You may be totally phased now by the title of this post…what even is vibro acoustic technology?
The answer, in a nutshell, is that it’s sound, vibrations and images (the images affected by the vibrations and the sound and your voice and movements if you choose to interact that way), all pulled together into a space that you spend time in. The result is that this technology can help you relax, be mindful, feel calmer and has been used as a mindfulness therapy for people with mental health issues.
So how do I know all this?
Well I was invited to test iMuse yesterday at Accessible Arts and Media in York.
For a short taster session I got to have a go in the space to identify whether it feels like a good tool to add to the mindful toolkit.
The space itself
To give you a bit of a description of the space, think outside gazebo with a vibrating mattress in the middle, and a projector screen where you can watch your choice of image whilst listening to any music you like.
The vibrations of the mattress massage and relax the body and the muscles so help you with the physical tightness you can sometimes feel with stress, depression or anxiety. It wasn’t a great big throbbing bass but more gentle vibrations which you could feel but which were not overpowering.
The images projected onto the screen in front of you can be your choice. We had some spiky orange ones, and then some much nicer fluid blue and purple ones.
Watching the shapes move, and the fact that you can change the sound (because the shapes are responding to sound) with your voice through the aid of a microphone is very soothing. The shapes twist and swirl, and you’re totally caught in the moment of observing them, without thought.
Alongside the shapes, you can choose music. From Tibetan bells to progressive rock, you can control the music choices. We had a much calmer gentle track on – think like the sort of thing you can get on Youtube to help you with sleeping, which I found very calming and relaxing.
Combine the three elements, and you have a totally interactive, sensory space designed to soothe and relax you, but through the use of the more interactive elements that you can use in the movement sensor and microphone, you can also be incredibly playful , creative and interactive and change the way that the images in front of you react to you.
How it felt
I went from a feeling of apprehension before I went into the space; of wondering what the experience would be and how I would react to it, to feeling very calm and serene when I left it, and that was after a very short 10 minute taster session. Usually sessions are for 30 minutes, and are repeated.
What I love is this therapy tool is used with care home residents, with children, people with complex needs, and severe and enduring mental health conditions as well as anyone just interested in being more mindful. It has a totally flexible, personalised approach, and you can create a space you feel safe, comfortable and mindful in.
The other thing I love about this is that it’s a really kind thing to do for yourself; to give yourself 30 minutes of complete time out, in a space that you control, that you can create to be exactly how you want.
A self care tool
Self care is one of the areas I am really passionate about, because so many of us find it hard, and so anything that encourages this is a real bonus for me.
So did I think it was a valid mindfulness tool for me?
I often like to meditate in silence, but I also really like listening to music and sounds at night to calm and relax me, so this did feel like a really great tool . I would use it again and pay for sessions, particularly if I was feeling very stressed, or anxious or so depressed that self care in other areas wasn’t an option . I think it would kick start my wellbeing again as it’s such a physical and sensory experience. I’d definitely say give it a try, and if you struggle to be in the present, and with meditation this might be a great way to start being more in the moment.
If you’re based near York and interested in trying out iMuse for yourself, you can book a session by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org or ring 01904 626965.