By Emily McCluhan | Photo Courtesy Life Center Of Wisconsin, Photographed By Martin Menocal
In this go-go-go, always-on world, being stressed is a normal state. Many seek an escape through yoga or meditation, but what will we find if we go deeper into the body to explore relaxation, balance and healing?
Lying in a wood paneled chamber on a wide memory foam mattress, music lilts softly as gentle vibrations pulse up my spine and legs. Rainbow colored lights are recessed about 12 inches from my face pushing my end-of-the-work-day mind into calm. Within minutes I drift away into a deep relaxation, somewhere between sleep and awake for the next 45 minutes.
This is the Energy Genesis chamber at Life Center of Wisconsin on Madison’s West Side. Owner Liza Abitz explains that in this level of relaxation, we’re shifting our stress response to the “off” position.
“Our autonomic nervous system is triggered on when we are stressed and for most of us it just stays on,” Abitz says. “And when the body is in stress, we’re just surviving and our body is not healing or addressing issues that arise.”
In her 10 years of studying wellbeing, she’s learned that a balanced autonomic nervous system is critical to whole body wellness. Most of her clients are referrals from others and anecdotally share that they saw faster recovery post-surgery, or use it to detox and rebalance during and after chemotherapy. Ultimately, Abitz recommends using Energy Genesis as part of a self-care regimen to keep the immune and nervous system strong. She even offers parent/child sessions and sessions for couples.
The theory is that the energy from one session works in the body for about four or five days. Abitz recommends first-timers come in three days in a row to address and unblock larger emotional or physical barriers.
“At Life Center of Wisconsin we believe the body does not know disease by name, only that there is an imbalance. We support and engage the body in a way to allow for healing on every level, emotionally, mentally, physically and spiritually,” she says.
Using a similar idea, massage therapist Susan Harrison added the So Sound Lounge to her studio, Spa-tique in Middleton in 2018. The “lounge” is a spa-like room with a comfy chaise that curves with your body. After selecting a desired sound experience (I chose crashing waves over the jungle walk, but there were many options), headphones blocked out the ambient noise and deep vibrations began pulsating along my spine in time with the music. The sound of the vibrations—which are more intense than the Energy Genesis chamber—and music took me to a meditative state where I felt completely zoned-out.
Harrison explains that these vibrations and sounds are like sonar seeking out dense areas, like tight muscles or thicker areas like scar tissue.
“The lower tones, meaning around 50 Hertz, get deeper into the body and into the muscles to help loosen and relax,” she says. “While higher tones, closer to 4,000 Hertz, are going to cut through the chatter, kind of like cleaning out the grooves of the brain.”
The idea, she explains, is that water molecules in the tissues become “bouncy” from the vibrations and the effects of each session build on each other. This movement in the tissue can lead to easier recovery from injuries or relief from chronic conditions like headaches or arthritis.
Both women exude passion when sharing the benefits of these modalities and the testimonials of their clients, but they acknowledge there are doubters.
“When people come through the door, they don’t have to believe all of this, but they do need to be open to the possibility,” says Abitz. “It can feel foreign to some people. It’s difficult to get into that state between conscious and unconscious where we are completely uninhibited.”
Whether you believe the effects or not, Abitz says, her biggest mission is to help her clients find value in self-care, and not just survive, but thrive.