Healing, whether from emotional or physical pain or trauma—or both—takes work. But a phenomenon known as “sound bathing” offers a different, and nearly effortless, alternative. Also known as sound healing, or vibrational sound therapy, a sound bath requires little from its participants, other than having a willingness to lie down on the ground (or sit, if they’d rather) for an hour and absorb vibrations from Tibetan singing bowls played by a practitioner. The results can be profound.
According to a recent study in the Journal of Evidence-Based Integrative Medicine, sound bathing resulted in “significantly less tension, anger, fatigue, and depressed mood” in participants, compared to feelings they reported before the sound bath. Judy Thurman, a Denver-based Vibrational Sound Therapy Practitioner, says she has also seen sound healing address physical ailments such as restless leg syndrome and migraine headaches. “It really assists in balancing all parts of the body,” she says. The practice of sound bathing dates all the way back to Ancient Greece, where physicians used sound healing to help with issues such as digestion, mood, and insomnia.
Thurman, who also teaches qigong (a holistic exercise that combines movement, breath, and meditation, similar to tai chi) in hospitals, has been holding monthly sound baths at the Evanston Center in South Denver for about a year. She says sound bathing addresses stress that has been trapped in the body, releasing physical or emotional blockages. Once these blockages are removed, participants are likely to feel more like their authentic selves. As a result, they might think clearer and make better decisions. “It actually creates a flow back into the body, so you are running at optimum levels,” Thurman says.
What to Expect if You Attend a Sound Bath
If you’re trying a sound bath for the first time, wear comfortable clothing. Similar to yoga nidra (if you’ve ever tried that), you will lie on the ground surrounded by other people, while a practitioner verbally guides the group through a bit of relaxation and helps coax your body and mind into something of a meditative state. Then, the practitioner will start playing singing bowls—these are either crystal or metal bowls that, when struck with a mallet, emit a tone that reverberates throughout the space. Other instruments, like gongs or didgeridoos might make appearances too, but the bowls are the main event. Each tone connects with a certain organ in the body, or a particular emotion, according to Thurman. From there, the tone “just pushes it, pushes it, pushes it,” she says, referring to pain or stress that has been trapped in the body. “The vibrations help us release these things.”
Where to Try Sound Healing in Denver
If you’re interested in trying this practice yourself, sound baths are happening all over Denver. Most events last about one hour and cost between $20 and $40. Many yoga studios, including Karma Yoga Center and Samadhi Yoga, regularly host sound bath events. Vinyasa Productions, founded by yoga teacher Megan Sax and musician Marshall Bendelac, holds monthly public sound baths at the Rocky Mountain Miracle Center and also offers private sound healing therapy sessions. Mayu Meditation Co-Op also hosts a monthly sound bath event. Thurman’s sound baths, which are by donation, are held monthly at the Evanston Center for Spiritual Wholeness and Healing.