Human Condition: hop, skip and jump to happiness

MUSIC THERAPY; 4 `The leaflet promised "out of body experiences ... generated by a Cosmic Surrender in accordance with the sonic wave of creation"' 4
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Indy Lifestyle Online
I NEEDED treatment. The skin on my face and chest had erupted into a hideous blotchy rash which was, I suspected, a stress-related terminal disease. I'd also had three tantrums and smashed a cup against my lounge wall. Consequently, my partner had given me a firm restraining hug which he explained later, was "traditionally used on mental patients."

So, spotty, ratty, and nutty, I arrived at the flat of professional musician Sonia Slany. A friendly Australian with a snake tattoo on her wrist, she led me into a small room, in the middle of which was a hollowed-out log lined with strings, mounted, and covered with a varnished plank with three large holes in it. The item was, in fact, a Monochord table - a musical instrument consisting of a table attached to a deep resonance box. I was to lie on it while Sonia played it.

She sprayed some sweet smelling neroli essence into the air, and I hauled myself on to the table and closed my eyes. Thankfully no removal of clothing was involved. Sonia began to pluck the strings. According to the manufacturer's leaflet, the table holes would distribute the sound to the base of my spine and the vibrations would provide "a re-experiencing of the prenatal consciousness of being in the womb."

The sensation was similar to dozing on top of a giant speaker. In the grand melodic tune I imagined ocean waves, pine forests and the first few bars of my favourite house music track - "Ibiza Go Wild Sunset Mix''. Delightful though these impressions were, they fell short of those promised by the leaflet: "Out of body experiences ... generated by some kind of Cosmic Surrender in accordance with the sonic wave of creation." Eh?

Despite my apparent limitations, I enjoyed 20 minutes of soporific bliss. then Sonia bought out an array of what I took to be brass peanut bowls, which she arranged around my body. She then struck them with a wooden instrument. Ting! Bonnnnnnnnnnnng! Once she picked up a bowl and tinged it directly by my head. At this point I had to force myself not to laugh by thinking of horrid things.

The noise reminded me of clunking my mother's best crystal goblet - the wretched thing had tinged on forever proclaiming my guilt. It gave me a slight headache and I wanted to clamp two fingers around the bowl edge to stop the vibrations. I was thankful when Sonia ended the bowl concerto and returned to the soothing harmonic drone of the table. Then, silence.

I opened my eyes. "Not finished yet," said Sonia, smiling. "Sorry," I said and shut my eyes. When I peeked, Sonia was standing over me. She was either warming her hands above my body or pretending to be a magician. If I hadn't decided earlier that Sonia was a kind, sincere and good person I would have made a run for it. If a stranger stands close behind me when I'm waiting for the Tube I get the heebie-jeebies, let alone in a small room when my eyes are shut.

I felt rather unworthy when Sonia explained that the bowls were in fact, gold, silver, and platinum, and made by Tibetan priests who used them for sacred rituals. She had placed them by the seven energy centres or chakras in my body as the different notes were good for correcting imbalances. "I was working on your aura so I was trying to surround you," she added.

The mysterious hand movements were reiki, where the therapist uses her body to channel healing energy in the client's. "I was feeling your aura to see what effect the music had had," she said. "It was actually very balanced. At the beginning you were quite jangled." Despite my ungracious attitude, I felt remarkably rested and calm. This, apparently, was because the sounds of the Monochord were "based on overtones which are very good for balancing your yin and yang." I didn't understand a word but, what the heck, it had worked.

ANNA MAXTED

Sonia Slany, tel 0171 278 1129. pounds 25 per hour for one-to-one therapy

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