It’s safe to say we all deal with varying levels of distraction in 2016. This is how distracted I was when I walked into my appointment at Infinite Space Bodywork and Resonance Therapy: After the owner-operator let me in the door, I fell down the stairs and skinned my knee. (If you guessed I had my attention on my phone, you’d be right: I was glued to it, attempting to deal with an after-hours emergency that might have required me to catch a flight out of town the day before the epic April snowstorm hit.)
Clearly, I wasn’t in a great headspace for a massage.
But I’d already had to cancel one appointment with Sami Tanamly, the aforementioned owner-operator of Infinite Space and the creator of the only vibrating massage table in the world that resonates in tempo with the music he uses during his sessions. So even though I felt frazzled and stressed — and embarrassed from my trip down the stairs in front of him — here I was, putting the emergency to bed via mobile device and admittedly not 100 percent listening to his intake speech.
I’m not normally a terrible massage client, but this night? I was the worst.
By the end of the experience, however, I felt like I was floating, carried along by the vibrations from the table and the massage itself. The singing bowls, vocals, bells and other sounds had been pinging or toning around and on me for ninety minutes, and the deeply resonant finale left me tingling from my toenails to my scalp — prickling every hair on my body. It reminded me of being cradled as a child, still small enough for either parent to lift easily.
Between the music, the table and Tanamly, magic had been wrought.
Selecting the music is one of the most challenging parts of what he does, Tanamly says. So much available massage music is synthesized new-age, and the vibrations he’s seeking typically tend to come from guitars, Tuvan throat singers and other instruments.
Plus, the overall experience of generic new-age music can be unbearably bland — Muzak for the corporate spa.
At the same time, Tanamly doesn’t want too much vibration; some deep bass lines or percussion might not be conducive to the relaxation experience he’s aiming for. Not all ambient or downtempo electronic music will fill the bill, either, because of the focus on bass and drums.
The overall experience has to be just right, too. Just because one song on one album might be perfect for the opening of a resonance therapy session, that doesn’t mean the album as a whole is a good fit. In this regard, Tanamly’s many years of experience as a DJ — he’s been a staple in the Denver underground electronic music scene for some time, spinning as Sami T — has helped him with this aspect of his practice, honing his ear for the right tracks and albums to weave into a session.
His background as a DJ helps make the music, but Tanamly also used his experience as a software engineer and body worker to build the table. It looks and feels like any ordinary massage table, but Tanamly told me that it’s much heavier than its brethren, and it also doesn’t fold in half, which makes transportation difficult, if not impossible.
He hooks the table up to his computer; controls help him manage the strength of the vibrations throughout the session. Tanamly prefers to use CDs whenever he can find them — he wants the highest possible sound quality to transmit to and through his table, and he says that’s not always a guarantee when downloading an MP3.
Tanamly tests each track himself, lying on the table through numerous plays. He said he likes to craft each musical experience to his client, so he uses the traditional massage-therapy intake form as well as his pre-session discussion to decide how he’ll tailor each experience.
As a licensed massage therapist, Tanamly is also interested in helping his clients find relaxation relief from pain and recovery from injuries. In many ways, a resonance therapy session is similar to any other massage therapy session. Tanamly offers Swedish massage, deep-tissue massage, myofascial release, neuromuscular/trigger-point therapy, sports massage, acupressure, motion therapy and reflexology, as well as hot and cold stone therapies and techniques.
It’s hard to describe how, exactly, incorporating the vibrating table changes the “typical” massage experience and turns it into something more. If you’ve ever done a sound-healing or sound-therapy session with crystal singing bowls, then the table’s sensation is familiar — except instead of feeling vibration above your body, it’s on your body, and you’re also receiving a massage at the same time. The goal is to induce a waking-dream state, Tanamly says; he knows he’s accomplished his mission when clients forget where they are or fall asleep on the table.
The closest thing I can compare it to, personally, is yoga nidra, a guided deep-relaxation/meditation that is also intended to catapult the practitioner into a waking dream. Allegedly, yoga nidra minimizes your brain’s beta waves (normal waking consciousness) and stimulates alpha waves (conscious and relaxed), ideally triggering theta waves in the practitioner’s brain, which is the state of REM sleep, hypnosis and lucid dreaming.
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I’m not a scientist, and I didn’t have an electroencephalography headset on my head during this resonance therapy session — but I used to attend a yoga nidra class every Wednesday at lunchtime for about a year.
And this was a lot like an extended yoga nidra session, with the same feelings of relaxation — and, I’ll say it, bliss — floating me out the door after it’s all over.
Tanamly has a GoFundMe page where he’s collecting donations to help him build Infinite Space and launch a corporate chair-massage segment of his business. In exchange for various levels of donation, his GoFundMe donors will receive thank-yous ranging from a music download ($10) to a custom-designed five-series resonance therapy session package ($500).
A package like the ninety-minute session I received, which also comes with a music download, can be purchased for a donation of $100.