In this practice, sound and vibration provide a magic carpet for mindfulness.
Worry not: This latest mindfulness trend has nothing to do with taking your iPhone into the bathtub. Rather, a sound bath is a voluptuous chorus of gongs, crystal bowls and seven-metal Tibetan singing bowls that, when played by a trained practitioner, can induce an almost trancelike state.
According to Jamie Bechtold, owner of The Soundbath Center in Eagle Rock, California, a sound bath is a “journey of self discovery, relaxation and peace.” To experience it, you lie down, either alone, with a guide or in a group, close your eyes and relax while the mesmerizing sounds and vibrations of ancient Eastern instruments wash over you—much like the soothing water of a warm bath. You’ll want to stay present, listen to the sounds and be aware of what you are feeling.
“People may feel some emotions. They may see colors or pictures, as sometimes happens during meditation,” says Jamie, who has been performing sound baths since 2005. Afterward, many clients have told her they feel relaxed but with a new sense of mental clarity. The research seems to concur: One National Institutes of Health study found that participants who added Himalayan singing bowls (used in many sound baths) to their meditation practice were more relaxed than those who didn’t.
Once an esoteric practice, sound baths have become increasingly popular in the past two years and you can now find them in almost every major city in America. Some practitioners operate out of their homes or small studio spaces, while others work as part of a full-service yoga or meditation studio. A quick online search can help you find the best option.
Whether sound baths—like yoga and meditation—will cross over to become Western wellness staples is difficult to say. Jamie believes it has the staying power: “Sound, music…those are things people relate to.”
Read more: The Benefits of Compassion Meditation
Read More: 6 Steps to Mindfulness Meditation
Listen to our podcast: Mindfulness Is Pure Awareness, With Jon Kabat-Zinn
Emily Wise Miller is the web editor for Live Happy.