Sound Bath - the new wellness trend - is it really good?
I have recently experienced my first sound bath session at a new meditation studio in Auckland. Before the session, I have very limited information about what is this new trend of wellness. In fact, I didn't even know it is actually a new trend. I came in the studio being so ready to experience. And as a meditation teacher myself, I have been practicing to allow myself to experience and accept whatever comes during a session. I have to say it was an interesting and mixed feeling experience indeed.
I was curious to know more about sound bath so I started to do some more researches. Interestingly, it is a very new trend of wellness. Coming from Southeast Asia originally, I am very familiar with how sound of singing bowl, chime, chanting,... being used in meditation. But many articles say this is a new trend, and it has been blooming everywhere. People seem to love this new trend. Think about it, traditional meditation might not be very attractive to many people, especially the ones with very active brains. They found it super hard to just sit still and " do nothing". Then, this type of meditation would make it a lot more appealing and "exciting" to the majority of people. And they also can sleep during the session. How wonderful! So I thought I would bring my partner there. He never really meditate apart from doing some little meditation sessions by the end of our regular ashtanga practices. I thought he would enjoy it as he loves music as well. Importantly, I tried not to expect anything and just to focused on my own experience but I couldn't help it. And it turned out he didn't feel very comfortable with the hard floor and found hard to relax. That is normal for a lot of people and also myself sometimes. Learning to relax is actually not as easy as we thought. I still have that problem when I am functioning in such a high level of energy and it takes me a while to calm my nerves and to relax. Back to the subject, after the session, I also talked to couples of people about their experiences. Everyone has slightly different experiences and all depending on how open they are to the idea of sound healing and meditating. There might not be an immediate result or affect that we can see right after the session rather than feeling good or calm. For me, what interested me was to experience how my body reacted to the sound. For example when the sound is a bit louder, I feel my body temperature raise very quickly and significantly. And by being so present in my body, I find it is a great mindfulness practice though I am not sure if changing body temperature so rapidly is good or not.
Here are some explanation from the experts in sound bath (I will put link to the full articles by the end of this post).
“The intention is really to change and help balance the energy of the participants. During a sound bath, you don’t want to hook into a melody. You don’t want to repeat things because you don’t want the brain to recognize a repeated beat. Instead, you want participants to release, and you want the brain to let go,” explains Tamalyn Miller, the lead sound practitioner at Naturopathica Chelsea in NYC.
“The general intention of a sound bath is to create a state of harmony in the listener by using sound to clear discordance from the participants' energy fields. Among the benefits are relaxation, an increased sense of wellbeing, expanded awareness, and access to inner visionary experience,” says Seth Misterka, co-founder of the Crystal Sound Bath in Los Angeles.
Image: Sound Bowls
Sound bath is claimed to be very beneficial for our body and our brain. But what the science actually says about it right now? As we all know, science hasn't been able to catch up with many things regarding to spiritual topic, especially natural healing or energy healing. Though understanding what they have found is very helpful in the way of understanding more about the world we are living in. At lease I found it is important for me to understand the world around me better. There are quite a lot of stories on how sound bath or sound healing helps people with their anxiety or anger. That is great to hear. Though there are also negative effects of sound bath, and singing bowls. I also notice I don't dislike it but my ears are quite sensitive to loud sound and the fact that the body temperature changes so rapidly without any movements is not something I after for now. It was great that I got to experience though. I enjoyed being able to experience something different and get to know myself a little more. Apparently, the evidence for sound healing is still limited, and it is only proven that calming music and meditation has great benefits on us, which we already knew.
So who would be beneficial to sound bath?
Interestingly, a significant numbers of singing bowls suppliers (shops that sell them) themselves mention about who should avoid them. So if you do have some health conditions, it is good to be aware of all these effects.
"You should also avoid singing bowls if you have other clinical disorders such as polyneuropathy or hemiparesis. It may be necessary to also avoid sound therapy with singing bowls if you are currently being medicated for severe depression or anxiety. While singing bowls may help with mild cases of depression, anxiety, and PTSD, it is important to receive permission from your doctor, psychiatrist, or therapist before going forward with sound therapy." shanti bowl
And we all know that meditation has a long list of benefits for the brain, mind and body, but a lot of people struggle with the practice and have a hard time reaching a deeper, restful state. Music just helps them get there. Even just normal calming music has a great effect on changing our mood and vibrations. More extreme type of music with loud sound, lower pitch or higher pitch like sound bath is eventually making the change more rapidly and dramatically. Though we think it should be totally safe as it is just music and sound, it still might not be suitable for some people.
And the question for those who is more into a simple meditation practice is that do we need to go to this extreme to get the benefits where a 5-10 minutes of meditation can just provide us? If something like sound bath is not for you, you know that there are different types of meditation that are there for you to try and to get great benefits out of.
And the opposite for the people who are struggle with meditation, sound bath is something more exciting and seems "easier" to do. You show up to the studio and allow yourself to experience. Beautiful!
What sound bath is:
Negative effects and who shouldn't do sound bath: