Mindfulness can come in many forms—during a walk in nature, through a breathwork practice, or even by simply sitting still. But perhaps one of the most sensorial ways to tune into the present moment and achieve mindful calm is by experiencing a sound bath, or sound-healing session, which taps various kinds of musical and vibrational sounds to deliver a host of soothing mental-health benefits. On this week's episode of The Well+Good Podcast, we pass the mic to sound-healing practitioner and founder of Love and Alchemy, Natalie Valle, to soak in all that relaxation firsthand.
Listen to the full episode here:
Combining the sounds of tuning forks, singing bowls, gongs, and other instruments, a sound bath can stimulate the alpha and theta brain waves. "These waves are associated with deep, meditative, and peaceful states that are highly conducive to healing," sound therapist and meditation practitioner Sara Auster previously told Well+Good.
As you become more deeply immersed in a sound bath, Auster adds, this stimulation can gently downshift your nervous system, allowing you to tap into your parasympathetic (rest and digest), instead of sympathetic (fight or flight) state. And that means you can expect your heart rate and breath rate to slow down, too, allowing you to enter a more therapeutic and restorative condition.
That calming mechanism may bring about a few other mental- and physical-health benefits of sound baths, too—namely, their ability to reduce tension, lower blood pressure, and alleviate depressed mood (based on a small 2016 study on Tibetan singing-bowl meditation).
"A sound bath is like an energetic deep-issue massage that leaves you feeling balanced and replenished." — Susy Markoe Schieffelin, sound-healing practitioner
And from a spiritual perspective, it's possible that a sound bath can also help rebalance misaligned chakras and clear energetic blockages. "A sound bath is like an energetic deep-issue massage that leaves you feeling balanced and replenished," sound-healing practitioner Susy Markoe Schieffelin previously told Well+Good.
In the podcast episode, Valle guides you through a sound-healing experience, slowly moving between meditative instruments and cueing deep inhales and exhales. As you tune into the bath, we invite you to place all your technological devices out of arm's reach, sit (or lie down) in a comfortable position, close your eyes, and let the sounds, well, wash over you.
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