Do These Strange Wellness Therapies Really Work?

We try out and deliver the verdict on these alternative healing techniques that claim to tune up weary bodies and frazzled minds.

1. Crystal Sound Bath and Reiki Self Care

Where: Reiki Glow, 37 Tembeling Road

How much: $30/session or $100/four sessions.

What it is: Conducted by Elaine Yang, who’s been a reiki healer since 2011 and a crystal singing bowl therapist since 2016, the session begins with her performing a 5-minute ritual to “tune” participants to receive and transmit reiki, aka universal life force, through the palms of the hands. Reiki is a self-healing modality that’s been in use for thousands of years across various cultures.

While we sit in a row of chairs with our eyes closed, she walks in a circle around us, pauses occasionally behind and in front of each of us in turn, presses our palms together, and blows onto our hands.

We then move on to the singing bowl session, where we lie down on yoga mats, eyes shut, in a darkened room. Elaine instructs us to just relax, place our palms on parts of the body that feel tired or achy, and to focus not just on listening to the sounds from the singing bowls, but to feel them.

Using a mallet to strike or circle seven different-coloured crystal singing bowls, which are said to be made of gemstones and semi-precious stones such as citrine, quartz, diamond, ruby and tanzanite, Elaine plays intuitively for the next 45 minutes, creating a soundscape comprising bell- and gong-like notes and deep humming sounds, interspersed by long silences. The vibrations and sounds of the crystal singing bowls, and the group energy, is said to support and amplify your reiki self-treatment, allowing for relaxation and healing to take place.

How it felt: The “music” was stark and strangely mesmerising — almost like what you’d expect to hear at an avant-garde audio art installation or accompanying an experimental theatre performance. I placed my palms on my lower back and right hip as I’d had back surgery a few months ago and some parts were still a bit sore, and felt a gentle warmth that relaxed my tense muscles.

What was fascinating was how I seemed to be able to imagine the shapes and the locations of the sounds in my body — for example, a sonorous hum that I experienced as a wave that made its way through my legs into my belly, versus a bell-like ring that went to centre of my brain before radiating outwards like an expanding circle.

After the session, I felt calm, relaxed and refreshed. It was more “interesting” than a silent meditation session, and more relaxing than a guided meditation session as verbal instruction was kept to the barest minimum. We’re asked to drink more water to help our bodies detox after the session, as well as spend the next week doing more reiki self-healing. Overall, it’s a nice way to unwind after work.

2. Tibetan Singing Bowl Private Healing Session

Where: Align Origins, Float Your Boat Therapy or Shima Healing.

Cost: $200 for a 60- to 90-minute session

What it is: Used for thousands of years by Tibetans as a way to promote relaxation, mental clarity and healing, a set of seven Tibetan singing bowls (each made up of an alloy of seven different metals and with its own unique tone to correspond to the seven chakras) are struck or rimmed to produce different sounds and vibrations.

According to sound healer Amanda Ling (who’s also a yoga instructor, DJ and KonMari tidying consultant), this produces pleasant harmonic overtones combining high and low notes. The clash of frequencies produces a binaural beat of four hertz, which allows the brain waves to enter theta mode — associated with a sense of flow or a meditative state. As such, sound healing is said to be an effortless way to quickly enhance physiological, energetic, emotional, mental and spiritual well-being.

A private session is believed to have deeper effects as it’s tailored to your specific needs. At the start of the session, Amanda had me fill in a short questionnaire, detailing what my concerns are. I mention my mid- and lower back discomfort, and that I have a bit of sciatic pain running down the back of my right leg, due to the back surgery I had a few months back. And that I’m feeling tired in general.

She then had me pick out an aromatherapy essential oil I like, sprinkled a few drops on my palms, told me to inhale deeply for a few breaths, and massaged my neck. We begin the session with a short seated breathing exercise to centre myself, before I lie down on my stomach.

How it felt: Amanda places a singing bowl on the sole of my right foot and rims it with a mallet, causing the bowl to produce a gentle vibration. After a few-minute interval, she moves the bowl up along my right leg, lower back, and then down my left leg and foot, stopping at certain points to rim the bowl to create more vibrations.

