Sound baths may be one of many wellness trends to take over L.A. in the past decade, but the instruments used in these restorative sessions, like crystal singing bowls and gongs, have been used by Tibetans for healing purposes for thousands of years. So, how does it all work and why are sound baths so freaking great? We explored the topic with sound healer Susy Schieffelin.
Let's break it down
A sound bath is a type of sound therapy using high-frequency instruments like crystal singing bowls, gongs and even voice to provide deep relaxation, improved physical and mental health and even long-term healing. (Fun fact: guided meditation is also a form of sound therapy!) The term "bath" refers to the sensation many people experience in sound baths—submerged in sound as vibrations wash over you. Susy says that these frequencies "activate and align the chakras, stimulate alpha, theta, and delta brain wave states and balance the hemispheres of the brain." Dreamy.
Why sound baths are om-azing
Susy describes sound baths as "energetic deep tissue massages for your body, mind and spirit." The benefits? Relief from chronic pain and migraines, improved sleep, a reduction in stress and anxiety and a renewed sense of well-being, among others. "I work with many people in recovery from addiction, and the results are mind-blowing," says Susy.
Dive into the power of sound with Susy...
How did you get into sound healing?
I used to suffer from really bad anxiety. I am in recovery from addiction, and when I first got sober, I was having panic attacks almost every day. When I moved to California my aunt brought me to a sound bath, and I felt a big shift. I felt calm and connected to myself—it was like an out-of-body experience. The calmness lasted for a few days. I started going to every sound bath I could find. Before long, my life began to change for the better. My panic attacks stopped. Things didn’t feel like such a crisis all the time.
The experiences helped me so much that I decided I wanted to share this relatively unknown form of healing with the world. I didn’t know where to begin, so one night after a sound bath I asked the instructor how I could learn. He said he would teach me! I trained with him and learned to play the gong. Then I bought crystal bowls, studied with another mentor and read many books. I led my first public sound bath on the beach, and the rest was history. Now I lead group sound baths almost every day, work one-on-one with many private clients and healers-in-training, and offer certification training programs for other people who are interested in learning this sacred healing art.
Can you talk about the short-term benefits someone might experience from attending one or two sound baths versus the more long-term benefits that come with attending sound baths more regularly over time?
After just one sound bath, most people feel very calm and relaxed. I like to call it “sound bath stoned.” Everything feels harmonious. You might experience relief from chronic pain or a migraine, and you can expect to sleep really well that night. You will probably even have cool dreams and wake up the next day feeling refreshed. For some people it may take two or three sound baths to reach that really deep state of calm and relaxation, but some people feel energized right away. In the few hours after a sound bath you might have a heightened ability to focus or feel inspired to create. I know of a few people who like to wake up from a sound bath and go for a long run!
If you go to sound baths regularly, the long-term benefits can be profound. You might sleep better, feel calmer and experience less anxiety. You may become more focused and productive, your memory may improve and you may experience healing of chronic pain or migraines. Over the weeks and months and years that people attend my events, I see them become brighter, happier and more radiant. I see them experience miracles in their lives.
"This form of healing is profound. It has transformed my own life, and I am so grateful that I now get to share and witness that transformation in others."
Can someone experience the same benefits of a sound bath or sound healing at home? Any tips on how to create a similar experience for yourself?
Yes, absolutely! I live stream sound baths on my Instagram @thecoppervessel quite often, and will soon have a series of sound baths on the Alo Moves app! My friend Phyllicia has some great sound baths for healing the chakras on the app already.
If you want to create a sound bath experience for yourself at home, find somewhere quiet where you can lie down comfortably. Create a cozy area on the floor using a yoga mat, pillows and a blanket. You might want to light a candle and place your favorite crystals nearby. You could also lie on your bed, but if you do that there is a chance you might fall asleep! I recommend you put on headphones so that you are not distracted by external noises and can also get the full benefit of any binaural beats in the sound bath. Then all you need to do is lie back, turn on your favorite sound bath and relax.
As a seasoned sound healer, do you have any inspiring stories to share about the transformative power of sound baths?
There are so many! I get to witness miracles almost every day. When you relax and let go, anything is possible. I have seen people get and stay sober after years of trying, manifest their dream jobs or finally meet the love of their life, get pregnant and have beautiful babies after years of trying, heal thyroid and autoimmune conditions, find relief from chronic pain and so much more. My mentor works with cancer patients and the healings that she witnesses are beyond belief. I have one client who had nerve pain in his shoulder for years. After seeing countless doctors, the best physical therapists, and even having multiple surgeries, nothing had helped. He started attending sound baths, and the pain was finally relieved.