Though many people have only recently heard of sound baths, the use of music for healing is nothing new. From Tibetan singing bowls to Aboriginal didgeridoos, music has been used for its therapeutic effects for thousands of years. The ancient Greeks used sound vibration to aid in digestion, treat mental disturbance, and induce sleep, and even Aristotle's De Anima detailed how flute music could purify the soul.
Gong meditation is a unique type of sound practice that involves using therapeutic gong sounds and vibrations to bring about healing. This practice is also sometimes referred to as a “gong bath” because participants are “bathed” in meditation gong sound waves. The goal of “gong meditation” is usually therapeutic, whereas mindfulness meditation has many therapeutic benefits, but its deeper goal is awareness and non-judgmental appreciation of the present moment.
Sound therapy has long been used to manage a broad range of health conditions. The treatments are based on the understanding that all forms of matter – including our body’s cells – vibrate at different frequencies. Factors such as stress, depression and disease cause cells and organs within our bodies to vibrate at non-optimal frequencies.
“The gong is very simple. It is an inter-vibratory system. It is the sound of Creativity itself. One who plays the gong plays the Universe. The gong is not an ordinary thing to play. Out of it came all music, all sounds, and all words. The sound of the gong is the nucleus of the Word. The gong is not a musical instrument, nor a drum. The gong is a beautiful reinforced vibration. It is like a multitude of strings, as if you played with a million strings. The gong is the only tool with which you can produce this combination of space vibrations.”
Essentially, a sound bath is a meditation class that aims to guide you into a deep meditative state while you're enveloped in ambient sound played by instructors, or sound therapists.
Sound baths are like a combination of restorative yoga, meditation, and sacred sound concert. The goal of a sound bath isn't to listen and pay attention but rather to let the sound wash over you. Like a bath, all you have to do is just lie back and absorb. Let the sound transport you.
Some of the supposed benefits of sound healing include:
Karen Barbarick-Collins is a Certified Ayurvedic Technician and Wellness Coach as well as a Registered Yoga Alliance Teacher. She is the founder of Bending Blade Healing Arts.