Two years ago I was a stranger to sound bath classes.
I don’t have any background in music. You don’t want me to sing, trust me. And I never played any instrument for more than a hot minute. But at certain times in our lives we are guided towards the next step in our development. Even if we have zero previous experience.
One day, visiting my Reiki teacher, I noticed that she had a collection of seven dusty quartz bowls sitting on a high shelf. I asked why wasn’t she using them? She said they were too heavy for her.
She explained further how she obtained those bowls on sacred Mount Shasta in California, on the auspicious occasion of Vesak, the day people celebrate the Buddha’s birth. So for her, those bowls were very meaningful, even if she wasn’t using them. She had them shipped across the country from California to Miami.
Like the true teacher and mentor she is to me, she said that if I wanted I could take them, because she knew the bowls would be in the right hands.
I went back home that day, with those seven bowls in our car, and I surprised my husband with our first set of crystal bowls that pretty much occupied half of our living room. I had no clue how to use them. Dennis had recently completed his first training in sound healing but had no real instruments to play with until that moment. So we both started playing with them and experimenting with the healing benefits of sound. We are both yoga, meditation, and Reiki practitioners with a soft spot for anything therapeutic that helps our students to cope with depression, stress, grief, and mental health issues.
A couple of months later, we both took another training in sound healing with crystal bowls, led by our friend Andrew Clark from 1111 Vibe. And, for both of us, the journey into the art and science of sound healing went deeper.
I began to add some sort of sound element to almost all of my yoga classes, using crystal bowls, chimes, metal bowls, and drums. To this day, I am still not a sound expert but I do notice a profound transformation in my students when they let go of their thoughts and relax under the power of sound. And the feedback they give has been extremely positive and encouraging.
When I first started going to sound bath classes I was dealing with grief, the passing of my mom. I was having trouble finding outlets to process my emotions in a supportive environment. I was also still recovering from an episode of depression. In reality I found it difficult to be still, and I was packing my schedule with activity in order to avoid confronting deep feelings of sadness, grief, resentment, forgiveness, and more.
I made the commitment to take one weekly class, just to have a chance to be still in one spot, for one hour, not doing anything, not checking my phone. I also knew there was something mysteriously healing about those waves of sound.
Through those classes I experience to feel the journey from my surface-level monkey mind into a more quiet state where my breath stabilizes and flows rhythmically, and finally into another state, a sort of in-between place called the hypnagogic state, between waking and sleeping. I found that when I am in that state, I can see myself and my stories with a level of detachment of compassion that is hard to find in my daily life. In the waves of sound and the silence in my mind, I was able to start processing certain deeply buried emotional issues that had been holding me back.
Certain sounds resonate with specific parts of the body. Sometimes I hear more sounds through one ear than the other. Sometimes the sounds are so powerful that I feel it going through my skin, vibrating through the walls and the floor. Sometimes certain sounds resonate in the body and help us release accumulated emotional and physical tension.
Sound bath classes have been an important element in my healing process, as well as for many of my clients. For some of them this has been a blessing because they deal with high levels of anxiety and insomnia, and they find that through sound therapy they can actually relax and have a good night’s sleep.
If you’ve never experienced a sound bath before, imagine lying on your back on soft cushions, covered with a blanket, and perhaps even with an eye mask. Sound waves from various instruments begin to wash over you and carry you deeper and deeper into relaxation. At a certain point you might become so relaxed that you drift and then suddenly you’re back and you’re like, “What was that? Why was I remembering that childhood experience just now?” or “Why was I seeing colors?” And then you let the thoughts go and relax back into the cradling bath of sound, which is a physical experience. And calmness and relaxation take over again.
I think sound healing is the next frontier. Don’t miss the opportunity to discover a new way of relating to yourself. Like yoga and meditation, it may even have a transformative effect on your interactions with others.
Photo credits: Ken Chan – unsplash.com
Adrian Molina has been teaching yoga continuously since 2004. He is a well-known and respected instructor in Miami and New York, with an extensive worldwide following through his platform and school of yoga, Warrior Flow (http://www.warriorflow.com). Adrian and his husband Dennis reside in Miami and frequently lead workshops and international retreats in NYC and around the world. Adrian is also a writer, massage therapist, Reiki healer, meditation teacher, sound therapist, and a Kriya yoga practitioner in the lineage of Paramahansa Yogananda. Adrian is also recognized for the community-building work he does in Miami and beyond.