Dhyana, or meditation, is the 7th limb of Ashtanga Yoga. It is described as the uninterrupted flow of the mind. To help us understand this, Master Sree compared our mind to a sea of fishes, or thoughts. When a thought pops into our mind, imagine it as a fish jumping out of water into the air. When the fish stays there for a while, and we bring our attention to it for a sustained period of time, we refer to it as Dharana or concentration (6th limb of Ashtanga Yoga). In Dharana, after a thought disappears, a new thought might pop up and be in focus for our concentration. However, in Dhayana, after the last thought disappears, no new thought would pop up. Or rather, no new thought would come into our attention or focus. The fishes remain in the water, swimming by as we watch our thoughts, from a third party’s perspective. An observer.
Dhyana (meditation) is not easily achieved. We usually begin with Dharana (concentration), paying attention to our breath as our focus. How long can you stay with your breath? It is not easy. My mind drifts off to thoughts, sometimes it would drift for a long while before I am conscious about it. Then it may even take me a while to pull myself back to the breath. “Let me finish this thought first.” or “What if I forget this brilliant idea I had?” Come back, come back to the breath, I remind myself. Such is the challenge of an active mind.
Which is why I was happy to have discovered sound baths.
What is a sound bath?
Some call it sound bath while others call it sound healing. Based on my experience, I think people use the terms loosely and interchangeably, and so I will just be using sound bath in this article.
Sound baths have its roots in Nada Yoga.
The system is called Nada Yoga (The Yoga of Sound). It is a path of exploration of consciousness through sounds. The aim of the advanced state of Nada Yoga is to purify and harmonize the gross and subtle fields of body energy and bring them in alignment with their natural vibration. It is the opening of a door on the level of highest awareness when consciousness becomes conscious of itself. It is from that state that the transformation and healing begin in a most natural way. All our experiences of love, joy, peace, health and happiness are orchestrated by consciousness from that field of unified state, the state of Yoga, and are our birthright to enjoy. This healing modality when combined with other methods of natural healing can have profound effects on healing the mind and body.https://www.himalayanyogainstitute.com/nada-yoga/
Sound bath sessions can vary depending on how the practitioner structures the session. Some sessions might begin with light stretches, or a guided meditation practice, or journalling to set the intention for the session. Then all participants have to do is to lay down comfortably on the yoga mat and trust the practitioner to do their work.
“A sound bath is where you immerse yourself in sound frequency,” explains Elizabeth Trattner, an acupuncturist nationally board certified by the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine. “Sound all around you creates a ‘bath’ of visceral sound where you can feel the frequency of sound in the deepest parts of your body. A sound bath creates a meditative state where the brain emits healing brainwaves.”https://www.menshealth.com/health/a38054011/sound-bath/
The core instruments used are usually crystal or tibetan singing bowls, as well as the gong. The deep vibrations are said to be able to help one release emotions stored up in our bodies.
My first experience was a “Reiki and Shamanic Sound” session, which combines Reiki Healing and Shamanic Sound Healing to assist in healing the physical and spiritual body. It was a powerful session – my tears flowed for most parts of the session. And I realised how much I have not processed the grief of losing my family pet dog.
My experiences have been mixed. In some sessions, I fell right into deep sleep. Maybe my body needed the rest at that time. I understand that even though I was in deep sleep, the work is still being done as the vibrations travelled into my body. I usually feel very light and refreshed after the session.
I am still exploring the different sound baths offered by different practitioners and am looking forward to healing and also experiencing a trance like state, akin to a meditative state. Give it a try if you feel called to!