Ever heard of sound therapy? Also known as sound healing, the ancient practice has been used for centuries to ease stress, boost relaxation and more.
Over the last few years, it's continued to grow in popularity. Searches for sound baths have risen by 83% this year, according to SpaSeekers report. With newspapers reporting that it's even a firm favourite in the wellness routines of stars like Meghan Markle and Kendall Jenner. And it only looks set to continue to grow, with popular gym chain David Lloyd clubs launching their own sound healing-specific gym class and our Health Editor predicting it as one of the biggest wellness trends for 2023.
So, how does it work? Well, the healing practice uses specially designed bowls that produce low-frequency sounds. These in turn can be combined in a number of different ways to boost stress relief, meditative states, anxiety release and more.
As a self-confessed wellness addict who's tampered with a bit of sound healing in the past, I was keen to put aside some time to properly give the practice a go. Keep scrolling, and don't miss our first person reviews of journaling for anxiety, reiki healing and reframing negative thoughts, while you're here.
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Sound therapy: your complete guide, plus what I thought of the ancient practice when giving it a go
What is sound therapy?
First up, a bit of background for you. The terms sound therapy and sound healing are often used interchangeably, explains Farzana Ali, aka The Sound Therapist. Although sound therapy usually refers to a one-to-one setting "with a reflective therapeutic practice", they can have similar benefits, she explains.
"Sound healing is a holistic treatment that uses sound and vibrations to induce a calmer state of mind and a relaxed body. Think of it as meditation without the effort," she continues.
What can you expect from your session? "Lying down under comfortable blankets while a practitioner plays deeply harmonic sounds. You don’t have to do anything - simply lie back and listen," Ali goes on.
The coach running the session will make sounds from equipment including crystal or copper singing bowls, tuning forks, and more that work by being struck against a crystal or hand.
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What are the benefits of sound therapy?
According to the pro, your brain can’t help but positively respond, with benefits spanning rest, relaxation, and mental calm. "It activates the rest and digest part of your nervous system meaning that it lowers both your heart and breath rate, as well as your blood pressure," Ali explains.
Not just that, but as sound healing also changes your brainwave state, it'll take you into a relaxed alpha-dominant or dreamy theta-dominant state," she goes on. "You'll feel less stressed or anxious and calmer and more positive instead."
Sound therapy review: "After a few weeks, I felt significantly calmer."
My usual self-care and wellness routine centres around a weekly body and face massage and reflexology, but to test sound healing thoroughly for this feature, I started incorporating it into my Sunday wellness routine, too.
I normally start the morning with a soothing sound bowl, which I found especially beneficial if I'd been having a tough week. Before having my morning coffee, I'd get my singing bowl out and meditate for 15 minutes, while enjoying the vibrations and sounds from the bowl.
I also tried a few sound therapy classes, and while they were fun and enjoyable, I didn't find them as relaxing as practicing myself at home. It felt more healing and personal.
After a few weeks of at-home practice, I felt significantly calmer. With a tuning fork,
you strike it against your hand and place it wherever you feel pain, the theory being that you enable the frequency to move through and "heal" your body where the fork is placed. I thought it was my weekly Sunday massage that had saved my shoulder pain after hours slouched over my laptop, but it eased off as I ramped up my sound therapy, which got me thinking about the physical benefits of proper relaxation, too.
So, is sound therapy worth it? Sure, it won't be for everyone, but personally, I'll be doing it every Sunday as it works for me. I found it to be a great way to relax and reset after a busy week.
Keen to give it a go yourself? Try this sound bath on YouTube or check out more of The Sound Therapist's videos.
Sound therapy at home equipment:
Place the bowl in the palm of you hand while simultaneously striking the bowl. Continue to move the bamboo stick around the rim of the singing bowl to create a perfectly peaceful sound.
128 Hz is the most commonly used frequency to aid meditation.
To use a home, hit the tuning fork against your hand and place on any part of your body for the frequency to work it's magic. Alternatively, you can place against a surface to hear the sound.
I would recommend having a session with a professional to find out what frequencies you would benefit from before investing in the entire set. Alternatively, there are many informative YouTube videos on how to use a tuning fork effectively.
You'll see a crystal sound bowl in nearly every sound healing class. Used during meditation or to cleanse a space, it takes a couple of tries to create the perfect sound. But if you're heading to a sound bath class every week, adding one to your home may be worth the investment.
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Dionne Brighton is a writer at Marie Claire UK, specialising in all things shopping, beauty and fashion. Born and raised in North London, she studied Literature at the University of East Anglia before taking the leap into journalism. These days, you can find her testing out the latest TikTok beauty trends or finding out what the next full Moon means.
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