What if I told you that we are all demonically possessed? What if I revealed that an exorcism can be performed by someone who is not a Catholic priest or man? That you can experience the exorcism of your own evil spirits?
Drawing on ritualistic practices and Jungian psychological methods, Dark Ambient Sound Bath provides a healing space that welcomes all who are broken, damaged and tormented. The mantra is, “Redefining wellness by exploring the shadow within,” and it is these inner shadows that you will confront and purge during the experience.
What Is Dark Ambient Sound Bath?
Sound baths are meditation classes that guide you into altered states of consciousness with the guidance of music. Traditional sound baths incorporate instruments, including cymbals, gongs and crystal bowls performed by either instructors or therapists.
With Dark Ambient, electronic music provides the foundation of the sounds as opposed to acoustics. The compositions also have a darker tone, evoking an enigmatic atmosphere. Those accustomed to more conventional sound baths may find the darkness embraced here daunting, but it is a key factor in what differentiates DASB from the norm.
Founder Lauren Davis made sure of this when she set out to establish Dark Ambient Sound Bath. A fervent believer in the healing powers of sound and the necessity to tap into our primal selves, she sought to unify the two through this meditative process. The first event took place in Los Angeles in 2016 and throughout the years, Davis has collaborated with various musicians in producing the musical arrangements.
Davis has an extensive background in ritual magick, which brings a unique spiritual element to the sound baths. She also takes an avid interest in Carl Jung’s development of shadow work, a practice that encourages us to access the inferior parts of ourselves we bury. To put it succinctly, our shadows are the facets of our beings that we disdain and deem shameful. Don’t we all have versions of Dorian Gray portraits that we’ve locked away from prying eyes, including our own?
My Exorcism Experience
Dark Ambient Sound Bath has presented different themes in the past, such as Scrying and Entropy. I attended the Exorcism edition, which took place at Above + Below Studio in Santa Ana, California. It was my first time participating in a sound bath, so I wasn’t sure what to expect.
All was quite when I arrived. That night’s session was sold out, and blankets and mats were spread across the floor of the intimate space. The gathering was small and there couldn’t have been more than 20 people. Soft lighting beamed from candles, light strings and a colorful rotating lamp.
Everyone removed their shoes prior to entering the area where the meditation took place. Tea was served to give further comfort and relaxation. As I settled in a corner of the room, I couldn’t help but notice how at ease I immediately felt. It was as if there was a soothing energy that pervaded the atmosphere and as I looked around, it appeared others sensed it as well. Many had made themselves quite at home on the studio floor.
Unlike other sound baths, Dark Ambient commences with a guided meditation. Lauren explained the purpose behind the process and asked us to think about our intentions for being there that night. What did each of us want to gain or release? Was there pain, anger or negativity we were harboring that we needed to confront and heal?
Then, lying down, we were led into breathwork. The 20-minute breathing exercise consisted of a steady inhaling and exhaling pattern, which Lauren explained might feel intense and difficult initially, especially when doing it for a sustained amount of time. Since I’m a novice, I grew dizzy in the beginning, but as I fell into a rhythm, I began to feel light, as if I was floating.
Winding down, we were told to steady our breathing. At this point, Lauren created a visual for the group, encouraging us to imagine our shadow being pulled away from our body and hovering over. As we performed the visualization, I thought to myself, “What does my shadow contain? What do I want to project outwardly?”
We were then ready to be washed over by the sound bath.
Megan Brown, the project’s music director, worked her magic producing sound with synths, keyboard and her own ethereal voice. Brown, who has a background in classical music and has performed extensively, conjured a powerful dynamic during the process. As I lay there with my eyes closed, I heard wailing, whispers, otherworldly echoes and haunting reverberations.
The music began gently, but gradually crescendoed to surreal heights and at one point, I couldn’t feel the surface beneath me. We were told at the beginning that we may have visions or experience unusual sensations. These occurrences are a result of the depths you’re plunged into.
At the climax, we did something that you will most likely not do at any other sound bath. In unison, we released a guttural scream. When it came to this point of the meditation and Lauren prepared us to cry out, I was hesitant at first, thinking I may be too loud or not yell the proper way. But there is no wrong or right way. This part is meant to be raw, and not a single person held back. The room was filled with piercing shrieks and moans. It was the culmination of our inner agonies. I felt tears in my eyes.
Returning to reality was a bit of a challenge, but once everyone seemed to have their bearings, Lauren asked each person to share anything they wanted about the session. Although no individual had the same experience, the sound bath left an indelible mark on every soul in that room.
