Good Vibrations: The Power Of Sound Baths

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Gong baths, crystal bowl meditation and chanting sessions are shaking off their rainbows and kaftans image and are now firmly on the schedule of London’s best yoga and meditation centres.Recently, the uber luxe Edition Hotel played host to a month of sound healing evenings where the hipster wellness crowd lay supported by Tempur pillows, wrapped in soft woollen blankets with silk masks covering their eyes as good vibrations from singing crystal bowls washed over them. So what’s drawing the in-crowd and how does sound help us relax our body and mind?

We instinctively know sound in all its forms has the power to transport us – we often automatically use it to self-medicate on many levels. Think of a mother’s voice soothing an upset child; singing in unison in a choir, at a festival or concert; the hypnotic rhythm of Tibetan monks chanting. Because sound is vibration, it’s not just heard through our ears, our whole body is affected. And we know this has tangible effects on stress levels. For example, a recent study showed that playing music to breast cancer patients could help them manage pre-operative anxiety when going through surgery, and another showed that stress hormones including cortisol are reduced in audiences at a live concert, producing relaxation effects. Read More…

It Started with ‘Om’

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Of all the experiences I had on my ‘big trip’ to India, staying in an ashram in the remote Himalayas, it was the many hours of chanting which turned out to be the most lasting and transformative. Of course, the physically challenging yoga sessions changed my body, but the chanting enabled me to go further in meditation, bringing a sense of stillness I’d never felt before. On our first day we were given a book containing the various ‘prayers’ in Sanskrit (the language of ancient India) which would punctuate our daily rituals (meals, classes, even walks) and brought a deep significance to them which resonates even now.

When I started going to yoga ten years earlier, I’d haphazardly mouthed the word ‘om’, (known as the original mantra), but it was all a little ‘hippy dippy’ alien to me – specially combined with shyness and British reserve. Then I discovered Kundalini classes, where longer mantras are used in combination with the postures. Chanting along with the movement felt so good, I began to lose my inhibitions, especially when I realised it’s not about being an accomplished singer, but connecting with your own voice. Read More…