April is Stress Awareness Month. When I first realized this, I said to myself, “Oh, I’m aware. I definitely don’t need a month-long holiday to remind me that I’m stressed.” Then I thought about how I could do better when it comes to managing the pressures in my life. After all, there are many resources out there, some of which I’ve tried: therapy, sensory deprivation tanks, meditation apps. However, sound baths are one coping mechanism I haven’t dipped my toes into, so to speak.
For my first sound bath, I went to Den Meditation — and Ford kindly sent me to this sound bath in honor of their new EcoSport, which aims to help drivers embrace a minimalist lifestyle and regain time to try first-ever experiences like this. According to the company’s 2018 Trend Report, 82% of adults aged 18-29 feel they should take better care of their emotional wellbeing. I am one of them.
Den Meditation describes a sound bath as being an experience in which “healers will use the vibrational medicine of Tibetan bowls or crystal bowls, gongs, flutes, drums, harp, chimes, and other instruments” to help participants meditate as they heal amidst immersive sound. Despite this soothing description, I was anxious on the day of my sound bath. I’d been feeling particularly stressed that week, and trying new things is scary (even if you’re expecting to have a soothing experience in the process).
What happened at the sound bath?
Before entering the room, I was sprayed with a cleansing mist meant to rid the body of negative energy. Then I found my spot and adjusted my mat so I was lying flat on my back. The room was dimly lit and light patterns were being projected on the ceiling. What happened over the course of the next 1.5 hours was intense. Our instructor, Susan Paul, and her assistant utilized various bowls that filled all the empty space in the room. It felt as if we were submerged in an ocean composed entirely of sound waves.
At first, it was overwhelming to hear sound oscillate in such a powerful fashion, but once my body adapted, I began to have vivid visions. While these moments are personal, I will say that during one of my visions, I gave birth to the ocean. It was beautiful. And interestingly enough, my boyfriend, who was right next to me, had a vision with similar themes.
While the sound bath was relaxing and meditative, there were moments when I was fully aware of all the stressors in my life. During one of my visions, I kept going in and out. Every time I was out, I would be reminded of something that was causing me tension. Every time I was in, I would release this tension and move on to the next thing. In the moment, it felt awful, but afterward, it got me thinking about healing. In order to heal, must we unearth all the bad in our lives? Must we find peace with the bad so we can get to the good? My sound bath made me believe this to be true.
How did I feel after the sound bath?
I felt as though I was on a different plane after my sound bath. My boyfriend did, too. We spent 40 minutes after the bath just sitting in the lobby, talking, and ruminating on what had happened to us both. It felt as though we’d been through something special together, and I felt closer to my partner.
As for my mental wellbeing, the sound bath gave me a break from my thoughts. At one point, we were asked to release one thing as we worked to bring another into our lives. I aimed to release anxiety and bring in confidence, and I genuinely feel that the sound bath helped me do this. It allowed me to set aside the time to take care of myself, to listen to what my own body and being had to say. With technology and to-do lists all around me, I don’t often do this.
Would I go back?
We all need a break, but many of us never get a break — whether it be from our phones, our work, or those who rely on us. Taking time away is hard, especially when it means we have to focus on ourselves and everything that’s plaguing us. But it’s this time away that allows us to reach the next level in our lives. It gives us the strength we need to keep going.
Without a doubt, I would participate in another sound bath. Not only because I need to get back to my child — the ocean — but because I need to face my fears, to be alone with my thoughts.