Try A Sound Bath For Instant Calm

Medically reviewed by April Justice, LICSW
Updated April 24, 2024by BetterHelp Editorial Team

The healing power of sound is a concept that has been extensively studied and recently grown in popularity. Though using sound as a therapy seems relatively new, this practice dates back to ancient times in Eastern traditions. In this article, we’ll explore a contemporary therapeutic process that uses the power of sound to promote relaxation and calm.

Looking to relieve stress and find healing?

What is a sound bath?

A sound bath is exactly what it sounds like: “bathing” the body and senses in sound waves, often from gongs or singing bowls. Sound baths are used for different purposes but are often believed to be meditative and healing with the ability to reduce stress and improve mental health.

What happens during a sound bath?

Though a sound bath seems like it may involve water, there is no literal bathing involved. Instead, individuals who participate in a sound bath experience the relaxing and meditative sound waves “bathing” their senses. For some, this feels like gentle vibrations paired with different frequencies. 

In a guided sound bath setting, individuals will likely be instructed to lie on their backs throughout the duration of the session. From there, the sound healing practitioner will utilize one or more instruments to facilitate sound healing. Singing bowls and gongs are commonly used, and participants simply listen and allow themselves to relax into the sound and sensations. The different sound healing instruments promote increased activity in alpha and beta brain waves, which can lead to a more relaxed state by lowering heart rate and breathing rate. 

Who can benefit from sound therapy?

Sound baths can be beneficial for anyone and everyone. Because sound baths are known to reduce stress and tension, they may be particularly beneficial for those experiencing high levels of stress and anxiety.

Studies have shown that sound baths can have positive effects on the mind, body, and spirit. In one study, participants who experienced Tibetan singing bowl meditation experienced decreased anxiety, tension, and depression, as well as increased spiritual well-being.

For most people, there often aren’t any side effects or downsides to sound bathing. However, it’s important to note that people who have had concussions should not participate in sound bathing. Additionally, those who are sensitive to noise, have epilepsy, have metal implants, or who are pregnant should avoid sound baths. If you are unsure if a sound bath is a good fit for you, be sure to check with your doctor.

Types of sound healing

Studies have shown that sound therapy may be calming because of the effect it has on brain waves that induce a state of relaxation. This effect is elicited using different types of sounds and vibrations produced by various instruments during sound healing.

Each sound therapy practitioner may have a unique set of instruments they use in their sessions. However, most sound healing instruments can provide the similar healing properties, including increased relaxation along with decreased stress, anxiety, and tension. The central premise of using these instruments in healing is to use sound frequencies, or vibrations, to help bring an individual back into harmony with their body and mind.

Singing bowls

Also known as Himalayan bowls, singing bowls are percussion instruments that are specially made to produce a deep, relaxing tone and vibration when played. Upon strike, this instrument produces a sound and a beat that continues long after being played. Singing bowls can be made of various materials, including crystal, iron, gold, and copper. Historically, they have been used by Buddhist monks as part of a meditation practice due to their unique attribute in facilitating both physiological and psychological responses.


Gongs are metal discs often made of bronze or a copper-based material centuries ago in East Asia, but possibly earlier. In fact, some sources report that these instruments originated during the Bronze Age (2000 or 3000 BC) and were used as a shield that was struck to signal attack or retreat. These percussive instruments create resonant, deep tones that promote healing and relaxation. During a gong bath session, you may be asked to lie down and cover yourself with a blanket to bring you to a comfortable place as the sound washes over you. 

Tuning forks 

A tuning fork is a two-pronged instrument that is U-shaped and is known as an acoustic resonator that was used as a pitch standard in musical tuning. In sound therapy, the vibrational resonance of the tuning fork is used in a similar way as in acupuncture. However, instead of using needles, practitioners use tuning forks to play different vibrational sounds and frequencies to stimulate various points in the body, which theoretically helps in clearing blocked energy.


As opposed to the other instruments in sound therapy, chanting involves using the human vocal cords to bathe the mind and body in relaxing sounds. Chanting can involve singing or rhythmic speaking of sounds or words, such as the word OM – one of the fundamental symbols of the yoga tradition. A common form of chanting sound therapy is Gregorian chanting. This often involves repeatedly chanting words or phrases in specific tones without any musical accompaniment. Chanting of all forms have been used for centuries to promote relaxation, decreased anxiety, and to improve health overall. 

What are the health benefits of sound baths?


Some people may be wondering, how can something as simple as sound act as a tool for healing? Though it may seem far-fetched, sounds can have a profound impact on our moods as well as our physical and mental health. Research, including a 2021 study, has shown that music is an effective treatment for neurological patients and people with mental health conditions. The same study notes that music has been shown to provide benefits in relation to heart rate, motor skills, brain stimulation, and immune system function.

Knowing how beneficial music can be, it makes sense that sound in general can provide profound impacts on individuals’ mental and physical health. However, because sound therapy often combines sound with some element of meditation, it can provide the benefits of both music and meditation. 

Examples of some of the benefits of sound therapy include:

  • Relieves symptoms related to anxiety and depression
  • Reduces stress and related body tension
  • Improves mood and reduces intense emotions, such as anger
  • Relieves headaches and migraines
  • Improves focus
  • Promotes relaxation and improved sleep patterns

Where to experience a sound bath

If you are interested in trying a sound bath, you may be wondering where and how to find this service. Many yoga and meditation studios offer some type of sound therapy. However, if your local meditation studios do not offer sound baths, a quick online search of “sound practitioner near me” or “sound bath near me” can be a good place to start. Additionally, you can facilitate your own sound therapy experience by utilizing meditation videos or online sound therapy videos. Though self-paced virtual sound therapy is not the same as an in-person sound therapy session, this meditative experience can still offer positive therapeutic effects.

Exploring more healing options

Whether you are interested in sound therapy or another type of healing, know that you are taking the first step toward being your best self. Therapy, particularly psychotherapy, is shown to not only improve mental health conditions but also lead to long-term health improvements, increased life skills, and improved work performance.

Therapy can be a useful tool for anyone, whether you are experiencing a difficult life transition or managing a mental health disorder. Working with a therapist can help you:

  • Learn to communicate more effectively
  • Feel more confident
  • Learn more about yourself
  • Develop stronger relationships
  • Manage and overcome fears or phobias
  • Treat mental health conditions
  • Build closer connections with friends and family
  • Learn to resolve conflict healthily
  • Increase self-awareness
Looking to relieve stress and find healing?

For those interested in a convenient therapy option, you may wish to consider online therapy. With online therapy, you can work with various types of therapists and therapy modalities to help you address the life stressors or mental health conditions that you’re experiencing. Additionally, online therapy allows you to receive treatment from the comfort of your own home, which may help minimize any stress related to the experience itself.

Studies have shown that online therapy can be just as effective as in-person therapy. A 2017 study compared traditional, in-person cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) to internet-based CBT and found internet-based CBT to be just as effective at treating various mental health conditions as in-person options. Additionally, researchers found it to be more cost-effective with better opportunities for those in rural areas.


For some, the idea of sound healing may seem “out there” or “new age”, and they may not take it seriously. However, as illustrated in this article, various studies demonstrate that sound therapy can be an effective intervention for lessening stress and anxiety, promoting relaxation, and improving mental, physical, and spiritual health and well-being. For additional stress-relief or treatment of mental health conditions, you might consider online therapy.
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