Mental Health

Sound Baths: A Meditative Experience for Combating Stress

Ready to relax? Then it’s time to experience a sound bath. Touted as the best stress reliever, a sound bath has many benefits, and here’s what you need to know about it.

By Aditi
16 Aug 2022

Sound surrounds us every day, all the time. Even in silence, there is sound. Whether you can hear the TV running in the other room or have a playlist playing, there’s no denying the presence of sound all around us. But have you ever stopped to think about the impact of sound on your mind and body?


While sound baths might seem like a trendy concept, sound baths are older than you might think. Sound healing in itself is a concept that has been practised for generations, even in Indian culture. If you’re willing to try out something new to feel less stressed and happier, trying a sound bath is a perfect idea. Here is what you need to know :


What Is A Sound Bath?

A sound bath can be defined as a ‘meditative experience’ in which an individual is gently bathed with sound waves. Just like you can immerse yourself in water during a routine bath, a sound bath immerses you in sound waves. The sound waves are produced using various instruments and even human voices in some cases. The individual experiencing the sound bath is generally in a reclining position.


Many people experience sound baths after a meditation or yoga session as their body is already relaxed after these activities. As trainer Vesna Jacobs puts it, “When it comes to sound healing therapy, it’s an amazing activity. It is deeply meditative and supports healing.” Many sound bathing experiences typically use a variety of instruments as they can give different frequencies and vibrations to provide a holistic healing experience. Depending on whether you are organising a sound bath for yourself at home or going to an expert, you can have varying levels of results. A good ‘immersion’ can even cleanse your soul completely, as claimed by many experts who vouch for it. Vesna uses Tibetan singing bowls during her sound baths during the new moon and full moon. When playing the bowls, it can balance and synchronise the chakras and removes blockages.


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The Origins of Sound Bathing

The increasing interest in wellness and health has led many people to look at their culture and roots to understand ancient practices. Utilising sound for healing and meditative purposes is nothing new, after all. Ancient Greek physicians used musical instruments to treat mental illness and aid sleep. Native Americans utilise a combination of chants and drums to promote healing within their group.


While sound baths might sound relatively new, they trace their roots back to around 2000 years ago. The practice has its roots in Tibet, where sonic frequencies and local instruments were used to achieve a meditative calm.


However, the singing bowls commonly associated with sound baths have no clear origins. They have been used in India, Nepal, and Tibet. You can commonly find them in many South-East Asian countries, including Thailand, Indonesia, Bangladesh, and Vietnam.


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Instruments You Can Use

Since each sound bath is a unique experience, the instruments used will also vary. Some instruments are regularly used to promote healing and calm, while others can be used in individual cases. Commonly used instruments include:

  • Chimes
  • Metal singing bowls
  • Crystal bowls
  • Gongs
  • Tuning forks
  • Drums
  • Harp


However, other instruments besides the ones mentioned above can be used during a sound bath. You might also notice a human voice being used in some sound baths, depending on the practitioner and type of sound bath. The human voice will add through chants and mantras. The instruments together will bring a state of harmony to your mind and body.


While Vesna mainly uses Tibetan singing bowls during her sound baths, she only trusts an expert who has been working with the instrument for more than 15 years. She prefers layering the session with a guided meditation along with the sounds to provide a holistic session.


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How Does Sound Bathing Promote Healing?

If you’re not extremely stressed, nervous, or anxious, you might wonder if you should be going in for a sound bath. However, sound baths aren’t just used to treat emotional distress. A sound bath is highly beneficial for holistic healing as well.


When you’re looking to relax and calm your mind, opting for a sound bath can be the perfect solution. While you might think that the instruments are played without much thought, that’s not the case. Each vibration and frequency is carefully orchestrated to promote a meditative state. The sound frequencies can ‘cleanse’ your body and mind from negative energies, healing you from anything bad that has happened recently. Vesna syncs her sound healing sessions with lunar phases because the moon has an effect on all water bodies on Earth, including humans. Healing becomes more potent for humans during the new moon and full moon, according to Vesna.


