You may have seen me chatting on Instastories or posting events on Facebook about sound baths in the last few months. What’s it all about? I went to my first sound bath in Woodstock, New York in September last year. It’s a town made famous by the big hippie festival in the 60s and its held on to it’s slow paced, laid back way of life since then. It’s a haven for anyone into the alternative healing world, littered with yoga studios, wellness centres and healing therapists of every modality imaginable. I was there for a week and attended a kundalini yoga class, a therapeutic bodywork session and two sound baths. Always healing and curious about alternative techniques, I wanted to maximise my exposure to methods I hadn’t tried before. And I wasn’t disappointed. The sound bath blew my mind. I had a one to one with a sound healing practitioner who had a huge collection of bowls, gongs, shakers, rain makers and jingle bells… she dinged, tapped and shook them all around me. Within minutes, I was having an outer body experience. My physical body was in the room but my mind was in the heavens, the underworld, parallel universes… it was a truly incredible experience that I wish I had documented at the time. I gained some important insights into my health and the path I was on, I was in touch with my intuition and it created calm and focus in me. I was hooked on sound healing immediately. I wanted to feel that way again. The next day, I went to a group sound bath and brought my sister and sister-in-law with me. I had to let them know how amazing it was. This time, the healing and the experience was incredible although not as intense as the one to one. Understandable when you think a group of 40+ will have a different experience to a tailored personal one to one session. Nevertheless, the experience was powerful and sound baths were the first thing I researched when I returned home to Ireland. I found one in Athlone, an hour’s drive from me. I had a lovely experience there but I found the drive home difficult after as it was a wet winter’s night and I’m not sure I had returned completely to my body. I wondered if there was one closer to home, and if not, could I organise one?
I put a call out on Facebook and someone tagged Andy. He is a musician, singer and sound healing practitioner. He has used sound as a healing mechanism since the mid 2000’s and studied to become a practitioner and tutor in the UK College of Sound Healing. He performs at sound baths all over the country and together, we have been running a monthly sound bath in Strokestown since October last year. Numbers have been growing steadily as word of mouth spreads from attendees and in January, the venue was almost at capacity. So what the hell is a sound bath and why are they so popular?
Are you ready for the woo woo bit? OK here goes. Everything in the universe is made up of waves of energy or vibrations. Every organ and every cell in the body vibrates at a certain frequency. And when sound vibrations are picked up by the body, the cells and organs resonate with that sound causing it to become aligned, expel toxins, lower blood pressure, reduce anxiety, let energy flow better resulting in relaxation, stress reduction and better sleep. The soundwaves from gongs and bowls allow the body to go to the theta level of consciousness which is the level at which deep meditation happens. There are various brainwaves which control the state of our consciousness. We live our daily lives in a beta state or a conscious state. Awake basically. Delta state is when we sleep. Alpha is a relaxed state like in light meditation and Theta is a deeply relaxed state and hard to get to if you’re not practiced in meditation. Luckily, sound can get you there with very little effort. You just have to give in and go with it. It helps quiet the mind and take you away from whatever your reality is for the time you’re there.
Now to the practical bit… there are no baths or water involved! The sound healing practitioner sets up the space with gongs, singing bowls, chimes, bells and a whole lot more. Attendees bring a mat, blanket and pillow and set up their own little space and get comfortable and ready to relax. And then the magic happens… waves of sound wash over the room… attendees have reported deep relaxation, feeling of being on another planet, sleep, hallucinating, feeling of being out of their body, feeling of having had a spa treatment… it’s a beautiful experience and the effects can last for days.
Who is it for? Anyone who likes to relax but finds it hard to switch off, anyone who would like to meditate but doesn’t know how, anyone who enjoys self-care, anyone who doesn’t practice it enough, anyone who has a busy life or a busy house and needs some me time… men, women, teens, elders… there are benefits for all. Sound healing has been a very welcome addition to my own healing practices and honestly, I would go every week if I could! I love the feeling of zen it gives me and everyone should experience it. Once you’ve had your first sound bath, you’ll want to go again! The more you go, the more you are able to let go and get into a deeper state of relaxation. Try it for yourself!