She then places two bowls on my upper- and mid-back, striking the bowls to produce gong-like tones. I am then asked to turn over and lie on my back, and she places three bowls: one between my ankles, one on my chest, and one above my head, and “plays” each of the bowls in turns. The end of the session is marked by the gentle chimes of Tibetan bells.

Overall, the effect was calming and relaxing, and it was weird how aches in certain areas appeared to be driven upwards and outwards from spots where the bowls were placed on my body and played.

Amanda mentioned that the after-effects also vary: some people end up feeling sleepy and relaxed; others might feel emotional or even teary; yet others may feel pain relief or soreness in parts of their body… all of this could indicate that whatever physical, mental, or emotional discomfort we tend to bury are rising to the surface, so we can acknowledge them, figure out how to deal with them, and let go.

There can also be shifts in your mental state; for example, increased openness to exploring new possibilities. I’m asked to drink more water over the next couple of days, get plenty of rest and observe if I sleep more deeply than usual, or have lots of dreams.

3. Energy Reading

Where: The Golden Space, 418 Race Course Road

Cost: $25/30-minute session

What it is: You stick your fingers, one at a time, into a white box-shaped Bio-Well device, which was created by Dr Konstantin Korotkov, a professor of Computer Science and Biophysics at St Petersburg State University. It claims to be a “revolutionary, non-invasive way to measure the human energy field using a specialised camera and software system.

When a scan is conducted, a weak electrical current is applied to the fingertips for less than a millisecond, leading to the formation of an “electron cloud” composed of light energy photons that’s invisible to the human eye.

This is captured by the camera system and then translated and transmitted back in graphical representations to show energy, stress and vitality evaluations. Within minutes, you get a 24-page report on your current energy and stress levels and overall physical health, interpreted based on various modalities such as chakra alignment (Ayurveda), yin/yang balance (TCM), organ function (Modern Western medicine), and so on.

The staff at Golden Space (I was helped by Gail and Michelle) will take you through the findings, and highlight areas you may need to pay attention to. You can also ask them to email you the report for future reference… handy if you want to make positive lifestyle changes and do another Bio-Well energy reading months down the road to see if you’ve made improvements.

How it felt: In one word, fascinating. There’s been so much talk about the heart-mind-body-spirit connection; this device seems to provide a holistic snapshot of your state of mind/body at a certain point in time.

For example, my energy field showed high amounts of activity in the head, throat and back; the analysis diagnosed my present emotional state at 4.08; a reading of between 4 to 6 is interpreted as “the excited stress state characteristic of active work, excitement, intense activity. Technically true as I had played golf all morning, then rushed like mad to The Golden Space for this work-related appointment.

My energy reserve level was 53 per cent (according to the software, the optimal level is from 20 to 60 per cent), and I seem to have energy imbalances in my colon, spleen and cerebral zone. My liver and throat seem to be in a state of excess energy, while my cervical and lumbar spine areas and intestines seem to be in a state of deficient energy.

I’m asked if I’ve gone for my health checkups lately, or if I’ve been ill. Well…I did have a slipped disc almost a year ago, and am prone to a sore neck, and my late maternal grandfather did suffer from colon cancer, so I probably am genetically predisposed to intestinal troubles. Funny thing is, my TCM doc and my reflexologist have also mentioned the spine and intestine issues.

The report also indicates that I have an excess of masculine energy, and a deficiency of yin energy, so Gail and Michelle advise me to de-stress more by doing more yoga and meditating.

Next up, my chakra chart showed that while I was 87 percent in alignment, most of the chakras were orientated towards the right, which, according to Gail and Michelle, indicate I am more of an introvert, with a stronger self- and home-focus.

Having been through the breakup of a very long-term relationship two years ago, I had decided to be single for a two-year period, for a change. While I don’t consider myself much of an introvert (just ask my friends), I did suffer from an excruciatingly painful slipped disc, followed by back surgery, which forced me to stay home more than usual this past year.

Working from home as a freelance writer, I spend quite a lot of time in my head too. Well, now that I’ve recovered both from my surgery and my breakup, I’m ready and willing to get out there a lot more. Look out, world!

Overall, I’d say this is an absorbing way to spend an hour. It is best to do the reading at the end of the day, or over the weekend when you’re less stressed. Better still, bring your bestie along… imagine how fun it’d be to compare notes after your session!