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Can A Sound Bath Help You Heal?

May 20, 2024

Everyday life can be loud and full of distractions leaving little time for self-reflection. With so much outside noise we sometimes need a place to retreat to discover a state of peace. Ancient practices like sound baths invite people to investigate their inner selves with grace while surrendering to the vast healing vibrations.

But what exactly are sound baths and how can they help you de-stress?

A sound bath is a meditative practice that envelops you in vibrations played through an array of instruments creating a therapeutic space for healing. Holistic healer Italia Woodson was “researching different healing modalities” while in “a job that was stifling and unhealthy” when she found her new career. “During a trip to Bali, I encountered my first immersive sound bath experience. From that moment forward, I felt a calling to share this with the world.” She’s now a practitioner and describes a “sound meditation is an acoustic healing experience that activates that body’s natural healing systems. The frequencies produced by the instruments create the same brain wave pattern that one would experience during deep sleep. In these states of being our body has an opportunity to heal, reset, and restore itself.” This alternative practice can regulate the nervous system, particularly the parasympathetic system, one responsible for inducing a state of calm and relaxation. The parasympathetic nervous system PSNS promotes “rest and digest” as opposed to the sympathetic “fight or flight” that many of us know. The PSNS is closely connected to digestion, breathing, heart rate, and blood pressure. 

Simply put, a sound bath can induce a relaxed state, reduce stress, enhance your mood and aid in emotional well-being. They help improve your immune system, offer muscle relation to support pain relief and improve sleep quality. This passive practice asks listeners to be present to the sensations arising. During a mediation, the effects of a multitude of tones help reduce cortisol levels and activate the diaphragm as the breath naturally becomes deeper. Providing space to heal stress, anxiety, depression, and trauma-related problems. During a sound bath, it’s encouraged to either  sit or lay down while vibrations are layered with instruments like African kalimbas, crystal sound bowls, flutes, chimes, Koshi bells, gongs, rattles, drums, harps, shruti boxes, and rain sticks. This global tapestry of sounds depicts a rich cultural influence as each tool comes with a historical story. Native American drums are grounding and bring an earthy rhythm that can be used to send voyagers into a trance while Tibetan bowls bring a calm

Married Black couple Johanna Verley, a Reiki master and breathwork facilitator, is a sound healer while her husband Charles Richards is a mindset coach and meditation facilitator. “We incorporate elements of ritual and ceremony into our sound healing to pay homage to ancestral practices,” Verley says. “Sound baths operate on principles of sound therapy and the science of vibrational medicine. The human body is composed of cells, tissues, and organs, all of which have their vibrational frequency. When we receive sound vibrations, our body’s cells begin to resonate with these frequencies, leading to a variety of physiological and psychological effects.” Music has been utilized to aid patients suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia to enhance their memory, improve their mood and boost communication. According to Verley “certain frequencies of sound may stimulate the production of neurotransmitters; serotonin and dopamine which are associated with feelings of well-being.” Can you recall a time you were having a bad day and played your favorite tune? The feeling of relief as you heard  a familiar melody. “Different frequencies of sound can influence brainwave activity, leading to shifts in consciousness and altered states of awareness” she adds.

The rise of sound baths 

After co-facilitating a psilocybin mushroom ceremony at a retreat in Jamaica where we guided a shamanic sound bath, I heard a funky single “Hare Jaya Jaya Rama I” by Black artist LARAAJI. The album description read “blissful New Age gospel” illustrating the playfully calming thread of songs incorporating an electric zither. LARAAJI, is a multi-instrumentalist and internationally recognized musician who is a laughter meditation practitioner in NYC. He spent the last 40 years touring around the world offering sound baths blending electric and acoustic instruments to create cosmic soundscapes that he calls “Celestial Vibrations.” Sound healing is becoming more popular as a meditative tool even influencing mainstream artists like Jhene Aiko who played her crystal bowls live during her recent Coachella set. André 3000 released an instrumental flute album titled New Blue Sun which has a song influenced by his transformative journey with ayahuasca and the sounds of the ceremony.

Sound baths support the healing process

“My journey into the world of sound healing as a Black man has been shaped by a deep reverence for cultural traditions, a desire for holistic well-being, and a commitment to self-healing,” Richard says. “Sound baths have played a significant role in my healing journey, offering me a safe space for emotional expression and release. Allowing me to process and heal from past traumas, injustices, and societal pressures that were prevalent in my personal and professional life.” Richard feels that for the Black community, “a sound bath can empower us to reclaim our health, focus on our well-being, and provide us with resilience in the face of systemic challenges and historical traumas.”

Grammy-nominated violinist Jasminfire, aka Jasmin Penelope Charles, is a composer, visual, and performing artist who grew up in a household experiencing “day-to-day violence.” She reluctantly learned the violin to escape the noise of her reality. “My proficiency in music performance ended up being the thing that literally saved my life several times,” Jasminfire recalls. “Around 2016 I tapped into music as a healing modality through Alice Coltrane, and her music touched something inside me that I knew I wanted to take my entire lifetime to explore even deeper.” Coltrane was an original sound mystic known for her healing concerts. In 2017 Jasminfire’s mother passed away while she was on tour with J Cole. She took a break from the industry to search for an egoless space within. Jasminfire “began channeling long improvisations recorded live” that she admits “sounded like nothing I had ever done before.” Encouraging her Youtube channel Firemoon Radio where she showcases meditations to highlight “anger and grief need a space in the healing conversations around sound baths.” She plays globally including in Peru where she guided sound meditations for mushroom ceremonies. Jasminfire advises sound bath newbies to “allow the music, no matter how simple, to do its work inside you.” Try this nourishing escape to find some peace of mind.