“Sound has long been associated with alleviating physical, emotional and mental anguish,” explains astrologer Lisa Stardust. “Indigenous Australians began using sound as a healing method more than 40,000 years ago, while the ancient Greeks and Egyptians often used it as a tool to help people overcome illnesses. Today, we use sound as a way of healing whether that’s through an ‘om’ at the end of a yoga session or in the form of a sound bath—an immersive experience featuring singing bowls, crystal bowls, bells, chimes, gongs, chanting or singing, which can last from 15 minutes up to an hour.”
How do sound baths work?
From gong meditation, Ocean drums that mimic the sound of waves lapping the shore to sound baths using Tibetan singing bowls and Alchemy Crystal Singing bowls, the power of sound healing is a mix of science, metaphysics, and music therapy.
Sound baths help realign, re-tune and raise the body’s vibrational frequency with different pitches and tones. Each participant is encouraged to find a restorative pose, often lying down in savasana or corpse pose, for those familiar with yoga. An instrument is then played in the space, with melodies or tones washing over the body. It is these vibrating sound waves which help to bring the body’s emotional, physical and mental energies into alignment, according to practitioners.
“First, guided meditation clears the mind and gets everyone centred,” explains Stardust. “Next, sounds from the instruments are played in various frequencies to awaken and align whichever chakra is out of balance.”
“The average human body is made up of 70 per cent water, and water is a good conductor of sound. Thus sound healing can affect our body down to the cellular level,” say Sarleia-Betty and Yantara Jiro, founders of Sound Universe International.
“While sound healing may seem ‘woo woo’ to some, it is backed by the research published in many scientific studies of its beneficial physiological and psychological effects,” shares Sarleia-Betty. “Just as music can affect a person to feel sentimental, happy, energised or relaxed, the neutral and pure tones of Alchemy Crystal Bowls can guide a person into a deep state of introspection” and calm.
“Singing bowls use sound in acoustic and or digital form to restore a person’s wellbeing at all levels, such as physical, emotional, mental and spiritual,” says Sarleia-Betty. Beyond the chic array of hues that make Alchemy Crystal singing bowls oh so #Instagrammable, the objects themselves are made from “99.992 per cent pure silica quartz infused with precious crystals, gemstones, minerals and metal such as rose, platinum, moldavite, amethyst and more,” say Sarleia-Betty and Jiro. To believers, the crystal singing bowls’ high purity and patented production methods mean “purer and more sustainable harmonic overtones.”
How can sound baths and sound healing benefit us?
Perhaps you use a white noise machine to fall asleep. Or love streaming playlists that best echo your moods: from high energy tracks for workouts to chill beats that help you zone into work or study. Sound healing takes it a step further by encouraging participants to breathe and actively engage in the mindful act of pausing for a sound bath, bringing all of one’s awareness to the present moment.
Sound healing activates the parasympathetic nervous system, also known as the rest and digest system, that affects us physiologically and emotionally. Research has linked the power of music therapy to a number of health benefits: from boosting the health of premature babies to lowering stress, boosting immune function, as well as regulating mood and arousal. A study in 2016 has shown the benefits of singing bowl and sound meditation to be beneficial for blood pressure, heart rate, and physical pain on a physiological level. It also revealed the healing benefits of sound on an emotional and psychological level, helping to reduce tension, anxiety and depression.
“Sound captures our attention, affects and shifts our brain waves from an active beta state to a more relaxed, calm alpha and theta brainwaves,” says Sarleia-Betty. “In an alpha state, our mind is more relaxed.” Additionally, this form of mindfulness practice helps engage our awareness in the present moment, “enhancing creativity.”
“Generally, a low clean tone that can be any note on the third octave and below on a piano can help a person relax,” says Sarleia-Betty. “More importantly, we find that having a clear intention or purpose while playing the singing bowl is effective because the player’s thoughts and emotions can be carried forward to the listeners. This is similar to a musician who strives to move the audience through its performance, a group coherence is established.”
What can you expect to experience in a sound healing session?
“The session is a meditative experience where the participant is ‘bathed’ in restorative sound waves produced by healing instruments, like Alchemy Crystal Singing Bowls. People may experience different physical sensations or mental shifts such as falling asleep into deep relaxation, tearing up in emotional release or even creative realisations,” says Sarleia-Betty on those ‘Aha’ moments. “Generally, most people feel a state of calm, even though everything in their external world remains the same.”
Sound baths and singing bowl meditation specifically can be enjoyed both in private classes as well as group sessions, and often looks like a good nap on a yoga mat as you soak in the sounds played for you.
How do you get the most out of a sound bath session?
It begins with going with an open mind and setting your intention for the practice. Are you here to release stuck emotions, ease stress or are you after a sense of wellbeing overall? Ask yourself what you’ve come to gain or undo. Then allow your mind and body to relax into the present moment, letting go of your To Do lists while observing your thoughts as if they were like passing clouds.
“The more receptive you are, the more you will resonate with the frequencies and the greater benefits you shall receive,” says Sarleia-Betty.
How to create your own sound bath at home
“While most sound baths are led by a practitioner in large groups, you can create your own at home,” says Stardust, who shares her tips here:
- Lie down with your head on a pillow or sit in a comfortable position with a blanket under your tailbone to relax the body.
- Close your eyes.
- Take a few deep breaths to calm and centre yourself. Inhale. Exhale. Repeat.
- Take your chosen instrument, tap it with its accompanying wand and listen to the sounds radiating around the room. Let the sounds awaken and invigorate your body. Feel the energy soaring through your chakras.
- When you are finished making music, take a deep breath in and out. Then, slowly open your eyes.
- Lie or sit in the same position. Let the cleansing and healing vibes take over your body. You may feel tired, which is normal considering that a lot of energy was released and mended through this holistic activity.
- Be aware of yourself. Feel how your body has shifted. Make a mental note of all the small changes within.
- Gently move around, knowing the difference that the sound bath has made in your consciousness.