Everyone I know wants to chill the f- out. Maybe it’s Trump, maybe it’s the ever-increasing rents, but Brooklyn seems especially stressed out. Marijuana isn’t legal without a prescription (yet), and a meditation practice is hard to dive into. Luckily, there are legal ways to de-stress, recharge and escape reality that go way beyond getting a massage. From supervised hyperventilating to ingesting CBD oil, here’s an honest review of five mind-altering experiences that don’t involve a delivery service. Book one of these sessions for yourself or as a Mother’s Day treat.
97 Green Street, Greenpoint
Natural High: 🚀🚀🚀🚀🚀
Perhaps you’ve done reiki, or just felt the wonders of a deep breath in a stressful situation. Breathwork takes all of this so-called energy work a step further with a rhythmic breathing exercise that you do while lying head to toe in a sardine-can packed room of strangers. As a testament to how powerful this work is, moments after starting, you will stop remembering that a stranger’s foot is a centimeter from your nose. You will just keep breathing until you sort of hyperventilate, yelling, sighing or sobbing as the need arises. Debbie Attias, who leads the breathwork class at Maha Rose, says, “Breathwork is a powerful tool for going deeper into the psyche. There are tremendous benefits physically. It boosts your immune system and energetically clears old patterns and places where you may be holding old stuff.” What I felt was my entire body tense up in an extremely painful way. I kept breathing. Eventually (30 minutes later) a wave passed through me, releasing the tension, and a feeling of euphoria hit me. I was sweating profusely, and felt exhausted. Debbie pumped up the music louder, and we all kept breathing. At the end, people were weeping openly, others were hugging, and most were smiling. Some shared that they were visited by relatives who had passed, others worked through various life trauma, and one person actually just fell fast asleep. “It is a fast track to deep meditation and a powerful way to come home to yourself,” Debbie explained. “It allows you to feel and release anything keeping you from your natural state of joy and love.” It’s a short strange trip that you come down from uniquely changed. The next Breathwork with Debbie: Living in Love is Friday, May 18th from 7:30pm- 9:30pm at Maha Rose, 97 Green St., Greenpoint. $40.
Lift Next Level Floats
320 Court St., 2nd Floor, Carroll Gardens
Natural High: 🚀🚀🚀🚀
“Listen for your heartbeat,” David Leventhal, cofounder of Lift Next Level Floats, said to me before I entered the sensory deprivation tank. After showering, taking out my contacts, and inserting ear plugs, I lowered myself into the body-temperature bath, closed the door, and shut off the twinkling lights. (For more about the history of floating, Brooklyn Based writer, Tom Mylan, dove deep when Lift Floats opened in 2015.) It was completely dark, yet there is no claustrophobia because there aren’t visual cues. The first 10 minutes I spent trying to get comfortable, pushing off from the edges and tilting my head trying to get comfortable. But once I settled in, I let my muscles relax, and closed my eyes. Over 20 bags of epsom salt are used per bath which basically means everyone floats. Yes, even if I fell asleep I’d float (not drown.) Instead I just lie there awake, trying to clear my mind. “How is your relationship with yourself?,” Gina Antioco, the cofounder, had asked before I went in. “Because you’re about to find out.” She was right. There’s no one else there except for you and your thoughts. By the midpoint, I was comfortable but wishing for music or a magazine. It takes about 45 minutes to get into the theta state of mind leading to maximum visualization, inspired ideas, and creative epiphanies. At about that point, I felt the flow. I stopped wondering thoughts like: how the tank is cleaned (with a powerful filtration system), if my skin would be pruney (not even a little), or if you need to know how to swim (you don’t.) Instead, I didn’t notice the dark or the water. When the music alerted me that my time was up, I felt as though I was startled awake, but I hadn’t been sleeping. I’m not sure what the lasting benefits were, but when I had a hard time sleeping later, I thought of being in the tank and felt myself relax. The benefit is as intangible as taking a long vacation: you return to your real life renewed. First time hour long float: $79. Lift is also running a special mother’s day promotion: two floats for $149.
