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Sound Baths with Jess Gray

SUMMARY

  • Intro to sound baths 0:00
  • How long have you been doing sound baths? 1:23
  • Benefits of the practice 2:52
  • Music as a form of meditation 5:44
  • The meditation challenge 7:49

TRANSCRIPT

Dayna Schmidt-Johnson
Hi everyone, welcome. My name is Dayna Schmidt-Johnson. I'm the Community Manager of the Writual Society and the house astrologer. Today we're going to be talking about sound that's a super deep, relaxing meditation experience using sound waves for all kinds of health benefits. And to tell us more about sound baths is wellbeing guide and curator of joyful experiences, Jess Gray. Welcome, Jess!

Jess Gray
Hi. Hey, yeah. Thanks for having me! I'm really excited to be here.

Dayna Schmidt-Johnson
Absolutely. We're really excited to have you here and to talk about what sound baths are. I love that you say you're a creator of joyful experiences. A sound bath sounds like a totally joyful experience. What the heck is it?

Jess Gray
Yes. So sound baths or sound healing or sound therapy has different names. It is a form of meditation. But I like to describe it as a full body listening experience. So you're not just hearing the sounds, you're experiencing them on a physical, mental, emotional and spiritual level. 

Dayna Schmidt-Johnson
That takes it to a whole new level. I was like, prepared for just like, lay and listen to some music. But this is like a full body experience that you're talking about.

Jess Gray
Yes, and different instruments and noisemakers can be used. I know the crystal singing bowls are really popular. I have one of my like, Tibetan bowls right here that I use, different chimes, you'll see gongs. But yeah, the different instruments are played. And of course, the goal is for you to enter into a meditative state. 

Dayna Schmidt-Johnson
So how long have you been doing this? Where did you pick this up?

Jess Gray
So I've been doing sound baths since 2018. I really started doing them regularly, like, be more visible about it. And in 2020 when we all went to lockdown, I was looking for a way to to connect with other people. And I know we all were just kind of isolated and fearful and just unsure of what was happening. And so I would go on Instagram Live, and I would give free sound baths, on Instagram. And then that's how more people learned about my offering. And so yeah, 2020 is when it really picked up. But I've been doing it since 2018. And I've been playing instruments in general since I was like four.

Dayna Schmidt-Johnson
Awesome. So you are an instrumental girl, you're coming at this, in that, that way of just providing the sound, whatever instrument it comes from. Yeah, so cool. What are the benefits of a sound bath? Why should we show up for this event?

Jess Gray
Yes. So similar to when people know about meditation, you want to feel more calm, more relaxed, it can improve your sleep patterns. If you're struggling with anxiety and depression or just want to get your stress levels under control, it can definitely help with that. And in general, it doesn't have to be anxiety, depression, it can be just improves your mood. It can also help with your focus or concentration for folks who like to play, you know, different music while they're studying or working. There's definitely a benefit there. So yes, it's similar to what people know about meditation. 

Dayna Schmidt-Johnson
Yeah. And that's my next question - how is it different? Is it really just meditation? With sound and you're talking about like being a whole body experience? That hasn't been my experience with meditation, so this does sound different?

Jess Gray
Yes. So yes, while it is a form of meditation, it's my favorite because it feels more approachable than some others, people tend to think of meditation is like, be completely still, no thoughts, which really, that's not what meditation is. But that's a whole other conversation. But all you have to do is be in within reach of the sound. If you have a different hearing ability, even the vibration of the sound can be beneficial to you. You don't actually have to hear it. 

Dayna Schmidt-Johnson
Yeah, yeah, that makes sense. Because sounds are vibrations, and the vibrations are the waves that are shifting within us, right?

Jess Gray
Yes, yeah.

Dayna Schmidt-Johnson
At least that's how I understand the scientific principle of sound waves.

Jess Gray
Yes, and like, the ideas, like whenever there's a frequency other things kind of synchronize with it rise up to meet the same meet the same frequency. And so when the sound is washing over you, different sounds, different notes have different energy behind them.

You can also set intentions. If you're someone who likes to do intentions and affirmations for what you would like to receive from the session. You can do that.

But yeah, the the sound washes over you, you don't have to do anything except be in the presence of it. Some people like to lay down. I've had people go completely to sleep within five minutes of the session starting. I've had people like sit up, you know, like, they're like they would cross leg like their normal meditation. I've had people start stretching or doing different yoga poses while I'm playing. So it's like, whatever feels right to you whatever way you need to experience the sound. As long as you're not disturbing your neighbor. I'm like, go ahead.

Dayna Schmidt-Johnson
Yes, just get into whatever you need to do. That's awesome. What do you love about doing this practice and providing sound baths? 

