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8 Things I didn’t expect to happen at my first sound bath

BY Angela Yates

19th Dec 2023 Wellbeing

3 min read

8 Things I didn’t expect to happen at my first sound bath
After trying multiple strategies to combat her anxiety and depression, one writer tries a sound bath—with surprising results for her mind and body
Recently, I participated in my very first sound bath experience. On a bitterly cold, stormy, autumnal night, I found myself somewhat reluctantly lying on the floor of a village hall, wrapped in a blanket.
An hour or so later, I was sipping herbal tea in a happy daze. What on earth had happened in that hall?
Here are some things I didn’t expect to happen in a sound bath.

The sounds would be so varied and immersive

Woman sat on floor holding bowls used in sound bath
The first item I saw on entering the hall was a large gong. It had an imposing presence, surrounded by an impressive array of crystal bowls and chimes. Still, I somehow expected the sound bath to feel like background spa music.
What followed during the hour-long experience was anything but background music. Instead, it was an intense and varied journey through a wide range of immersive sounds.
"It was an intense and varied journey through a wide range of immersive sounds"
Some of the tones the session leader produced were indeed like a calming spa session. Others evokes the crescendos and crashing of rolling waves so successfully that I could almost have believed I was on a stormy beach, my favourite place in the world!
Towards the end of the session came a series of abrasive and harsh tones that were as welcome as the morning alarm clock. I guessed these were returning us to reality after our mind’s journey.

I would do nothing except lie there

The instructions were to lie comfortably still. Swaddled in my favourite blanket, there I stayed for the entire session.
Perhaps because we are always so busy, the idea of remaining still for 45 minutes can seem self-indulgent. However, I thoroughly enjoyed the experience of guilt-free stillness.
Less surprising was my mind's refusal to be as still as my body. It raced and harried me about everything on my “to-do” list in the way minds so often do.
However, as the session progressed, I gradually lost that feeling. It became easier to simply be in the moment, as though I was meditating.

A feeling that I was falling asleep

People lying on floor relaxing during sound bath
There was a sense of inhabiting a place somewhere between sleep and waking, which grew more intense the longer the sound bath went on.
"It was definitely a different level of consciousness than in everyday life"
I was still awake, I think. But it was definitely a different level of consciousness than in everyday life. I struggle to describe it even now.
Speaking to some of my classmates afterwards, one person described it this way: “I don't know whether I was asleep or awake or tripping!”

To feel dazed and “tingly” afterwards

At the end of the sound bath, our session leader advised us to move slowly, as returning to reality could take some time.
Even heeding this advice, while sipping tea and enjoying the gentle ambience of the fairy lights and aromatherapy scents in the room, I still felt a head rush and a “tingly” feeling as I moved around afterwards.

To have the best night’s sleep afterwards

I’m used to that 3am feeling of waking up with a racing brain. But not after my sound bath.
I had the best night’s sleep I can remember in a long time and woke up truly refreshed, not just the next day but for several days afterwards.

To lose that tension in my neck and shoulders

As a writer, I often suffer from the stiff neck and upper back that comes from hours at a desk. The day after my sound bath, I was delighted to find there was no tension across my shoulders at all. It was as though a weight had been lifted away.

To feel calm and at ease

Woman lying on floor feeling calm during sound bath
Even the Friday night motorway traffic on my journey home couldn’t dislodge the sense of peace that had made its way into my mind.
But what really surprised me was the longer-lasting effects of the sound bath. Long into the following week and beyond, I was suffused with a wonderful sense of calm. 

To be booking my next sound bath

Having lived with depression and anxiety for all of my adult life, I have numerous strategies to preserve my mental health. I thought I’d tried just about everything. But I hadn’t tried the sound bath experience. And my only regret was that I hadn’t done so sooner.
"I thought I’d tried just about everything. But I hadn’t tried the sound bath experience"
Having ventured into that hall for what I thought would be a one-off experience I was prepared to try on the recommendation of a trusted friend, I didn’t expect to be so utterly wrong.
And I certainly didn’t expect to find myself booking my next sound bath. But I have, and I can’t wait. I hope to enjoy it even more the next time.
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