One of my worries about being a writer is that I’m just making noise online. Although this may seem like an odd thought—given that what you’re reading on the screen is literally silent—I don’t think I’m alone in equating the information overload of our contemporary lives with a noisy feel. Of course, it doesn’t help that actual noise pollution is a growing health issue. At the end of the day, most of us seek a little quiet, both in the literal and figurative sense.
As we’ve all experienced, however, consciously created sounds (like our favorite yoga playlist) can help facilitate a state of inner quietude. Enter sound bathing. Designed to encourage relaxation and a meditative state, a sound bath features resonant instruments (popular choices include quartz meditation bowls, singing bowls, gongs, biosonic tuning forks, and even drums) played by a sound bath practitioner. (Sometimes chanting is involved, too.) Ideally, practitioners will have a sense of the energy in the room and play their instruments according to what they believe will benefit a particular crowd. The average sound bath session costs around $30 and lasts for an hour or more.
Although forms of sound healing have been around since the ancient Egyptians and Greeks, this particular practice has indefinite yet fairly modern origins—as if it was invented for the generation who just can’t even if their phone dings another time.
Devotees of sound bathing equate it with both meditation and massage, and many even feel that it’s more accessible than traditional meditation since it’s harder to feel like you’re “doing it wrong.” One simply has to let the sounds wash over her.
That’s not to say that there aren’t a few more complex theories behind the effectiveness of sound bathing, however. “When sound frequencies move through a space, we are part of that space, and our bodies resonate with those frequencies,” Sara Auster, a New York–based sound-therapy practitioner told New York Magazine. “Our body has the ability to ‘harmonize’ with different frequencies. In sound therapy, rhythms and frequencies are used to entrain our brainwaves. Entrainment can synchronize our fluctuating brainwaves by providing a pattern or stable frequency to which we can attune, similar to the effects of meditation.”
Meanwhile, some sound bath experts believe that the practice works with both the physical and subtle bodies (the subtle body being the home of our life force) to heal chronic issues like depression, anxiety, and physical pain. For others, sound bathing is simply about letting go and “[getting] people to a subconscious state where they can really release stress,” as sound bath practitioner El Larson told The LA Times.
If there’s one thing sound bath partitioners can agree on, it’s that clients come seeking palpable release from their fast-paced and often hectic lives. For most of us, checking into a sound bath session means checking out—unplugging and feeling grounded and renewed. So whether or not it entrains our brainwaves or speaks to our subtle body, it certainly sounds like a nice way to spend an hour after a long week.
Have you tried sound bathing?
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Photo: Pixabay, Max Pixel