Not to sound like the ultimate "I wear all black and live in New York" stereotype, but occasionally, the city can be draining, so I'll try just about any weird treatment, method, or class that can help me calm the hell down. Anyone who knows me is well-aware that I'm a believer in flotation therapy. It's intimidating at first, but I became a believer after my first session, and was practically slinking down the street as I walked home since I was so relaxed. Meditation, however, was a slightly new concept. I tried out a meditation class at MNDFL, which I loved, but was convinced I did wrong because I was listening to Taking Back Sunday on the way there and had the hook to "Cute Without the E" stuck in my head for most of the session. When I heard about the Somadome, I liked the idea since it merged the two somewhat, and the combo of soothing lights and music would be enough to keep my sad girl playlist from interfering. I arrived at the Pure Yoga studio on the Upper West Side, where I was directed to a pod stationed in the lobby, behind some decorative plants for privacy. It looked somewhat like those mythical nap pods some companies have in their offices, except it could be closed over your upper body, and a soft blue ring of light around the perimeter illuminated the dome. You have the ability to pick your desired session on a touchscreen pad within the pod, but I just chose the generic "Relax" option since it was my first time. I put on the headphones, was welcomed to my session by a relaxing cyborg voice, and an Enya-esque instrumental beat filled my ears.
I'll admit—at first it was a little hard for me to relax. Although the pod was in a secluded part of the lobby, I felt a little self-conscious with my tiny boots sticking out of the pod, and the headphones don't completely block out external noise. It wasn't loud in the lobby by any means—it is a yoga studio, after all—but at one point when I thought I was hearing ocean sounds, it was really just someone dragging a bin across the floor. I do this annoying thing when I'm trying something out like this for a piece, I start thinking about what I'm going to write and it gets real meta real fast, so I turned up the volume on the headphones and after a while, was able to zone out. Because the dome is lit up in blue and music is playing into the headphones, you're not completely deprived of the senses as you would be in a flotation tank, but it's a baby step toward that territory if you want to work your way up to it. After 20 minutes of slipping in and out of a dream-like state, I was brought back by the same voice at the beginning, and felt pretty zen once I was able to peel myself out of the seat. If I were Mariah Carey rich, I'd definitely want one of these in my own home, but since I live in a studio apartment and am not Mariah Carey rich, I'll have to settle for the occasional session—maybe on one of the more intesnse levels next time.