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August 2 2014

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Canal Street’s Good Vibrations

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Before my visit to artist-cum-healer Oliver Halsman Rosenberg’s new pop-up healing spot, In Praise of the Void, on Canal Street, I was skeptical about what I was scheduled to experience: a vibrational therapy session using Tibetan singing bowls. I had an image of being surrounded by a troop of drummers chanting and clanging cymbals; not exactly a relaxing picture. But after ascending to the top floor of a nondescript building, I entered an airy space of absolute serenity—a word I can honestly say I’ve never used in the same sentence as Canal Street. Rosenberg, who exudes tranquility himself, recently opened the spot for a limited time because, frankly, he thinks New Yorkers could use some serious healing. “I wanted to set up here to serve because I know that this community really needs to tap back into themselves, and relax and get all the negative stuff out,” he says. Rosenberg, who is a visual artist by trade (he currently has an exhibit up at the HPGRP gallery in Chelsea), has always been interested in healing, but it was only after spending a year and a half in India that he decided to put his passion into practice. “I was in Ladakh, the northernmost part of India, in a very Tibetanlike community,” he shares. “It was there that I met a traveler with a set of singing bowls. I’d seen the bowls before in New Age-y shops; they’re kind of ubiquitous. But to hear them played correctly by this traveler was a really profound experience and I immediately wanted to learn it.” After training in Dharmsala, India (the home of the Dalai Lama!), Rosenberg has now brought his skills stateside. While there are no guarantees, research has shown that vibrational therapy can do everything from balance blood pressure to improve hearing to treat insomnia, but we were only there with one goal in mind: relaxation. After I lay down on a carpet and closed my eyes, Rosenberg’s calming voice lulled me into a state of stillness before he began strategically tapping the bowls he had arranged around me and on me (two were perched on my belly and chest). At first it felt, admittedly, kinda strange, but within a few minutes, I was in a mellow state. The vibrations made the floor feel almost like it was undulating beneath me, and the symphony of tones all around me had a transporting effect. I’ve always had trouble shutting my brain off during any kind of meditative activity—especially yoga; it makes me anxious—so I was surprised that I could this time around. According to Rosenberg, the sound helps. “Focusing on your breath is the basis of most meditative experiences, but this is nice because it’s a sound, so it allows you to put your focus on something external,” he explains. Keeping an open mind is also key. “If you come into a situation like this with an open mind and you’re willing to open yourself up, you’ll get more out of it,” says Rosenberg. At the end of my session I felt utterly relaxed from head-to-toe, the tension in my neck and shoulders had dissipated, and the stress that was seething beneath the surface just one hour ago was no longer—it was like a massage with sound instead of hands. Best of all, though, my constantly chattering mind, which often makes sleep and staying focused challenging, suddenly seemed to be on pause, and anything that is able to do that is music to my ears.

For an appointment, e-mail oliverhere@gmail.com; $100 for a 45-75 minute session; inpraiseofthevoid.tumblr.com.

Photo: Image Source / Getty Images

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