The first time I participated in and experienced a sound bath I was in my mid-thirties, just out of a long period of self neglect, a failed marriage and confronting all the perils of single motherhood. I was stressed and depleted and seeking new ways and tools that would help me manage my anxiety and restlessness. At the time I was attending classes at a yoga studio where I also taught as a Pilates teacher. I had no idea what a sound bath was and I had just started learning about the nervous system and nervous system calibration.
There’s nothing new about the mind-body practice of sound baths. Tibetans have been using these instruments, considered sonic frequency technologies, for more than 2,000 years. There has been renewed interest in the practice in recent years and it has quickly grown in popularity. Researchers have found that sound waves affect the human nervous system and decrease blood pressure more than traditional meditation.
There is also new research on the benefits of binaural beats, which is when two tones at slightly different frequencies are played in unison. These sounds have been found to reduce anxiety levels, as well as enhance mood states. Tibetan singing bowls emit transcendental tones at different frequencies and are used to encourage mindful meditation and relaxation. In a sound bath there could be up to 40 bowls-a collection of metal and crystal vessels that generate different tones and frequencies that can be felt at a visceral level, resulting in an altered mental state. There are no physical fitness, flexibility or strength requirements and it’s something that can be equally enjoyed by anyone.
My first experience with sound bath was transcendental. I remember sinking into exquisite sounds and vibrations that I had never experienced before. I also felt elated and shifted after just an hour long session.
How to Experience a Sound Bath
Have a clear intention of why you are there and keep it at the forefront of your mind. Is it to let go of the stress of the week or experience a clarity around something that has been nagging you? Remember to bring yourself back to that intention if you feel your mind starting to stray.
You’ll want to arrive to the Sound Bath early to choose your spot and to get comfortable with the space. Wear comfortable clothing or clothing you can relax and move in, if necessary. It’s also a good idea to arrive all hydrated since sound travels better through water. Steer clear of alcohol and do not eat a large meal beforehand or you may end up falling asleep.
After the Sound Bath you may feel dreamy or relaxed. Take the time you need to “come out” of the experience. It can be a good idea to keep screens turned off and organizing a stress free commute. Everyone’s experience will be uniquely different. Finding a practitioner and environment (if it’s open to others) that you are inspired by feels supportive may take time but it will be well worth it.
Marlene Amado is the Founder and Director at Reform Pilates. She believes in the power of consciousness and mindful meditation practices as well as practices that support and enhance the mind/body connection. To sign up for our Winter Solstice Sound Bath please email email@example.com .