For many, sound and music serve both as an outlet of expression and a form of relaxation.
Vibrational sound therapy takes the connection between sound and relaxation a step further. Sound therapy — which involves the use of Himalayan singing bowls — has been used for centuries to assist with healing and provide a natural way of cleansing negative energy and emotions.
The treatment is available locally at The Spa at Four Seasons Resort Orlando, which first introduced it to resort guests last summer. And as the resort reopens this month following a closure due to COVID-19, staff is ready to bring back the “good vibes.” Stephany Collins, master spa therapist at the resort, compares the treatment to tuning an instrument. It works to “tune” the body and improve functionality.
“Sound therapy works through the ears first and then to the brain to quiet your mind and bring about a meditative state that allows your body to truly relax, feel weightless and induce a dream-like state,” she said. “The vibration is soothing and stimulates your nervous system to ‘let go’ and allow true relaxation. As your muscle tension melts away, your circulation is increased, and your body is allowed a much-needed pause to make space for your body’s vital systems to get into rhythm.”
Vibrational sound therapy features special bowls, mallets and cushions made by artisans in Nepal. The Himalayan sound bowls used are made out of bell metal “with traces of seven sacred metals that align with each planet,” Collins said. The bowls are placed on cushions and gently set on and around the body, while the mallets are used to create the vibrations.
Tingsha bells, which emit a clear, harmonic tone, are used to begin the treatment. The sound is meant to clear the air and bring mental focus to the sound.
Derek Hofmann, senior director of the spa at Four Seasons Resort Orlando, said staff is always looking for new offerings to introduce for guests’ well-being.
“This service has been very popular since its introduction,” Hofmann said. “We’ve seen couples book and rebook, guests book in the evening to help them sleep better, and we’ve had some groups schedule group vibrational ‘sound baths’ for their attendees.”
Hofmann added that the bowls, together with spa therapists, make an intuitive team. Therapists focus on trouble spots based on the feedback the bowls provide, he said, and each bowl has its own sound character.
“We can audibly hear a change in the energy exchange that passes between the bowl and your body and work to clear any areas of stagnant stress, muscular adhesion or chakra imbalance,” Hofmann said.
Other benefits of sound therapy include an increase in energy, creativity and motivation; removal of toxins; stimulation of circulation; overall stress reduction and deep relaxation. Plus, spa-goers at the Four Seasons Resort Orlando have access to indoor and outdoor relaxation lounges, a locker room with an outdoor whirlpool and a solarium room with memory-foam loungers.
While a traditional massage comprises pressure and movement, the pressure in sound therapy is light and flowing with the movement of the bowls — even though the guests are lying still, Hofmann said.
“Your body will feel massaged, but in a deeper, yet gentler way,” he said. “You’ll finish your treatment with a very refreshed, renewed sense of well-being and energy. Additionally, this treatment can heighten feelings that reside below the surface. We have seen guests’ experiences range from euphoric and uplifting to cathartic and emotional. It really is an individualized experience for every guest.”