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The Advent of a New Tool for Relaxation and Beyond

The Evolution of The Face Cloud


During the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, I began experiencing insomnia and anxiety on a nightly basis. One night after my 3 a.m. sojourn to the bathroom, I grabbed two throw pillows from the couch on my way back to the bedroom. I got back into bed and put one pillow on each side of my face, leaving a space in the middle to breathe. Instead of tossing and turning indefinitely, as per usual, I drifted right back to sleep. I began doing this every night and found that the pillows were comforting somehow—they blocked out the world and quieted my mind, allowing me to sink back into slumber. It dawned on me that I could create one pillow that might perform this same function.


After a year of experimentation and several incarnations, I came up with The Face Cloud (TFC)*, a weighted pillow that lays directly on the face with a breathing hole in the middle. Inside the pillow are bead pods which are arranged in a pattern that conforms to the natural contours of the face. Similar to the effects of the weighted blanket, this gentle pressure calms the mind and helps the body relax.


I began using TFC as a sleep aid on a nightly basis and it worked well. It seemed oddly synchronistic that the bead pods just happened to press certain acupressure points on the face. As a licensed massage and bodywork therapist (LMBT), not only am I in the business of helping people relax, but my specialty is acupressure therapy, a therapeutic modality in which pressure is applied to certain areas of the body in order to alleviate pain and balance the flow of energy. From this perspective, TFC seemed like a natural extension of my work.


I decided to do a bit of research and experiment with it. I wondered, could TFC create a more immersive relaxation experience? I didn't realize it could do this and possibly more.



Entering The Flow State


Around this time, my partner began to wonder what all the hubbub was about. He wanted to try it, so I made one for him. Then my BFF wanted one. I thought, “Okay, this would be a great opportunity to gather some raw data.” I decided to set up shop in my dining room where I could spread out. Even though I had no sewing experience, I thought, “I can do this.”


Making the pillows soon became a ritual akin to meditation. There was something so pleasing about the quiet, rhythmic nature of the sewing process. Since my partner works third shift and sleeps during the day, sewing was something I could do without disturbing him.


It felt good to slow down. The stress level caused by the pandemic and everything else happening in the world was so amplified; this conscious stepping away from the external world just felt right.


While sewing one afternoon, I discovered a channel on YouTube devoted to crystal singing bowl sound baths and thought I would give it a try.


The tones were so peaceful and resonant, I could feel them on a deep, core level. I thought the term “sound bath” apropos.


It was like the outside world didn’t exist and I was in a

bubble, awash in the gentle vibrations while I sewed to

my little heart’s content.


The ever-present, restless chatter that usually plagued my mind–what I term the “mad monkey”–had vanished. In addition, the undercurrent of anxiety that I had been experiencing since the pandemic started began to slowly dissipate. I had entered the flow state without even realizing it.



Intentional Disengagement from the External World


Something clicked for me when I pondered the idea of purposefully tuning out the external world (i.e. the material, physical world we see and interact with every day) and turning my focus inward. I decided to try an experiment: What would happen if I used TFC in an intentional capacity, as a tool to regulate my own mental and emotional wellbeing? I put the sewing aside.


The first part of the experiment consisted of creating a sacred space. It seemed more meaningful that way. My bedroom is the most private space in my home, so I began by decluttering and tidying it up. I chose a time of day that I knew would be mostly quiet and set the tone by closing the blinds halfway to create some diffuse light. I then lay down on my bed with TFC on my face.


I was extremely fidgety. I didn’t really want to lie there because I had stuff to do. Even though I had set aside that time to decompress and re-center, I felt myself resisting. Mental images of the stuff I had to do kept invading my consciousness: taking the cat to the vet, doing laundry, going to the grocery store, confirming upcoming massage sessions, and on and on.


It seemed so simple, but why was it so hard to turn my

brain off?


I focussed on my breath and the weight of the cloud on my face. One thing that appealed to me about TFC was the feeling of the outside world being blocked out. The pillow was a soft, fluffy barrier against the external world. This affected me on a psychological level:

I felt safe.


Likewise, the gentle pressure on the acupoints around my eyes, cheekbones, temples, and the top of my chest was comforting.


Since the sound therapy had worked so well during my sewing sessions, I decided to try it again. This time I chose Ohm as my sound therapy. I found the low, deep drone of this particular Ohm video very calming.


I set an intention for the session: To Quiet My Mind.



