Elian And David Zach-Shemesh
On a summer-y feeling Friday night, Sleuth bypassed the Happy Hour bustle on the Bowery to attend sound meditation with Elian and David Zach-Shemesh at Woom Center. Since this class does sell out, I purchased my ticket in advance via their website which conveniently linked to the Mind Body app. Check-in at the Center was smooth, with complimentary tea served to tide me over while waiting to begin. Once invited into the room, or Woom, where the meditation would take place, I was welcomed by the candlelit ceremonial setting with an arrangement of instruments including bells, bowls, chimes, a gong and drums. Yoga mats, taking on a restorative state, were covered by blankets, a bolster and eye mask, and placed around the instruments creating a circle. I took my spot, seated on one of the mats. Elian, in a flowing kimono dress, and David, wearing all white, sat behind the instruments to welcome us. “Good evening. We are very honored to have you here with us on your Friday night,” said Elian. She then went on to explain exactly what would take place in the next two and a half hours. Her instruction was clear and conversational. While she spoke, Elian kept checking in to make sure we were understanding what she explained.
David sat quietly for much of the talk, though he added in a few tips that would help us get the most out of our meditation. He clarified that we were sitting in a safe, supportive space and could feel comfortable to allow and release whatever comes up from inside of ourselves. (Fear, claw hands, bright colors, past life references, tingly extremities, dry mouth and changes in body temperature are just a few things they said may occur.) The Woom Sound experience consists of five chapters: Talk, Vocal Meditation, Breathwork, Sound and Connecting. Elian articulated that it was not a "bath," something that happens to us in a passive state. But, rather, it was an experience that we would engage in and be a part of. Our contributions (in the vocal meditation and breathwork) were not only for ourselves, but for the others in the room—the collective. Elian also said that she and David were not our healers. She told us that we were there to heal ourselves by engaging in the experience, and with practice, the healing becomes more accessible and with more ease. After a quick bathroom break, (the experience is more beneficial when the room stays sealed and people aren’t getting up to go to the bathroom) I settled onto my spot. Lying on the mat, eyes closed and covered with the mask, I was reminded of my slumber party days from childhood. I could hear faint whispering and giggling nearby as people quietly moved about before finding their space. Then we began. First was a body scan which was followed by the vocal meditation. Elian and David took part, but it was hard to tell which voice belonged to whom because the entire room was filled with humming and “ma-ing,” along with a wide range of other unique voices. With my eyes covered, the sounds intensified. “Use your instrument (your voice) to release whatever you need to,” instructed Elian. And with that, the volume increased several decibels. Next was the Holotropic breathwork, created by Stanislav Graf. Placing one hand on our bellies, the other on our hearts, we proceeded to deepen our breath with equal parts inhale and exhale, trying to eliminate the space in between so it became a circle of breath. Elian and David brought in the drums to add rhythm to our breathwork. I immediately recalled what Elian had said earlier—that eventually we would find our groove. The drum definitely helped with this. Finally, it was time for Sound. My body felt incredibly relaxed from the breathwork. It was also vibrating. As Elian and David moved around the room with their overtone-emitting instruments, I fell into a deeper state of meditation. At one point, I felt a rain stick on my chest which encouraged full body vibration. To wrap up the experience, we rejoined the circle and came to sit. “We like to think Woom Center is similar to Vegas in that whatever happens in the Woom, stays in the Woom,” said Elian, encouraging us to share our experience with one another (Connecting) adding that she and David would be around if anyone wanted to speak with them privately. We chanted one "om" together and gave gratitude. Re-entering the Bowery, I immediately noticed the sounds of the city, sirens and all. Though they certainly hadn’t gotten any softer, they no longer stayed in my brain. Instead, they passed by like waves as I continued on my way, relaxed and refreshed. —Elysha Lenkin for Yoga Sleuth
Drop-ins for the Woom Sound Experience are $40 ($45 when purchased day of).
Open Woom Center 274 Bowery, 2nd Fl New York, NY (646) 678-5092