Have you tried a sound bath yet?
On the occasion of World Health Day, we explore an ancient modality that dates as far back as the time of Pythogoras that is slowly but surely gaining popularity. Everyone from Robert Downey Jr to bassist Robert Trujillo of Metallica has tried it. And we understand why when sound healers or ‘sounders’ tells us that sessions can help with everything from tumours to childhood trauma.The best part? It is entirely non-invasive — no needles, knives or surgical gloves, not even so much as an awkward conversation.
Here is how it works. “You lie down or sit on a chair with your eyes closed,” says Maayaa Dhami, a Tibetan sound healer from Rishikesh, who owns the Maayaa Sound Healing Studio. Once this is done, the healer will begin the session by striking Tibetan singing bowls that often are placed, surrounding the person. Simply put, “When you hit the bowl with the right pressure, the sound and vibration penetrates your body and activates inactive cells,” she explains.
What is not visible to the eye as the vibrations fill the room, is a supposed slowdown of one’s brainwaves, statedly shifting from a more active state (beta) to a more relaxed dreamlike state (alpha).
When properly executed, there are likely to be loud snores a few minutes in, often leading to lucid dreaming. In one case, at a session last year with expert healer Manan Sharma at The Park Chennai, a lady even thanked him profusely for having made contact with a late family member, we’re informed.
But everyone has a different experience. I had a solo session that felt like falling into deep sleep, reporting back with flashes of bright colours, swimming amidst waves, and then later, gentle snow flakes falling on my face! But don’t fret yet, you might find yourself in a daffodil garden — you won’t know until you try it.
The gong song
It is interesting to discover that one’s sound therapy experience also unfolds based on the instruments used. These vary from heavy sounds that can send one straight into a deep trance relaxation state, like the Mars gong. “This one is great for a mind with non-stop chatter,” says Delhi based Manan. Spotting the word NASA on it, we curiously asked Manan to tell us more after our session and he surprised us with some really cool space-age facts. Other instruments are lighter and definitely more familiar like chimes, rain sticks and Koshi bells.
Oddly enough, Manan was involved in the export of classical Indian instruments to Germany for therapeutic purposes, which is what led him to sound healing over two decades ago. “Every sound represents different emotions, feelings and memories. Sometimes, we need to play darker sounds to bring fear and trauma to the surface, and then release them with lighter, more calming vibrations,” he explains.
While sound medicine comes with the benefit no side effects, Manan is clear that like with any healing it can be practised wrong. So take the time to find a legitimate centre that offers it. For first timers who have never attended a session before, and might confuse the practice to be similar to music — “the two are very different” clarifies Priyanka Jay Patel, who has a background in Carnatic music, and runs Sound Healing India in Mumbai. The most common question Priyanka gets, however, is usually: ‘How many sessions will it take for me to heal?’
The answer, she believes, lies in shedding beliefs about ourselves that no longer serve us. So she responds: “As many sessions as it will take you to let go of who