BY MARIAH SECREST
You won’t need a towel for this kind of bath, but it will cleanse a part of your body you may not often think about bathing—your brain.
Sound Bath experiences are a form of sound healing, hailing from ancient times as a powerful physical and energetic healing modality. One of the most famous users of sound healing was the mathematician Pythagoras (as in the Pythagorean Theorem, if you can remember back to geometry class). Pythagoras, who is also famous for his pioneering work in sacred geometry, discovered synergies between the relationships of things occurring in nature—from shapes to numbers to notes of a scale. His discoveries, along with those of many seekers since, led to an understanding that the vibrations of sound interplay with the vibration of our brain waves and can be used to alter brain activity.
So what do these mysterious yet scientifically proven discoveries mean for you in the 21st century? That’s the exciting part.
During a typical Sound Bath experience, you would typically lie down in a comfortable setting inside the studio—either on a yoga mat covered with blankets, or suspended inside an aerial hammock. Because you’ll be lying down the whole time and no movement is required, either street clothes or yoga clothes can be worn.
Once you have come into an awareness of your breath through an opening meditation or guided relaxation exercise, your sound healer will begin to play a non-rhythmic series of notes utilizing various tone-inducing tools such as crystal bowls, gongs, and chimes.
As you expose yourself to these artfully applied sound vibrations, your brain automatically slips into a more relaxed state.
Specifically, your brain’s usual beta waves (the at which frequency the brain functions while alert—from scrolling Instagram to navigating social interactions to solving a problem at work) will slip into alpha wavelengths (i.e. a relaxed state of consciousness), or possibly even a more dreamlike theta state.
Christine Nun, CIVANA Associate Program Director and Sound Bath instructor, describes the importance of the sounds being non-rhythmic and therefore unpredictable (which distinguishes sound healing from music). “Because there are no repetitive tonal patterns for the mind to follow, eventually the brain gives up trying and surrenders into a passive state,” she explains. That passive state, especially in this day and age, is where all the good stuff happens.
This is when what many Eastern practices refer to as your subtle body kicks in to work its healing magic, identifying vibrational energy patterns that are stuck in the body and liberating that stuck energy back into the life force of the body.
Western medicine also supports this idea, from the perspective that evening out the “fight or flight” setting of your central nervous system with the often-neglected “rest and digest” mode optimizes your body’s natural healing abilities –abilities that otherwise get turned off during constant stress and stimulation.
So how can you tell if Sound Bath is a good idea for you compared with other relaxation techniques?
If you have a hard time meditating, Sound Bath can be an excellent alternative. Because the physicality of the sounds serve as a pattern interrupter to your thoughts, you may find that coming into a calm mind takes less discipline than it does in silent meditation.
It’s almost as if every time your mind starts to wander, a gentle alarm sounds to distract those thoughts—reminding you to pull your focus inward and just be.
People have also been known to report improvements in migraine headaches, insomnia, and other physical ailments after experiencing even a single Sound Bath session.
If you have a hard time relaxing or quieting your thoughts, give Sound Bath a try and experience the soothing effects on your mind and body.
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