When I suggested to my friend Kenyatta, a fellow multipotentialite, Tarot card reader, and visual artist, that she should enroll in an online sound therapy course, she responded fifteen minutes later. “I signed up. You should too!”
Wait a minute. My cup was way past overflowing. I could not imagine entertaining another new thing. Plus, the whole point of checking in with Kenyatta every month, was so we could keep each other on track and hyper-focused on the projects already in front of us. I was not signing up. I really wasn’t, but I was a tiny bit curious.
During our monthly check-ins, little instruments would appear on Kenyatta’s side of the virtual screen. Meditative ones like Balinese bells, ocean drums, and Tibetan bowls, but also conventional instruments like her keyboard and guitar. She’s someone who straddles the art and sacred wellness worlds—until recently, very secretly. The art world didn’t know about her tarot card/crystal collecting/ocean drum life, but I did. So, I thought sound therapy training would fit her properly. Turns out, it would also become my next big thing…
What is sound therapy?
A sound bath, sound meditation, or sound therapy is an approach to wellness that uses instruments like crystal singing bowls, tuning forks, drums, chimes, rattles, your own voice and more, to aid you on your journey toward greater energetic balance and alignment. It’s a complementary health practice best used in conjunction with conventional medicine. (I.e., please continue to see your house doctor, primary care physician, licensed psychologist, and other health care professionals.) No water is involved. Instead, you bathe in the healing vibrations produced by the instruments.
You can think of sound therapy as a cheat code for meditation. Sound bathing is nice for people who believe they can’t sit still or in silence. The fundamental tones in a sound bath session serve as a guide, easing you gently into meditative practice.
A little over a decade ago, I entered the formal practice of meditation without any formal training. I simply sat and breathed. This sitting let my family know that I needed a little time to myself. They honored this sitting time and left me to my woo-woo ways.
For a brief while, I looked for someone to teach me the “right” way to meditate. What I found felt either far too traditional (think Zen) or far too out there (think Transcendental) for me. So, I kept up with my intuitive practice and let go of the idea of learning any proper protocols.
Cue Kenyatta, nudging me toward sound therapy training.
On the multipotentialite spectrum, I’m most like a Phoenix-type, someone who veers toward the sequential side. While I’m into playing around with a few smaller interests at once, for major, more time-intensive projects, I prefer to do one thing at a time. The plan was to work on my book and NOT on building a sound meditation practice, so I’m not sure what compelled me to say yes.
Kenyatta said, “You should do it too.” And I signed up. That’s the beauty of collaborating with other multipotentialites. They can broaden your life’s path in astonishing ways, challenging you to fully explore all the dimensions of yourself, especially when you’re tempted to hide behind a specialist’s cloak.
An unexpected new passion
Not only did I sign up, I went all in. I was likely the most skeptical person in the class, at first, but when I tried practicing sound meditation techniques on my family, I noticed little changes in them. Instead of brooding, my moody teenager would sing show tunes around our house. My overworked husband found an excuse to take it easy, kick off his shoes, and let me tinker with tingshas over his heart chakra. In a word, I was hooked.
The benefits of sound bath meditation may include, “help with stress, fatigue, and depression.” Insider even lists “deepening relaxation, lowering anxiety, improving mood and well-being, improving sleep, heightening focus and energy, and feelings of rejuvenation” as perks of this meditative practice.
In addition to witnessing the benefits of sound bathing in my own family, I fell in love with the beauty of sacred instruments. And my sound library quickly expanded. I began with one tuning fork. Now I have juju chimes, wind chimes, plant rattles, seed rattles, crystal singing bowls, cascabeles, Ghanaian iron bells, a Balinese bell, a Vietnamese gong, a frame drum, an ocean drum. Yeah, it’s quite calming but also quite addictive.
I found that working with sound helped me think more expansively about my book project, even if I put it aside for a few months more than intended.
And now, I’m a certified sound therapist. Late last summer, I launched a business called The Funk Refinery where I offer opportunities for people to creatively engage in mindfulness practices.
Sound therapy for the busy multipod mind
Sound therapy is a form of meditation, which the Mayo Clinic suggests can help us with “the stream of jumbled thoughts that may be crowding [our] minds and causing stress.” If you—like many multipotentialites—walk around carrying lots of life’s big questions, practicing a meditation like sound bathing can help lighten your load. Or, dare, I say, wash the stress away.
Meditation can even help you conserve more of your brilliant, puttylike brain matter. According to Forbes, “long-term meditators had better-preserved brains than non-meditators as they aged.” This should keep you diving into new things, even as you approach deep maturity. Forbes also cites a Harvard study that found mindfulness based stress reduction aka meditation could “increase cortical thickness in the hippocampus, which governs learning and memory.” So you can remember to return to those side projects that bring your multipotentialte self a little more balance.
Here’s your mini-sound bath
I’ve created a 5-minute mini-sound bath just for Puttylike readers, so you can try this form of meditation for yourself. If interested, grab some wired earphones, find a quiet spot at home or work, maybe light some incense, and take a seat in a chair or lay on a yoga mat on the floor.
Sampled tingsha sound via FreeSound.org
How do you feel? Let me know in the comments section below.