CAN CHIMES, GONGS, AND SINGING BOWLS HELP ALLEVIATE STRESS AND ANXIETY?
BY AMIRA JENSEN
Published: April 24, 2017
An hour before my first-ever sound therapy session, I am frantically searching for something to wear. I’m nervous, unprepared, and ultimately 10 minutes late to my appointment with Everitt Allen, owner of Sound Therapy of Austin. The frenzied pace of my life right now is exactly why I seek ways to quiet my mind.
I arrive at Allen’s home studio in Southwest Austin, where he invites me to sit at his kitchen table to go over my intake form and give a quick rundown of what is going to happen for the next 40 minutes. He then walks me over to his therapy room, where we take off our shoes outside the door. (Unlike massages, you keep your clothes on during sound therapy.) Inside, it almost looks like a typical spa room—warm lighting, a dressed massage table, essential oils at the ready—but with the addition of gongs, chimes, and Tibetan singing bowls in various sizes.
I lie down on my back on the heated table, and Allen places a blanket over my legs (since I opted to wear a dress) and a lavender-scented cover on my eyes. He positions a bowl between my feet and begins the session. Much like in a yoga class, he asks me to evaluate how I’m feeling that day and to consider setting an intention for the session. He taps the bowl at my feet a few times, which he later explains is for grounding, then he puts a bowl on my chest. With every tap my body vibrates, feeling as though the sound of the bowl is coming out of my ears and filling the air rather than the opposite flow. It is unlike anything I’ve ever experienced before, similar to but not quite the same as when you can feel the bass vibrate through your body at a loud concert.
Allen moves the bowls to my shoulders, arms, stomach, and legs, tapping a few times before moving on to the next area. He then plays the sound pipes above my head and lets the gongs thunder at my feet before quietly leaving the room. I am left to process the experience and re-awaken my senses before rejoining him in the kitchen, where he has made tea for us.
Having practiced sound therapy for a decade, Allen says most people who seek out the practice are like me—wanting relief from anxiety or stress. My session is what he calls a “chakra tuneup,” and his intent was to reopen the flow of energy from each chakra. For others, the sessions can be a form of direct pain relief. The vibrations of the bowls, he says, are like a pebble in water, echoing deep down into the body’s cells.
Hours after my session, I still feel euphoric, and my limbs rebel from wanting to work, overcome by a relaxed heaviness. The experience was like an alternative massage, and the dreamy state it put me in was a welcome change from the frenzy I often create for myself. I expect to keep this therapy in my arsenal of ways to deal with the chaos of life. Next time you feel stressed out, consider this sound advice.