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Bathing in Sound

Having long been curious about what exactly a sound bath was, I recently had the opportunity to experience a private session with Sound Therapist, Sarah Holbrook at her home studio in North Shore. For preparation, I was instructed beforehand not to have any caffeine within 2 hours of the bath and also to wear very comfortable clothing.

While I was already quite familiar with the concepts of mindfulness and deep relaxation, I was still a little anxious going in about how the enveloping sound would affect me. I have an overly sensitive auditory nervous system and certain tones, pitches, and repetitions can be extremely painful. But I actually found the session to be very soothing overall, and the variation and constant movement of the sounds helped quickly ease any remaining anxiety.

When I first arrived, Sarah welcomed me into her space and did a wonderful job of explaining what to expect for the duration of the "bath". She had a heated table with cozy blankets all warmed up, ready to be tucked into, and I loved the weighted eye mask and lavender oil that was diffusing throughout the room. They really helped usher all the senses into this peaceful, spa-like experience.

Once I was settled in, the session began with some breath work and body awareness. Slowly scanning and relaxing every inch of my frame from head to toe. If you've been to a yoga class before, this was very similar to what you would likely experience during the relaxation time at the end of a practice. Once I had released a good bit of held physical tension, the sound began. She used a combination of crystal singing bowls at the beginning. One; large and white and beautiful which was up by the head of the table, and the other; smaller and gray was placed by my side. She plays them with a mallet and says that the tones can vary based on pressure, speed, and even the moisture composition of both the room surroundings and your own body. After several minutes (though time becomes immeasurable when you're so relaxed!) of playing the bowls, she added in a large gong which was set up at the foot of the table. When you hear "gong" I'm sure you immediately think, as I did, of a crashing call to war (or dinner!) that reverberates through absolutely everything within hearing distance. But the way that she plays this traditional eastern instrument is by drawing a special rubber mallet across its surface which produces a winsome, whale-call-like sound. It's beautifully fascinating, and I found myself quite drawn to the melancholy tones.

I think the biggest struggle for me was remaining present/fully immersed in the moment and not dreading the impending end of this amazing experience. But I can be that way with anything I'm enjoying so thoroughly...a massage, a vacation, even a great meal! Ha! Returning to the focus on my breath was what helped the most.

As all things must, end it did. The final tones hung in the air and eventually faded away. I so appreciated the fact that Sarah did not rush to get right back into the "real world". Instead, allowing the silence to descend like a heavy blanket...letting every last drop of peace and stillness sink deep into my bones. Then slowly, gently, reintroduced voice, movement, and light.

I walked away feeling so at rest. Calm. Inspired. Filled up. Proud of myself for trying something new.

Adding "Sound Bath" to the list of self-care activities that I plan to schedule again in the near future. 10/10 recommend.


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