What is a sound bath? Everything you need to know about this meditation technique

A beginner-friendly meditation technique to relieve anxiety and de-stress.

Harper's Bazaar India

Do you feel like life is passing you by while you hustle at max capacity with no end in sight? If you’re nodding along, you agree that adulting is not everything it is made out to be. It’s exhausting; all the more because we live in a world that moves at a breakneck speed. More than half of our energy goes into playing catch-up. And there is no escaping it. However, this doesn’t mean you can’t zone out from all the noise and chaos sometimes. Don’t fret if you don’t have time for an indulgent 10-day spacation; you can take a break by immersing yourself in some meditation. And here's a technique you should try if you want to get out of your head—sound bath. 

If you like to listen to music to unwind, a sound bath may be what your wellness routine needs. Not only is it a brilliant way to de-stress and calm your nerves, but it is also very beginner-friendly. If you’ve always wanted to embark on a meditation journey, a sound bath is a good place to start. 

What is a sound bath and how does it work? 

The use of music to heal is not a new practice. These techniques have been used for thousands of years across civilisations. Essentially, a sound bath is a meditation technique that uses soothing sound waves, healing vibrations or sounds of nature to guide you into complete relaxation. It’s an immersive experience that aims at reducing stress, regulating sleep patterns, and helps give your creativity a boost. In 2016, integrative health research psychologist Tamara Goldsby studied the effects of singing bowls on human health. This study found that people who frequently attended singing-bowl meditations reported a reduction in physical pain symptoms as well as a decrease in anxiety, tension, and negative feelings. It makes sense, right? We all have an anti-anxiety playlist which is played on loop every few days.  

The sounds used in a sound bath can either be pre-recorded or an instructor will play instruments like Tibetan singing bowls, chimes, gongs, crystal singing bowls, bells, drums, cymbals, and rain sticks to transport you into a world of tranquillity. You could also have other meditation techniques such as guided imagery, deep breathing, and visualisation incorporated for a more wholesome session. 

How does it work? When you listen to these sounds, you enter a state called the alpha brain wave activity. These alpha waves induce feelings of calmness and enhance your ability to focus and absorb new information. But that’s not it. During your sound bath session, beta waves, which are generally associated with conscious and logical thinking, are minimised. This means you are less aware of external stimuli (and the little nagging voice in your head is silenced for some time) and can easily slip into a state of relaxation and let the calm wash over you. 

Benefits of a sound bath

Reduces stress and relieves anxiety   

The instruments used in a sound bath produce frequencies that presumably help to break down all the stress and anxiety build-up in our body and mind by moving our nervous system from the fight-or-flight response state that sometimes becomes our default setting.   

Increased focus and concentration   

A sound bath floods our minds with soothing sound waves that sweep away the clutter of incessant thoughts and stressors. Not to mention, the alpha waves, that we spoke about earlier, are said to boost focus and concentration to help you enhance productivity.  

Better sleep quality   

If you’re suffering from insomnia or are having trouble falling asleep, a sound bath promotes deep relaxation and silences all the voices in your head that prevent you from getting some good quality shut-eye.  

We should mention that this is an aid, not a cure. So, if your problem persists over a while, please consult a medical professional. 

Cathartic experience  

This meditation technique creates a safe space for you to express and release the feelings you generally keep bottled up. Frequently indulging in sound baths can help you heal past traumas and deal with grief. That is the magic of these soothing waves. 

Are there any negative effects of sound baths? 

While sound baths are generally safe and very calming, there are a few potential negative effects, based on the person and their sensitivities. For instance, if you’re sensitive to sound, then a sound bath can push you into overstimulation and can cause some disorientation. However, if you don’t have this issue, this meditation technique is worth a try! 

Feature image: Representative image // Unsplash 

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