Moments of calm and balance look different for everyone: a candle-lit bubble bath; a regular round of golf; weekly yin yoga; a long getaway to a tropical island for some sun, sea and sound therapy. That last one feels particularly tempting after a pandemic, doesn’t it?
Long before Hollywood celebrities brought it into the mainstream, sound bathing, aka sound healing or sound therapy, an ancient practice of meditation and healing, was well-documented throughout world history. About 40,000 years ago, Aboriginal Australians developed the didgeridoo, a vibrating wind instrument, for ceremonies and healing rituals. Ancient Greeks believed in the power of music to treat ailments, while ancient Tibetans formulated sound bathing as a meditative practice. Age-old yogic traditions, widely practiced today, apply chanting and instruments to open chakras, awaken consciousness, induce relaxation and stimulate healing. Examples abound, across cultures, continents and time, of sound being used to promote health and wellbeing.
The effects and benefits of sound therapy are well-documented, and both anecdotal evidence and studies published by the American National Institute of Health point to the positive effects produced by sound waves generated during sound baths. Without getting too technical, a sound bath involves immersion in resonating vibrations of sound. A typical session will have you lying flat on your back as instruments — such as Tibetan singing bowls, quartz crystal bowls, gongs, bells and handpans — are played, generating various sound wave frequencies, all of which have different effects on brain activity. Overall the goal is to allow the brain, and thus the body, to achieve a more relaxed state. The meditative effect has been shown to diffuse pain and impact the immune and inflammatory response. It’s also been shown to manage anxiety, stress, fatigue, insomnia, mood, blood pressure and a host of other somatic and psychological symptoms.
Over the past several years, sound bathing’s popularity has surged around the world, and in Phuket, a favorite leisure destination for its beaches and overall relaxing vibe, luxury wellness retreats have been quick to add sound bathing to their spa offerings.