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September 1 2014

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Lush Spa: The Mind-Body Connection

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New York's LUSH SPA

Synaesthesia, stemming from the ancient Greek word for “together,” is a neurological phenomenon wherein stimulation of one sense can result in the involuntary stimulation of another. For example, those who experience the color version of it may, when looking at a set of numbers, see not just the digits themselves but each one associated with a specific hue. Besides being an insanely awesome Scrabble word to have in your back pocket, synaesthesia is also the name of the signature treatment at New York’s first-ever Lush Spa. Tucked away on the second floor of the Lush store on Lexington Avenue, the space itself has a transporting vibe. Outfitted to look like an old-timey English cottage, there are reclaimed-wood cabinets, vintage teapots, and stacks of flea-marketed books—certainly not your standard spa decor. The spa and signature treatments were conceived of by Lush cofounder Mark Constantine (he has scent-shape synaesthesia, so he perceives everything he smells as having a shape) and behavioral therapist Lady Helen Kennedy. U.K. folk musician Simon Emmerson was commissioned to dream up the accompanying music. (He also has synaesthesia, the sound-color variety—he perceives certain sounds as having a color.) The first order of business when you arrive is selecting a “mood” for your experience from a wall of words describing emotional states; this will drive the focus of your treatment. I went for “mind cleanser,” which, along with “relax,” are, rather unsurprisingly, the most popular requests at the New York location. (At Lush’s sister spa in Philadelphia, the top picks are “confidence” and “energized.”) Because of my mind-focused pick, I had extra special attention paid to my head and face (score!) during what would be an impressively choreographed massage set perfectly in time to one of Emmerson’s tracks. This particular composition, complete with birdsongs, was conceived of to take you—sonically, at least—through a full day from sunrise to nightfall. And amazingly, when in tandem with the therapist’s precise movements, it does—in the so-called evening hours, I was drooling and drowsy, and come “morning,” I started to feel energized. A neat trick. I emerged eighty minutes later, loose, relaxed, and, I’m happy to report, with my mind entirely at ease. For the free-thinking spa-goer who doesn’t mind a dose of chakras with their massage, the Lush Spa is a necessary addition to your beauty black book.

Synaesthesia massage, $230 for eighty minutes. Lush Spa, 783 Lexington Avenue, New York, (212) 207-8151.

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