CBD Oil Infused Yoga
389 Court St., Carroll Gardens
Natural High: 🚀🚀🚀
CBD is having a moment in New York, from cocktails to coffees, drops of Cannabidiol Oil are being added to everything. Unlike marijuana’s other more famous compound “THC”, CBD is not mind altering. Also, it’s legal. And usually, it comes from hemp plants. The claimed benefits are expansive: relieves pain, reduces inflammation, aleves anxiety, treats epilepsy, blocks cancer cells, treats PTSD, panic, social anxiety and obsessive compulsive disorder. Also, it might help acne. I bought some Hemp Lucid CBD gummies ($30) at Remedies Herb Shop (453 Court Street, Carroll Gardens). Each gummy is 25g of CBD. There were no noticeable side effects when I took one after dinner, but for the next few nights, I had insanely vivid dreams. A few days later I went to Area Yoga, who offers a restorative yoga class with CBD Oil. There was a substitute teacher who was not as comfortable with the CBD portion of the evening than the yoga portion. (“I’m going to dose you! Sorry, I don’t know how else to put it,” she giggled.) We all got “dosed” with chocolate mint CBD oil that was squirted in our own mouths. (Usually, I think it is diluted into a cup of tea.) Minutes later, I was draped over a bolster, cocooned with a blanket, in a dreamlike state. I’m not sure if it was the CBD Oil, or the late hour of the class, but that night I had the most incredible sleep of my life– and the relaxing effects seemed to last through the rest of the week. Yoga with CBD Oil at Area Yoga, Tuesdays, 389 Court St., Carroll Gardens or Wednesdays, 429 Bergen St., Park Slope from 8pm-9:30pm. $25 per class.
(Multiple locations: 43 S. 4th St., Williamsburg; 55 Chrystie St., 4th fl., Chinatown; 381 Broadway, 2nd fl., Tribeca)
Natural High: 🚀🚀🚀
What is dreaming besides a psychedelic experience? At a Sound Bath Experience at Skyting Yoga, you are lying under blankets, cuddled into a personal nest while someone sounds chimes, gongs, and rainmakers. Somehow the sounds pull you into a deeper trance, as your breath slows down to the rhythm of their noise. I attended a session with Nate Martinez, who explains on the website that “By using frequency and “entrainment”, a sound bath facilitates a shift in brain waves from our normal waking state to alpha and theta states that are also akin to meditation.” In the hour and a half class, you fall into a deep relaxation in a way that you might not have the stamina for in a regular meditation. You feel the ground underneath you and are aware of your surroundings, but you eventually need to submit to the gong. In my session, after the rain sticks were grooving, a thunderstorm raged across the ceiling and ended when Nate played the gong. Maybe it was the spring weather or maybe it was the rain gods, but at that moment I was ready to believe in magic. The next sound bath sessions with Nate Martinez are May 20th Chinatown, May 26th Williamsburg, and May 30 Tribeca. $30. Register here or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
(Multiple Locations:11 Howard Street, Tribeca; 21 E. 1st Street, Bowery; Equinox at 74th Street)
Natural High: 🚀
The first rule of Infrared Saunas is that they heat the body, not the air. So your internal temperature spikes, while the air around you won’t get steamy and humid. This doesn’t mean that you won’t sweat; you will. You will sweat a lot. That’s how this experience assists with radical detoxification, weight loss, pain relief, skin purification, cellular health, and improved circulation. The wooden box that you sit in at Higher Dose is comfortable, and you can plug in your ipod to set any mood you wish. Healing light chakra therapy, aka a rotating set of colored lights, blinks over your body. Your senses are overloaded with light and music, while you sweat out a lifetime’s worth of toxins. The natural high is meant to come with the release of dopamine, oxytocin, serotonin, and endorphins over the course of the sauna. I found the experience comfortable, but not otherworldly. Afterwards, my skin was slick like a seal and I probably lost three pounds of water weight, but I didn’t find that it relieved stress levels or made me feel any out of body sensations. It did make me crave a big glass of water, which I immediately drank. That felt good. Full dose 60 minutes: $65; Quick Dose 30 minutes: $45.