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The Benefits of Sound Baths
As is the case with many self-care trends like yoga and meditation, what’s old is new again. The latest relaxation practice with ancient roots to make waves in modern times is sound baths. Celebs from Charlize Theron to Laurence Fishburne say they help promote relaxation and reduce stress. Kendall Jenner, who’s been public about her struggles with anxiety and sleep paralysis, also swears by the practice’s healing powers and has even started creating her own sound baths and sharing them on Instagram.
While you can create a sound bath experience at home, most practitioners “bathe” at in-person sessions with “sounders” — those who create the soundscape. These sessions typically last 45–60 minutes. The idea behind the sonic experience is that bathers sit or lay in a relaxing position while gently focusing on the sounds they are immersed in. Sounders commonly use singing bowls, chimes, gongs, and other instruments to create a meditative and relaxing vibe.
In fact, sounders say the vibrations of some instruments facilitate relaxation by literally changing the brainwaves. Health practitioners put it differently, saying that the practice promotes a parasympathetic autonomic nervous system response, aka a stress reduction response. Either way, the practice is a nice alternative to standard sitting meditation, which often focuses on the breath and can be difficult, especially for new practitioners.
While there hasn’t been a lot of medical research done to test the efficacy of the practice, it is becoming a more widely used supplemental treatment for stress, anxiety, addiction, and post-traumatic stress disorder. If you get the chance to experience one yourself, try to approach it with an open mind and open ears. You just might be surprised.