Although I grew up as a very passionate Pentecostal Christian (yeah, the Hillsong ones), I have a deep fascination with alternative therapies. I say fascination because half the time I’m too scared of “catching a demon” to actually try anything out. This is entirely due to years of conditioning via preachers telling me psychics and any religious practices outside of Christianity were the devil’s work.

I’ve long reasoned with myself that if the therapy doesn’t involve commanding an external power to ~heal~, it’s OK. External powers? D E M O N S. Balancing your own shit? That’s cool. The logic is flawed but I will not hear any arguments against it. DON’T TAKE THIS ONE THING FROM ME OK.

Anyway. One thing I recently tried was singing bowl therapy. I was in Nepal and staying at this lush mountain resort. I know, what a fucking asshole. Like, could see the Himalayas on the horizon kinds of lush. Naturally, they had a long list of alternative therapies on offer in their spa, because they know Western idiots like me are coming and will pay top dollar for something that can probably be done in town, if you’re a local and know where to go, for 1/5 of the price.

Scanning down the list, I bypassed anything involving someone summoning the universal powers (DEMON) and saw singing bowl therapy, which is associated with sound baths. It promised the re-aligning of my internal vibrations, which apparently can get out of whack. Who bloody knew. I ALWAYS feel out of whack so I was like, yeah OK mates, I’ll let you bang some singing bowls around my head and body to get my vibes back on track. Like, in my mind the exact reason I was dealing with ex-girlfriend bullshit with my then-boyfriend, why I had generalised anxiety disorder, and why my parents just would NOT buy a family dog to replace our dead one was entirely because my internal vibrations were out.

It all started out innocuously enough – I walked into an essential oil-scented room, lay on my back on a massage table, the basic shit. A lovely man then asked me if I had any issues – I said no, just generally life, you know. Then I was told to close my eyes and clear my mind.

From here, what basically happened was he walked around me making noises that he told me were associated with realigning my chakras. If I were to explain them, they were like guttural, back-of-the-throat “ommmmm” and “aaaah” noises, you know? The kind people associate with yoga, I guess. So the singing bowls actually didn’t come into play at first.

When they did, it was… weird. Soothing, but weird. Basically the noise starts quite loud, like a big BONNNNG! And then they swirl the stick thingy around the bowl and it softens to a vibration that you can legit feel internally, like when you’re at a gig and there’s hectic bass.

He basically walked around me doing this, holding the bowl above different parts of my body – not that I could see, but I could sense based on the sounds that the bowl was moving around. I didn’t feel anything life-changey tbh. Then he placed the bowl on my head (!!!) and did it again. This was SUPER wild because the vibrations were really strong… I mean the thing was on my head, so. Of course they were. But weird experience.

Things wrapped up after this, and while I felt really relaxed, I didn’t feel any different emotionally. Like literally no change in the Mel-soul-region.

HOWEVER. When I got back to my hotel room? BAM! Full blown panic attack. I suffer from panic disorder, so panic attacks aren’t a new thing for me. But usually they’re connected to a thought process (oh no, should I take this new job? Is this guy I’m dating right for me?) as opposed to literally coming on out of nowhere.

I was alone in my hotel room in Nepal, it was midnight in Australia, and I was breathing erratically and felt like I might die. I ended up Skyping my sister, who thankfully was still awake. Once I’d done my breathing exercises and gotten myself off the panic wave, she said something interesting.

“Didn’t this happen last time? When you got some weird non-massage massage thing?”

She’s not wrong. I got an “esoteric massage” once in Byron, and randomly started crying the next day when I got on the plane. Again, for NO REASON. Sure, I had some shit going on in my life – but for the most part, I was doing fine. Except for, you know, the uncontrollable sobbing.

So what does this mean? Maybe these natural therapies aligning chakras and vibrations and whatever are actually doing something, it’s just so spirit-led we can’t actually feel it until we get a wave of emotion? Or it’s all coincidence. I mean I WAS getting my period the week of the esoteric massage, and I WAS in a foreign country without my support network with the singing bowl therapy.

But then again, after some googling I found many accounts of emotional responses to alternative therapies that focused on energy re-alignment or cleansing of the spirit. Some people mentioned laughing spontaneously at nothing, some mentioned tears. Many accounts said you should monitor your emotions for days and even weeks afterward, because you can have an emotional response down the track, where your spirit is trying to rid you of shit you’ve been holding onto and so on.

My take? It all sounds really ~wooooo~ and all, but there might be something in the alternative therapy shit. Maybe all of that re-aligning of chakras/reiki/singing bowl therapy is actually… doing something? As someone who identifies as agnostic, I’m not opposed to the idea of an unbalanced spirit, or needing your energies re-balanced. I’m skeptical, but I’m not closed off to the idea.

The jury is still out as to whether my experience was the result of external factors (being overseas, away from my fam and friends etc) or whether I really did experience some sort of balancing event, and the emotional reaction was a side-effect.


Image: Getty Images