Located high above Columbus Circle in New York City, Mandarin Oriental’s Spa offers a range of specialty wellness experiences that speak directly to the dilemmas and stresses of modern life. Their Digital Wellness treatment, developed exclusively by Mandarin Oriental, hones in on technology-based stress through a series of diverse, targeted practices. The result of the brand’s Corporate Spa team striving to produce a brand-wide initiative that would provide a new kind of calming, peaceful respite from the outside world, the surge of technology in day-to-day life made a digital detox treatment simultaneously a great necessity. Working with Mayo Clinic, the innovative treatment also offers tips and guidelines to help establish personal boundaries on the use of technology, clear mental chatter and establish a healthy, digitally balanced lifestyle.
It begins with a 20-minute soak in a Shungite bath, a natural carbon only found in Russia that is rich in fullerenes, which bind to free-radicals absorbed as a reaction to technological radiation from our phones, laptops, iPads, and more. This aims to help eliminate them from the body, and paired with a Shungite-charged water offered at the start of the treatment, spa specialists aim to treat you inside and out. “This is energetically how the Digital Wellness Retreat targets technology-based stress,” says Jim, Spa specialist. From here, opt for a windows open or closed experience – open reveals the stunning skyline, while a darkened room may appeal to those who prefer a more internalised, maximum disconnect experience. You will be walked through a few minutes of deep breathing exercise, and a calming: “Allow yourself to relax and let go of your problems, concerns and worries. Give yourself permission to put it aside for this hour, they will still be there when you return to them at the end of the treatment.” The surprisingly simple phrasing is an unexpectedly soothing and comforting encouragement to disconnect – a nudge which we all need at times.
The massage itself is unique, focusing on areas of the body that repetitive technology wreaks havoc upon – hands, shoulders, neck, eyes – and seeks to alleviate the tension from stress, postural imbalance and muscle tightening from repetitive gesturing. The work is specific and employs a markedly different series of movements, putting emphasis on body zones that typical massages only visit briefly. Work on the neck and shoulders opens up the chest through “stretches [that] focus on areas that can develop into a closed-off front posture,” Jim notes. “For those guests who spend most of their day at a desk or computer, it is common for the pectoral muscles to become shortened, which leads to a forward position of the shoulders with an anterior placement of the head. Our treatment features stretches that are intended to open up these muscles, lengthen them and assist the guest toward a more neutral posture.” The dedication to the hands and forearms is unparalleled in its sensorial luxury and necessity, while pressure points in the eyes, face and scalp are also addressed and treated with firmness in order to offer a final moment of relaxation from devices. “The treatment leaves people feeling more recharged with a heightened sense of awareness mentally and physically,” he adds. “The body is not only shown a more neutral posture, but mentally guests receive a fresh outlook on the benefits of being fully-disconnected.”
Come the end of the hour-long experience, there are a number of mindfulness and self-care oriented activities to engage in, from journaling, note card writing, colouring, meditation or simply relaxing and enjoying the silence in the relaxation room. For those eager to indulge in their other treatments, there is a selection of curated spa retail offerings, ranging from crystals and eye masks to meditation pillows and a selection of calming teas and oils, which also encourage digital disconnection.
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