A sound bath, or a gong bath, is a relaxing and pleasurable experience. It has gained popularity primarily because of its calming effects.
Sound baths have become one of the most recent trends in relaxation techniques. However, this is an ancient practice that was part of funeral rites.
It is presumed to have been originated in the Far East, although its exact origin has not been determined. It is known to have been practiced in China, India, Egypt, and Greece.
By associating meditation and music therapy principles, including aromatherapy, sound baths are intended to provide a wellness experience.
In this sense, various benefits are attributed to it, such as reducing stress, improving mood, and increasing productivity.
This “acoustic yoga,” as it is also called, uses instruments (bowls and gongs) that produce very subtle sounds. They are the ones that promote the experience of relaxation in a natural way.
Gong bath history and sound
The Gong is one of the most legendary percussion musical instruments in all of China.
It’s a disc that sometimes can be flat, somewhat domed, and some have a protuberance in the center with the shape of a nipple. This legendary instrument is considered very popular in the far east of China.
Although it not only serves the purpose of a musical instrument, for many years, some people have attributed supernatural healing powers for anyone and also to eliminate evil spirits.
Gongs can do all this thanks to the rituals performed, ranging from a simple dance to a funeral ceremony and other types of therapies such as a gong bath.
The origin of this instrument is almost uncertain. Still, ancient texts state that it is one of the oldest musical instruments in history, besides being one of the most important ones in Chinese music culture.
What does the gong sound like?
As mentioned earlier, the Gong is a musical instrument often used for celebrations and funeral ceremonies and songs and plays. For high Asian cultures and societies, the gong was an instrument used in musical orchestras, where it was even used exclusively for private parties.
The sound emitted by the Gong is created by striking the metal cymbal with the mallet. For this reason, the sound created is closely related to the terms of healing since the tone it emits is not something normal but rather a wave with magical powers.
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When played correctly, this Chinese instrument can produce a spectrum full of harmony based on sound waves that vibrate in the meridian of the body’s energy and by which it gives a balance that favors people.
The waves emitted by the Gong can be heard in the deepest part of the being, eliminating everything negative that a person may have inside.
What are sound baths, and how do they work?
A sound bath is a relaxation technique or therapy that seeks to create harmony and peace through various instruments.
Its sonority would help to eliminate dissonances in the energy fields, according to what is affirmed.
In sound baths, crystal bowls (quartz), Tibetan bowls (also called Tibetan bowls), bells, gongs, bells, rattles, tuning forks, small drums, and the human voice can be used.
In particular, bells, gongs, and bowls are made of seven metals: gold, silver, iron, copper, tin, lead, and mercury.
Such instruments are lightly struck or rubbed with small mallets, producing deep, resonant vibrations.
During meditation, the sound bathes the person, helping to reach states of harmony and consciousness, producing relaxation.
It’s all about frequencies…
Obviously, the melodies used in this relaxation therapy are not like the music on the radio, with which we dance or listen to when practicing sports.
In addition to the wave frequency, during sound baths, the volume is considered fundamental. In this order of ideas, they come to constitute the antithesis of the agitation and the boisterousness.
And it is that in the sound baths, any of the instruments used reaches a few decibels. Barely 20 in some cases. This is nothing if you take into account that, when speaking, the human voice reaches 60.
What is the purpose of sound baths?
The use of music for relaxation and healing is ancient, from the Australian aborigines and the Tibet monks to ancient Greece, where Aristotle affirmed that the sound of the flute relieved the soul of sadness.
Then, between the 19th and 20th centuries, the influence of certain wave frequencies on the organism began to be investigated more formally, leading to what we know today as music therapy.
It has been known that certain sounds increase levels of consciousness and lead us to experience a better connection with ourselves and our surroundings.
It is even claimed that music stimulates neuronal activity and cognitive capacity, helping to reduce pain and even calming anxiety in Alzheimer’s patients.
As for sound baths, they apply the principles of music therapy but are also combined with meditation to promote pleasant or relaxing sensations.
It is considered that the sounds produced by the mentioned instruments slow down the activity of the brain, stimulating the alpha waves, related to the states of calm and rest.
How are sound baths practiced?
When performing a sound bath (gong bath), the person has to let go, relax and enjoy. The practitioner facilitates the rest of the experience. Often other people are also involved with chanting, mantras, or playing instruments.
First of all, it is recommended to wear light and comfortable clothing. Then, the person should lie down on a mat or stretcher, assuming the position known as savasana in yoga.
The initial minutes are to work on the breathing technique, following the instructor’s guidelines. Then begins the relaxation and concentration phase.
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Although the main focus is on sound, aromatic elements, such as incense, can also be used during the therapy. This varies from one facility to another.
The meditative state is reached naturally, thanks to the vibrations and resonances. Some people may fall asleep, but generally, relaxation is achieved without loss of consciousness.
The experience can take between thirty minutes and an hour. It should be noted that this is not physical therapy or a massage, so it does not involve any contact.
Sound bath benefits
The main benefit of sound baths is to induce relaxation. Thus, you stop being alert and rest; you get away from worries and everything that may be affecting you.
And even though it is not a meditation, you reach a similar state, so it’s beneficial for those people who find it difficult to relax.
On the other hand, those who perform sound baths (gong bath) assure that they improve the immune, nervous and circulatory system and help with various health problems: fibromyalgia or high blood pressure.
However, in some of its alleged benefits, there is no scientific support or basis. So we only emphasize those that have been proven, and they are the following:
- According to a 2016 study, tension and negative thoughts decreased after undergoing sound baths. In this same research, patients stated that, according to a pain scale, it was less intense after such therapy
- In another 2018 research, patients who listened to Tibetan singing bowl sounds before surgery were found to have improved heart rate and other signs denoting anxiety
- A 2020 review concluded that with sound baths, there are improvements in distress, tension, anger, and state of confusion
- In a 2016 pilot study involving patients with metastatic cancer, singing bowls were found to help decrease anxiety, arousal, and stress
- Activates your brain waves: Alpha brain waves are those associated with states of relaxation
- Finally, in a clinical study, a reduction in heart rate, as well as overall sympathetic tone and increased parasympathetic tone, were observed. Sound baths would activate these
Sound bath (gong bath): A natural therapy to consider
The benefits of sound baths are similar to those of traditional meditation, both for those who do it frequently and those who cannot concentrate and relax.
In general, this is a simple therapy. All you need is comfortable clothing, a mat, and a gong or bowl (plus someone to play them). And all you have to do is listen and relax.
Sound baths are appropriate for anyone, almost without exception. There are no contraindications. On the other hand, it is recommended to practice them once or twice a week at a time so you can forget about the outside world.
Some places provide such services. However, nowadays, it is also possible to practice from home, through some platforms. Of course, it requires a secluded and quiet place.
However, despite all its advantages to help you relax, sound or gong baths should not be considered a substitute for any treatment in patients under medication or attending therapy.
In any case, always consult with your doctor.