Music has been used therapeutically for centuries. Pythagoras, the ancient Greek philosopher, believed that music, when played at certain intervals, could relieve ailments of the body, mind, and soul.
Mike Reed, a musician and former punk drummer, was going through a bit of a rough patch when he discovered sound healing. After experiencing a sound bath—a deep meditation driven by instruments like crystal singing bowls—he was floored at how incredible he felt.
Then he realized he could do it himself. “I was like, ‘I can play all these instruments. I need to start offering it to other people,’ because I felt how powerful it was for me,” Reed says, sitting on a mat in a Port Moody studio. He just finished leading a bath and attendees, visibly blissed out, are slowly trickling out of the room.
Reed began doing sessions for friends and family, which led to his first public event in late 2018. The response was overwhelming. Now, Reed hosts sound baths at 15 different locations, from Mount Pleasant to Whistler, each month. Though not quite mainstream, the practice is becoming increasingly popular and already a craze in cities like New York and Los Angeles.
Reed’s baths are gently guided, following a particular flow developed from what he has found to be most effective. It begins with breath work and a body-scan to separate the experience from the rest of the day. Then, it moves through a soundscape of instruments including the ocean drum (which reverberates like crashing waves) and gongs. The gongs, with their heavy rumbles, especially help to descend into a peaceful headspace.
How does it work? “All the frequencies that can be perceived by the human hearing range are coming in at the same time,” Reed explains. “And the part of the mind that likes to organize things, analyze things, it gives up because it can’t grasp onto this stimulation overload. You fall into a theta brainwave state, which is meditation. From there, you click over into your parasympathetic nervous system. Your body goes through a self-healing process.”
The benefits include lowered anxiety, improved sleep, and pain reduction. Of course, sometimes uncomfortable stuff comes up, especially if you are someone who has a hard time slowing down your thoughts. But, Reed says, that is normal. “It’s actually a good thing, because that energy is moving through your nervous system,” he adds. “It can just be a really great way to relax, rest, receive, and tune yourself up to a higher vibrational frequency.”