As a friend of mine said recently, swimming is a moving meditation. And if it’s your thing, so might be jogging, walking in nature, or bathing in sound…
So what exactly is meditation?
It is a mental exercise that involves relaxation, focus, and awareness.
In Psychology, meditation is defined as “a family of mental training practices that are designed to familiarize the practitioner with specific types of mental processes”. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17596341/
Meditation and sound baths are not based upon any religion. The sessions that I facilitate are purely about sound and its positive effects.
Listening to certain soothing sounds is a therapy where the sounds can be used to improve your physical health and wellbeing.
In the below linked BBC podcast “Good Vibrations” (2020) the presenter is feeling stressed and explores sound and how music can be used to improve our physical and emotional health and wellbeing.
Yidaki are not just musical instruments, they are social instruments, instruments of healing and of spiritual life of the Yolngu people, cultural custodians of the instrument.
Walkabout Barber is a barber would walks around Australia and he explains how yikadi and sound vibrations work:
“@larrygurruwiwi_and_malawurr play yidaki on cardio vascular patient in Hammersmith Hospital. The healing results were incredible and irrefutable.
Traditionally played as an accompaniment to ceremonial dancing and singing and for solo or recreational purposes, the Yidaki is a wind instrument that produces low frequency sound that we can hear and actual vibrations that we can feel, especially if the end of the instrument is placed close to the body.
The Yidaki can be linked to ‘musica universaiis’ (music of the spheres), an ancient concept that links celestial bodies of sun, moon and planets as a form of music. Due to its powerful sound vibrations, the yidaki can help listeners enter deep states of relaxation or trance, opening the way for remarkable sound healing that can offer great therapeutic benefits such as muscle/pain relief, improved blood circulation, healing of organs and improved sleeping patterns.
We had the most wonderful Sound Bath January session in SW19. The energy in the room was amazing! Thank you for coming and connecting to make it so.
For those who would like a little more info on sound, it’s origins and how bathing in sound vibrations is relevant today, read on…
Sound has a long history of use in ancient times:
Plato and Aristotle believed song could purify the soul and promote mental health.
The ancient Egyptians treated their sick with musical incantations.
Native American tribes believed that certain sounds had healing powers.
The Australian aboriginal people have been healing bones and diseases with the didgeridoo for 40,000 years.
In ancient India, yogis use sound vibrations to calm the mind and release stress.
The ancient Greek philosopher/mathematician Pythagoras discovered musical intervals, explored how harmonic frequencies could be used for healing, and prescribed music as medicine. He discovered the use of different harmonic ratios to cure disease of the mind, body and spirit.
Modern science is now gradually catching up and recognising what these ancient cultures already knew:
The drumbeats in shamanic ritual “causes the brain to give into the rhythm, turn off its inner chatter, and create an altered state of consciousness… ” says Neuroscientist Daniel Levitin. “Music activates almost every region of the brain: lyric centres; memory structures… It can light up those parts of the brain that are engaged during spiritual experiences. It can open up your heart to different ways of feeling and believing.”
Research links music and sound healing to a number of wellbeing benefits, from reducing stress and anxiety to boosting the immune system, reducing blood pressure and pain as well as improving sleep quality, mood, mental alertness, and memory.
Neuroscience is starting to reveal the mechanisms by which music triggers healing in the brain; already it has been shown to help a range of issues from chronic pain, autism and depression to Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
The medical properties found in ultrasound prompted a whole new science in search of the ancient art of sound healing. Ultrasound has been used to break up kidney stones and shrink tumors. Recently, scientists have found great healing properties in infrasound and audible sound as well.
“Researchers at MIT tell us that every cell of the body has electrical, chemical, and biological activity taking place inside it. The MIT research has led those involved to believe that they’ll soon be able to detect ailments simply from whether there are aberrant or inharmonious vibrations in the cells. This finds support in other research as well.Around 2010, Dr. James Gimzewski, a professor of chemistry at UCLA, used sensitive measuring devices and found that healthy yeast cells vibrated at a constant rhythmic rate of about 800 vibrations per second. This produced a pleasant harmonic sound when the vibrations were amplified enough to hear them; however, the harmonious sound changed to a screaming or hissing when the cells were immersed in alcohol and started dying.” (https://www.elephantjournal.com/2021/06/the-sound-of-well-being-is-ancient-sound-healing-the-new-frontier-of-science/)
Sound is powerful stuff!
Essentially, Sound Baths are an easily accessible type of meditation that gives you space to relax and allows your body and mind to rebalance. Part of a holistic approach to maintaining good health and wellbeing.
Whilst walking for much longer than expected recently, I found myself immersed in nature and enjoying the vivid colours of Autumn. I tried to capture the colours in this photo, but felt a little disappointed that it wasn’t really the same as experiencing it in real life.
This photo doesn’t do the entire scene justice. It doesn’t capture the feeling of being in nature, the smells, the Autumn evening, the changing sky, the fading light, the crisp cool air, the fleeting moment when a branch looks like it is made of molten gold and magical, as the setting sun reflects off the surface.
It got me thinking about sound baths…
How pleasurable they are, and how easy it is to fall into a restorative trance/mediative state when listening to the gong. How listening through our ears and feeling of sound vibrations through our bodies, as experienced in a sound immersion/soundbath held in real time and space, is completely different to listening online or to a recording using headphones. Bodily hearing through tissue conduction enables us to perceive frequencies far above and below those in the normal range of hearing. Practicing on a 80 inch gong that makes space vibrate, I can feel deep rumbling vibrations through my entire being…
So whilst online soundbaths and listening through headphones can be good, there’s no substitute for experiencing sound in real life and being fully immersed in sound and being present in that moment. So give yourself time and space to allow that to happen, if you can.
Even if you are too busy looking after everyone else and/or working and/or facing challenges of life, it’s defintely OK to practice self care and look after yourself on a regular basis. And may be you know someone who can benefit from doing so.
Then we look forward to soundbaths happening monthly in 2023. Private sessions can also be arranged if you can’t wait or for a special treat, including with 80 inch and 50 inch gongs in Gloucester Road/South Kensington for 4 people only.