When I met Julius Betila in midtown Manhattan one unseasonably humid Spring afternoon, I had encountered all of the delays one would expect when already running late. I was hot, sweaty, flustered, and irritated. Was I speaking too quickly and too loudly? Did I leave the iron on? I needed a bath.
We had a brief exchange after a group Sound Bath earlier in the year in Forest Hills, New York, where he is based and I was looking forward to finding ways to collaborate. As we began our meeting, I was quickly enamored by his easy, cool and humble demeanor. He shared thoughts which resonated with me:
In this fast paced world of multi-tasking and hyper-connectivity taking a pause is a radical act.
I immediately knew I was going to like this guy.
So, What is a Sound Bath?
First of all, this is not code language for a kinky, ritualistic cuddle puddle gone wild. There is no disrobing. Shed only your daily cares and sink in to the sounds. The sonic vibrations harmonize the body with the sound waves of drums, singing bowls, chimes, gongs, bells, tuning forks and flutes to create a concert that facilitates a meditative state. Find a comfortable position, lay back (or sit) and let the waves cascade over you to "wash" the stress away. Silently shift to alpha and theta states. Soon you drift into that delicious lucid "in-between" space that is neither waking nor sleeping. You may dream or have visions. You may experience temperature changes. You will enjoy the simple simulated pleasure of floating in a bathtub in a city where bathtubs are a luxury item. You will relax.
Once relegated to "New Age-y hippie-talk" and the metaphysical realm, the increasing popularity of yoga and the services offered by its studios has helped to "mainstream" sound baths to a position in modern science. (The practice, by the way, has been around for thousands of years, thanks to the Tibetans.) We have all seen the research on the benefits of meditation and according to The Washington Post, "in terms of sound baths, researchers have found that sound waves affect the human nervous system and decrease blood pressure more than traditional meditation." There is no dogma, guru or religious affiliation. This is complete full-body bliss and a total mind reset. I'm not sure if we are tuning in to tune out or tuning out to tune in, but expect restful sleep, clarity and a productive day ahead.
Julius is offering several outdoor sound baths this summer as a community service to make this healing modality available to all. If you are in the New York City area, you can enjoy a free Gong Bath from Julius in a waterfront park in Long Island City Thursday, August 3rd, 14th, 21, and September 11 at 8pm, after the Weekly Yoga Summer Sunset Sessions (7pm) which is led by Melissa (Otero) Lomax on Mondays and Thursdays. Sound waves carry on water, so remember to stay hydrated! The sunsets are beautiful here and I'm not just saying that because I am from Queens. TripAdvisor thinks so too and lists it as a Top Thing to Do in Long Island City. Hunters Point South Park is adjacent to major highways, tunnels, bridges and subways, making it easily accessible by train, bus, bike, ferry or car.
Communing outdoors with instruments creates a dynamic union with the elements – reminding us that we are all connected. Julius Betila
Julius Betila is a sound therapy practitioner exploring sound as a form of energy to bridge his background in science with spiritual transformation. He uses various sacred instruments like the gong, drums, flutes, chimes, and a shruti box to create a supportive space for remembering and reconnecting with our inherent state of well being. Find more at www.soundhealingvibrations.com
Ann O'Connor is a "Cultural Collaborator," Board Member of the Hunters Point Parks Conservancy and owner of Zoescope Studio. The studio brings humans together and combines elements of the arts, culture, education, healing and environmental awareness to build and activate communities through socially- conscious, inclusive content and engagement. I hope we meet in the space of Real"Social" Media - LIVE and in-person. Zoescope is derived from the Greek "Zoe" meaning "Life": See Life Differently.