Jess Gray
So I mentioned that I've been involved with music playing instruments singing since I was really, really young. And so when I graduated from school, I was looking for different ways to just manage all the stuff I was feeling and experiencing, looking for ways to be more grounded and centered, and like managing anxiety and low vibrational thoughts, all that stuff.

And so you know, I was exploring different modalities. And I started trying meditation. And it was cool. But the first time I experienced a sound bath thing, I think it was a recording really, I was like, oh, like the way that I experienced music, like there's a form of meditation that I can also have that same experience.

In the same way you have like a favorite song, or you'll hear a bell and like, oh, that reminds me of the ice cream truck when I was a kid, like, it just taps into a different memory for you.

So yeah, I, I just I love that, like I said before, it feels just more accessible, more approachable than how we typically think about meditation. And like, you can play a track on YouTube, you can play something on whatever streaming service you use. And you don't necessarily have to be sitting completely still like, again, just being within the sound is important.

So like, I'll play stuff, when I wake up in the morning, I'm just in the house doing things. If it's not a playlist that I have, it will just be like different tracks that depending on what I need, or what intention I'm setting for how how, whatever place I'm trying to get to, that's what I will put on and sounds just such a healing experience. And I really enjoy it.

Dayna Schmidt-Johnson
That's awesome. You're not just a practitioner, you are truly doing the work and listening to it. And you're getting something out of it as well.

Jess Gray
Yeah, and I am someone that whenever I discover something that works really well for me, I'm like, How can I either tell people about this thing or create the experience for them, so they can benefit too. 

Dayna Schmidt-Johnson
Well, we are thrilled that you're going to be sharing that experience with us in a sound bath in December, you are also the creator of the meditation challenge that we're going to be doing in the society later here in September. Tell us a little bit about what we can expect from that experience.

Jess Gray
Yes! So I am also a meditation guide, I don't just do sound baths. And so sometime last year, it was like I got this download. Like you need to create some type of challenge or reset is what I call it for people who want to explore meditation because I just was talking to so many people who feel intimidated by it, like, where do I start. And some people think I need to sit for hours. Or however long. And I'm like, you can just be still for a minute. And like there's there's a benefit in that moment that you carved out of your day.

And so I created the challenge to just introduce people to meditation in a way that I hope doesn't feel as intimidating. And we kind of just build on different things like tapping into the breath. I guide you through how to focus, where to focus. And of course, if your mind drifts off or does other things, that's fine.

But meditation is the act of observing the self. People think it's about tweaking and changing and clearing the mind and at some point, if you are consistent enough, you might reach a point where your mind feels clear. But the act of observing yourself and checking in with yourself and I'm hoping this challenge teaches people that and takes some of the pressure off this grand idea of being this monk that's practiced for decades. You don't have to do that to get the benefits of meditation.

Dayna Schmidt-Johnson
Oh wonderful that makes it feel so accessible, which is what we try so hard to do with Writual Planner and in the Writual Society is take these little teeny chunks books that you can pull into your day and just bring, like you said, one minute of meditation, you don't need to sit on a pillow for 20 hours to get the benefits.

Jess Gray
Exactly. And for this challenge, all the recordings are 10 minutes or less. So I'm hoping that is a small enough commitment that people want to stick with it for seven days. 

Dayna Schmidt-Johnson
Yes, and hopefully because seven days feels very doable. Right. So that's very exciting.

Jess, thank you so much for being here today. We're so excited to have you in December as our guest teacher for just a beautiful sound bath. What a lovely way to kind of end the year and take a break from the chaos of December in and of itself. I know I can't wait for it. In the meantime, where can people find you or more about meditation and sound baths? 

Jess Gray
Yes. So I am all over social media. As Hey Jess Gray. I'm also a revamping so my business is Ascent Mind and Body Co. I'm revamp revamping my social media for that. So that is Ascent Mind Body Co. But yeah, Hey Jess Gray the best way to find me at HeyJessGray.com. Also, if you want to reach out about different offerings I have or ask me questions.

Dayna Schmidt-Johnson
Beautiful, we will check it out. Thank you so much for being here today, Jess, we will see you in the meditation challenge and in December.

Jess Gray
Thank you, Dayna.

Dayna Schmidt-Johnson
We'll see you soon.

Find more about Jess on Instagram:
@heyjessgray
@ascentmindbodyco

Jess Gray is a well-being guide and curator of joyful experiences. Inspired by her own journey to creating a more balanced, focused and mindful life, Jess works to empower her community through her work as a meditation guide, mindfulness coach, self-care advocate and guide to all things "every day wellness." Jess is based in Washington, DC.

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