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Sound therapies and silent treatments

May 14, 2024 - As one of our (six) senses, sound is close to our heart and something we incorporate into a variety of wellness therapies, retreats, and experiences. We also make space for silence and the healing power of stillness. Here’s how both have a place.

Ancient wisdom, modern application

Sound is omnipresent, universal, and immersive, with the power to touch us to the inners of our souls. Across our properties, our VP of Wellness Mark Sands, who has been working at the forefront of the wellness industry for 20 years, ensures that ancient sound healing practices and cutting-edge audio technology are being heard loud and clear.

“Sound and music are an effortless way to change your emotional state. We often talk about breathwork, but what’s fascinating about sound is that it all happens without thinking. Through vibrations, it touches our whole selves physically and emotionally,” says Mark. “Sound is rooted in the traditions of every culture and community, and it is a real pleasure to see the transformative power of sound healing on our guests.”

It's hard to put a date on sound healing. Australian aboriginal tribes used the “yidaki” or didgeridoo as a sound healing instrument dating back 40,000 years. The Shakya clan in the Kathmandu Valley still chant with mantras while they handcraft Tibetan singing bowls, using the same method that goes back to the time of Buddha.    

Using singing bowls for healing is based on the idea that the human body possesses a different resonant frequency. The body is in a healthy state when each cell and organ resonate in harmony with the whole being. When energy flow in the body is hindered, the affected area vibrates out of tune and may cause illness. The sound frequencies created by the singing bowls restore the flow of this energy and bring about a state of well-being.

There’s a reason why we offer a signature singing bowl ritual before and after each of our spa treatments, says Mark: “Taking people through an experience where there’s a moment of reflection to disconnect from anything digital and pause in the present moment enables our guests to reconnect with themselves and their breath. As the therapist moves the singing bowl in a prescribed path around your shoulders and crown chakra, over the third eye, throat, and heart chakras, coming to rest on the solar plexus chakra, the vibrations travel through your body, triggering a transformation of energy and increasing the benefits of the treatment. The short ritual culminates with the respectful wai, the gesture of palms pressed together in a prayer-like fashion, a subtle nod to our rich Asian heritage.”

Group and individual sound therapies with a local twist

An integral part of our group weekly activities, sound baths – so named because the sound is said to “wash over you” – are great for calming a noisy mind. Each property incorporates a local variation, as Mark explains, “One of our loveliest ways to induce healing at Six Senses Vana is meditating to Raag therapy, which brings out positive emotions as you lie listening to the hypnotic sounds of the flute. Six Senses Spa Elounda incorporates the pure tones of crystal singing bowls, along with oceanic drums to reflect the soundscape of the Aegean. Sound healing in our jungle spa at Six Senses Ninh Van Bay offers the added soothing benefit of natural streams flowing nearby.”

During a one-to-one private session, sound healing includes a self-reflective process where you can work through stress or anxiety. “Certain sounds activate the parasympathetic nervous system — the part of the body that regulates rest —helping your muscles to relax, breathing to slow, and blood pressure and heart rate to lower. You may also have a creative ‘aha!’ moment,” says Mark. “Sound becomes a whole underwater journey at Six Senses Spa Douro Valley, where 20-minute floating experiences take you through chanting mantra music, sounds of dolphins, or bespoke compositions for underwater environments. Back on dry land, we also incorporate binaural beats to convert our biohacking recovery lounge into a very private experience.”

The premise behind binaural beats is that the brain synchronizes its brainwave frequency to the two separate Hertz of the tone played in each ear. You could be listening to a sound in your left ear  at a frequency of 132 Hertz, and in your right ear, you’re listening to a sound  at a frequency of 121 Hertz. Your brain gradually falls into synchrony with the difference — or 11 Hertz – which, depending on the frequency, can lead to relaxation from the beta waves or meditative trance-like theta waves. As part of meditation practice, they can help calm the mind and reduce the number of random or distracting thoughts.

Retreat into sound

Decent beats are integral to our Sanctum retreats, coming to Six Senses Rome from May 24 to 26 and Six Senses Crans-Montana from October 3 to 6, 2024. With influences including kundalini, Native American vision quests, Buddhist therapies, primal movement, t'ai chi, and “ha” chanting from Japanese martial arts, the blueprinted Sanctum sequence – part dance, part aerobics, part breathwork, part your own free expression – guides you to release and let go.

The beautiful melodies and evocative verses of Sufi and Bhakti poets will be brought to Six Senses Vana from June 17 to 22, 2024, as we celebrate Echoes of the Mystic, a Kabir Musical Retreat by Vipul Rikhi.

And if you can’t find a sound to soothe you, why not create your own? The professional beachfront Recording Studio at Six Senses Ibiza is kitted out with impressive McIntosh and Sonus faber equipment for producing, mixing, and recording music. With the full support of a professional studio manager and sound mixing editor, harness the resort’s light, beauty, and natural rhythms to allow space for creativity to flow, celebrate music, and let the island’s magical properties help you delve into your own musical journey.

From sound to silence

Along with hyperconnectivity and overstimulation, noise is another bad habit in our busy lives.  What better time than a vacation to reset?

Mark agrees the absence of noise can be a powerful tool. By resisting the urge to fill every moment with activity, you can create a moment of stillness to tap into your inner wisdom: “We offer aquatic bodywork in a heated Watsu pool at many of our resorts, and with or without singing bowls at Six Senses Vana. While in deep relaxation, the therapist applies gentle stretches to align your head and the base of your spine. It is a subtle and gentle form of therapy where the body intuitively rebalances the mind.”

Some of the activities that were once considered niche are now enjoyed by many of our guests and can be easily adapted for families and little ones too. Children love the tactile nature of our singing bowls and drums and, despite what you may think, find comfort in silence and stillness too.

“We’ve offered versions of forest bathing and yoga nidra for years, both of which induce conscious meditation,” says Mark. “We’re now enjoying contemplative walks, incorporating sacred geometric patterns such as labyrinths, a beautiful example being at Six Senses Kaplankaya.”

At this beautiful Bodrum resort, we invite guests on a kind of ‘pilgrimage’ to connect with the energy of the space as they walk mindfully and meditatively through the labyrinth, feeling their body and soul becoming one. Mark continues, “In a way, you’re getting lost to find yourself. Moments like these, along with full moon rituals and fire ceremonies, are just another way to connect with what’s important, let go of what no longer serves you, and usher in new meaning or purpose. What was once  considered a little ‘fringy’ is now highly popular with guests of all ages, so bring your child or your inner child!”

Best of all, to enjoy our sound or silent therapies, there’s no preparation or special equipment needed.

For more information, please email enquiries-spa@sixsenses.com.

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