Diffusing the Mad Monkey and Engaging Ohm

Photo by Greg Rakozy on Unsplash


I inhaled deeply, focusing on my breath and the sonic vibration of Ohm coursing through my ears. I imagined the sound as a kind of fairy dust entering my ear canals, swirling round and round the curves of my cochlea, and then moving into my head, spreading synapses throughout the circuits of my brain, down my spinal cord, and into the network of my nervous system.


I could feel those intrusive thoughts knocking on the door of my mind like a mad monkey, but again, I kept focussing on my breath and the sound of Ohm. I imagined tiny “thought bubbles” floating outside my body and then bursting into a fine mist, eventually evaporating into thin air. Instinctively, I spread my arms and legs outward like the spokes of a wagon wheel, stretching as wide as I could in the style of Da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man.


I repeated this visualization five times, always bringing my focus back to my breath and the sonic vibration of Ohm.


The mad monkey was still in the background, but I had managed

to keep it at bay. I was doing that. Me, myself, and I. I was control-

ling the mad monkey instead of it controlling me, at least temporarily.


This was a breakthrough.


I took five more deep, slow breaths and decided to stop there. I opened my eyes, took off my headphones, and lay there for as long as I could in the stillness. I felt lighter, clearer, and cleaner somehow. Not cleaner in the physical sense, but spiritually–even energetically cleaner, if you will.


I suddenly had the need to document the moment, so I jumped up, grabbed a notebook and pen, and started writing about the experience in my journal. Had I just induced the flow state all by myself? Yes, I had. Had I managed to regulate my own mental and emotional state? Well, almost. It would take some practice. In the present moment though, it was enough. Baby steps.


What I knew for sure was that the experiment had elicited positive results.


I had succeeded in consciously disengaging from the external

world, on my terms, and engaging the internal world.


I felt as if I’d just raised my whole vibration. Had I? This was definitely something else to ponder.


I believe what I've stumbled upon is a whole new system of relaxation and rejuvenation that could potentially affect the physical, mental, emotional, and energetic layers of the body. This work-in-progress is how The Soul Reboot System was born.


My next thought was, How can I share this experience with my clients and the rest of the world?

___________________________________________


For more information about The Soul Reboot System in my massage therapy practice, please stay tuned. 🙂


*Patent pending


SOURCES:

Williams, Vivien. “Mayo Clinic Minute: How Weighted Blankets May Lift Anxiety.” Mayo Clinic. May 18, 2019. https://newsnetwork.mayoclinic.org/discussion/mayo-clinic-minute-how-weighted-blankets-may-lift-anxiety/.


Piyush Mehta, Vishwas Dhapte, Shivajirao Kadam, and Vivdha Dhapte. “Contemporary acupressure therapy: Adroit cure for painless recovery of therapeutic ailments.” Journal of Traditional and Complementary Medicine (Elsvier). National Institute of Health. National Library of Medicine. April 2017 v.7(2). https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5388088/.


World Health Organization. March 2, 2022. COVID-19 pandemic triggers 25% increase in prevalence of axiety and depression worldwide. [“Press Release”]. https://www.who.int/news/item/02-03-2022-covid-19-pandemic-triggers-25-increase-in-prevalence-of-anxiety-and-depression-worldwide.

Healing Vibrations. “432 Hz - 3 Hour Crystal Singing Bowl Healing Sound Bath (4K, No Talking) - Singing Bowls - Sound Bath.” YouTube video,


Vago, David R., Zeidan, Fadel. “The brain on silent: mind wandering; mindful awareness, and states of mental tranquility.” Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences. July 11, 2016. The New York Academy of Sciences. https://nyaspubs.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/nyas.13171.


Csikszentmihalyl, Mihaly. Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience. Harper & Row. January 1990. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/224927532_Flow_The_Psychology_of_Optimal_Experience.


Locklear, Jodie. “Creating Sacred Space in Your Home.” Simpleminded.life. November 27, 2019. https://www.simpleminded.life/creating-sacred-space-at-home/.


Inner Lotus Music. “Deep OM Mantra Sleep Music & Rain | 963Hz Singing Bowl | Third Eye Opening & Pineal Gland Activation.” YouTube video, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KZvM-qjT5i8&t=4543s&ab_channel=InnerLotusMusic.


Richman-Abdou, Kelly. “The Significance of Leonardo da Vinci’s Famous ‘Vitruvian Man’ Drawing.” My Modern Met. August 5, 2018. https://mymodernmet.com/leonardo-da-vinci-vitruvian-man/.

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