Constantly on a journey to find new ways to relax and self-heal to combat the everyday stresses of life, I’ve fallen in love with certain new age-y practices and do my best to keep up with them on the regular. From reiki and acupuncture sessions to my own (attempts) at meditating at home (okay, I’m either still panicking or I just fall asleep), I can safely say I’ve become much more mindful of the importance of my well-being over the past year or so—and am at least trying to improve things a bit.
When I saw that Maha Rose, a healing center in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, that I frequent for the occasional workshop or crystal shopping session, was hosting a sound bath, I knew I had to get in on it. I mean, sound baths have been trending in New York for a year or so now; I was appalled at the fact that I had yet to try one.
If you’re not sure what a sound bath is, you'll be surprised to learn that there’s no actual bath involved. Nor is there water. The name is rather figurative: You’re “bathed” in sound, the vibrations of which have a healing effect on your body, while you lie down (or sit) in a meditative state.
The main purpose of the sound bath is to force us to focus on our silver cord, or Sutratma, which is considered to be the “life thread” that connects our soul to our physical body, much like the way an umbilical cord connects a baby to its mother. Simply put, a sound bath is supposed to strengthen that cord, which is good, because once it's severed, we're permanently disconnected from our physical body and into our astral bodies (aka dead).
In the workshop description, the session promised to connect me with “the angel realms, giving vitality to the cord” and stimulating the pineal gland with chanting and meditation, thus allowing the sound to “facilitate an experience of the silver cord where the subconscious and unconscious mind release.” I had no idea what any of that meant, but it sounded good to me.
When I arrived at Maha Rose, I was greeted by Jarrod Byre Mayer and Melody Balczon, a pair of married Kundalini yoga instructors who were facilitating the session. I grabbed a blanket, plopped down next to this overly PDA-y couple, and was ready to go.
The session consisted of three different parts: a warm-up of sorts, a chanting session, and then the actual sound bath meditation.
What was the warm-up, you ask? …A dance party.
When Mayer and Balczon told us that we were going dance around and shake off our days before getting started, I began to shrink away in horror. I only really dance when excessive tequila is involved, so how I was going to shake my ass with a bunch of strangers? (And, of course, this time, I chose to sit up front).
However, the point of this session was to let go of your ego, so somehow, when “Hey Ya” started blaring over the speakers, my body just allowed me to move and shake around freely. In fact, by the time Whitney Houston’s “I Wanna Dance With Somebody” ended, I realized that I had *almost* started singing along, too.
Once we were done, it was time for a chanting session to restore balance. Along with Mayer and his Shruti box, we “ohm'ed” loudly over the B note, which aims to help open the crown, or seventh, chakra located on the top of the head. Now, I’m usually the one that mouths out the words to “Happy Birthday,” rather than actually singing them at any office birthday function, so the fact that I was feeling so open and vocal and comfortable to belt out a chant was already a big deal for me. Something about being in Maha Rose and the people I was surrounded by put me at such ease and immediately made me feel more open—or maybe I just had “Hey Ya” to thank. Then we all had to whistle, which I learned I’m no longer capable of doing. I pretended. As we continued to chant, Mayer and Balczon walked around the studio, placing vibrating tuning forks resonating at the same B note at the top of our heads to further help open the crown chakra. My head sort of buzzed a bit, and it was weird, but I definitely didn't mind it.
Next, the sound bath began. Everyone in the room got on their backs and under their blankets, a position we would be in for the next hour or so. It sort of reminded me of preschool naptime, but in the best way possible. As I laid there with my eyes closed under warm blankets, focusing on my breathing, the sounds of the singing bowls began. Eventually, gongs and other chimes were introduced, with the sound getting louder and more intense in waves.
We were told to picture ourselves reaching the bright white light at the end of the tunnel, which symbolizes the silver cord and approaching death (think, the white light that those with near-death experiences claim to see). I’m no expert at meditating, at all. I usually find that the harder I try to not focus on my thoughts, the more my mind is buzzing. That said, while I had some trouble staying focused on that specific image, after some time, I definitely got lost in myself at some point. I didn’t hear the singing bowls or gongs anymore, and I didn’t know how much time passed. I definitely wasn’t asleep, but I also wasn’t present. I was lost in this pleasant, dream-like state.
Toward the end, I felt myself slip back into a more conscious state. As the gongs began to quiet and the session was ending, Mayer and Balczon played a recording of a Buddhist man speaking of death. The man talked about how we should not be afraid to face it. While that may sound pretty bleak, at the time, it was incredibly comforting.
Once it was over, I left Maha Rose feeling enlightened, relaxed, and slightly high. I didn’t even mind that the G train was down. A $16 cab back to my Bushwick apartment? No problem! When I got home, I went to bed almost immediately. I didn’t even try to watch the latest episode of Girls —I was just happy to fall asleep with a cleared head.
We were warned that we would be sore the next day as the sound actually releases lactic acid in your muscles—which pretty much blew my mind—and that we would probably get the best night’s sleep we’ve had in a while. Both proved to be true.
Whether you're into all of this new age, spiritual stuff or not, I recommend trying a sound bath out. Even if you treat it as naptime (which I feel 100 percent needs be incorporated into any working person's day), you may be surprised at just how good you’ll feel afterward; I would definitely say I saw the light.