Quiet in the City: Somadome at Re Place in London

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Somadome is part of a movement within the wellbeing space, of fusion between new experimental, innovative, immersive, mindfulness meditation modalities. Bringing together the ancient with the contemporary, we provide a firsthand look at the Somadome at Re Place in Notting Hill, London, its features, the research, our user experience and overall impressions.

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Earlier this week, I decided to take up Re Place, a wellness studio beautifully set in Notting Hill, London, on their generous offer of a free Somadome session as part of their promotional activities for Mental Health Awareness Week in the UK. Somadome at Re Place is part of their overall wellbeing offer, which also includes Body Rollers, an innovative tool that supports lymphatic health and sport recovery amongst other benefits. As someone who actively pursues new opportunities to practice mindfulness and is always on the lookout for innovative ideas, this was an experience I felt compelled to trial. I was curious to see how the meditation pod would compare to my regular practices, and below I share my overall experience.

A Warm Welcome and Introduction

My visit to Re Place started on a positive note. Right from the entrance, the atmosphere was welcoming, set in a minimalist, neutral style, the studio felt like a great environment to engage in wellness activities, fostering a sense of calm. The studio managers greeted me warmly, helped me fill out a quick form to ensure the session would meet my needs, and provided a thorough introduction to the Somadome. This level of attention made me feel valued and comfortable, and in many ways set the stage to maximise the experience.

Somadome at RePlace London, RePlace London Studio

Somadome at Re Place: First Impressions

On first impressions the Somadome, with its futuristic design immediately stood out and something unique. For those who have tried sensory deprivation tanks before, the sleek design of the pod will feel familiar, a minimalist yet sophisticated aesthetic that was fitting for a state-of-the-art meditation experience. The build quality was impressive; the dome felt sturdy and well-crafted, and clearly a lot of attention had gone into the user experience, even down to the placement of key features, like the interactive screen.

Given the nature of the experience, the placement of the Somadome at Re Place was thoughtful, positioned in a quiet, dimly lit area to start cultivating a sense of calm even before entering the pod. Careful considerations like that of its location help in creating a tranquil environment in my opinion, reinforcing and embodying the intention of the user.

Somadome at RePlace London - Open Somadome Exterior

Inside the Somadome: Digital Interface and Environment

Once inside the Somadome at Re Place, the digital interface offers an impressive array of options, tailored to cater to a diverse set of personal wellness goals. This interface allows users to choose from an extensive list of 20-minute sessions, each designed to support different aspects of mental and physical health.

Example Session Options:

  1. Heal – This session is geared towards physical healing, using frequencies that support recovery and rejuvenation.
  2. Manifest – Focused on helping users set intentions and goals, this session is perfect for those looking to align their actions with their aspirations.
  3. Overcome – Designed for overcoming personal blocks and obstacles, this option uses sound therapy to enhance mental clarity and resolve.
  4. Focus – Ideal for those needing to concentrate on work or studies, the Focus session sharpens mental acuity through targeted sound frequencies.
  5. Relax – This is for users looking to unwind and relieve stress, using calming tones to soothe the mind and body.
  6. Performance – For a boost in energy, these sessions invigorate the senses and revitalises with uplifting and energising sound patterns.
  7. Love – Enhancing feelings of connectivity and affection, this session utilises harmonising frequencies to foster emotional openness and warmth.
Somadome at RePlace London session options
Example Somadome Session Categories

Each session not only caters to specific needs but also integrates light therapy and binaural beats to enhance the desired state further. For instance, the Relax session may use a soft blue light to enhance feelings of calm, while a Performance session might employ vibrant oranges and reds to stimulate energy.

What is the User Experience:
From the moment the session starts, the dome’s internal environment transforms. The ergonomic chair, the heart of the Somadome’s design, cradles the body, making it easy to slip into a relaxed state. As someone who is over 6-foot, I can say that the design of the chair was great, even for those of us on the taller side. The foot rest also helped in ensuring that the whole body was supported and the whole space felt like a good balance between comfort and purpose, encouraging deep rest, rather than sleep. The dome’s subtle and ambient lighting adapts to the chosen session’s goals, enveloping the space in colours that complement the audio elements and enhance the overall sensory experience. The binaural beats, delivered through high-quality noise-cancelling headphones, create a deep auditory immersion, effectively blocking out external distractions and focusing the mind.

