Updated: Dec 20, 2018
Sound baths are going mainstream. Last week, the Today show featured one, and they are the most popular classes at every meditation studio. Some call them "meditation for lazy people." But they are so much more than that.
If you are one of the few who are unfamiliar with the concept of a sound bath, or reluctant to try it, this article is for you. I encourage you to step into the world of sound and experience what all the fuss is about.
Basically, you come to a sound bath class at a meditation or yoga studio because you want to relax and de-stress. And who doesn't want that?
The instructor leads the group on a journey -- usually 45 minutes, perhaps an hour -- using sound waves produced by various instruments that might include crystal bowls, metal bowls, chimes, rain sticks, drums, bells, and so on. Some of them are traditional instruments from other cultures. Some are new inventions. The sound waves (otherwise known as vibrations) wash through the mind and body at a deep, cellular level -- thus, the name, sound bath -- interacting with the nervous system and helping you to let go and relax in a way that even meditation, mindfulness, or yoga sometimes can’t achieve.
Here are 10 reasons why you should seek out high-quality sound baths and make them a regular part of your life in 2019:
1. UNIVERSALITY. Sound baths are universally accessible to anyone, regardless of age, fitness level, or previous experience with meditation. We all process through our bodies the stories of our lives. At one time or another, we all face stress, illness, pain, or other challenges. Sound classes are accessible to anyone who can take the time to show up. Absolutely everyone is welcome to join a sound class as long as they can walk-into the studio by themselves and they can comfortably lie on their back or be seated for 45 minutes.
2. COMFORT. When you think of meditation, or even yoga, you probably picture someone sitting on the floor in lotus posture. That's not in the cards for most of us. One of the great things about sound classes is how comfortable they are, which encourages you to go deeper into relaxation. You lie on cushions, cover yourself with blankets, perhaps use a prop to support your neck, maybe something to cover your eyes and dim the lighting even more. By and large, there are no meditation police in a sound class. You relax and enjoy the experience however you want to receive it.
3. EFFORTLESSNESS. One of the greatest things about sound classes is that you don’t have to do anything to get the benefits of the practice. You don’t have to concentrate your mind on an object or chase a carrot to unlock the next level of experience. The benefits of sound therapy start working from the first chord or note you hear. There's no physical activity involved. Quite the opposite. Your heart rate and breathing will slow down, and your mind will slow down. You don't have to drag yourself to the gym and put yourself through a workout. There is no effort involved in receiving the gift of vibrational waves. You will feel energized and yet relaxed in a way that requires no effort.
4. LASTING EFFECTS. After reading my social media posts about the benefits of sound, a close friend decided to give it a try. Her days, like mine, are spent in constant conversation with others, so at the end of the day she tends to feel depleted. She came to one of my sound classes and immediately became a regular. Not long ago, she came to and mentioned how during a particular sound session she was able to let go of some deeply buried struggles within herself, so much so that the benefits of that particular session lingered with her for days. Even to the point that her colleagues at work, in her stressful job, were surprised at how relaxed she was, meeting all the deadlines in such a graceful way.
5. SLEEP. So many people I know have trouble sleeping. So many people I know (including a few Ayurvedic masters) use pharmaceutical sleep medications. Another reason why you should consider sound classes is because they can help tremendously in improving the quality of your sleep in a natural way. Even if you already sleep well, sound classes can help you wind down into the closing part of your day.
6. STRESS / ANXIETY / DEPRESSION / TRAUMA. It's difficult to put all these words under the same umbrella. But they are all connected. Stress can easily spill into anxiety, depression and many other mental states that we don’t like to talk about openly. As someone who has experienced all of these things, I can testify that sound has been a very important tool in my path to recovery. Sound has a way of penetrating the deeper layers within ourselves and helping to shift energy around in order to find greater equilibrium. In sound classes I've had breakthroughs, aha moments, and released tension in specific areas of my body that needed attention. I'm not recommending sound as a primary form of treatment for severe depression, anxiety or trauma (PTSD), but I would certainly recommend it as part of a regimen of mental health and well being.
7. CONNECTION. I believe that anything that allows you to spend an hour with yourself and not in front of a digital screen should be treasured. I discover in teaching sound classes, but also in taking sound classes, that at the end of class, people feel more open, more relaxed. In the studio where I teach sound, Innergy Meditation, we always have a few minutes at the end of the practice for anyone who would like to share their experiences or their questions. I’ve seen a community of mindful and curious students coming together and friendships being formed. The healing properties of sound bring forward those innate qualities within ourselves of opening up in a natural way and connecting to others. Without phones. Amazing, right?
8. GRIEF. After my mom’s passing, too many emotions were bottled up inside me. Talking to loved ones or therapists didn’t cut it. There was so much emotional turbulence that I couldn’t navigate it with words. Sound for me was revolutionary because it didn’t require me to think. It didn’t take effort. It offered a completely different path to healing. One that entered through a different sense door, and yet seamlessly helped to put the house in order. I am not saying that sound classes will heal your pain. But maybe you are able to see and feel things without being overwhelmed by them. And maybe, in time, in conjunction with other resources, it helps you create the framework that is necessary to move through the pain into the life on the other side.
9. TAKES YOU OUT OF YOUR HEAD. My days go by in a flurry of meetings, phone calls, classes, projects, emails, social media, and more. One of the things that resonates so much for me with sound classes is their ability to take me out of my thinking, rational mind, the part of my brain that I use most of the time. I'm able to access other, less rational parts of my mind where I am not hijacked by thoughts and to do lists. Sound classes unlock my creativity, and they help my productivity because I can go back to my tasks feeling less overwhelmed.
10. MAKES YOU A BETTER PERSON. The net effect of you learning to relax ripples out into every area of your life. Maybe you stop lashing at people. You stop barking at your loved ones. You experience more silence within yourself. Your pauses are longer. Your answers are more thoughtfully composed. Often I've found myself dealing with delicate matters or conversations and I think to myself...let me take a sound class and then I will make a decision.
We live in difficult times. We increasingly expect our minds and nervous systems to process information in the same way that our computers and phones do. It gives me hope to see sound classes starting to go mainstream because sound reminds us that we are humans and we deserve to feel nurtured, safe and relaxed.
I hope you give it a try.
Adrian Molina has been teaching yoga continuously since 2004. He is a well-known and respected instructor in Miami and New York, with an extensive worldwide following through his platform and school of yoga, Warrior Flow. Adrian and his husband Dennis reside in Miami and frequently lead workshops and international retreats in NYC and around the world. Adrian is also a writer, massage therapist, Reiki healer, meditation teacher, sound therapist, and a Kriya yoga practitioner in the lineage of Paramahansa Yogananda. Adrian is recognized for the community-building work he does in Miami and beyond.