There’s no place like OM at The Other House South Kensington.
Introducing Leo Cosendai and the OM experience – our newest residency in The Other Space – our unique wellness and wellbeing retreat for residents and members. OM is the first and only wellness experience purely dedicated to sound bath meditations, with the UK’s largest gongs. These sessions are short and potent experiences designed to fit into your day; no physical fitness, ability or previous knowledge is required.
We caught up with Leo to discuss the healing power of sound.
For anyone that doesn’t know, tell us about what you’ll be doing in your residency at The Other House and what OM entails.
OM is the first and only wellness destination purely dedicated to sound bath meditations. Each OM experience takes place in a ‘half cocoon, half space shuttle’ with the UK’s biggest gongs – think of a pleasant power plate meets savasana – designed for up to 4 attendees at a time.
Can you remember your first experiences with sound healing?
It would have been in Southern India in the early 90s – conch shells, chants and ceremony trumpets; I don’t think I really paid that much attention to it at the time though, I was just a child into video games… but I have no doubt it had an impact on me and percolated over the years.
My first sound bath experience, as we “know it”, is radically different from what we can expect to hear in temples, and that is not necessarily a bad thing, because I am not a temple-goer nor am I a priest of any sort. I like to think of sound meditation, baths or healing as a perspective shifting experience that is a close cousin to some of the experiments run by Surrealists in the 20th century.
What are the effects of sound on the brain and how can our Residents benefit from this?
Research shows that sound can help people with PTSD, Alzheimer’s, digestive issues, joint pains and sprains.
Sound can also assist our body in:
- Producing nitric oxide (immune system, organ function, parasympathetic activity)
- Activating the vagus nerve (cardiovascular system, nervous system, digestion, etc)
- Triggering the release of happy hormones (oxytocin, dopamine, serotonin)
- Balancing brain hemispheres
Aside from this, I do believe that experiencing sound as a group, no matter how big or small, is extremely therapeutic and not just physically. We have been doing that in some shape or form since the beginning of time, and for a good reason I am sure.
For any Residents new to wellbeing and wanting to check it out whilst staying at The Other House, what advice would you give to them?
There’s really nothing for you to know, be or do. Basically, sound baths make mindfulness look like paper maps, and OM is making sound baths look like a GPS from the 2000s. So you’re really getting the future of meditation today here in South Kensington. How did I manage to do this? I dedicated the last decade or so of my life to experimenting with altered states and sound. And today, I am super excited to share it with the world.
How does the trend of wellbeing fit into the new era of slow travel that is emerging?
I don’t think wellbeing is a trend, but it is something we talk about a lot. The issue is that the talking doesn’t do much. What actually moves the needle, or at least moved it for me and my clients and students over the years is the doing, the trying, the struggling, and the learning. When you travel slowly, you automatically create gaps and space for the present moment to bubble up to the surface – you suddenly have the potential awareness to feel more, and think a little less. All good things right?
Talk us through an OM session – what is unique about the way you curate the session?
In a nutshell, it’s the UK’s biggest gongs handled by the finest sound healers in the country (all trained by me) in a room designed for sound. It’s super intimate, with only 4 guests per session, and they are taken care of by 2 practitioners – it’s really like a deep treatment rather than a meditation.
For those who like lean bullet points, here is how I’d describe it:
- Effortless: meditation done for you through sound vibrations with the UK’s biggest gongs in a sound cave
- Inclusive: no physical fitness, ability or knowledge required
- Efficient: short experiences worth hours of meditation, because who has the time these days?
- Round the clock: open 7 days a week and supplemented with take-away vibrations from the Third Ear app
How do we make meditation an integrated part of our lives rather than another thing on our ‘to-do list’?
Find a meditation that makes you love something more than you dislike taking the time for it and doing it. For instance, you might love:
- The way you feel doing it
- The way you feel afterwards
- The way you think afterwards
- Other knock-on effects (how you speak, how you look, how you relate to people, etc.)
So the key here is to consciously realise through observation that the investment (which will be unpleasant and highly un-enticing at times) has a huge return (emotional, cerebral, spiritual, financial, etc.) And, if that is not the case, don’t do it. Furthermore, don’t forget that bungee jumping is a meditation for some. Luckily, OM doesn’t need you to do anything: no jumping, no sitting.