I’d heard of gong baths – and, if I’m honest, dismissed them as too ‘hippie nonsense’ even for me – but I’d never heard of a crystal sound bath, so when Jasmine Hemsley (co-author of one of my favourite cook books The Art of Eating Well) and Toni Dicks launched Sound Sebastien, complete with dreamy looking insta feed, I was intrigued. And when I found out they were hosting a January/February residency at the London Edition, I was sold. I mean, who doesn’t want their spiritual pursuits served with a side of swanky cocktail bar? It certainly helped me persuade my friend Lucy (a fashion biz dynamo who never sits still) to join me on a Monday-night adventure in the aural realm.
We were early and – I’m not going to lie – snuck in a swift glass of fizz before heading down to the basement to join a comfortably clad crowd of spirit junkie millennials, zenned-out 40-somethings and, erm, Howard Donald from Take That. The set up was instantly relaxing with dim lighting, calming aromas, soothing voices and rows of comfortable mats set out with neck pillows, fluffy blankets and lavender-scented eye masks. We got straight in the zone – you don’t have to ask a mother to lie down twice.
Flat on our mats, blankets pulled up round our necks, we listened to Jasmine and Toni explain what was going to happen (basically we relax; they play crystal bowls) and were given the opportunity to raise our hands if we didn’t want to be repositioned, anointed with essential oils or have them use reiki on us during the session. After a hectic Monday (think Challenge Anneka with added school run), they could have dyed my hair purple during the session for all I cared, just as long as I got to stay horizontal. What followed, though, was far more magical than a high-end power nap.
As the room settled into silence, I shut my eyes (lavender bag mask applied) and listened as were talked through a simple breath-work relaxation. My mind always takes a while to settle and this was no exception. I could hear the breathing of people around me slow and calm as I ran through a quick to do list, contemplating how I’d eventually write this up and wondered if I’d forgotten to press send on my last work email of the day. Right on cue, someone appeared to reposition my legs and dot calming oils in the middle of my forehead.
I turned my focus inwards – as they say in yoga – and soon after the sounds began. There were deep vibrational tones I felt in my chest (an unsettling, not entirely pleasant, feeling… presumably some sort of seriously out of whack chakra?!) and higher pitched sounds that felt lighter and more uplifting. As each tone faded away another built in its place, creating a constant hum of tuneful vibration. I chilled the F out for the first time since approx November.
And somewhere between this tranquil zone and the gentle rousing at the end of the session, I completely lost track of time, space and maddening thoughts. Instead, my mind settled somewhere peaceful, still and almost otherworldly… I wasn’t asleep but I wasn’t entirely awake either. Wherever I was I definitely want to go there again. When we discussed it afterwards, Lucy, who’d been much faster to relax than me, declared the whole session an out of body experience.
Tinkling chime sounds towards the end brought me back into the room and soon there was a slow count back into reality. We were told to sit up when we felt ready and given cups of herbal tea to sip as we blinked our way back into the real world, scanning for the reactions of our co-bathees. I think I can safely say they were universally blissed out, especially Howard.
Our hour complete, I braced myself for some sort of awkward circle sharing or a worthy post-session lecture about getting an early night but that’s not the way they do things at Sound Sebastien. In fact, they made a point of saying the bar upstairs was great for a cocktail…practically a recommendation, right? We said our goodbyes and went with it, reclining on green velvet sofas to discuss where the hell we’d been since 8pm.
The rest of our evening took on a surreal, zenned out vibe. We chose cocktails because their names ‘felt right’ rather than bothering to read the ingredients (or the fact that they were served in copper tankards shaped like peacocks!), strayed on to topics we wouldn’t normally think of and both agreed to head home earlier rather than later so we could make the most of what we were sure would be the ultimate night’s sleep.
Even our journey home was zen. The universe seemed to take over, providing perfectly timed black cabs, green lights all the way and a train that left Charing Cross the second we stepped aboard. And the chilled out feeling lasted well into the next day despite a return to Challenge Anneka duties. Conclusion: mind-clearing, heart-warming, calm-creating magic and the finest lie down I’ve had in a decade.
You don’t need any experience to take part in a crystal sound bath and no equipment is required. Find out where Sound Sebastien’s next session is being held here.
CRYSTAL SOUND BATHS
Crystal sound baths are an immersive experience designed to help switch off the mind and open the heart giving a feeling of being reset or renewed. The tones produced by crystal singing bowls are both heard and felt by the body which directly effects the body’s energy centres or chakras. If you’re already sold on the idea, there’s nothing not to like here. Bliss.
Meditation has already been proven to decrease pain, improve immune function and decrease stress and depression. Adding sound is said to also help lower blood pressure, reduce anxiety and improve mood. And even if you don’t buy any of the above, a Sound Sebastien sound bath is still a swanky and relaxing lie down that can’t fail to make you feel better.
See you at the next one…