Picture this relaxing scene: You are feeling an overall sense of calm, seated in a quiet area that’s either dimly lit or one that has soft, natural lighting. Your eyes are closed. Your breathing is deep and even. And floating through the air all around you is the soft, vibrating hum of music, which takes your sense of serenity even deeper. Welcome to the concept of sound baths, an increasingly popular way to reduce mental and physical feelings of stress. We’ll explain how it works, the health benefits of sound baths, and even how to create a sound bath space at home.
What are sound baths? Sound baths are created when people set aside a certain time and place to reflect on a particular sound. This light sound might be from a traditional wind or percussion instrument, or it might be created by items like singing bowls, rain sticks, wind chimes or other instruments. A sound bath experience means that someone is deliberately surrounding themselves with a specific type of sound, then focusing on that sound in the same way someone would meditate, or practice mindfulness. Some examples of sound bath instruments include:
Solo or as a group. Sound baths can be guided experiences, similar to a yoga class during which an instructor leads you through the time and makes suggestions that help you keep your focus. They can also be solo experiences in which you either are creating the sound yourself, or letting a video or app run that creates the sound bath music for you.
You can choose to sit, recline or lay on the floor while you experience the sounds. The space for your sound bath can be lit by candles or can be in a sunny area – whatever ambiance makes you the most calm and open to concentrating on the sounds.
Benefits of sound baths. Research is limited so far, but there is evidence that suggests sound baths can have both mental and physical benefits for participants. These include:
- Fewer feelings of anxiety
- Lower level of the body’s fight-or-flight response
How to create a sound bath at home. Each person will approach solo sound bath sessions a bit differently, depending on if they are creating their own sounds or playing them from a video or one of the many sound bath apps. Beginners should plan to set aside 10 to 20 minutes for their first few sessions, until they find the session length that seems right for them.
Other tips for a relaxing sound bath experience:
- Set aside a time and place for the sound bath
- Silence your phone. Shut off the TV and other distractions
- Select the lighting level that feels best
- Sit, recline or find a comfortable position
- Do a minute of deep breathing to calm your mind
- Select an intention or something positive to focus on
- Focus on the sound, paying attention to how it rises and falls
- Continue the deep breathing as the sound continues
- Strive to reach a meditative or contemplative state