Can I confess something to you? I have a love/hate relationship with nail salons. I love the fresh, crisp look of a new mani, but usually dread the awkward small talk exchanged with my manicurist as we try to entertain each other for an hour. (Is that just me?) However, that all changed when I visited Namaste Nail Sanctuary in Studio City. If you're unfamiliar, Namaste is the first-and-only meditation-focused salon of its kind, and was founded to provide a relaxing sanctuary to frantic, on-the-go women just like me.
The moment I arrived, I instantaneously became aware of the contrast between the buzz of Ventura Boulevard and the quiet serenity of the Namaste lobby and, for the first time that day, felt relieved. I was immediately handed a cold glass of crystal-infused water to enjoy while I waited (which, hello, I don't know what that even means, but how can I have that magical elixir at my fingertips always?) Already, two wins within the first five minutes.
Michael Elliot, the founder (and quite possibly the most passionate human on earth), guided me toward their "cocoon room" — a quiet, dimly lit space in the back of the spa where guests can unwind, uninterrupted, to enjoy a moment of meditation before or after services. I can't even remember a time when I wasn't whisked from the lobby to the wall of paint choices to my seat in a whirlwind.
From there, I entered the salon and perched myself on a massive, plush chair. My manicurist handed my a pair of headphones and what appeared to be sunglasses — and that's when everything was taken to the next level. She explained that they're part of the Deepak Chopra Dream Masters program, and that I was about to experience a guided meditation, using light and sound to experience ~peak relaxation~.
To be honest, I was a major skeptic. You want me to sit in public with these tiny sunglasses and meditate to light for an hour? The most I've ever meditated was when I tried to use an iPhone app a couple minutes a day and, well, that didn't last very long.
But I went in with an open mind. Now, bear with me, because I don't even know if I can even conjure the right words to describe it. Here's what went down: Basically, you close your eyes and the glasses subtly flash a series of light patterns to simulate the effect of light streaming through trees, while you listen to corresponding nature sounds and soft music. While that sounds fairly basic, I can honestly say I had a pretty emotional response to it, at times even finding myself smiling because it — strangely enough — really took me back to some feelings of childhood.
Don't believe me? Check out this photo of me grinning like a goofball:
I was 100 percent out-of-touch with everything happening around me and it was amazing. When the program came to a close, I removed my glasses and felt significantly more clear-headed and could physically feel that my breathing was much more even and calm than when I had arrived. The jitters of my day — the chaos of traffic and work — had totally melted away. It totally exceeded my expectations.
Plus, the manicure itself was divine. I felt totally at ease knowing my technician was using ultra-hygienic (no, literally — they use a hospital-grade sanitizer) tools across the board. Not to mention, the use of essential oils gave the experience an added calming experience.
I left feeling a level of peace I haven't experienced in a long, long time. From start to finish, it was exactly the escape I needed from the hustle and bustle of busy life.