The soothing sounds of gongs, crystal bowls and tuning fork scan help your mind and body. Sarah Gane dives in.
Sound has tremendous significance and potential in our lives: we first experience it is as a baby in the womb, listening to the comforting rhythm of our mother’s heartbeat and the general hubbub of the outside world. This connection is continued throughout our lives, with our association with certain voices, noises and music triggering powerful emotional responses.
“Sound [can] lift our moods, excite, stimulate or annoy… it affects an emotional response in our body,” confirms Toni Dicks, wellness expert and co-founder of Sound Sebastien (soundsebastien.com). “The goal of sound therapy is to reduce stress and pain, promote relaxation, develop selfawareness and creativity and improve learning,” she adds.
What was once maybe considered a bit of a new-age activity, has now become mainstream with more sessions on offer than ever before. Sound baths have really increased in popularity recently and it’s easy to see why: they are an accessible, meditative and fully immersive experience that leaves you feeling relaxed and restored. “People are more aware of the importance to switch off once in a while – and sound healing is one of those great methods for that. We all suffer from the stresses of living in big, busy cities and leading busy lives,” explains Yulia Kovaleva, co-founder of drop-in meditation studio, Re:mind (remindstudio.com).
She continues: “Sound healing meditations are ideal for someone who is feeling very stressed and tired… It’s a very effortless way to meditate, for someone who has struggled with seated quiet meditation, as thoughts tend to f low easier during sound meditations.”
If you’ve never experienced anything like a sound bath before, it’s essentially a really relaxing experience that requires very little from you. Whether you opt to listen to gongs, crystal singing bowls, tuning forks, drums – each offer their own sounds and benefits. Simply lie down on a yoga mat, get really comfy with cushions and blankets, then just let the sounds wash over you. “Sound baths require almost no participation by the guest except that of completely surrendering and enjoying the experience,” says Sound Sebastien’s Toni.
While the most common feelings in a sound bath include that of relaxation, you may also be lucky enough to experience other health benefits. Scania Price is a Gong Sound Therapist and Psychotherapeutic Counsellor (iamscania.com): “Gong therapy is a natural, non-invasive drug-free therapy that omits extremely low frequency ( ELF) acoustically, which permeates the body and has been reported to create a natural painrelief process.”
She continues: “Clients do not have to do anything, just lay down or sit and absorb the soothing ELF acoustic waves… when the gongs play together they entrain, creating a third sound – our brains are aware of this third sound even if we cannot hear it. Our body cells take this in and
it can be felt as vibration: pulsed rhythm. [ Research by] Sharry Edwards, under laboratory conditions [showed] that an ELF of 10Hz has the effect of lowering blood pressure… we can speculate with [feedback] coming from gong clients that other ELFS no doubt have similar physical results for pain relief and affect on body and brain.”
Tuning forks are also said to offer health benefits, as Teri Bebb, Global Spa Support at Lush (uk.lush.com/spa) explains: “We use three different types of tuning forks around the body… C and G tuning forks are known as the body tuners. When the C and the G are struck at the same they create a third note. We believe this resonates within the body… helping balance the nervous system and boost our immune system.”
The Sound Sebastien team, meanwhile, work with a selection of beautiful crystal quartz singing bowls. “Each one is unique and made up of a blend of crushed quartz and rare gemstones, precious metals and minerals,” explains co-founder and wellness expert Jasmine Hemsley. “These alchemy gemstone bowls represent for us a very grounded, yin energy – the feminine energy – a wonderful balance to the very much yang energy of our day-today lives,” she tells us. “The sounds from the bowls are so pure, and since each bowl is unique, so too are the sounds – with different notes benefitting different chakras and different combinations having varying affects on the vitality of our systems, organs and energy.”
Over 80 different blends of crystal singing bowls exist, containing everything from rose quartz, shungite, tiger’s eye through to ruby and platinum. Each features its own unique blend of notes and benefits. “Not only do they offer the properties of each crystal, gemstone or mineral,” adds Genevra Jolie, UK Crystal Tones specialist (crystal- singing-bowls.co.uk), “the healing is amplified by the quartz and the sound vibration itself. This energy moves throughout the entire body, aura and into the space at an accelerated speed. The sound of the crystal travels through water so fast [that] it is the most powerful way for the body, mind and spirit to receive the benefits of the crystal.”
The power and potential of the crystal singing bowls is also demonstrated in the sessions. “Toni’s background is very much based around understanding how homeostasis ( balance) can be achieved in the body via the platform of the blood,” explains Jasmine. “The introduction to the session starts with a guided meditation not only to relax and settle the guest but also to help describe what is happening to the water in the body as the bowls are played.”
“The plasma in the blood is made up of 90% water and the total body around 75% water,” explains Toni. “So when the bowls are played it creates a movement in the water as the cells start to vibrate. This can be shown by placing water inside a singing bowl and playing it. The water begins to vibrate and consequently bubble as the vibrations intensify. This allows people to see what is happening internally in the body.”
What’s great about sound baths is that whatever medium you choose, you’re guaranteed to have an experience that is unique to you. “We’re all different,” confirms Toni. “So each experience with sound healing will differ depending on the person’s feelings and the surroundings, and each new session will bring a new experience. However, the most common reports following a sound bath are: deep relaxation, no awareness of time and space, peace of mind, improvement of physical injuries, release of old traumas, rejuvenation and joy.”
So whether you choose to attend a session near you or create your own experience at home, sound therapy offers an opportunity to push the ‘pause’ button and take a bit of time out for yourself. “It’s not just important – it is necessary, Re:mind’s co-founder Carla Von Anhalt tells us, “Everyone needs time to recharge…”