Mental Health

How Sound Bath Meditation Can Help Cure Depression

Take your meditation to a new level.

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Following years of feeling inexplicably detached and unable to enjoy life, Rachel Baer was diagnosed with depression and anxiety. Her physician wanted to treat her with medication, but Rachel preferred trying a natural approach first and found a surprising therapy that helped her finally find joy again.

Time to paint on a smile and face another day, Rachel Baer sighed wearily as she stood in front of the bathroom mirror. Over the past few years, Rachel had grown progressively sadder. She knew she had every reason to be happy. She had her dream job as a yoga instructor, a loving family and a trusted circle of friends. Yet she just felt so empty inside. When she found herself contemplating giving up teaching, Rachel realized, I can’t go on like this, I have to get help.

Rachel made an appointment with her doctor, who diagnosed her with depression and anxiety and recommended that she begin taking medication. But as much as she wanted to feel better, Rachel hated the idea of taking drugs and worried about potential side effects. So with her doctor’s okay, she decided to try speaking to a therapist first.

Along with helping her identify sneaky stressors in her life and new ways to cope, Rachel’s therapist recommended she also consider trying holistic approaches to boost her mood, and suggested “sound baths.” Popular among yoga enthusiasts, Rachel had heard of the practice — which uses sound vibrations to promote a heightened state of relaxation. “There’s scientific evidence that shows sound can synchronize brain waves to activate the ‘de-stress’ response, among other things,” Rachel’s therapist explained. Hopeful, Rachel decided to give it a try. It certainly can’t hurt, she mused.

Sound of Healing

Rachel knew of a local yoga studio that offered sound bath classes and signed up for a session. When she entered the room, Rachel was greeted by the warm glow of candles. Lying down on her yoga mat, she spent the next hour simply listening to the instructor’s voice and various other sounds from an array of tools, including tuning forks, chimes and drums.

Rachel felt peaceful and relaxed during the first session, and by her third class, she was pleasantly surprised to find that the feeling of calm stayed with her throughout the day. That’s when she was totally hooked! With each session, Rachel felt more relaxed, and her mood brightened. A few months into attending sound baths, Rachel noticed she was once again enjoying life. And it showed. “Something is different about you. You look like you’re really taking care of yourself,” one of her yoga students commented, making Rachel smile.

It was true. Instead of beating herself up over a decision or comparing herself to others and feeling less-than, Rachel’s newfound calmness bolstered her self-confidence and led her to being kinder to herself.

Today, Rachel continues to attend sound bath classes a couple of times a month. She also practices the technique at home, using sound bath videos she finds on the internet and sounds streamed on her phone as she falls asleep too.

“I’ve never felt better,” Rachel cheers. “Since discovering sound bath therapy, I have gotten great control over my anxiety, and I am more confident in all areas of my life. And that’s particularly useful now to help handle all the stress in the world. It’s a heart escape!”

3 Sounds That Will Instantly Lift Your Mood

We’re living in incredibly anxious times. Thankfully, these sounds— that can be instantly accessed from your phone! — bolster emotional well-being and usher in peace:

  • Breezes boost blue moods: If you’re feeling blue, listen to wind rustling through trees — U.K. researchers say the sound stimulates the autonomic nervous system, leaving you 55 percent happier in just 10 minutes! To get that breezy boost anytime, anywhere, simply search “The Wind in the Trees” on YouTube.
  • Flowing water calms anxiety: Research shows that listening to the pitter-patter of falling rain slashes anxiety by 55 percent in 20 minutes. Only sunshine in the forecast? Simply download the free Nature Melody app and choose from 15 different soothing rain sounds!
  • Instrumentals ease sadness: Listening to instrumental music boosts contentment by 35 percent. “It also promotes relaxation and eases grief,” adds psychiatrist Marlynn Wei, M.D. Visit FreeMusicArchive.org to hear thousands of uplifting instrumental songs in all genres.

This story originally appeared in our print magazine.

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