A 2017 study by the University of Sussex supports the theory that sounds can impact bodily systems. The study showed that participants with the greatest stress before listening to nature-inspired sounds had the greatest relaxation as well. In another 2011 study published in the International Journal of Yoga, it was shown that continuous chanting of ‘om’ could deactivate brain regions such as the amygdala and thalamus. These regions can influence our emotions, and deactivation of them can lead to feeling happier and more optimistic.


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Benefits of Sound Baths

The main aim of experiencing a sound bath is that it promotes harmony and enables a person to enter a meditative state. Like hypnosis, the person is lulled by the music, and the vibration and frequencies can enable relaxation. People who experience sound baths have an increased sense of well-being and expanded awareness.While not many studies have been conducted about the effect of sound baths on physical healing, many proponents of the practice suggest that it could benefit individuals physically.


A 2016 study published in the Journal of Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine shows that participants who reported high levels of pain before a sound bath perceived their pain to be less afterward.


A 2020 study published in the National Library of Medicine shows that “improvements in distress, positive and negative affect, anxiety, depression, fatigue, tension, anger, and confusion were reported” with the help of singing bowls.


Who Is Sound Bathing For?

While a sound bath can be ideal for anyone, some people should avoid them. Going for a sound bath isn’t the best idea if you’ve recently had a concussion. It would be better to get medical approval if you consider attending one.


The best aspect about sound baths is that they’re open to everyone. Regardless of your fitness level or age, it is something that can be experienced by anyone, unless your doctor recommends against one.


A sound bath is highly recommended for pregnant women, individuals in rehabilitation, those suffering from trauma, and the elderly. While sound baths aren’t dangerous, if you have a lot of emotional distress or pent-up emotions, you might want to consider a private session. A good sound bath can ignite powerful emotions and reactions in people, and is an intensely private and individual experience. If you feel like you’re not ready for personal work just yet, it might be a good idea to not opt for a sound bath.


Organising Sound Baths At Home

When planning to organise a sound bath for yourself or someone else at your home, you need to know the right way to do it. Getting a first-hand experience from a sound bath practitioner would be best, but if that’s not possible, watching videos online can help.


Many yoga practitioners also offer sound bath experiences, but this might be something you need to search extensively for. You can purchase sound healing instruments online and learn from various tutorials available on how to use them. It might be helpful to do it with a friend or instructor at home. Having someone guide you through the experience can make it much more enjoyable and ensure you enjoy all the benefits.


Alternatively, there are many apps and videos available on the Internet today that can give you the full sound bath experience. While they won’t be the same as an in-person experience, it is ideal when you don’t want to waste your resources just to see if it works for you.


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How to Experience a Sound Bath

If you’re looking for a completely immersive experience for your first sound bath experience, it would be better to look for a 1:1 session. When it’s just you and a practitioner, you can have an easier time relaxing and immersing yourself in the sounds.


When you have a specific goal in mind that you want to achieve through your sound bath experience, it can be ideal to talk about it to a practitioner first. If you’re doing it yourself, you can find many guided sound bath videos online to help you relax and make the most of your experience.


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Sound Baths vs Music Therapy – Which One Is Better For You?

Music therapy and sound bathing sound quite similar, but are actually very different from each other. While a sound bath is guided by a professional practitioner or expert, music therapy requires a trained music therapist.


A sound bath requires the use of several instruments and is ideal for managing stress and anxiety. It can help you get into a meditative state. On the other hand, music therapy is a type of therapy that utilises music. It can involve practising the instrument yourself, listening to different types of music, and using music as an outlet. It is meant to help you channel complicated and complex emotions through the medium of music.


Since a traditional sound bath doesn’t require experience or practice, you can get started with it right away. Compared to other meditative practices, it can be easier to get started with a sound bath since your mind will automatically begin relaxing through the vibrations.







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