What soap and water (and a stunning claw foot tub) can do for our physical well being, a sound bath can do for our mental and spiritual well being.
Tal Rabinowitz, founder of DEN Meditation — and proud mama of a freshly opened new studio location in LA — is sharing her ultimate guide to getting the most out of a sound bath experience. Whether you’re a total newbie or just didn’t get that into it the first time, these tips and insights will get you into a receptive state of mind — and then maybe somewhere even sweeter…
As the world of spirituality is slowly creeping its way into the mainstream, sound baths are definitely trending these days. But what are they? A simple way to describe a sound bath would be like going to a musical concert that you get to lie down for with crystal bowls, gongs or other earthly instruments. At the very least, it can be a completely passive experience where you just listen to the sounds and relax (some people fall asleep), or you can enter a deeper state of meditation while being bathed by the healing vibration (hence the name sound bath!). This healing session is good for you physically and emotionally, helping to cure chronic pain and lessen anxiety, stress and depression. And as a bonus, it can spark creativity. Most people leave a sound bath feeling very relaxed, rebalanced and some are ready to roll into bed and take a nap!
If you have never been to a sound bath here are some little tips to think about:
Each experience is different. There are different practitioners, different types of sound baths and different instruments… so each experience will be different — try a few. If one doesn’t resonate with you, don’t assume you will dislike them all. Also, even if you kept going to the same sound bath, each time will be unique to you. One of our DEN practitioners, Pamela Robins, likes to point out, “You may fall asleep in one session, yet in another session you may have realizations about an issue you are having. You could feel complete bliss or you could be very aware of your body and sensations that you are feeling.” Be aware that it will be different for you each time, but usually you experience exactly what you need to experience.
Wear comfortable clothing. Some spaces provide all the cushions and blankets, but always ask if you need to bring stuff as you want to be comfortable! You will probably be lying there for 1-3 hours, depending on how long your sound bath is. When your body enters a meditative state, its temperature does drop, so it is always good to have layers, to comfortable and warm.
It may be crowded. Be prepared to be lying near someone you don’t know. Your feet may be inches from someone else’s. Piece of advice: Close your eyes, let this experience become your own and know that the energy of others actually does help strengthen the experience.
Position yourself comfortably You will be in this position for a while, so do what works for you. If you need your knees up, do it that way. If you like to be on your side, do it that way. If sitting is ultimately better for you, that’s okay too. The more comfortable you are, the better your experience will be, so cozy on up!
Louder than you think You think, “Crystal bowl, how loud can this be?” There are times you feel like you are right next to a speaker and then you realize the bowl that is being played is on the other side of the room. It can be a lot louder than expected, which makes the physical vibrations more intense. You will “feel” the sounds. Ultimately, you want to feel the vibrations, so this is a good, thing, but it can be a bit surprising for people.
Snoring warning It happens, some people fall asleep, and it could be you. If it is you, remember, that may be exactly what you need. Your body is probably very tired and needs the break. If it’s not you and you hear snoring and it is making you want to get up and scream in the middle of this serene and peaceful event, try and concentrate on the sounds of the instruments, and remember that the snorer probably really needs the rest.
Can be intense but be open For some people, this can be a very intense time: They are not used to being still with their thoughts for an extended amount of time and that can be a bit overwhelming. So be open to anything that may come up for you. If you are anxious, just label it anxiety and pay attention to the fact that you struggle in this state. This alone is a huge revelation for you and something to work with. Try and concentrate on breathing or listening to the different sounds to give yourself something “to do.” Also, you may all of a sudden feel like crying and don’t know why. You may also feel like laughing. That’s okay too and all part of the experience. Let these emotions happen. These are all good releases.
The more active you are in this passive activity, the better One of our practitioners at The DEN, Susan Paul, would say, “I want you to feel. I’m not here to just create sound for you, it’s a place for you to connect with mind, body and soul and to understand that you yourself are a frequency like the sound. Tap into your feeling; where does it resonate for you and what does it bring up? Are you feeling it in the ears? In your hip? What emotions are coming up for you?” Basically, if you are comfortable with working with what comes up for you, you can get a lot more than a power nap out of this experience.
Take a moment before you leave You can feel a bit light headed, tired or loopy after a sound bath. Take a moment, have some tea and relax before you get behind that wheel and drive home!
Pee before the sound bath! This may be the most important. You will be there and if you can have one less distraction for yourself and those around you, it will just make the experience so much better.
Types of sound baths: Just like there are different bands and performers for concerts, the same goes for sound baths. There are different types of sound baths and methods of sound healing. Each experience is different depending on your teacher and also their choice of instruments. Some teachers these days combine a lot of the below and add many other instruments including chimes, voice and different types of drums… but at the core, this is how we can explain it simplistically. Try them all; you don’t know how you respond until you try!
Chakra bowls – These are quartz bowls that work with the chakra system. So each bowl is carved to specifically create notes and vibrations that correspond to a certain energy center of your body. It’s a gentle way to introduce the body to each frequency. In simple speak, these are frequencies your body is already comfortable with. Good for beginners!
Tibetan bowls & gongs (metals) – Like the chakra bowls, they work a specific note, however because they are metals they can be a bit harsher, but in a good way. By being a bit harsher, they are great for people who have blocks. Since they do run off our meridian lines like acupuncture, they tap into the meridians of our organ system, really helping people who have resistance in different areas of their body. You will be surprised how relaxing a gong can be!
Sound technology – The instrument used here is usually a synthesizer or vacuum tubes, all programmed at a certain pitch — a lot of times at 432Hz, which is a known healing frequency. This modern technology is performed live and the specific frequencies create the desired effect of the practitioner. This could at times be overwhelming for a beginner as these frequencies do not exist in every day life, so you are being taken to a different level. This is a very fun, trippy and modern experience.
Gem stones – Gem stones, like the manufactured sound above, can also be intense as they can create frequencies that are not part of your every day life. The benefit, however, is that you can be taken to a deep place in your meditation. Also, what is unique here is that each gem has its own healing properties, so depending which gem you are using, the vibrations are specific to that gem. With these bowls, you want a very experienced practitioner who can tune in to people and what they need.