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Have you ever experienced a sound bath? It’s not what it sounds like—there is no water involved! Sound Baths take you on an acoustic journey that uses vibrations and frequencies tuned specifically to help the mind and body relax. It’s a practice in presence, listening, being, and allowing, much like meditation. Certain sounds activate our body’s natural healing systems, regulate our body’s processes, and get us to brain states that give us all the benefits traditional meditation can—the better sleep, mood, focus, clarity, energy, and much more.
If you have found meditation to be useful in trying times, right now is an incredible time to also try virtual sound baths to receive the deep sound healing benefits. As many of us are processing a variety of emotions as a collective—stress, worry, fear, anxiety, uncertainty—we can start to cause long term damage to our bodies, especially to our immune and nervous systems. Giving ourselves self-care in a way that is easy, non-intrusive, and simple, can be the perfect way to help your body restore.
This experience can be deeply healing, emotional, peaceful, centering, spiritual, and yes, you may fall asleep! There is no “normal” experience, and each time is different. It’s common to feel heat energy move through the body, feel tingling, hot or cold, feel and see colors, and get messages through beautiful visuals. It can be described as a deeply spiritual experience.
Sound is the most ancient form of healing—think of the use of voice dating back to ancient times. Throughout every known culture, we’ve used some form of sound to express joy, grief, anger, and love. It is the most primal form of expression that connects our body, mind, and soul. It is the same way singing and music has the ability to evoke emotions, memories, and connection; we seek it to find comfort, solace, and energize.
Often in times of high stress our body goes through a physiological strain, where essentially our heart and muscles are working harder than they need to, constricting our breathing, lessening the healing functions of our nervous system, and overtaxing our adrenal system. This over-activation puts you in a constant “flight or flight” mode. Research has shown that sound vibrations and frequencies send signals to our body and brain that slow down our stress response. Our bodies are in a constant state of deciding if it is in danger and tends to overwork itself, and when we send a signal that basically says, “Hey, you are okay”, it takes us out of the flight and fight mode and into a state of relaxation.
Sound vibrations and frequencies also help slow down some of our automatic functions and get us to a restoration state. In rest, we’re able to optimize our body, both produce and absorb important feel good hormones, and relax. Sound, music, and frequency therapies all utilize deep knowledge of brain waves, neurological pathways, emotional healing, energy, and pain processing in the practices. Experiencing a sound bath helps bring back the body and brain’s vibrations to an equilibrium state. For an active mind, the sounds bring the mind to rest; for a slower mind, the sounds awaken. When a balance is reached, we get something known as “the dream state.” In this space, it feels like that spot in between being asleep and awake—in between consciousness and in harmony.
The beautiful art of sound alchemy is practiced by healers, therapists, doctors, musicians, and more. Practitioners curate an experience that weaves together the art of the entrainment journey of a sound bath—which has a beginning, middle, and an end.
The instruments used in a sound bath are carefully selected; crystal bowls, chimes, and other instruments will emit a different frequency and vibration depending on what it is made of. For example, alchemy bowls use beautiful mineral compositions, and based on a specific composition, will have a unique electromagnetic transference than another bowl that is of another combination and size. Gongs have measurable frequencies that also talk to different parts of the body. Music research shows certain notes and combinations activate different parts of the body. The beauty of sound alchemy is that the possibilities are endless!
There are several ways to experience a virtual sound bath. Here are a few recommendations on how to prepare and participate.
1. Set the mood. Much like meditation, find a comfortable place you can be for the duration of the sound bath. Cozy suggestions include blankets, pillows, jammies, kitties, puppies, dimmed lights, candles, and aromatherapy.
2. It’s a great idea to turn off distractions, silence your phones, and place your devices where you can be hands-free to experience the sound bath.
3. Use headphones. The nuances of the frequencies travel better virtually through headphones or external speakers. You’ll also be able to control the volume to your liking.
4. Come with an open mind and heart. Each experience is different. Allow yourself to be present and give yourself permission to surrender. If thoughts and emotions come up, they’re a part of it. Let them come and let them flow through. Like in yoga, this is a practice. Be nice to yourself.
