Is Sound Bath Dangerous?
In this article, I would like to talk about playing singing bowls and gongs. I will make it really concise!
Please don't use the singing bowl or a gong as a marching drum! Both, metal singing bowls and crystal singing bowls are very delicate instruments. They are fragile and require a lot of respect! A good quality Himalayan singing bowl will sound as soon as you rest the mallet against its wall. If you want to experience the whole range of overtones, simply use a firmer mallet and gently tap your instrument with it.
I am inviting you to take the Singing Bowls For Beginners And Advanced Practitioners Course offered for to learn more about how to respectfully choose the right mallet for your instrument as well as how to correctly using it.
For your information, most of the complains coming from the listeners experiencing "sound bath" are related to loudness of singing bowls and gongs! Please always consider what is good for your audience and consult with the artist within you if striking a gong or a bowl intensely is the best thing you can offer to your listeners.
This article will help you understand the possible negative experiences your audience may have when you lead a sound bath, sound meditation, sound ceremony, or a sound healing session.
My name is Guy Beider. I discovered my purpose in helping people through the healing properties of sound. Twelve years have passed since my first public performance. It was called a "Sound Healing" session back then. While I considered many names for what I was doing, I tried to avoid using catchy titles that could turn off my audience. I was constantly seeing titles like "Sound Alchemy Healing" and "Shamanic Sound Healing", which raised questions about the authenticity of these events.
Someone came to my session one day and stated that he was very excited about his first "Sound Bath." It was not something I felt comfortable calling "Sound Bath". It's more than just bathing the listener with sound waves or soaping them with certain "healing frequencies". Sound meditation or sound journey requires deep knowledge and coordination with music theory, psychology, ethics, and psychoacoustics. The name "Sound bath" was popularized for no reason and everyone now knows what to expect from a Sound Bath.
While we all want to give things names that accurately describe their concepts, this article will focus on something else. Let's take a look at the opinions of experienced sound healing artists about what "shoulds" and "should nots" are advised to be followed when leading sound healing events. What are the pros and cons of sound baths and what are the qualities of sound healing practitioners that will help us to define whether he or she is a professional artist?
Thomas Orr Anderson, an activist in the sound workers community and a good friend of mine, asked sound healing practitioners to post negative reviews about their experiences with sound healing (sound baths). These reviews are worth printing and keeping in mind until you're a pro.
Bad experience of Sound Bath
- T.A. Poor Musicianship: This includes poor rhythm, rough or aggressive technique, disturbing dynamics, and excessive volume.
- A.K. on T.A.'s post: "I get what you are saying." My experience with sound baths and sound mediation is that they don't require music. Sound baths are essentially vibrations, so you're not expecting any musical performance. There's no set rhythm, melody, or harmony, which are essential elements of music. However, I find it interesting that you said "poor musicianship". A sound bath does not require any performance. It's just a matter of emphasizing healing vibrations. While dynamics are important, it's also important to have sensitivity from the healer. Although I understand what you mean, I am not sure if it is a semantic misinterpretation. However, I think the term "poor musicianship" is a misleading name because many sound healers are just as good as or better than musicians/sound healers.
- T.A. In parentheses, I have given more specific examples of what I mean when I say "poor musicianship " which is "poor rhythm", rough or harsh technique and disturbing dynamics. These features, regardless of whether you call them musical or not, are still important.
Every sound session including sound baths includes rhythm. A poor sense of rhythm can cause disturbances to the listener's heart rhythms and overall health. Vice versa. Sound healing sessions are those where the sounds are created by an individual rather than an electronic system. The technique can include roughness or harshness, which can prove to be very disturbing. Vice versa.
All sound sessions contain dynamics (changes in volume), which can be very sudden and disturbing. Vice versa.
All sound sessions include some overall volume... which may be too loud for your ears (such as when you strike a singing bowl or gong too hard and close to your ears). Vice versa.
This should clarify what I am referring to. Many sound healing workers have learned that even though they don't consider themselves "musicians ", it is a smart idea to pay attention to the fundamental features of musical performance. Because regardless of whether you call it music, the sounds must include the basic features that make music... which can be beautiful, harmonious, and therapeutic... or harsh and disturbing.
It is extremely helpful to learn the basics of music theory and performance techniques for sound healing workers.
- B.R. Excessive Attention to healing "Protocol" at the Loss of Attention and Sensitivity to Listeners and Environment.
- K.L. Insensitivity to audience / Recipients and Environment.
