Sound Healing? Sound Therapy? Sound Meditation? Sound Bath? I’m confused! Which is it? What is it?
In general, all of these terms are correct and used interchangeably! The modality is often referred to as sound healing or sound therapy, and sessions are often referred to as sound baths or sound meditations. Being bathed with soothing, healing sounds gives the feeling of relaxation, whereas meditation with these same sounds can aid focus or help to shift brainwave states with your meditation practice. At Eugene Yoga, we call it Sound Meditation, but it is also a group sound bath!
I describe sound healing as the conscious application of sound or vibration for the purpose of healing the physical and subtle – mental, emotional and spiritual – bodies. One of my teachers, Jonathan Goldman, used this equation, which I love and reference often: Frequency + Intention = Healing. In this case, frequency is referring to sound or vibration. Sounds and vibrations are created with a variety of various instruments, as well as the human body and voice. Typical instruments used in sound healing are crystal singing bowls, Tibetan metal singing bowls, chimes, gongs, bells, shakers, flutes, drums, didgeridoos, guitar, harmonium, drones, piano, sitar, and the list goes on. Basically, any instrument can be used for the purpose of healing, if healing is the intention of the practitioner.
Working with a practitioner in a group versus individually, offers benefits to both types of experiences. In a group setting, a group of individuals come together and personal intentions are amplified by the collective experience. Individual sessions allow the participant to receive all sound/vibration orchestrated specifically to address their unique needs. Both have merit, and I have personally had profound experiences in both settings with practitioners well-versed in holding a sacred space.
What might you experience in sound meditation?
Everyone’s experience with sound is very unique, and also unpredictable. How you respond to an instrument or sound in one session can be completely different from one sound bath to another. I encourage participants to let go of expectations and just be with the sounds, allowing them to wash over their bodies. Each experience is different, because we are different each and every day on a vibrational and cellular level. Some examples of reported experiences include journeying, seeing vibrant colors, melting physical pain, remembering fond memories, sleeping, and revealing areas that are being called forth to be healed.
Sound is profound and has the ability to unlock things from our subconscious mind. This is a blessing, as anything coming “up” is ready to be healed and/or released. It may not feel like it in the moment, but when we can allow ourselves to feel the pain or emotion attached to a thought, memory or past experience, we are actually activating a healing response. We have the opportunity to allow it, feel/see it, and consciously release it from our energetic field. If this occurs, I encourage you to relax and focus on your breath which will help the release.
Why sound healing?
Research into the benefits of sound healing is well-documented both in spiritual and scientific contexts. The benefits I witness, and are reported to me include: reducing stress, calming the nervous system, balancing brainwave activity, promoting deep states of relaxation, enhancing creativity, cleansing energetic subtle fields, inducing a sense of peace and calm, improving mood, shifting energy, gaining clarity, experiencing bliss, and inducing restorative, regenerative sleep afterwards. Could you benefit from just a few of these? Me, too!
“One study published in the Journal of Evidence-Based Integrative Medicine found that an hourlong sound meditation helped people reduce tension, anger, fatigue, anxiety, and depression while increasing a sense of spiritual well-being. The sound meditation used a range of Tibetan singing bowls, crystal singing bowls, gongs, Tingshas (tiny cymbals), dorges (bells), didgeridoos, and other small bells. The main instrument used was the singing bowls for 95% of the session. People who had never done sound meditation experienced significantly less tension and anxiety afterward, as well as those who had done it before.” (The Healing Power of Sound as Meditation by Marlynn Wei, M.D., 2019, para. 6, PsychologyToday.com)
How to prepare for sound meditation?
Dress comfortably and be prepared to sit or lie down for an hour. Bring any items for your personal comfort – a pillow, your special blanket or shawl, your own eye pillow if you prefer. Some people like to bring a special crystal, stone, or talisman along for the journey. To maximize your experience, I encourage participants to set an intention for their session, and I suggest avoiding alcohol and recreational substances at least 24 hours in advance.
After sound healing, then what?
Drink lots of water! Just as with any body work, the sound and vibration of the instruments stirs up energy. Even after the session, energy will still be moving. Drinking water or going for a walk helps the energy keep moving out of your physical body and energetic field. Rest well! Most people report getting a great nights sleep after a sound bath.
Sound healing is a multi-dimensional experience, and one that I have had the honor and pleasure of facilitating for over 10 years. We are now in our 4th year of monthly sound meditation experiences at Eugene Yoga. If you’ve never tried it out, you are invited to come and explore sound at our monthly gathering. Pre-registration is a good idea to ensure your space. I look forward to connecting with you!
By Amy Green, Energy Alchemy Vibrational Healing Arts ©2020 www.energyalchemy.org