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Can Sound Baths for Anxiety Ease Your Stress? What You Need to Know

“I’m so grateful I found healing!” — Mirian Ochoa

Music certainly has an impact on our mood — whether that’s song with a fast beat to get us pumped up and motivated, or a slow melody to help us feel calm and relaxed. Indeed, using sound as therapy stretches back to ancient times. And today, more and more people are turning to sounds bath for anxiety. This practice of playing musical instruments at specific frequencies to induce a meditative-like state can ease stress, improve mood and more. It worked for Miriam Ochoa when therapy and yoga failed. Read on for her inspiring story and to learn how you can use sound baths for anxiety.

What is a sound bath?

A sound bath is a “deeply immersive, full-body listening experience that uses sound and mindfulness techniques,” explains Sara Auster, a sound therapist, meditation teacher and author of Sound Bath: Meditate, Heal and Connect through Listening. “Participants typically lie on yoga mats and focus on their breath while listening to sounds created from overtone-emitting instruments.”

The instruments include tuning forks, gongs and Himalayan and crystal singing bowls, which are placed on or near the body and produce sounds similar to those in nature, like crashing waves or wind rustling trees.

Related: Top MD: “Sound Healing Has a Profound Impact on Mental and Physical Health”  — How to Get the Benefits

sound bath meditation singing bowl

How sound baths for anxiety work

With anxiety, our brain gets stuck in a cycle that’s difficult to escape, says Sandra Solano, MD, founder of Integro, a holistic wellness practice in Ohio. “It’s like having your alarm centers turned on and left on,” she says. “Sound, especially Himalayan singing bowls, can stimulate these centers in a way that knocks you out of the cycle.” Indeed, a study in the Journal of Evidence-Based Complementary & Alternative Medicine found that one session of singing bowl meditation led to a 60% decrease in anxiety and an 89% drop in feelings of tension. 

More benefits of sound healing: In one study, subjects saw a nearly 50% reduction in depression symptoms. In another, people who did a relaxation session with singing bowls lowered their blood pressure more than those who didn’t use sound.

How to experience sound healing

You can find group sound baths at yoga studios and wellness centers, and some practitioners offer one-on-one sessions. “An individual session will have the highest intensity, but even listening to the sounds of singing bowls on an app or on YouTube can help,” says Dr. Solano. 

Your main job during the experience is to focus on your breathing and listen. “You allow your brain waves to slow, shifting from a more active state to a more relaxed state,” says Auster.
To get the perks at home, try an app like Insight Timer or Dr. Kulreet Chaudhary on YouTube for streaming sound baths. 

Sound baths for anxiety success story: Mirian Ochoa

Mirian Ochoa sound healing
Mirian Ochoa

This is awful. I’m so scared I won’t finish, thought Mirian Ochoa as she stared at the computer screen, unable to write a word of her doctoral dissertation, overwhelmed once again with paralyzing anxiety. “I felt blocked and feared my years of graduate school work were for nothing,” she recalls. “I had to do something to ease the panic.”

“That was in 2022. Years earlier, I had been in a physically and emotionally abusive marriage and it triggered severe anxiety that arose whenever I was faced with an overwhelming challenge I felt I couldn’t control. 

Anxious and on edge

“Back in 2009, I had started receiving mental health counseling services. There, I was introduced to yoga and breathing exercises taught by Crystal Eshanov. But I was so anxious, and I had many difficult moments. I moved into an apartment by myself, away from my husband. I knew I had to separate myself from him for my own mental health. 

“I jumped into accounting and business administration classes at a community college, and being busy helped me escape my situation. I held several part-time jobs, doing tax preparation and working as an office assistant at the college. If I stopped and had a minute to think, I would get anxious. 

“The counseling helped me realize that I had anxiety from the trauma of the abuse and that I was a victim of domestic violence. I saw doctors who recommended medication to ease my anxiety, but I didn’t want it. I wanted non-pill alternatives. 

“I continued to do yoga, but it didn’t help much. And the therapy didn’t relieve my anxiety. I had many sleepless nights and usually felt like my body was wound up.

An unexpected remedy

Mirian Ochoa doing sound bath meditation
Mirian doing sound bath meditation.Mirian Ochoa/Getty

“Losing myself in studying made me feel a bit better, and eventually, I decided to get my doctorate degree. I had kept in touch with Crystal over the years, so when panic struck that day when I was working on my dissertation, I reached out to her. She asked me to come to her studio, Sage & Sound Holistic Wellness in Montclair, New Jersey, and try sound healing, using Himalayan sound bowls to restore health. It seemed weird, but I trusted Crystal and was desperate for help, so I went.

“In her studio, Crystal had me lie on a table. I closed my eyes and she placed vibrating bowls all over my body. I felt an instant internal connection with the bowls and the vibration, and relaxation and relief washed over me. At the end of the hour-long session, I felt no stress or anxiety. I was amazed, especially when the feeling lasted over a week.

“A few weeks after that, I joined a small group class Crystal was leading. My anxiety was back, so high that I could feel my heart racing. I lay on a yoga mat on the floor with the light low, flickering candles and calming scents. Again, my heart calmed down and I felt incredibly relaxed. 

Where she’s at now

“For the next year, all I focused on was my dissertation and going to sound healing sessions twice a month. When I graduated, Crystal gave me a Himalayan singing bowl, which I use to mimic the effect of the sessions. If I feel my anxiety growing, I put on a YouTube video with a healing vibration song, hit the singing bowl with a small mallet and place it by my head. The vibrations and sound quickly soothe me. I also go to sound healing classes twice a month with Crystal.

“Today, I sleep so much better and am able to control my anxiety enough to handle a full-time job and teach two classes as an adjunct professor. I have also reconnected with myself, and I feel peace. I’m so grateful I found this healing process!”

For more inspiring real-life health stories, click through:

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“I Finally Got My Life Back!” — How One Women Found Relief for Long COVID Fatigue

“My Chronic Headaches Are Gone!” — How One Woman Got Relief With Magnesium for Migraines

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