I Tried a Sound Bath and Here's What Happened

Tuesday, June 14, 2022
I just came back from a fantastic Western Weekend Getaway with The Travel Mom (you can read all about it here) and it completely changed my life. One of the best experiences I had during the weekend was a sound bath. Have you ever heard of it? Sound baths or sound therapy (using 'singing bowls') is quite popular out west, especially in the Arizona area. But here in New Jersey, it's not as prevalent. I went into the experience with a shrug thinking, 'this seems interesting, let's see what it's all about.' And what happened was completely unexpected.

This post is part of an editorial section called Beyond Momma, where I share personal thoughts and stories. You can check out more of Beyond Momma here.

What is a Sound Bath?

First, what is a sound bath? No, you're not actually washing yourself and no bath tubs are involved, so put away the soap and towels. In a nutshell, a sound bath is a meditative experience where those in attendance are 'bathed' in sound waves. These waves are produced by varying sources, including healing instruments like singing bowls, gongs, chimes, percussion, etc. Sound baths are intended to create a state of harmony in the participant by using sound to clear discordance from your energy fields. Sound baths can result in relaxation, a sense of well-being, expanded awareness, and access to inner visionary experiences. Some healing sound practitioners also believe that sound baths promote physical healing, similar to acupuncture.

My Sound Bath Experience

I am not an experienced sound bath participant so I can't say that every sound bath is the same or that you will experience exactly what I did. But here's what happened to me and what the sound bath I attended was like. There were about 15-20 people in attendance at our sound bath, which was a quiet, darkened room with a carpeted floor. A long table was set up in the front of the room, containing a variety of colorful bowls in different sizes and shapes. There was also a golden gong and some chimes hanging next to the table. Our practitioner, Kim Balzan welcomed us and asked us to turn off our phones or set them to vibrate so they would not disturb us. We rolled out our yoga mats, took off our shoes and got comfortable.

Kim explained the process to us and it was pretty easy. All we had to do was lie down, close our eyes and clear our minds. Just listen. Seemed easy enough. Kim gave us a heads up that sound baths can result in varying responses from participants. She said we might feel like we had to cough, clear our throats, cry, laugh - "I don't want to tell you what you will feel or put ideas in your head," Kim basically said, "but I need to make you aware that these sensations can happen." She said the sounds could also trigger feelings in areas where we've had pains or surgeries. She asked if anyone had metal plates or titanium implants and said the sounds might cause different sensations for these people. She didn't elaborate much and I understood that. She just wanted us to be aware of our own bodies and the responses we could have. I had surgery on my foot a year ago so I wondered if I'd feel some sensations there. Time would tell. At this point I was indifferent- I was neither a believer nor disbeliever, I was just ready to try it out. I doubted I would start sobbing, though, truth be told.

I didn't watch Kim make any of the bowl sounds so I don't know how she did it. I literally just closed my eyes and listened. I worried that my phone was going to vibrate nearby and throw me off, but once the bowl noises started, I just focused on the sounds and let it go. The sounds were beautiful, and their humming vibrations filled the small room. I could hear the people around me- it almost sounded like someone was snoring and I tried to suppress a laugh. Some of the higher pitched bowls chimed and I felt a sort of tickling sensation across my midsection. I suppressed another laugh. Within a few minutes I thought to myself, "wait a second, is this what she was talking about?" I felt like busting out laughing and totally had to suppress it! I was actually a tad bit embarrassed and thought I should pull myself together. I didn't hear anyone else laughing, so I shrugged it off. Maybe the vibrations were just making me giggly? A few more minutes went by and I noticed an aching sensation in my right thumb/hand. That is a problem area for me since too much typing/phone use can cause a carpal tunnel sensation there for me sometimes - but truthfully I didn't think about that during the sound bath, only in retrospect. At the time, I thought maybe I was holding my hand in a funny position during the session, which maybe was causing the aching, so I moved it. But the aching continued and kind of radiated, then vanished.