5. Post care: Drinks lots of water and ground yourself before you do anything else. A cup of hot tea, a nice bath, or journaling are a few favorite integrations.
6. Share with a friend and family!
1. Find a sound bath with a learned practitioner. There are many intricacies of frequencies, brain states, and music that sound artists curate with an immense level of mindfulness and care. Experiencing a beautifully curated sound bath with an incredible practitioner will make a difference.
2. Experience a sound bath that is streaming with great sound quality. Due to the nuances of how sounds travel through a lot of online platforms, you want to make sure you’re receiving the same frequencies that are being sent to you with a practitioner who has set up their online streaming with care.
3. Find sound baths that are at least 10 minutes or longer. Quick experiences are great, but to get a full feel of the sound bath, aim to attend something between 30 minutes to 1 hour in length.
4. Try a few different styles of sound baths! Each has a unique feel and flavor; experiment with what instruments resonate with you.
5. And of course, when you can, experience a sound bath in person!
Ah, 2020—the year that truly put our sanity to the test. On top of that, something that most people use to navigate through a tough time has essentially been stripped away from us—our normal workout routines. I don’t know about you, but even skipping a week at the gym can send me into a tailspin. But several months of sheltering in place and being forced to adapt to this new normal?
That’s a different story.
While I think we can all say we’re grateful that fitness studios were quick to offer virtual classes when COVID-19 hit—there is something about constantly working out by ourselves that may trigger some of us to hit pause on our workout routines and start turning towards less robust habits. *Reluctantly raises hand*
The other day I came across a stat that really set off some alarms. According to a recent study, Americans are spending an additional two hours each day on their couch since March 2020. As of recently, I can say I’m totally guilty of a little too much R&R. While an evening of Netflix and wine once sounded like heaven on earth for most of us, I think it’s safe to say the repetition of this is starting to get kind of old. Also, Schitt’s Creek is over now, so I really don’t have any excuse to not dedicate my free time to jumping back into my at-home workouts.
I started pondering what made dial back my fitness routine in the first place? Was it a lack of motivation? No, not really. Screen fatigue? I think my Netflix history outlined above would tell you that’s a solid ‘no.’ Then it hit me—the thing that motivated me to stay on top of my fitness goals was being around other people with the same goals. Pre-COVID, going to my favorite spin studio and the local yoga hot spot was how I typically spent my social hour during the workweek. I realized the best way to amp up my at-home workout routine was to re-connect with my workout buddies and start doing virtual classes together to create that sense of community I craved.
If you’re also experiencing some form of live stream lull when it comes to your workouts, then getting a virtual workout buddy may be exactly what you need. Here’s why:
Just like in-person workouts, making plans to sweat it out with one of your friends motivates you to show up and be your best self. According to the Mindbody Wellness Index, 25% of the folks we surveyed said they found it difficult to hold themselves accountable to their workout goals on their own—and an additional 20% of people said a lack of support was responsible for missed workouts.
Everybody enjoys a little friendly competition, right? Maybe you have a friend who is a powerhouse at virtual HIIT—try signing up for a class with them to help you take your workout to a whole new level.
Getting a workout sesh in with a friend is the perfect time to try a new exercise such as virtual yoga or virtual barre. Trying something new can be scary—I get it. But by trying a new type of exercise with a friend, you can both give each other a confidence boost by acting as each other’s personal hype man.
Look, we’re all craving human interaction these days—and I know I’m not the only one who is missing weekly happy hours with friends. Luckily, fitness studios are getting creative with their virtual offerings post-workout, too! When we asked members of our MindbodyOne Community how they are keeping things interesting for their students in the virtual space, they said they are hosting monthly virtual wine dates to share fitness stories and personal victories. Not only do you get to drink wine, but you and your buddy get to meet other like-minded people at the same time.
As 2020 winds down (thank goodness), you have a unique opportunity to reconnect with your friends and take your workout sessions to the next level with a virtual workout buddy. So, why not start now? Book a virtual fitness class and encourage your friends to show up for you and themselves today.