Blog Post

Is Sound Bath Therapy New Age?

CA writes: “Here's a question about sound bath meditation. It sounds relaxing, but I want to make sure it's not New Age. I kind of think it is and so I've been afraid to attend. It's held in an Episcopal Church, not a Catholic one. They use ‘Alchemy Crystal singing bowls with amazing healing powers.’”

Although frequently touted as an ancient practice with "amazing healing powers", the sound bath therapy experiences so popular today have no credibly substantiated healing effects and have their origins in today’s New Age movement.

For those who have never heard of it, a sound bath is known as a “full-body meditative experience” where a person lays down and listens to resonant sounds such as those produced by singing bowls.

As this article in Medical News Today explains, “Just as a typical bath involves a person immersing themselves in water, a sound bath attempts to immerse a person in sound, so they feel enveloped in it. In most cases, the bath involves singing bowls, which are small bell-like instruments that create a resonant tone when a person strikes them.”

New Age enthusiasts claim that sound bathing is a healing practice but while some studies say the practice can help a person relax, there is no evidence that it can heal or treat any medical condition.

As Medical News reports, a 2020 study with 105 participants who took part in one 40-minute sound bath were found to have shown a reduction in negative mood and increases in positive move afterward.

Singing bowls have also been tested. One small 2020 meta-analysis of four studies found that their use led to general improvements in well-being, and reductions in distress, anxiety, depression, and pain.

Another study found that blood pressure, heart rate, and respiratory rate also improved.

“However, the studies were small, and the review’s authors emphasized the need for more research," Medical News reports.

As for the origins of sound bath therapy, the Buddhist non-profit Tricycle Foundation admits that the exact origins are unclear. Some believe they originated in Tibet because singing bowls are often referred to as “Tibetan” singing bowls, but the evidence points to contemporary Western or New Age spiritualism for the origin of today’s sound therapy.

Listening to the repetitious, echoing sound of the bowls is indeed relaxing, but New Agers take it much further and claim that the bowls “are not just heard by the ear, but by the whole body – with certain tones affecting your energy centers for meditation, balancing and healing,” this site explains.

It goes on to make the unsubstantiated claim that, “Because our bodies – right down to our DNA, are also crystalline in structure, there can be overwhelming effects on the circulatory, metabolic and endocrine systems, as well as the organs, tissues and cells when working with alchemy singing bowls.”

As for alchemy singing bowls in particular, the site quotes a “renowned crystal bowl master” named Ashana who says that when played, “alchemy bowls help entrain us energetically to higher, more refined, vibratory frequencies. Often… and sometimes this happens literally in a matter of moments…hearing the sound of an alchemy crystal singing bowl can initiate profound shifts in wellbeing, relaxation, awareness and expansion of consciousness.”

Alchemy singing bowls are very problematic as they are used in superstitious ways. For example, Modavite Platinum Bowls for Divine Feminine and Ascension supposedly create “healing portals to higher consciousness”. Apophyllite w/Pink Aura Gold Alchemy for Love and Purification allegedly “vibrate pure energy of unconditional and courageous love”, and the Mother of Platinum Alchemy bowl is said to carry the energy of Venus, the goddess of love.

Obviously, submitting oneself to practices of this nature is problematic for Christians.

The fact that sound bath therapy utilizing alchemy singing bowls is being hosted by a Christian church is concerning. We can only commend CA for her well-honed spiritual instincts which warned her to “look before leaping” into this questionable practice.

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