Credit: Courtesy Douglas Cardwell

The sounds experienced in immersive “sound bath” sessions have been shown to create a sense of calm and relaxation. Thanks to a local percussionist who knows a lot about mindfulness and meditation, using sound therapy to alleviate stress that’s often synonymous with the holiday season is in our own backyard. 

Douglas Cardwell of Lotus Sound Bath in Albuquerque, tells The Paper. he starts his sound bathing classes by encouraging participants to set their intention for the experience. He says the music he creates is uniquely catered to each person’s needs. 

“It’s different in every single session. I pay attention when people come into a space,” Cardwell explains. “I watch their body actions. This dictates the energy level and frequencies needed. Should I play rapidly? Should I play in this key? I am creating a space for their presence where you don’t need to make any decisions; a safe place where you can just relax.”

Using various percussion instruments, which include large crystal bowls and 32-inch and 38-inch gongs, Cardwell takes participants on a restorative journey as the vibrations of sound guide them into relaxation. He encourages everyone to use their senses to focus on the sounds and frequencies of the instruments he plays.

“The immersion into sound begins with each person lying down or seated in a comfortable position,” Cardwell says. “We start with deep breathing to begin the full-body listening experience. As the sound of the instruments hits the water in the body it creates a pattern that goes through participants like waves.”

Sound therapy sessions such as Cardwell’s have also been gaining steam across the globe. 

A study, published in the Journal of Evidence-Based Integrative Medicine, found that an hour of sound therapy reduced tension, anger, fatigue, and depressed mood in participants.

Sound bathing meditation sessions where participants listen to the soothing sounds of crystal singing bowls, gongs, and other instruments were named as one of the most popular wellness trends in 2023 by Condé Nast Traveler.   

Cardwell has played as a trained percussionist with the Houston, Detroit and the New Mexico symphonies and the New Mexico Philharmonic. He is an avid follower of meditation, the practice of mindfulness and being present in the moment when he’s practicing, or performing.

“I’ve been in the business of sound immersion and creative sound for over three decades.” Cardwell explains. “I’m a jazz musician and have studied how to produce sounds to soothe humans.” 

Cardwell offers individual, couple or group sessions at the Lotus Sound Bath studio. He also partners with several yoga and wellness centers throughout Albuquerque that host his sound bath sessions. These include Remedy Day Spa, Badlands Yoga, Studio SWAY and Board30 Albuquerque. 

Cardwell will be offering free sound immersion music at the Cathedral of St. John (318 Silver Ave. SW) on Dec. 4 at 6:30pm. No reservations are needed and donations are welcomed.

Register for sound bathing sessions at the studio and at host partners on the Lotus Sound Bath’s website.

Gwynne Ann Unruh is an award-winning reporter formerly of the Alamosa Valley Courier, an independent paper in southern Colorado, and other publications. She has taught and  practiced alternative healing methods for over thirty-five years.