The world’s top business leaders swear by meditation, but learning to quiet the brain requires practice, time and patience. Sound healing expedites this road to relaxation, and it’s increasingly available in spas and wellness facilities around the world.
Sound healing, also known as sound bathing, uses ancient techniques to create a feeling of calm and awareness—the keys to meditation. It incorporates a symphony of gongs, singing bowls, crystals, tuning forks and other instruments believed to generate a state of harmony and vibrational balance within the body.
“Guests experiencing a sound session for the first time tend to be amazed by how deeply they feel the vibrations move through their bodies,” says Lindsey Banis, crystal healer and healing arts practitioner at the Miraval Arizona Resort & Spa in Tucson. The property has offered sound therapy for nearly 20 years. “Participants anticipate hearing the sound, but they don’t anticipate being able to feel the sound.”
Like many of today’s wellness practices, sound bathing has deep cultural roots. “Singing bowls are said to have originated from Mesopotamia and through India, Tibet and Nepal over 2,000 years ago,” Banis says. The earliest uses incorporated metal singing bowls. The more contemporary crystal singing bowls came into use in the 1980s.
“Both styles of singing bowls sound and feel different but are used similarly to create a meditative state to offer a space of relaxation, reflection and contemplation,” says Banis. “They are also often used in tandem with a yoga and meditation practice.”
One of the most popular sound-therapy experiences at Miraval Arizona is Chorus of Crystals. “During the activity, guests learn about chakras and crystals, and create intentions,” Banis says. “In the sound-bath portion, guests lie down and place crystals on their bodies in a chakra layout.” From here, she leads participants through an “active breath-work guided sound meditation” while playing seven Himalayan metal sound bowls and four alchemy crystal singing bowls for an experience that’s simultaneously relaxing and stimulating.
Saxon Hotel, Villas & Spa, a luxe property in Johannesburg, offers guests the chance to relax, unwind and recover from jet lag via sound therapy. According to the property’s spa manager Tanya Lopes, Saxon’s sound-therapy sessions take the vibrational experience up a notch.
“We set our clients up in an acoustic room on a flotation bed, which allows for enhanced vibrational benefits to travel freely through the body,” Lopes says. “This, along with chromatic lighting, creates a relaxed state of mind.” The one-hour sessions help lower stress, aid sleep and create a sense of balance, Lopes notes.
Sound therapy has been on the Saxon Spa menu for 16 years, but Lopes says it’s seeing an increase in popularity among travelers seeking unique wellness experiences. Banis is noticing the same trend stateside, with a growing number of repeat sound-therapy participants, particularly in the past two years.
Given Covid, this popularity surge makes sense. Many have explored meditation and sound bathing to find calm and relaxation during the stress-inducing pandemic. While research is still limited on the exact reasons why sound makes participants feel so at ease, scientists have some theories. One idea suggests that listening to specific frequencies, such as those emitted via sound-bathing sessions, synchronizes our brain waves. This elicits feelings of peace and calm. Other theories say the calm stems from sound centering the frequencies of our mind, body and soul.
Either way, there’s one thing wellness experts know for certain: Sound bathing can do wonders, and has done so for millennia.
Try Sound Therapy at These Three Hotels
Saxon Hotel, Villas & Spa
The Saxon’s history runs deep in Johannesburg. Nelson Mandela found refuge here. Guests can rent this African icon’s former suite—and tack on a healing journey, such as the Tibetan Sound Therapy with Crystal Healing experience.
Miraval Arizona Resort & Spa
Simply stepping foot on the Miraval Arizona property brings a new level of serenity. Take that even further with the Crystal Alchemy Sound Journey, “where guests are invited to surrender into relaxation.”
The Mandrake, a hip boutique hotel in London’s West End, helps guests unwind with a host of sessions, including the 60-minute Crystalline Sound meditation that blends crystals, wind chimes, triangles and alchemy crystal singing bowls.