It was 9 AM on a Saturday, also known as my busiest day of the week. I was mentally clenched, preparing for all the event coverage ahead and somehow lacking my routine cup of morning caffeine, before submerging in my first Sound Bath experience at Donna Karan’s Urban Zen studio in Sag Harbor. While I dabbled in tune forking, for a brief five-minute session, I laid down and welcomed what was ahead.
Partnered with Unplug Meditation for the summer, Los Angeles-based instructor Susy Schieffelin guided a roomful through this ancient healing practice for 30 peaceful minutes. Four bowls, each with a different sound, were used. Each took me further away from a chaotic state of mind and deeper into a lucid, dreamlike state of being.
The first was infused with Dead Sea salt and tuned in between the third eye and crown chakra, used to detoxify and clear my busy mind, releasing any blockages not serving me. The next was infused with Mother of Platinum and tuned into the heart chakra, aiming to connect with the divine feminine and unleash my power to create, as well as open the heart to self-love and compassion. The third bowl was infused with Egyptian Blue, also known as calcium copper silicate, to aid in unleashing the ancient wisdom of the Egyptians, a universal wisdom that requires tapping into what we already have access to. The last bowl was clear quartz crystal, tuning into the solar plexus, my power center, allowing me to take action and step into my truth.
The above might sound a bit hokey to those unfamiliar with the process, but the experiential effects were quite the contrary. Upon fully awakening from my sensory journey and resubmitting myself to the present moment, it felt as though I had just gotten a full eight hours of blissful sleep. The anxiety-ridden New Yorker in me was calm and refreshed, as though I had just taken a mental bath in purifying waters — in this case, frequency waves.
Schieffelin was once a chronic anxiety sufferer herself, where no amount of medication seemed to work. Like so many of us today, she suffered from stress of life happening to her, as though she was a passenger in the car of her own life. Of course, you’d never know it now, having been conducting these sessions full time for a year, off all meds and caffeine. “This has given me the ability to really heal,” she said. “I can respond rather than react.” Her energy was aligned with that of the room, calming, inspiring, and genuinely open to positivity.
Unlike some other meditations that require a certain level of practice to reap the benefits, Sound Baths only call for the ability to sit still. It’s recommended to bathe once a week for about an hour, more or less as you feel necessary, to feel the true effects in reduction of anxiety and stress.
Urban Zen is located at 16 Main Street in Sag Harbor and partnered with Unplug for the summer season.
Follow Susy Schieffelin at @thecoppervessel or download the Unplug Meditation app to listen to sound baths on your own time.