The treatment room I’m standing within at Emirates One&Only Wolgan Valley Resort & Spa is unlike any I’ve seen before. Three large copper gongs are suspended on a stand, with a number of colourful mallets beneath them resting on a fur-skin rug. A maple harp custom-made in Germany with an inlaid Infinity symbol sits beneath the window that overlooks the dramatic sandstone escarpments and national park of the Wolgan Valley. A chime hangs from the ceiling, above a table holding an Australian conch shell and other Himalayan instruments. Himalayan singing bowls sit on the table between my therapy bed and my partner’s.
Conducting our 60-minute ‘The Power of Sound’ session is sound-therapist, Polish-born Sonia. From a family of musicians, Sonia is passionate about the healing properties of sound and has studied Gong Mastery for several years under Don Conreaux, the world’s leading gong master. She is currently also studying reiki healing, and is the only sound therapist practicing at a luxury lodge in Australia or New Zealand.
Her passion is infectious and her devotion to her instruments and their healing properties is joyous to watch.
“My belief is that by taking a step back, to offer a chance to reflect, we may gain the clarity and understanding we seek from the choices we make. Everyone, regardless of their age needs time out – to disconnect from technology, from societal pressures and to simply ‘be’,” says Sonia.
Neither of us are quite sure what to expect and the mystery only adds to my sense of curiosity. Fully clothed, we don a robe for extra warmth and sip on tea infused with herbs from the property, as well as lemongrass, pear and apple.
Sonia covers us in layers of blankets, to envelop us in a ‘cocoon’. Our eyes are gently covered with a mask to help us detach as much from our surroundings.
The human body is made up of 80 per cent water and is deeply responsive to the frequencies and vibrations of sound. The purpose of the session is not only relaxation but to help us clear any blocked energy within our system, facilitating the movement of chi or prana (positive life force) throughout the body.
“The sound can also make you feel a little resistant,” explains Sonia.
“It might bring up certain feelings that are connected to memory and might make you feel a little uneasy or uncomfortable – that’s fine. They are meant to do that. It’s kind of like cleaning out a cupboard. It’s just trying to cleanse and open up any blockages or resistance that you hold. If that happens, then just breathe through it.”
The instruments create a wave effect that can lead some into a deep sleep because the frequencies are so high. “It’s best to just not resist it,” assures Sonia. “Just go with the flow essentially and allow the sound to do the work.”
The mind, we are warned, may wander with the ‘monkey mind’ trying to figure out what is happening. “It may wander off to the future or the past – anything but this moment now.”
Feeling as warm as toast, the sound therapy begins. We conjure the image of a stream that is cleansing us, by our feet and our ankles – while a sound I don’t recognise encircles me. Another instrument creates a contrasting sound and as predicted, my monkey within starts to wander. I focus on my breathing while Sonia slowly integrates varying sounds and volumes to the practice.
Before long, I can hear that my partner has drifted off into a deep sleep, his ‘monkey’ has obviously been tamed, while mine continues to chatter and screech – although it is starting to succumb. My breathing has slowed. The sounds take on a new intensity and I can feel what sounds like a symbol or gong being chimed close to my ear. At one point, the sound seems to vibrate and swirl around the room and its depth and volume seems so concentrated, it almost sounds like an aeroplane taking flight. I’m never uncomfortable or distressed. As Sonia had predicted, my fingers start to tingle and I can feel a surge of energy rolling over my body in waves.
As the treatment nears its conclusion, Sonia gently brings us back into the present. The sound gradually stops completely and the silence we’re wrapped in for several moments feels almost sacred and spiritual. Our eye masks are slowly pulled away and I gaze straight out to the outline of a fur tree, the mountains and wildlife outside.
We are reminded to stay hydrated and if possible, to relax in water with bath salts.
“This one-hour session is the equivalent to two hours of deep sleep,” says Sonia.
We sip on water from ceramic tumblers, our woken monkey minds trying to analyse what’s just happened. We both feel lighter and balanced, with a deep and true sense of inner calm.
Emirates One&Only Wolgan Valley currently offers two sound treatments.
The 60-minute sound bath treatment is designed to lull participants from a Beta or awake state into a Theta or lucid dream state that allows the body to heal and rejuvenate.
The 90-minute sound therapy incorporates the use of Sonia’s custom-made instruments (such as the monochord) to create a profound soundscape that has deeply healing and re-balancing effect on the body’s energy field. This treatment also incorporates the use of Sodashi oils and also crystals.
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