A relaxing soak in the tub isn’t the only kind of bath that can have health benefits.

Waves of soothing, echoing sound from traditional wind and percussion instruments, as well as singing bowls, also known as a “sound bath,” may help with stress, fatigue, and depression symptoms.

Since stress is associated with other conditions like Diabetes and Heart Disease, engaging in sound baths might be a good preventive strategy to reduce the risk of chronic conditions, too. Sound baths may improve your mood and release tension in your body, among other things.

So how does a sound bath work? Sound baths can trigger a phenomenon called “sound healing.” Sound healing has been a home remedy favored by many cultures for thousands of years. Typically, a sound bath will involve lying in a reclining position after taking part in yoga or meditation exercises. Next, a musician trained in sound techniques will use one or several instruments to create soothing, overlapping vibrations. These vibrations lead you deeper into a state of contemplation or relaxation, shutting off your body’s fight-or-flight reflex. At the end of a session, you will be guided back to a feeling of awareness before concluding the sound bath. Sound bath instruments are typically instruments that make deep, resonating vibrations such as crystal singing bowls, Tibetan singing bowls, bells and gongs.

Of the scientific research that’s been done on sound baths, some studies have found that they can have a positive effect on mental health and physical pain. Sound baths may help treat mental health conditions, such as depression and anxiety.

One of 62 adults gauged their feelings before a sound bath, and again after a meditation session that included a sound bath. The researchers found that tension, anxiety, and negative moods decreased significantly after the therapy.

In another study with 60 participants, 30 were asked to listen to the music of Tibetan singing bowls before getting surgery and gave the other 30 headphones with no music. The analysis found that heart rate and other vitals that indicate anxiety improved in those who were given the headphones with music.

Improvements in distressed mood, tension, anger, and confusion were seen in study participants after a sound bath with Tibetan singing bowls. Physical pain reduction participants in the previously mentioned study were also asked whether they were in pain and to rank their pain on a scale from 1 to 5 if they did feel pain. Before a sound bath, these study participants tended to rank their pain higher than they did afterward. Physical symptoms such as blood pressure and heart rate also saw improvement.

it should be noted that sound bath therapy isn’t the same thing as music therapy. A sound bath typically accompanies a yogic or guided meditation. The instruments used almost always produce deep, overlapping vibrations. A musician trained in sound bath techniques plays the music. A sound bath is typically a way of managing anxiety, soothing the nervous system, and blocking all the ideas and thoughts out of your consciousness as you connect with your body. Music therapy however, is a type of therapy that incorporates music. The treatment is administered by a trained music therapist. This type of treatment can involve practicing the instrument, listening to a variety of types of music, and using the act of music as a way to process complicated, difficult emotions.

A sound bath is a meditative practice that’s safe for everyone to try. A sound bath can be easier than other meditative practices because it doesn’t require much discipline or patience to learn how to do it — all you have to do is listen. Keep in mind that sound baths aren’t a replacement for medication or therapy with a licensed mental health provider when treating anxiety or depression, but since relaxation is the main byproduct of this practice, it could be worth a try as a complementary add-on to your treatment.

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