A gym for your mind? I tried out the latest wellbeing trend…
When it comes to work outs – I’ve tried them all. Boxing, grit, high intensity training (once I even pushed a giant tyre around a carpark!) So while I’m constantly trying to look after my body, I generally pay little attention to my mind. And lately, I’ve found its increasingly difficult to quiet. Even in those moments between work or children I find myself craving more stimulation, more information – whether it’s from a quick scroll through Instagram, or the compulsion to read a (often non-urgent) work-related email. My mind is perhaps the only part of me that is never still, or quiet or well, zen. So when my sister suggested we try a mind gym I made fun of the notion for about two seconds before I decided to give it a go.
We went to Brthe, a little studio neatly tucked in the backroads of Auckland’s Parnell. As a journalist I cannot tell you how that abbreviated business name made my mind go into all sorts of over reactive thinking about spelling and grammar and what is happening to the english language. But I had to let it go, I’d come to relax.
Brthe markets itself as a mind gym and when you enter you can see why. There are no weights or bulky equipment seeped in sweat. Instead you find a contemporary space with an earthy green wall, pouffy pillows, plush blankets and eye masks. A neon sign glows on the wall saying ‘Today I’m Grateful For…’ and I immediately thought ‘being out of the house – ALONE!’
Founder of Brthe Brittany Kendall says the studio is about mental fitness and it’s something most of us are lacking.
“As a society, we place a biased emphasis on our physical health,” she says. “We are well-educated about the importance of healthy-eating, and cultivating regular exercise, but we lack understanding of the importance and more critically, the tools and practices to turn to, when it comes to caring for our minds, and emotional wellbeing.”
The space currently runs four classes Exhale, Sleep, Journal and Retune. We chose the later which uses crystal sound bowls to create frequencies in a bid to deeply relax the nervous system, shift brain waves and any blockages through the energy centres of he body on a physical and emotional level. “All you did is lay on our cushions and absorb the sound vibrations,” says Brittany. “It’s a pretty easy gig!”
And I had to agree. It was easy. So easy I kept thinking I should be doing more. But we were simply told to lay back on our cushions, pull up a blanket, put on an eye mask and lie there. As soon as they crystal sounds started I could feel the vibration through my body. Some sounds were so intense it was almost like the rising decibels of a sound system in a school hall that is just about to crackle. I noticed around me people’s breathing slowed – the girl beside me even started snoring. For me though, it was as if my mind was competing with the sounds and instead of relaxing it was shouting at me to remember everything and anything whether important or not. Still, remarkably when the 30 mins (which felt more like 3!) were up I felt sort of energised.
Concerned I wasn’t doing it right I mentioned to Brittany at the end of the class that I couldn’t seem to quiet my mind. And her response surprised me.
“I always remind people that thinking is what the mind does best, meditation is not a practice of ‘stopping your thoughts’. In fact, if you could – I’d be concerned!”
She also suggested I come to their Exhale class which is where people can start to ‘notice the mind’s natural tendency and start to reengineer our relationship to our thoughts’. And you know what, maybe I will. Despite the whole Millennial -esque front, it was good. It did what it promised – it allowed me to take a break from my day, from my kids, from compulsion to always be ‘doing’ something. It gave me space to breathe.
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