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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!
Welcome to my regular cadence of blog posts where we talk about—you guessed it—stress. This past year, we’ve been talking about it A LOT. If that’s not the understatement of the century, then I don’t know what is. Oh, and ICYMI April was Stress Awareness Month—and even though that month is over that doesn’t mean our “awareness” of the stress in our lives just magically disappears. Ask me how I know. In fact, I was stressed even thinking of a title for this piece. STRESS IS REAL PEOPLE.
With 67% of adults reporting their stress levels have skyrocketed over this past year, odds are you’ve probably been plagued by this unfortunate feeling quite a bit. In fact, it’s been so overwhelmingly apparent that stress plays a big role in most of our day-to-day lives that it was a major component of the 2021 Mindbody Wellness Index. This year, the survey set out to understand who has been affected the most by surveying the 50 most populous cities in the US.
If you see your city on this list, please know that you are not alone and there are many ways to combat stress—like chilling out in a yoga class, venting in your journal, and leaning on your bestie for advice. Heck—we even have a guide to help you learn how to keep your chill.
So, without further ado, here are the most stressed-out cities in the US according to our Mindbody Wellness Index.
I hate to break it to you, Oaklanders—but you topped our list as the most-stressed city in the US. But you all aren’t just succumbing to pressure—you also said you’re making a solid effort to get your health and wellness back on track. Out of all the cities on this list, you had the highest number of people who used meditation as a stress reducer during the pandemic (30%).
Now that we’re starting to get back to some form of normalcy, might I suggest taking a stroll around your neighborhood and appreciating the sizable gnome population as an instant mood-booster?
Coming in at number two is Minneapolis. Unfortunately, 61% of you reported feeling an abundance of stress during the pandemic. However, like Oakland, you’re also making some serious strides to decrease your stress by leaning into your fitness routines. How are you doing this? By focusing on weight and strength training, partaking in cardio, and practicing yoga.
Minneapolis—if you’re ever feeling stressed, just remember that your city is home to one of the greatest musicians of all time—Prince. So go ahead and “Party Like it’s 1999” whenever you’re feeling a bit overwhelmed.
Next up is Oklahoma City. While you experience a great deal of stress, you’re also making some serious moves to increase happiness and wellness with 63% of you exercising once a week or more. However, you also had the smallest percentage of folks putting more focus on health and wellness throughout the past year.
Here’s a fun fact that may just put a smile on your face—Oklahoma City recently adopted the nickname “The Big Friendly.”
El Paso does sit pretty high up on this list in the number four spot. Y’all may want to pay special attention to catching some z’s each night since you had the highest percentage of folks lacking in the sleep department—which is a major contributor to stress. On top of that, you also said you feel the least connected to their community among the 50 cities surveyed.
There’s nothing that a giant dose of Vitamin D can’t fix (at least that’s what my doctor says)—so get outside and enjoy the 302 days of sunshine that your city has to offer!
Ahhh the City of Angels. According to our survey, you came in as the fifth most-stressed city. But in true LA fashion you are using healthy coping mechanisms to regain a peaceful state of mind—almost 80% of you exercise once a week or more. Also, literally like none of you smoke which can also help you find balance.
There are a lot of fun facts about your city, but I decided to hit with a funny fact instead. Did you know that Charlie Sheen once bought 2,615 outfield seats at Angels Stadium so he could catch a home run ball? And guess what—he walked out empty-handed.
Unlike LA, Tulsa has the most smokers out of all the cities on this list. You also don’t make exercise a top priority with your city ranking third to last in exercising consistently and second to last in getting a good night’s sleep.
Mmmbop...sorry for getting that song stuck in your head for the rest of the day—but we have your city to thank for the Hanson brothers. Also, does anybody else think they are the Russian Dolls on this season of The Masked Singer, or is that just me?
To say your city has been through a lot over the years would be an understatement. This year, we also learned you were in the bottom ten for having close relationships with family and friends—which isn’t surprising given the fact that we were all forced to shelter-in-place for the majority of the year. Hopefully, as fitness studios and wellness businesses start to welcome more and more people back, the stress you are all experiencing will quickly dissipate.
With vaccines becoming more available to the general public, happy hours are a thing again! Get together with some of your friends and (responsibly) enjoy some iconic drinks your city has to offer.
Though your city made this list for experiencing high stress, you also topped the list for several wellness practices. In fact, 86% of you say you get a good workout sesh in once a week or more. On top of that, you were quick to take advantage of virtual fitness classes, with 75% of you saying you regularly work out from home. You are also the number one city to receive massages, partake in strength training group classes, aerobics, and dance fitness classes.
I think we can all agree that any demonstration of girl power is something to be happy about. Did you know that your city is the only major US city to be founded by a woman? It’s true—Miami officially became a city in 1896 after local businesswoman Julia Tuttle encouraged one railroad mogul to expand into the area.
Seventy-one percent of you turned to health and wellness when the pandemic made our daily routines come to a screeching halt. You stepped up by taking advantage of health and life coaching the most out of any other city and you also came in second for using meditation to de-stress during the pandemic.
Hi—it’s me again here to hit you with not one but TWO funny facts about Atlanta. Did you know that it was once illegal to put an ice cream cone in your back pocket? Oh, and it’s also illegal to tie a giraffe to a telephone pole. Umm what.
Denver—you may have made this list, but you’re straight up flexing to help combat stress. In fact, you top the list when it comes to incorporating weight and strength training into your workout routines. On top of that, 20% of you are also tapping into a blissful state of mind by practicing yoga regularly.
As Matthew McConaughey once cleverly said, the "man who invented the hamburger was smart," but the "man who invented the cheeseburger was a genius." Well, Denver, that genius just happens to be from your city. Louis Ballast began selling them in 1935 at the Humpty Dumpty Drive-In.
If your city made this list, don’t...stress? There are a number of classes available to you on the Mindbody app that are designed to help you keep calm and carry on. Or, if you want to take your at-home routine to the next level, you can get your daily dose of virtual chill pills by booking classes through Mindbody Flex.