Everything You Need to Know About Sound Baths

The latest trend in health and wellness is to heal through your ears.
Sound bath session by Forest Kind.
You’ve probably heard the term “sound bath” but might not know what they involve. No, they’re not just another gimmick being offered by would-be healers. They’re an ancient practice that has been used for thousands of years to treat addiction, anxiety, depression, insomnia, migraines, trauma, and even cancer (in conjunction with other treatments).
The healing science of sound baths is based on the fact that everything has its own vibrational frequency. When you feel unwell, it’s because you’re “out of tune,” so to speak. Sound baths get your energy field back in harmony, resulting in a rebalancing of energy and an increase in relaxation. Sound baths are like a cleanse for your cells, and the best part is, you don’t have to work to receive their benefits. All you have to do is breathe and listen.
Here’s everything you need to know about sound baths. You decide if they’re worth a try.
There’s no water involved.
Don’t worry. You don’t have to wear a swimsuit and you won’t get wet during a sound bath. What you will need for sure: a yoga mat. You may also want a pillow, a blanket, an eye mask, or a bolster. Some studios provide these items, but if you’re sensitive to the smell or feel of other people’s stuff, plan to bring your own mat and accessories.
Sound baths are like a combination of restorative yoga, meditation, and sacred sound concert. The goal of a sound bath isn’t to listen and pay attention but rather to let the sound wash over you. Like a bath, all you have to do is just lie back and absorb. Let the sound transport you.
There’s no single way to do a sound bath.
A sound bath facilitator may use a variety of tools to get you into that blissful sonic space. Some use a collection of gongs or metal singing bowls. Other instruments, like drums, tuning forks, a recorder, or chimes, may also be used to transport you to your peaceful place. Some facilitators even use their voices to sing, chant, or harmonize to deepen your sound bath experience.
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One of the more common practices is to run a “striker” around the perimeter of quartz crystal bowls, each of which may be pitched to correspond to one of the seven chakras (or energy centers) in the body. The path of sound will travel from your root chakra (located near your tailbone) to your crown chakra (the “third eye” between your eyebrows). Because each chakra corresponds with a color, the bowls may be dyed in kind.
Some facilitators also use essential oils in their sound baths and others may instruct you to change positions during the session.
Sound baths are offered in group or individual sessions. If you’re uncomfortable lying down, eyes closed, in proximity to strangers, definitely indulge in a private session. The sound can’t do its work if you’re hyper aware of the people on either side of you.
It’s not just your ears that benefit.
Sound baths boast multiple physiological benefits that are supported by science. These include: a slower pulse, a decreased heart rate, lower blood pressure, and deeper breathing, just to name a few. The sound vibrations also help move emotion, allowing you to purge grief, sadness, and anger in addition to physical pain. All together, these calming effects boost your immune system’s functioning, meaning that the benefits continue long after your sound bath session is over.
Detach from the outcome.
There’s no one reaction to a sound bath. During the process, you might feel vibrations, a sense of transcendence, sink into a meditative state, or experience an emotional release. You might cry. You might laugh. You might get irritated. You might fall sleep. Creative insights or solutions to problems might pop into your head during the sound bath. You may see colors or hallucinations. Some people report sensing, or communicating with, the spirit world, the unborn, or the dead. Whatever your experience is, it’s all good. Let your feelings arise and then let them go.
If you know it’s hard for you to meditate or stay still, try doing a short yoga practice before your session so your body is more willing to surrender. (Often the studio will be open prior to the sound bath start time; take advantage!) And if you decide during the sound bath that this is just not for you, stay until the end of the session anyway so you don’t disrupt fellow bathers.
Ease out of your sound bath.
You wouldn’t emerge from a steamy bubble bath and jump into an ice-cold pool. The same logic applies to sound baths. Make sure you don’t schedule something stressful, like a job interview or a trip to the DMV, immediately after your sound bath. Ideally, you can just go home, enjoy some solitude, and have a quiet meal before drifting off into one of the best sleeps you’l