1st, this article will help you get a better understanding of this practice prior to that.
The Ancient Origins & Science Behind It
Sound has a deep impact on our emotional state, and research shows that we start responding to sound as early as in the mother’s womb. The use of sound as a healing tool has ancient roots in several cultures. The ancient Egyptians used vowel sound chants in healing, Tibetan monks used singing bowls, whose “vibrations have been described as the sound of the universe manifesting.” And American Indian medicine men and women would fast in order to receive a song in a dream or vision instructing them in how to carry out the treatment of a patient.
Studies show that brain waves correlate to particular states of consciousness like focus, relaxation, meditation, and sleep. Slower brain waves are associated with relaxed meditative states, while faster ones signal alert and active states. In that sense, sound bathing, as it is a form of meditation, helps us move into the slower brain wave spectrum. In fact, studies show that, brain waves can be modified by externally produced sound frequencies, which means sound can be used to tune brainwaves to specific frequencies and achieve desired states of mind.
Image taken from Sound Baths and Yoga website
There is much research on the science behind sound healing, for instance a review of 400 published scientific articles on music as medicine found strong evidence that “music has mental and physical health benefits in improving mood and reducing stress”. Yet another study found that a one hour long sound meditation class helped people reduce tension, anger, fatigue, anxiety, and depression while increasing a sense of spiritual well-being.
What Exactly Is A Sound Bath?
Image taken by the author, showing 5 different sized singing bowls
In its essence, a sound bath is a meditation class where you are guided by sound healing instruments ranging from crystal and singing bowls to gongs and drums. Attendees can either take a seated meditation position or might be asked to lie down on yoga mats with eye pillows covering their eyes to maximize the impact of sonic meditation. The first few minutes of the class involves guided focus on the breath, which is followed by the instructor playing different sounds and frequencies.
On how it works; sound baths use repetitive notes at different frequencies which helps bring your focus away from your thoughts and get maximum benefit from the session.
When you sink into a Sound Bath and guide your awareness to your listening, you allow your brain waves to slow, shifting from a more active state to a more relaxed state, or even a dreamlike state. – Sara Auster, Sound Therapist
The practices are based on the belief that sounds and vibrations can directly influence your health and well-being. As a matter of fact, It is believed that during illness or disease, there is a reduction in the frequency of the cell vibration. Accordingly, when your body is exposed to healing sounds, “the sound vibration helps to raise the frequency of your body which brings health and spiritual enhancement.”
Image taken from Sound Therapist Sara Auster’s website
When done regularly, sound baths have several benefits including but not limited to:
- Helps to release stress and anxiety, which is backed by scientific studies
- Decreases blood pressure and balances nervous system
- Improves focus and enter a deep meditative state
- Helps balancing your chakra and recharges you
- Helps you reset your mind and reconnect with yourself
Sound bathing is one of the most natural forms of healing; it brings a sense of relaxation and, as it gives you something to focus on, it makes it easier to clear the thoughts. You don’t need to have any prior meditation experience, just bring an open mind and let the instructor guide you through the session.