- G.G. A lack of pace and space...(space meaning... allowing silence - not the need to fill every moment with sound). It is not easy to convey the tone...the subtleties. T.A. is right. With the harsh technique, disturbing dynamics, and excessive volume!
- R.K. Ego
- G.B. I find it unnecessarily disturbing when the sound bath facilitator talks nonsense or talks too much.
- G.B. Singing bowls pulsating at dissonant rates are applied on the body for Vibro acoustical massage and playing at the same time.
- R.K. This is an excellent point to consider. Dissonance is a valid thing. But when people place singing bowls on their bodies, I often don't know what they are doing. We are beginning to realize that chakras don't have a particular "note" or frequency. But even if they did have, what knowledge do we have? To put a singing bowl vibrating at that note and strike it, it should elicit healing responses. Is it possible to determine if a crystal singing bowl or metal singing bowl will provide the most healing vibrations? When I go to conferences or group sound healing sessions, I find people with large bowls covering their bodies. I shake my head. This may feel great to some, (I liken it to someone who is extremely tense and stressed and gets a terrible message but feels better afterward), but most people have no idea what this is doing to the body or the biofield. All this assumes that singing bowls are in harmony. Dissonance can be a problem. My experience is that I'm akin to intense dissonance.
- My experience in plant medicine has brought me to new levels of awareness. When done with awareness, the dissonance and intense dynamics can bring out the parts of us that need healing. However, it can be uncomfortable to feel unstable if you don't have the right support (harmony, space, and integration).
- L.L. If the method chosen is the best for the client, I support and encourage it. To be able to determine which method is best for a client, you need either deep intuition or sound healing knowledge (ideally both). Yes, vibration can release blockages of energy. I have seen practitioners use "high octane methods" to do this, but they don't understand the full scope of healing, usually the aspects such as harmonization or integration. Sorry to be graphic, but I liken it to a festering wound full of puss. It is not possible to just drain and puncture the wound and expect it will heal without cleaning it. Many of the sound healing instruments that we use can do a lot without us "mastering" them much. My summary is that practitioners often don't understand how powerful the energy they work with is. I have found that it is not to be underestimated. I am grateful for those who cultivate awareness and are guided by their inner wisdom, not what they are taught or told. Knowledge in this field can sometimes be misguided as we have seen like an example of musical notes are being implemented to heal chakras. Thank you so much for your time and for the chance to have this conversation.
- K.M. Too loud! Whacking at the Gong
- D.K. Too loud and too close to your head.
- S.V. Too much or too little silence. Too loud and not enough space for silence.
- D.M. The sound bath facilitator played a pop song tune!!! This was repeated several times. It was the most bizarre sound healing class I have ever seen.
- F.P. Although it is hard, sometimes the challenge can prove to be very beneficial. Sometimes it is necessary to step out of your comfort zone. Sometimes, it's not always pleasant.
- J.S. Too many woo-woo beliefs are imposed on the unaware recipient. Too many woo-woo beliefs are used to interpret the recipient's experience.
- T.A. I'd like to mention that what would otherwise be a fantastic sound bath, needs no verbal commentary... the benefits are speaking for themselves.. "explaining" it too thoroughly with vague systems of poorly defined terms, is just an effective marketing tactic.
- T.O. Blasting glass singing bowls causing everyone headaches, placing Tibetan singing bowls on a hardwood floor and banging them with the hard stick. It all comes down to the facilitator's insensitivity, awareness, skills, and listening ability.
- J.K. Awareness is the key to my success. It's easy to tell when people don't pay attention to how sound interacts with people and spaces. Poor dynamics, banging on metal instruments, lack of spaciousness, lack of harmony, flow, and/or coherence, as well as a misunderstanding of how to properly use dissonance are all signs of this.
- A.L. Attentiveness... Attentiveness...derived primarily from deep listening.
- M.L. My partner got trodden on several times by a very famous sound healing teacher during a very famous gong bath!
- V.C. A gong stand was thrown onto an injured woman during the evening gong bath performance. It all happened after the same very famous gong bath teacher "Gong Master" spent several hours explaining to his gong master students how to properly set up a gong stand.
- C.S. Crashing gongs, crystal bowls, and Tibetan singing bowls, over hype on performance and not paying enough attention to holding a safe space for the sound bath audience.
When you work with a client, please consider relaxing the person with gentle, sweet vibrations, not making him or her tired of the loud sound and to surrender to your “heavy metal” music. Please remember, loud sounds are causing hearing loss.
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