In the following interview, founder Lauren Davis was gracious enough to answer a few questions giving more insight on Dark Ambient Sound Bath.
Q: How were you introduced to sound baths and what drew you to this specific form of meditative practice?
A: I was introduced to sound baths through my own spiritual and mental health journey. I was going through an exceptionally hard time and thought that sound therapy or sound healing seemed right up my alley because I have such a draw and affinity to sound through music, ASMR, guided meditation and visualizations, etc. I found a few local to LA and I knew I would feel like the odd one out—being so open to exploring my shadow self—but I went anyway, with an open heart and open mind. What I experienced was profound, but I did leave with a sense of longing. Wanting to get deeper into the recesses of the mind and uncover more layers than what I was able to access within the more traditional sound baths.
Q: Obviously, music is key to any sound bath and it’s a major component that sets Dark Ambient apart from others. Where do you and the musicians you collaborate with find inspiration when creating the compositions?
A: We find inspiration everywhere. But mainly, we take the theme/intention and really explore sonically what it means to us. What kind of textures, emotional energy or tension would we like to express sonically? I aim to incorporate the musician’s artistic point of view on the theme. They do have a little guidance from myself, but largely, I want them to take the musical reigns and really express themselves through the music. Some take it upon themselves to incorporate certain frequencies that can have effects on the mind, chords that correspond with the chakras and even audio samples from various sources.
Q: Dark Ambient sessions in the past have had different themes, including Exorcism, Paralysis and Scrying. What influences your ideas when planning these experiences and are there any themes you haven’t done that you’d really like to incorporate?
A: The main thing that influences the decision for a specific theme/ intention is thinking about the kind of things we might find or experience when we pull back the curtains of the unconscious/ subconscious. The things we keep hidden from society, relationships, even ourselves. Primal instincts that get shoved down by societal conditioning, things that we are afraid of but see the importance of honoring or moving through to transform our mindset. I try and think about those various themes and how they can apply to people in different contexts, and when I write the guided meditation and visualizations I want to make sure I leave enough room for the participant’s own interpretation. The theme we are excited to be working on currently is The Void.
Q: With Dark Ambient, you aim to share the gift of healing with others. Of the sound baths you’ve facilitated, what have been some of the most impactful moments for you?
A: My favorite sound baths have typically been Exorcism because of the primal screaming. It’s such an intensely cathartic release for people. Really, we are just a guiding hand that is providing a safe place for the participant’s journey into their own shadow. Some people simply need the permission of context (time and space) to let go of what isn’t serving them. We have had some larger groups let out some incredibly soul wrenching screams and howls, or just after the screams, I can hear them continuing to sob and let it all flow out. They leave feeling clearer, having given themselves a little over an hour to really concentrate on their goals, what lies inside them that may be preventing them from achieving those goals and then taking back their own power and accountability to set forth on their intended path.
At our last sound bath, we spoke to a first responder that was at her wit’s end with the trauma she has had to deal with on a daily basis. She had never experienced a sound bath before and let us know that this was one of the only things she felt truly helped and healed her. We were all in tears as she told us her story. It’s moments like that I see the bigger picture and am so incredibly moved by how this is helping people.
Q: Not only are you the founder of DASB, but you also established the female ritual performance art group Coven of Ashes. Are there other projects that you’re interested in launching?
A: At this time DASB and Coven of Ashes take up a lot of my time and energy. I’m not sure I could handle more projects, however, ideas are always coming within the context of where to take these projects and new offerings we’ll have available.
Q: What does the future hold for Dark Ambient Sound Bath and what can we look forward to?
A: The future for DASB brings lots of travel as we move up the Pacific Northwest. We just booked dates on the East Coast as well (NY and PA) for April and we are so excited to be expanding to further cities and states! We have been asked by many for a disc or download, which is also in the works and some of our own merch to aid in your experience with us, even bringing the experience home for yourself. We believe everyone should have access to this, as shadow work is an integral part of full spectrum healing and we look forward to bringing that sacred space to many, many more!
Although I did my best to convey what took place for my first sound bath, this is an activity that should be experienced first-hand. The healing one can attain is invaluable.
Know Before You Go (updated 8/2020):
- Due to COVID-19, DASB is being offered virtually on select dates.
- Virtual classes are free with a suggested donation of $10.
- Past recordings are up on the official website.
- Sessions last about an hour.
- Follow Dark Ambient on Instagram to find out when future virtual sessions will be held.
Visit the Dark Ambient official website for more information.