Health benefits

What are sound baths? Experts discuss the practice, health benefits

In a recent interview with Vogue, Adele opened up about her mental health and how she coped with times of anxiety.

“It was a lot of sound baths. It was a lot of meditation. It was a lot of therapy. And that was a lot of time spent alone. she told the magazine.

While meditation and therapy are certainly well known, sound baths or sound healing have recently become more popular, even though the practice has been around for centuries. But what are sound baths? Can someone make one?

Sound baths explained:

“It’s an integrative healing technique that uses vibrational instruments to induce relaxation and potentially other pleasurable feelings,” said Tamara Goldsby, research psychologist in the Department of Family Medicine and Public Health at the University of California. in San Diego. “The most commonly used instruments are called singing bowls and these are either metal or a composite of seven metal alloys or quartz crystal and these produce a very unique type of sound.”

Practitioners can also use gongs, tiny cymbals, or other instruments that create “a very powerful vibration”.

People can experience sound bath during yoga or meditation practice. Some attend sessions devoted solely to sound healing. The practice can last from a few minutes to a few hours. During sound baths, people often lie on a mat in a dimly lit room and listen to the sounds.

The impact of sound baths on stress

Adele is right: sound baths can bring relief. Goldsby has studied them and found that they can help people reduce stress.

“We have found that the sound baths cause the relaxation response and that in the relaxation response the body relaxes, the blood pressure goes down, the heart rate goes down and the body basically goes into a healing mode,” he said. she declared. “It’s a counterpart to the fight-or-flight response. People, when in chronic stress, tend to be in fight-or-flight mode.

Dr Helen Lavretsky said sound healing and music therapy have become more popular because they are easy to do. Sound healing is simply listening to one type of music and does not require people to learn how to do it, such as yoga or meditation.

“It also has a particular effect on the brain because music or sound healing has a special vibration,” the resident professor in the UCLA Department of Psychiatry told TODAY. “It’s just a practice, a very old practice, that can be part of the toolkit that leads to stress reduction.”

Lavretsky conducted a study of caregivers of loved ones with dementia where she had them participate in meditation songs for 11 minutes. While sound baths don’t require participants to do anything other than listen, Lavretsky believes it works the same way. For the study, participants either listened to music for 11 minutes or participated in meditation chants. The study found that within a short period of time, caregivers who participated in the sung meditation experienced greater benefits, although the control group also experienced some reduction in their stress levels.

“We have documented that this practice for 11 minutes a day reduces stress, improves mental health, reduces depression, improves cognition, brain metabolism,” she said. “It reduced cortisol and also reduced inflammation.”

Theories on why they work

Goldsby’s team plans to conduct more research on sound baths, including studying brain waves, physiological changes, and blood for biomarkers of stress. But the expert has a few theories on how sound baths work.

“The brain has different states, depending on the levels of relationships and concentration. So we think it takes people into a deeper brainwave state and people who are experienced meditators are able to do it on their own, ”Goldsby said. “The advantage of sound baths is that you don’t have to learn anything to enjoy them. “

Sound baths can impact the brain in another way.

“It has a particular effect on the brain because music or sound healing has a particular vibration,” Lavretsky said. “The brain also works with vibrations which are like the way brain cells oscillate in frequency. So if you play music in both ears, it will have a direct effect on the vibration of the brain oscillations. “

Both agree that attending a class might offer better benefits than trying it at home.

“You don’t get the vibe you get when you’re in person, so it won’t be the same experience,” Goldsby said.

Additionally, sitting next to other people who are also experiencing vibrations intensifies the experience.

“In a class, there are a lot more bodies than yours. They start to vibrate at this frequency and usually create this relaxation field, ”Lavretsky said.

While it appears that a sound healing class would be relaxing, Lavretsky said his research on the 11-minute sung meditation has shown the value of people walking away from their lives. She believes that people could easily incorporate sound baths or some sort of relaxing music practice into their daily routines and feel relieved.

“If it’s slow music and you naturally relax, your breathing will slow down. It is a response of the autonomic nervous system. When it starts to be activated, everything goes down, including respiratory rate, heart rate and blood pressure, ”Lavretsky said. “Anyone can do five minutes a day, or better yet 10 minutes or more … Once that becomes a habit, you know this is your safe place to come.”