Not too long ago, Lush opened their first US spa right here in my backyard. Except the backyard was in midtown Manhattan and I live in Brooklyn, so maybe it is I who lives in the backyard... Regardless! It was a dope move on their part. Nobody hates that that happened!
But then, EVEN BETTER, Lush invited me to try one of their treatments, an invitation I would not turn down to attend my grandma’s birthday (sorry grandma, don’t worry, you’re going to live forever!).
Lush’s reputation errs on the side of all things fresh, handmade and personal. They even have little stickers on each product with cartoon renditions of its maker and expiration date, so if you are displeased with the product you can track down said maker and give them WHAT FOR. It doesn’t surprise me that their spa concept would be similar (I mean in the interpersonal sense, not the psycho-stalker op).
None of the treatments available appeared to be remotely the kind of treatment you’d normally find at a spa. No anti-aging, skin-tightening, cell rejuvenating or other such spa-y jargon was to be found on the menu. Even the word “massage” did not occur until deep in the description. In fact, most of what was available read to me more like a holistic journey sans peyote rather than going to some facility that will do some kind of technological hocus pocus to assuage my fears about my aging body.
I was to experience The Sound Bath, a treatment designed to achieve deep relaxation and meditation using different sound textures. You’d think that New Yorkers would get enough “sound textures” in their daily lives, but this treatment is meant to clear all the “mental chatter and encourage you to listen within.”
I was half expecting to walk into some Disneyland-type recreation of some Zen garden or something like that. Lush’s spa, staying true to its English roots, appeared like a rustic country cottage that your Antiques Roadshow-enthusiastic grandma sparingly decorated. Nothing sterile, just cozy digs.
I was running a little late because my time management is seriously embarrassing at this stage in my life, and sensing I was rather flustered as I dashed in, my spa therapist, Peggy, was nothing less than totally chill about it. She didn’t even flinch when I dropped an F-bomb, cursing the Q train because I am a poorly mannered animal (sorry, Peggy).
She explained to me what the procedures of the treatment entailed: tuning forks and ear candling and a hot stone facial, huzzah! I get all goo in the knees for a good hot stone rubdown, so I was psyched for that, but the other parts caused me to cock my head like a dog listening to the rumble strip on a highway.
Before getting started, Peggy presented me with a wooden box. Upon opening it, there was a little mushroom-shaped nibble of cacao and a tiny vial of liquid commanding, "Drink Me." She explained that chocolate releases endorphins in your brain and naturally makes you feel good and euphoric, and the drink is a deep sedative so she could harvest my organs while I was passed out on the table.
As I was covered in fluffy towels and lying on a warming pad on a table, Peggy struck the tuning forks gently on her wrists and brought them close to both my ears. Instead of a dinner bell sound as I had anticipated, I could barely hear them until they were nearly touching my ears because the frequency of the vibration was so low, om-ing into my ears and throughout my head. Consider the chatter cleared.
She struck them a few more times throughout the treatment and pressed them to my head and heart chakras, to vibrate through them and open them up. Massages are nice, but having a tuning fork om-ing through your chakras is pretty next-level, if we’re discussing feels here.
Speaking of massages, though, facial massages are deeply underrated. Sure, it feels like an unholy desecration to have someone rub jojoba oil on your face at 11am when you’re an urban island away from your vanity with your BB creams and sunscreen, but if you let the woman work, you will find that jojoba (which is the oil that most closely mimics your skin’s natural sebum anyway, so it’s not like you’re likely to zit-zit-zit because of it; plus, it is removed it afterwards with a hot towel and it’s goddamn heavenly) and hot stones circling your cheekbones and whatever the bones around your eyes sockets and brow bones are feels way better than walking around barefaced, post-treatment.
All the while, there’s a soundtrack of birdsong, singing bowls, and a lovely, relaxing composition that’s less Pure Moods Vol. 32 so much as it is non-intrusive ambiance. I mean, the treatment is called The Sound Bath--there’s going to be some jams. Soft jams.
I will say, other than the tuning forks, the next best thing to hear here (hehe) is the ear candling. I’ve never done ear candling before, but I’ve always seen ads in the windows of Chinatown nail salons featuring a flaming narrow white cone plugged into a woman’s ear as she serenely lounges against some white background.
Regardless of its efficiency in Hoovering all my ear boogers out, the sound of a crackling fire funneling into your ear is surprisingly peaceful, like holding a seashell up to your ear but instead of the ocean, you hear a campfire in surround sound.
I’ll admit I might’ve dozed off after the imminent danger of my head catching fire had passed. That tends to happen when I’m in a warm pile of fluffy towels having my temples massaged and my chakras vibrated.
Upon the ending of the session, Peggy poured me a nice cup of tea as we had a little chat about meditative processes. Seems I can never get my head to stop its jibber-jabber until someone much more familiar with that life can level it out for me. I’m sure this is why psychotherapists flock to New York City to tend to the neurosis of its inhabitants. Little do they know, it might just take an occasional nip into a meditative state to nix those pesky voices in your head.
At $140 for an hour, that’s like $2.30 for every minute of weird delight (I like to break down “non-essential” investments into smaller increments so I can micro-manage my own financial wherewithal). Sure, it’s a splurge, but when I also think about all the impulse eBay and Amazon purchases I make pretty damn regularly for primarily “just in case” or “I didn’t know I wanted this until I saw it” reasons, a nice reflective spa session can turn my basketcase habits into a recharged self-reliant state.