Like many people during the pandemic, I’ve looked to alternative healing methods as a way to cope in these uncertain times — and among the most effective was sound baths.
When we were children, my father, a Kabalistic healer, would always play soothing sounds during long car trips as a way of calming down me and my sister. Did it work? Yes, but we were too young to appreciate or understand the beauty of what we were listening to. Looking back, these sounds uplifted my spirit and brought me to a heightened state of consciousness where I felt awake and in harmony with nature.
Sound has long since been associated with alleviating physical, emotional and mental anguish. Indigenous Australians began using sound as a healing method more than 40,000 years ago, while the ancient Greeks and Egyptians often used it as a tool to help people overcome illnesses.
Today, we use sound as a way of healing whether that’s through an ‘om’ at the end of a yoga session or in the form of a sound bath — an immersive experience featuring singing bowls, crystal bowls, bells, chimes, gongs, chanting or singing, which can last from 15 minutes up to an hour.
How do sound baths work?
The idea is to bathe participants in waves of sound to balance and unblock the body's energy centres, known as the chakras.
There are seven main chakras in the body. To function at your highest physical and mental level, your chakras need to be open and balanced. If they are blocked or in discordance, you may experience physical or mental pain, depending on where the chakra is located and the parts of your body that are near that chakra.
In a sound bath session, participants are seated or in a restorative lying down savasana pose. First, guided meditation clears the mind and gets everyone centred. Next, sounds from the instruments are played in various frequencies to awaken and align whichever chakra is out of balance. These vibrations can shift emotional, physical and mental energies.
The best way to know which chakras are blocked is to test them out. Below is a guide to the seven chakras and what type of sound bath is best for that area. The chakra that feels the most sensitive is the place that should be worked on the most.
1. The base chakra
The base chakra is located at the bottom of the tailbone and it’s where we ground ourselves. So, if you’ve been feeling a bit off balance and out of touch with yourself, this is the chakra to work on. The instruments that are best for this chakra are gongs.
2. The sacral chakra
The sacral chakra is located three inches below the belly button and is said to be the “life force” of the body. It is associated with our reproductive system, sensuality and creativity. Sound bowls are the best instrument to awaken this part of the body.
3. The navel chakra
The navel chakra, or solar plexus chakra, is located above the belly button. It is the area that gives us the power to master our lives. Drums are great for restoring this chakra.
4. The heart chakra
The heart chakra is located close to or on the heart, usually in the centre of the chest. It is related to our emotions and ability to connect with others. The instrument that is best for this chakra is chimes.
5. The throat chakra
The throat chakra is located at the base of the neck and is connected with our ability to speak truths, hear and listen. It is the communication centre. The instrument that is best for this chakra is the tuning fork.
6. The third-eye chakra
The third-eye chakra is located between the eyebrows, above the nose. It relates to our psychic and mental energies. The sounds that are best for this chakra are bells.
7. The crown chakra
The crown chakra is located at the base of the head and relates to your connection with your higher self. The sound that is best for this chakra is chanting in ‘om’.
How to create your own sound bath at home
While most sound baths are led by a practitioner in large groups, you can create your own at home. Here’s how:
1. Lie down with your head on a pillow or sit in a comfortable position with a blanket under your tailbone to relax the body.
2. Close your eyes.
3. Take a few deep breaths to calm and centre yourself. Inhale. Exhale. Repeat.
4. Take your chosen instrument, tap it with its accompanying wand and listen to the sounds radiating around the room. Let the sounds awaken and invigorate your body. Feel the energy soaring through your chakras.
5. When you are finished making music, take a deep breath in and out. Then, slowly open your eyes.
6. Lie or sit in the same position. Let the cleansing and healing vibes take over your body. You may feel tired, which is normal considering that a lot of energy was released and mended through this holistic activity.
7. Be aware of yourself. Feel how your body has shifted. Make a mental note of all the small changes within.
8. Gently move around, knowing the difference that the sound bath has made in your consciousness.