I don't know how much time passed but at some point I no longer felt like laughing and just listened. I kind of felt like I was dreaming but I knew I was awake, since I could hear everything around me. Then I noticed colors in my right eye (my eyes were still closed so I was looking at darkness and color, quite odd). I saw green and yellow- like a paint smear, swirling green and yellow together, and sometimes one color would get brighter than the other. My train of thought went like this: is she shining a colored light on us? Why would it only be in one eye? Let me focus on it and see if it goes away. But it just kept swirling around in that one eye. Can I make it move? I wondered, but the colors seemed to swirl on their own accord. It was very pretty. The color started to dissipate, but then I thought I saw some white buildings in my left eye, they looked like they were stretching and growing taller. And then I remember thinking that I wanted to see my dog Milo, who passed away many years ago. I know that sounds weird, but that's what popped in my head, "is he here? Let me look for him" But I didn't see him. I wasn't dreaming- I was definitely awake because I had clear thoughts and I could hear the bowls and the people around me breathing. Before I knew it, the experience was over. I felt sooooo relaxed and so...happy? It's hard to describe. I turned to some of the people around me and said, "that was so cool!" We all agreed that we really enjoyed it. I rolled up my mat and we left. 

Later in the day I started talking to some of the other participants and they were talking about their experiences- some said their sinuses stuffed up, some said they fell asleep. "I saw colors!" I blurted out. "You did? She said that could happen, that it means something," one of the ladies said. "Really?!" I exclaimed. "Maybe I should go talk to Kim?" The others urged me that I should. Kim was still in the room after her last session so I hurried back in there to thank her for the experience and tell her what I saw. "oh yes!" she exclaimed, "seeing colors could mean you reached a higher meditative state. Yellow is associated with confidence and strength. Green could be love and compassion." I was floored, as these were many of the feelings I had been experiencing during my entire getaway weekend. "You can see a lot of things during sound baths," Kim continued, "People have told me they've seen structures or animals." "I saw buildings!" I blurted out, surprised. I hadn't told anyone that. "but I didn't see any animals." (and I didn't tell her that I was looking for one animal in particular). 

I really, truly feel like I walked away from that sound bath experience a more confident, happier person. It was like it awakened something in me, and that was not something I expected at all. And now that I'm home in New Jersey, I feel like I've already tapped into that experience when I needed it. A few times when I was feeling stressed here, I thought to myself, "ugh, call back that sound bath feeling," and I sort of brought the memory/sensation back to myself to counteract the stress or anger. I am still amazed that I've been using it this way and I've started reading more about sound therapy and singing bowls because they seem to resonate with me. I am desperately trying to find a place in New Jersey or Pennsylvania that offers sound baths or sound therapy but I haven't had much luck. I did, however, download Tripp on my Oculus VR so I've been using their meditation focus nightly and I absolutely love it. 

My husband is a non-believer and I tried to tell him that I was technically a non-believer, too, when I started. But at least I went into it open-minded. Regardless of how I went into the experience, what happened was definitely not what I expected. Some people have asked me if I thought Kim put the idea in our heads of laughter/crying/emotion before we started. I don't think she did because when I was first suppressing my laughter, I didn't associate it with the bowls. I thought I was giggling at the snoring noises I was hearing in the room. I thought it was my own immaturity and I needed to "get it together." It took me a few minutes to recognize that the feeling was being caused by the sounds. And regardless, Kim didn't say anything about those colors before we started, and it wasn't until later in the day that I went back to question what I saw. 

When The Western Weekend Getaway ended, I visited Sedona and The Grand Canyon. Seeing these magical places with my new sense of calm and confidence was such a huge gift and I am so grateful. I am so grateful that I had this experience and that I reacted to it the way that I did. What an amazing feeling to discover something about one's self so unexpectedly and be able to channel it into life. What an absolute gift. 

I'm even smiling as I type this.  

Post playlist: Now We Are Free (from "Gladiator"), The Giver Main Titles (Marco Beltrami, score) Count Your Blessings by Lamboginny

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