#MeTime | My First Sound Bath

Have you ever just wanted to melt into the floor (...not off drugs)? I went to a soundbath for the first time last year and I can tell you honestly, I blacked out in the most blissful way possible.


But first, a little story...

My first introduction to the healing power of music was a few years ago when my grandmother had a stroke. The speech therapist came in and tried to get her to start singing "Happy Birthday." All I needed to see was the look in my grandmother's eyes to know that she was NOT FEELING IT. I imagined her thinking "why is this strange woman singing happy birthday? It's February... my birthday is in June!" When the therapist left I sat down next to my grandma and said, "How about we sing a song I know you like?" I quickly pulled out my phone and typed in "When the Saints Go Marching In" on YouTube and hit play. The light in my grandma's eyes switched on. She sprung up in her bed and within just a few beats she and I were dancing and laughing together, singing "Oh when the Saints..." The next day, the same therapist came back in and I explained to her that I knew my grandma was just not going to sing happy birthday with a stranger– stroke or not– especially when it wasn't even her real birthday! When the therapist saw my grandmother's response to the song and heard her singing along to a familiar tune, she gasped. "This is incredible!" she exclaimed.


That's when it really hit me. Had my grandmother been left to her own devices with a therapist who didn't know anything about her, there's a very good chance she would never have spoken another word again. Thankfully, no New Orleanian can resist a good second line.


Music also has a powerful place in our memories. It's no secret that sound plays a very significant role in memory formation (I mean... poetry and music exist and have been used to remember long stories, right?). Music has been used in ceremonies and rituals from nearly every culture throughout modern history. From a neurological standpoint, singing also allows us to exercise both sides of our brains in tandem (in very simple terms). From a spiritual standpoint, it helps us unlock memories or emotions and, in doing so, discover a little bit more about ourselves.



Fast forward–– my goddess friends and I just signed up for a sound bath for the first time. We're walking into the building, unsure of what to expect.

I froze for a few moments. I was a bit nervous, a bit excited, a bit nostalgic that I'd be experiencing something new with some of my oldest friends. It was all a bit overwhelming.

We laid down and the silence of the room enveloped us. The leader spoke clearly yet softly–– almost like he was narrating a dream. Drums, followed by bells, followed by tons of different sounds that seemed to emanate from all sides of the room. It was as if I were swimming within the shapes and colors that these sounds manifested in my mind. And then, finally, I felt weightless. I felt like nothing. I felt like I was just another fragment of dust, dancing along the sounds as they vibrated around my body. It was surreal. (Please note that the whole experience can be so out of body at times that I can't tell if I was lucid dreaming or just daydreaming or if I was just visualizing while fully awake.)


Afterwards my gals and I slowly slipped away from our auditory journey and returned back to "reality" refreshed and inspired. We were so excited to talk about and share our unique experiences with each other, despite the fact that we literally laid next to each other the entire time. I felt more solid–– like I could take up space and still hold space for people I love. Because these people have shared this experience with you, you are kind of prepared to discuss it with them. It's as if they might be able to relate just a little bit better than someone else solely because they were there.


We shared how we felt, what we heard, what we saw or imagined we'd seen etc. For me, integrating my dreamlike experience into my actual reality brought back the same feeling that I had when I realized what that song had done for my grandmother and for my family. It opened a door to healing; it began the process. It didn't fix anything overnight or promise to make her superhuman. It gave her a taste. The sound bath gave me a taste of what being with my emotions and allowing myself to take up space feels like. When you allow yourself to connect with others on a fundamental, human level–– the level of coexistence, of simply sharing space, of appreciating breath–– you actually create new memories and associations for the things that are on your heart in that moment.



That is the best way that I can describe what sound baths have done for me. They have given me a taste of myself that I didn't know I could access. A highway of healing that resides within the recesses of my mind. A frequency that vibrates so high that only our inner ear can listen. Like pretty much all meditation practices, though, you have to allow yourself to feel the feelings and think the thoughts in order for anything to change. Let me emphasize, if you've never meditated before, you should NOT expect to suddenly experience some profound insight or to be "healed" in a matter of minutes. Sound meditation is something I practice daily and with the assistance of breathing techniques, other sound explorations and my sound bath rituals. Healing is also something I work towards daily and am constantly exploring for my own personal benefit.


Here are some studios and classes in the NYC area that might be able to help you hitch a ride on your highway of healing and tune in to your frequency.


1. Harlem Yoga Studio

2. NY Open Center

3. HealHaus

4. Awakening NY

5. Per Soma


Be sure to follow me on Instagram as I am always posting new places in my community that I find. Truthfully, I find a lot of my favorite places on the MindBody App. In fact, if you subscribe to this website at the bottom of the page I'll select 1 lucky winner to get a FREE soundbath session at a studio near you! (NOTE: winner will be selected at the end of the month.)


I have incorporated sound bath rituals into my monthly cycles of self-care. I wouldn't have been able to make this a regular practice without the help of my trusty Lunar planner. Check out my last post to learn more about how this little book helped me get on my own path to healing & self care. Be sure to follow me on Instagram for some visual inspiration and more!


xx


by katherine elam