I Tried It! A Himalayan Salt Cave
I bought my husband Vin a bowling Groupon for Christmas, and since then, the promo emails have been coming in hot promoting activities that just straddle the border of actual exercise, stuff like laser tag and indoor glow golf and these primitive 90-minute ax-throwing sessions that sound like a fun way to lose a finger or maim a friend.
Clearly, there’s no shortage of activities to enjoy these days. So why do we all still watch so much Netflix? (I’ll speak for myself here, but tell me… when’s the last time you gathered ten of your friends to funnel a nice Cabernet while all painting the exact same picture?).
Lately I’ve been feeling equal parts restless and curious, willing to try new things so long as they don’t demolish my budget or throw me into moral crisis. I’ve been particularly interested in experimenting with wellness trends to preserve my health and strengthen my internal fortitude. Plus, as a psychotherapist I’m technically a wellness professional myself, so it’s probably a good idea to work on balancing my qui and whatnot.
Years ago, Vin and I spent an hour in a salt room for “Halotherapy” which is supposed to be helpful in treating asthma, allergies, inflammation and common colds. Basically, we watched TV while sitting in plastic lawn chairs in a room made entirely of salt. That place unfortunately didn’t last more than a year so we never went back.
I’d walked by the Montauk Salt Cave in the East Village numerous times on my way to work, promising myself I’d eventually check it out. Once Groupon started offering 45-minute sessions for $25, I was sold. Plus, I’d been waking up with one of those sore throats that threatened to turn into a cold for a week, and I was curious to see if this treatment could kick that in the pants.
At the check-in counter, I was faced with many tiny fingerbowls filled with little hunks of salt and a variety of healing crystals for energy and balance. I can’t say I’ve gotten into the crystals thing, but they do look attractive in small groupings.
A group of seven of us were led to the back, where a heavy wooden door opened up to an orb-shaped room. The floor was covered in tiny pink salt pebbles; the walls carved from salt imported from the Punjab, Pakistani region of the Himalayan mountains. The room was dimly lit, the only real light coming from the tiny twinkling “stars” dotting the ceiling. A small campfire made of salt glowed in the middle of the room to mimic the night sky on the beach at Montauk. It looked like we’d been gathered to toast marshmallows on the surface of the moon. I loved it.
I took one of the zero gravity chairs in the corner of the cave with my back to the door, because I knew I’d have no capacity for suspending reality if I was facing a glowing “EXIT” sign during my treatment. I inhaled deeply, then took two fingers and briefly swabbed the wall behind me. I licked the tips of my fingers. Yup, salt. I’d watched 50% of my therapy clients do this when they asked what that glowing pink rock with an extension cord was in my office. This was the real deal—the salt wall tastes like a salt wall. The snozzberries taste like snozzberries!
We settled in, the door shut behind us, and a gentle voice began to explain the benefits of salt therapy via a carefully hidden audio speaker. We were told that it was not uncommon to become quite sleepy during the experience, as breathing in salt can have a very relaxing effect. But I knew this was one of the few times in my life when I would resist the urge to sleep. I live in New York City. How often do I lay on my back and look up at the stars?
A few people shifted in their chairs, but no one spoke or looked at their cell phones, which was refreshing and lovely. One guy fell asleep and started snoring, but hopefully a few more sessions in the salt cave will relieve him of his sinus issues. I used the time to relax, recharge and mentally write this blog post.
*The result: Hard to say after a single session, but I did emerge from the cave feeling relaxed, calm and grounded, which I imagine is how anyone feels after laying in the dark with a blankie while listening to soft, meditative music. The real test would be how I felt later that night or the next day.
I’m happy to report that for the first time in a week, I did not wake up with a sore throat, so maybe there’s some magic in that salt after all.