From harmonised water to products that promise to re-align your chakras, the wellness world is quite literally buzzing. At the forefront of the headspace movement is Sound Sebastien – the brainchild of wellness gurus Jasmine Hemsley and Toni Dicks – a unique sound bath experience that claims to be the ultimate antidote to urban life, helping stressed-out souls to unwind, tackle anxiety and heal physical and emotional pain. We booked in for a session to see if it lived up to its promises...
So what exactly is a sound bath?
A sound bath is a type of meditation that uses sound healing and involves lying in a darkened room while instruments are played, bathing participants in sound and bringing them into a meditative state. This sound is created by various instruments including Himalayan metal or crystal singing bowls, gongs or electronic instruments. With no melodies or lyrics for the mind to attach to, sound and simple rhythms reduce brainwaves to an alpha or theta state (out of ‘thinking mind’), bringing people more in touch with their subconscious, where healing can happen.
What does it feel like?
First up, it’s loud. The sound is not unlike that of a wine glass being rubbed along the rim with a finger, but amplified 50 times and with a resonance you can feel. Certain notes reverberated like small ringing symbols in our head and, at first, we felt almost light-headed and emotionally overwhelmed. It may sound out-there, but we soon became aware our feet were tingling – we were later told this is a sign the vibrations and healing energy were entering our body. Despite struggling to mentally switch off (thoughts of what we would write in this piece and what we would have for dinner were, at times, on a par with the vibrations), the hour was up before we knew it and we drifted home in a bubble of palpable calm albeit a little underwhelmed by the experience.
We couldn’t help but wonder how others in the room had reacted to the sound bath – were we the only ones who struggled? As Jasmine Hemsley reassures us, we weren’t alone: “Every sound bath is different – some days you’ll sink right in with ease, while other days it will take longer for you to feel the benefits. You may fall asleep in one session, yet in another you may be filled with creative thoughts. It’s also not uncommon to experience feelings of levitation and as if parts of your body are, quite literally, vibrating.”
Does it actually work?
The jury’s out – while we did feel intensely relaxed immediately after the session, the effects were short-lived and we felt we’d gone back to square one by the following morning. We also slept badly the night after the session, which had us perplexed – we’d been assured we’d sleep like a baby and wake up feeling refreshed. Where did we go wrong? After doing some research into whether others had experienced the same, we discovered a 60-minute sound bath can have the same restorative effect as three hours’ worth of sleep. So maybe the vibrations had worked their magic after all and we genuinely weren’t tired when we hit the pillow at 10pm that night.
While there aren’t any scientific studies to validate sound healing, health experts have suggested alternative therapies can act as a placebo and even if they break your cycle of stress for 15 minutes, that’s sometimes enough to have a therapeutic effect.
Who’s it for?
Despite claiming to be for meditation beginners and pros alike, as an entry-level headspace fan we struggled to quieten our mind for an entire hour and prefer a guided spoken meditation through apps like Calm or Headspace. However, if you’re looking for a new-gen way to tackle stress and calm a busy mind, who’s to say it’s not worth a try?
Priced at £37 for an hour’s session, Sound Sebastien doesn’t come cheap, but individual Tempur pillows, lavender-filled eye masks and ayurvedic tea are included in the price. Sound Sebastien is held at The London EDITION – upcoming dates are 5th, 12th and 19th February; sessions are held at 6:30pm and 8pm.