Week 41: Vibrational Sound Therapy [Score +4]
Have you ever discussed a shared memory with a friend and realized that the two of you had very different recollections of the same moment in time? I find this fascinating and good to be reminded of regularly. My latest intrepid activity—and the comparison of personal experiences immediately afterward—reminded me of exactly that phenomena.
I Can Hear the Bowls...
On a recent, blustery Saturday, my mom and I toted our yoga mats to a Vibrational Sound Therapy Concert in the yoga studio at Hendricks Regional Health in Danville.
Go ahead. Scrunch your eyebrows together and allow a confused look to pass over your face. I’ll explain.
Tibetan Singing Bowls are ancient, bowl-shaped upside-down bells traditionally used by Buddhist monks to facilitate meditation. Each bowl, when played with either a single strike or by running a mallet around the rim, produce a single note at a frequency that helps to center your focus. The sound waves themselves are believed to connect with the body’s chakras, be healing to the body, and at the very least induce a relaxed state of mind.
Before this class, I’d seen and heard bowls a few times before, but with limited exposure. I was curious to have a more intentional experience.
After leaving our shoes outside the door, we padded into the yoga studio in our stockinged feet and saw a single table in the middle of the room laden with the bowls of the hour. A dozen or so bowls of varying sizes filled the table, some metal bowls as small as an ice-cream dish, other crystal bowls as big as a lamp shade.
Our leaders—two massage therapists at the hospital, Rochelle and Allyson—encouraged us to get warm and comfortable: grab bolsters, blankets, towels, anything you’d need to relax into a 30-minute savasana.
After a very brief introduction and orientation (too brief, in my opinion), they began by leading a brief guided meditation. Over the course of the next half hour, they only played the bowls: some by themselves, some in overlapping pairs. Rochelle remained at the table, playing a variety of bowls in sequence. Early in the class, Allyson came around to each of us in turn with one of the bowls and placed it on our stomach. There, she rang it five times so you could physically feel the vibration ringing through your body.
To close out the session, Rochelle walked in circles around each of us with a contained, tinkly chime. It was my favorite sound the whole time; it made me think of a wind chime in a summer breeze.
One Class, Many Experiences
What I found most interesting about this class was the comparison of my experience with my mom’s afterward: I felt it was relaxing, interesting, and a nice meditation. The big bowls’ tones were so deep and resonant I could feel the wavelength of the note enter one ear and out the other. It was amazingly intense, almost uncomfortably so for me.
As we walked out, Mom asked me, “What did you see behind your eyelids during that?”
“Huh?” I said, confused. “Nothing…?”
In her experience, throughout the class, Mom saw vivid, bright colors flowing behind her eyelids. Bright blues, greens, purples, and on. She loved it and left the class feeling energized and exhilarated.
My experience—lying four feet away from her—was nothing like that. The biggest bowls’ tones for me were so intense that I couldn’t fully relax. I tend to be particularly sensitive to sounds—loud sounds, repetitive sounds—and I think that prevented me from not relaxing more deeply.
What does this tell me? It’s worth trying things for myself, to draw my own conclusions and form my own opinions. The reviews of others, while valuable, will only take me so far.
- Did something outside my routine: +1
- Left the house: +1
- Did something entirely new: +1
- Activity benefits my health/wellbeing: +1