Healing Through Sound In Havre De Grace


Yoga Co.'s Studio on Congress Ave. (Credit: Yoga Co. / Bridgette Jester

HAVRE DE GRACE - Humans have been using sound to promote healing for thousands of years. Ancient greek physicians were known to use musical instruments as therapy, believing that the vibrations could aid digestion, treat mental disturbance, and induce sleep.

Downtown Havre de Grace, one woman is keeping this tradition alive and offering residents an opportunity to see if a sound bath is the right treatment for them.

Bridgette Jester, a sound bath practitioner and yoga instructor in Havre de Grace, says she hopes to use alternative medicine to help bridge the gaps left in mental health care.

"I had an epiphany that the mental health industry may not be the end-all-be-all of healing," Jester said. "It does do certain good things for the community, but it also leaves people wanting for connection and mindfulness."

What is a sound bath?

During a sound bath, participants lie on yoga mats while a practitioner plays a variety of musical sounds. The sounds are made using various of bowls, gongs, and other ancient instruments.

The goal is to create a relaxing, meditative environment where participants can enter into a brain state similar to REM sleep.

According to Jester, the sounds can help your brain enter the "theta brain wave state" and allows participants to let go of their fight or flight response.

"Our theta brainwave state is similar to REM sleep. When you're going into this space, during a session, what it's doing is helping you to get out of the fight or flight state and drop into the rest and restore state."

Although scientific research into this field is relatively new, a 2014 study exposed participants to 15 minutes of either repetitive drumming or instrumental meditation music while lying down. This study found convincing evidence that the sound bath caused a decrease in cortisol levels, a hormone that induces stress.

Creating a space where participants can easily relax and enter a meditative state can require careful planning.

"It's so dependent on so many things, the temperature of the room, the size of the space, what's in the room, you know, all of these are variables," Jester said.

To accomplish this, Yoga Co.'s studio on Congress avenue has been carefully set up to create a warm and welcoming atmosphere.

What are the benefits of a sound bath?

Mindfulness, Relaxation, and meditation are all benefits of sound baths. According to Jester, the overarching goal is to "bring intention into the space."

"It has helped my clients with PTSD, anxiety, depression, and more," Jester said. "The sounds are also a form of detox, so many people have unique experiences during a session. Some people will have different physical sensations, such as cold or warm feelings, similar to acupuncture treatment. Some people experience tremors or twitches in the body as they're in the space. It can also bring up emotional experiences for people."

Nayeli Garcia Mowbray, Havre de Grace resident and frequent sound bath attendee says she gains a sense of peace and mindfulness from the classes.

"It's exercising another part of our being. It gives me a chance to not only be still but also an opportunity to work through some stuff. Garcia Mowbray said. "Sometimes I'd come in pretty wired, but then the sounds do something that connects me to the ground and kind of brings me out of that."

Why are sound baths gaining popularity in the United States?

Mental health services of all kinds have been expanding enormously since the pandemic. According to the World Health Organization, the pandemic has triggered ​​a 25% increase in the prevalence of anxiety and depression worldwide.

As more people try alternatives to therapy and medications to deal with their stress, many have been seeking traditional medicine.

Jester says she felt a gap in mental health services in Harford County. Many who need help to find peace and deal with their problems have no access to counseling or other mental health services.

"There are certain things that are broken in the system that don't help people who need mental health healing. I wanted to find tools and alternatives that had started working for me and could maybe help others."

Jester now regularly leads sound baths at Yoga co. and has helped many residents find peace. She says she looks forward to expanding and hopes more people give it a shot.

"I'm grateful for the people that are more reserved and nervous to try it. They're open enough to come out and try something new and see if it's right for them, Jester said. "There are so many different tools we can put in our toolbox to help people. I hope my practice can be one of those tools."

To learn more about sound baths or sign up for a class, you can visit Yoga Co.'s website

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