In our dreams, we’re all those super-zen people who find time to dedicate to meditating amid a busy life of dreamily floating around, wearing tastefully billowy outfits and probably smelling subtly of sandalwood. In reality, however, we’re more likely to be harried by any number of stress factors and have difficulty finding the space and time for genuine mindfulness.
Sound baths offer a pleasant entry to meditation, be it as an add-on to your existing yoga practice or a first way to dip your toe into Eastern wellness ideas. You’ll lay down with others in a distraction-free space where instructors create calming sounds to ‘flow’ over you. It can be pretty emotional—weeping at your first sound bath is definitely not unheard of—but it can also provide an intense sense of calm in a crazy world. Think of it like a spa treatment for your mind.
No surprise, Los Angeles has tons of great options for taking in a soothing sound bath, from roving instructors who pop up at our favorite yoga spots to opera singers turned sound healers and even hip takes on sound baths with equal parts ancient technique and distorted-guitar drone. Explore some of our top picks below.
Jamie Ford is one of L.A.’s most acclaimed sound bath leaders—and probably among the most prolific as well, with a calendar often packed with seven or more sessions in a given week. She rotates between several local yoga studios and her own studio, the Sound Space, in Eagle Rock, where she has an extensive set-up of gongs and bowls for private or small group sessions and a retail space offering sound bath supplies should you wish to replicate the experience at home. She can also be hired to bring the sound bath show on the road to your private party or event. Prices vary, ranging from around $20 for a basic sound bath at the One Down Dog yoga studio to $125 for a private sound bath and Reiki healing session.
Unplug, a space in Brentwood dedicated entirely to meditation, offers a Saturday evening sound bath each week featuring Tibetan sound bowls, quartz crystals and gongs. The space also offers related sessions on Chakra work and crystal healing as well as traditional guided meditation sessions. The sound baths are $24 for non-members with various discounted packages available for regular meditators.
As a classically-trained opera singer, Geeta Novotny has taken the stage at Carnegie Hall, performed with the Los Angeles Opera and recorded with Andy Summers for the David Lynch Foundation. Now she specializes in combining her human voice with quartz crystal singing bowls. She believes her ‘multi-therapeutic’ approach can help ease symptoms of chronic pain, illness and stress-related disorders in addition to helping participants find a sense of tranquility. She’ll be appearing at the Esalen Institute’s benefit weekend in Big Sur, October 14 to 16; follow her website for other event announcements or hire her for a private workshop.
Practitioner Susan Paul leads the sessions at this La Brea meditation center. The DEN highlights their use of black tourmaline bowls in particular, which are said to have particular powers in clearing negative energies and reversing some of the damage caused by electro-magnetic fields we’re exposed to from hanging around cell phones and computers all day. Sessions are $22 individually or offered in bundles of five for $100.
Musicians Brian Griffith and Ang Wilson offer a modern take on the sound bath, combining the traditional crystal and acoustic-sound creating devices with modern instruments and amplified drones. They use crystals and singing bowls, but also bass guitar and distortion pedals. On the first Sunday of each month, you can catch their AcuXReiki Sound Bath at Golden Folk Wellness in Silver Lake, where they team up with a Reiki healer and acupuncture specialist for a brunch-time healing experience ($33). On the last Sunday of the month, they’re at the Silver Lake JCC for an evening workshop focused on breathwork and ambient soundscapes ($20 or pay-what-you-can).