24 September 2019
We Tried It: A Skeptic At A Sound Bath
As someone that can’t even binge watch Netflix because I have the attention span of a gnat, the prospect of spending an hour lying completely still while someone walked around me with a rain stick made me slightly nervous...
“It looks like a bloody Brownie camp in here” I found myself thinking, not long into my first ever sound healing session. Admittedly, Brownie camp never had candles or soft lighting, but looking around at a room full of women getting comfy in cream blankets and eye masks, it wasn’t the biggest stretch. As someone that can’t even binge watch Netflix because I have the attention span of a gnat, and prefers aggressive HIIT classes to gentle Pilates, the prospect of spending the next hour lying completely still while someone walked around me with a rain stick made me slightly nervous.
Zoe Bertali, founder of The Refinery E9 where I took the ‘bath’, explained to me that sound healing helps to calm, reset and reset the body: “In a nutshell, it can reduce stress, relieve pain, help with sleep, release energetic blocks, detoxify, recharge and energise.” How? “It helps people to relax deeply and restores harmony and balance to the body’s biological rhythms and processes. It re-establishes the correct functioning of the endocrine system (the glands) helping to release powerful healing hormones, such as endorphins, oxytocin and serotonin, as your bodies healing response is triggered.”
Science stuff all done; it was time to get stuck in. The class itself started with a few simple breathing exercises to calm the central nervous system, after which we took a moment to set an intention for our practice, as you would in any yoga class or meditation session. All calmed, we laid down, heads to the centre of the room, eye masks on, and the ‘main event’ began. Walking around the room, Michelle, who was leading the class, started with louder sounds and strong vibrations, before moving onto more gentle instruments and tones, with a little bit of singing in there too.
Zoe tells me that this is not necessarily how every sound healing session works: “I personally don't start with loud sounds, however everyone has their own way of sharing sound and the most important thing is the intention behind it. I have facilitated and been to many sound baths, all varying in terms of the structure and sequence and they have been equally effective. Intuition also plays a part in terms of which instruments are used and when.”
“Your brain waves start to slow down and synchronise with the overtones/sounds because of something called Sympathetic Resonance,” she explains. “Resonance is the vibratory rate of an object and sympathetic resonance is when one vibrating object causes another to vibrate in harmony with it or match its rate of vibration. Some sounds are more stimulating and good for clearing and moving energy and some are better for relaxing and soothing.”
Contrary to my earlier worries, I think the rain stick was actually my favourite part, it was strangely – dare I say it – cleansing. I’ll be honest, I’m not sure you could really classify my mind as stilled at any point, in fact, I think I just thought different thoughts, but it was certainly relaxing. Fortunately for me, Zoe tells me that everyone’s reactions are different: “Clarity and insights often arise from sound sessions, but some people also have physical reactions - some people cough, cry, laugh, make sudden jerks/movements, some experience pain relief.”
As the 45-minute session came to an end, Michelle told us to be conscious over the next 24 hours of how we’re feeling: “The vibrations from the sound can unlock energies within us, inspire or calm your thoughts, stir emotions. Take note of how you’re feeling, watch how it unfolds.” Without a doubt, I enjoyed the best sleep – in fact first full night’s – sleep I’d had in a long while afterwards, which was worth it in itself really.
The Refinery E9 offer yoga, Pilates, barre, fitness and wellness classes. For more information, visit their website or Instagram.