Alternative healing may not be completely kooky after all.
At least that's my conclusion after visiting Soul 7, a new wellness centre in Toronto’s Yorkville neighbourhood. Founded by Bob Berman, a former divorce lawyer turned healing guru, the subterranean space is like stepping into another world—lit with the seven colours of the chakra.
I'm welcomed with a hug. “A lot of people don’t realize the power of a hug,” says Bob, grinning. “For anyone dealing with pain, a hug can actually go a really long way.” After my 6am spin class that morning, I couldn’t agree more.
Bob is a tall, middle-aged man with a wrist full of crystal bracelets and a warm smile. By the time he lost his wife to cancer in 2012, he also had lost most of his faith in traditional Western medicine. Travelling all over the world, he studied a number of alternative spa treatments and technologies. He opened Soul 7 as a place to showcase what he had learned and to offer a different kind of healing for those suffering from cancer, depression, chronic pain and stress—surely something we can all relate to!
I’ll admit I was a little skeptical as I toured the space. Even though I’m the kind of person who'd rather suffer through a headache than take ibuprofen, or opt for a bath over a trip to the chiropractor, the idea of using magnets and crystals to heal seemed far-fetched. But I was willing to give it a try!
Here are the five alternative (and surprisingly awesome) spa treatments I discovered, which you can find at Soul 7 and other alt-healing centres across the country. The goal? Training your body to heal itself.
The Neuropod kind of looks like a massage chair, but instead of those weird, fist-like kneaders, it uses multi-frequency acoustic vibrations to stimulate your nerves. The vibrations are more subtle than kneading, and instead of giving you a deep tissue massage, they send shivers up and down your body—it's nice! During the 30-minute session, the vibrations are set to music; I listened to a classical score with lots of long, bassy notes that coincided with the movement and depth of the vibrations (i.e. the deeper the note, the stronger the vibration).
Studies have shown that vibrations stimulate the central, sympathetic and para-sympathetic nervous systems, which control muscular and mental commands. When synchronized with music, they cause the body to focus and regulate, relieving tension and making you feel way less stressed out. The first few visits can be a bit distracting as most of us aren't used to (literally) feeling music. But overtime, these sensations help harmonize your body's inner commands, retraining them to cope with stress so that you feel more relaxed and generally at ease.
I felt pretty out of it after my trial, and actually managed to fall asleep halfway through—so I guess I was feeling pretty comfortable!
Crystal Healing Therapy
Many people believe that crystals, colours and light have healing properties. Based on these beliefs, a Brazilian healer who calls himself 'John of God' developed the crystal light bed, which combines all three in one powerful treatment.
The machine, which looks like a wand with seven coloured lights, is suspended over a bed and corresponds with specific chakra points on your body. The lights flash over your body and are said to open up your energy field (or aura), removing any blockages like tension or negative energy. The 'how' involves a bit of belief in crystal power—but if you can get past that, the treatment is a great option for anyone with unhealthy cells or blockages such as stress, tension, pain, depression or anxiety. So pretty much anyone!
I opted to have the 30-minute crystal healing treatment while I was on the Neuropod. They recommend you wear an eye cover so the flashing lights aren't distracting. Because you can't feel or see anything, it's difficult to say this treatment delivers tangible results. I can't say I really felt different after having it, but if there's any truth to crystals being able to remove negative energy or clean up my cells, I figure what the heck—it's worth a try, right?
Guided Audio-Visual Entrainment
This treatment involves big headphones, an MP3 player and a pair of glasses rigged with LED lights, which together help guide you into a deep meditation. What makes guided audio-visual entrainment different from your standard sound machine is the glasses, which have 6 coloured LED lights per eye and create a colour map on your eyelid that moves along with the music. This is supposed to induce brainwave entrainment—not to be confused with entertainment—which is a process of aligning brainwave frequencies. Think of the term "scatterbrained" and this treatment as the way of putting things back into place.
Sessions can last anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour and help improve focus and mood, as well as ease stress.
Short for pulsed electro-magnetic field, PEMF therapy relaxes muscles, relieves stress and promotes quicker healing. Typically, it is performed by having you either lay on an electromagnetic mat or wear a pillow that is charged with one of 12 magnetic frequencies.
NASA and the Russian government have been using PEMF therapy for years to keep astronauts healthy in space. In fact, the use of magnets for healing goes back to ancient Egypt, where people apparently rubbed magnetic stones on wounds to help speed up the healing process. Cleopatra was even known to wear a magnetic headband to ward off migraines.
The reason magnets are so effective is because they stimulate the body's own magnetism, which is found in elements like potassium, sodium and chlorine in organs, nerves, muscles and tissue. By manipulating the frequency of the body's electromagnetic pulse, it is possible to encourage your body into various states. For example, a frequency between 0.5 to 7 hertz promotes sleeping and helps people with sleep apnea, while 8 to 14 hertz stimulates concentration, calm thinking and the ability to retain information (great if you're studying for exams or preparing for a presentation). At Soul 7, Bob told me about a client who used the treatment to speed up the healing of a bruise before a wedding while others have found relief from fibromyalgia and sports injuries.
Dr. Oz also did an entire TV segment on this treatment (so it must be good, right?).
Treatment time depends on the type of results you are seeking, but generally runs between 30 minutes to an hour.
Schumann Resonance Bio-Energetic Water
This water has a spinning magnet in the bottom that charges it with Schumann Resonance waves—otherwise known as the "heartbeat of the earth"—which are in sync with the waves found in the human brain. This gives the water structure, removing pollutants and free radicals so that when you drink it, minerals and vitamins can be more easily absorbed.
It sounds wacky, but a few sips of this water will leave you feeling strangely energized. I even took a mason jar of the stuff home so that I could charge up my regular water—all you need to do is add a few drops of the charged stuff and it spreads the charge.
Where to try it: Soul 7 in Toronto.
The Bottom Line
These treatments were super-relaxing, and I love the drug-free approach to health and wellness! But if you have a health concern, check in with your family doctor before investing a lot of money on alternative treatments, as some of these can be quite pricey.
Have Your Say
Are you a fan of alternative spa treatments? Have you tried any of these ones?