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Take a sound bath in New West to quieten your 'monkey mind'

Bathe in the sound of gongs, ocean drums, and crystal bowls at New Westminster's Dancing Cat Yoga Studio, and let all the stress slip away.
As per sound healing practitioner Mike Reed, a sound healing session is a form of meditation that can help you relax and re-set.

"432 Hz, just remember that. That’s the love frequency,” said Mike Reed, musician and sound-healing practitioner.

The number stuck with Reed after he watched the documentary Sonic Geometry as part of his research into the role of sound waves in healing. 

According to a study published in the National Library of Medicine, listening to music tuned to 432 Hz, instead of, say 440 Hz, lowered heart rate, blood pressure and respiration rate. Anything tuned to 432 Hz can, according to a report published in University of California Press, make you happier. 

Reed's Instagram grid includes references to a study by American Psychological Association about how binaural beats help reduce anxiety, and yet another published in Science Daily about how sound waves help regrow bones. 

“We're going to discover more and more about how powerful it (sound waves) can be for healing. I think it was Nikola Tesla who said that ‘sound is the medicine of the future.’ So yeah, I definitely think that it’s an emerging field,” said Reed.

From being a musician to a sound-healing practitioner

Reed, who has been a musician all his life, discovered sound healing in 2016 by accident when he was in Long Beach, California. Back then, as part of his self-healing journey, he did a lot of yoga, he said.

One day, at the yoga studio he practised at, someone offered a sound bath session. “I lied down and received this experience… I was just so blown away by it.”

Post that session of listening to the sound of Tibetan singing bowls, ocean drums, and crystal singing bowls, Reed was “intrigued.”

“I had to learn about it. I just went down this big rabbit hole and got obsessed with it. I started acquiring my own instruments.” 

Reed went for training at Globe Institute in San Francisco, and then continued learning from the people he met there. “I learned a lot by just doing it, and getting live feedback.”

Starting out, Reed did one-on-one sessions with people at his home. He got them to fill out a questionnaire — what worked and what didn't work, and used that information to fine-tune his process. 

In 2018, he offered the first sound healing session to the public through his brand new company then, Sound Quest. “Since then, I've basically only been doing this for the last four years. I've done hundreds of these events for thousands of people now.” 

So, what happens in a sound bath session?

The basics of sound bath

Participants remain in a lying position for 90 minutes per session, while Reed exposes them to different sounds.

“I usually like to begin with a round of breathing techniques — it primes the body and the mind, gives a little separation from the rest of the day, and gets people more present in that space.” 

He then follows it up with a round of body scanning to get the participants “even more relaxed.”

“It's almost like a hypnosis, it gets people really settled in the theta brainwave (associated with sleeping or dreaming).”

Once they are settled in, Reed brings out his sound instruments.

“I have a variety of instruments from an ocean drum, which is an instrument that emits sounds similar to the waves of the ocean, and induces deep relaxation. Maybe I'll transition from there into using crystal singing bowls.”

Gongs are an important part of the process too.

“I like to spend the most time on those because I find that they are the most potent instruments in terms of achieving the goal of the sound bath, which is to get the mind to sink into that deep brainwave state — which is another way of saying meditation,” said Reed, who conducts three to four sound bath sessions per week in the Lower Mainland.

When you are in a sound bath session, you are in a state that’s “in between being awake and being asleep.” 

“From there, your nervous system will click over to the parasympathetic side of the nervous system (associated with relaxation), and you'll go into that deep rest and digest mode where you're in this almost non-thinking, ethereal place. And your body will go through its own self-healing process — the immune system starts going into overdrive, the nervous system resets and restores, your emotional body gets restored.” 

Reed sometimes plays the shruti box (an Indian instrument similar to harmonium), smudges some sage in the room, and has participants lie in a fetal position for a bit before asking them to get up.

The process has participants “restored, reset, and re-centred,” said Reed. “A lot of people have trouble just sitting by themselves, quieting the mind."  

"A sound bath can help you achieve that state… without your monkey mind getting in the way.”

Mike Reed will be organizing the sound bath sessions in New West’s Dancing Cat Yoga Studio next on Nov. 17. Tickets are priced at $52.50 per person.