Another excellent option available is the fan, which blows cooling air into the pod. I felt this was essential, and even though it was not warm in the studio, you definitely could feel the Somadome warm up once inside. An added benefit of the fan is that it provided an additional, sensory anchor to focus on if you so wished, and it felt very fitting with the ambient nature tracks available.

This blend of sensory inputs, matched with the intuitive and responsive interface, ensures that each session in the Somadome is a unique and deeply personal experience, making it a standout choice for enhancing mindfulness and achieving specific wellness objectives.

What is the Science Behind Somadome?

The Somadome is designed to enhance meditation through the integration of several methodologies with emerging research, including binaural beats, colour therapy and guided meditation practices. Here, we explore some of the scientific basis behind these elements to understand their contribution to the effectiveness of the Somadome experience.

  1. Binaural Beats:
    Binaural beats, a key feature of the Somadome, play different frequencies in each ear. The brain perceives a third tone based on the difference between these frequencies, which can influence brainwave patterns. Studies have been shown that this kind of “ABS” Auditory Beat Stimulation may help induce relaxation, improve focus, stimulate creativity, and manage pain. Other research, like that by Frontiers in Psychiatry, describes the need for more rigorous and detailed research to fully understand the mechanisms by which ABS affects the brain and its potential therapeutic benefits but acknowledges its . I can testify that binaural beats do help me to focus and minimises distractibility, which in turn promotes calmness, especially when combined with sounds of nature like in the Somadome at Re Place I tried, or chillhop (a personal favourite of mine).
  2. Colour Therapy:
    The use of specific colour wavelengths in the Somadome is intended to evoke psychological and physiological responses appropriate to the goals of each session. For instance, calming blues are used for relaxation, while energising reds are chosen for revitalisation. While the efficacy of colour therapy can be subjective, it is grounded in the idea that different colours can influence mood, feelings, and behaviours. Studies have shown for example that the colour green, such as found in nature, can reduce stress levels, providing rationale for its application in mindfulness practices.
  3. Meditation Practices:
    The Somadome incorporates both guided and unguided meditation sessions, catering to users of all experience levels. Guided meditations help users focus their thoughts and maintain awareness, while unguided sessions provide seasoned practitioners the space to engage with their own meditative techniques. The effectiveness of meditation in reducing stress, enhancing concentration, and improving overall well-being is well documented. A meta-analysis published in JAMA Internal Medicine found that meditation helps reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression, and improves overall mental health Meditation Research.

You can read more about where to go to learn about the science of mindfulness at the end of this article.

How Could Somadome be Enhanced?

Overall the session was impressive, and though I feel there is nothing I would have changed, if I were pushed to suggest are a couple of tweaks that could make the Somadome experience even better, they would be:

  • Personalisation: person-centred approaches are becoming increasingly popular in therapeutic circles, as it gives people that ability to adapt sessions in ways that they feel most comfortable. Whilst there are a great range of sessions built-in, allowing users to play their own binaural or meditation tracks, from Spotify for example, could add an additional layer of tailoring and impact.
  • Black-Out: additionally, a fully blacked-out room may further deepen the feeling of isolation or sensory deprivation, helping participants to zone awareness completely away from the the space outside of the pod. Whilst Somadome made a big difference compared to traditional, open-air, meditation, you were still conscious of the space where the legs and feet protruded out into the room, and there was light that entered in from there too, taking away slightly from the enclosed ambience.

Verdict: Somadome at Re Place

Would I recommend the Somadome at Re Place? Without a doubt, yes. It’s a fantastic tool for anyone struggling to find focus and tranquility in their mindfulness practices, especially in a bustling city environment like London. The technology is sophisticated and creates a supportive space for deep meditation, and Somadome at Re Place is an ideal place to experience the session at affordable rates, including packs for multiple sessions that are valid for 6 months. Overall, the Somadome is inclusive and versatile, good for newcomers to mindfulness who struggle with maintaining focus during meditation, and equally suitable for experienced meditators interested in exploring new techniques or incorporating fresh elements into their practice.

Takeaways: Expanding Your Mindfulness Practice

If you’re keen to explore further how technology like the Somadome at Re Place can be integrated into traditional mindfulness practices, I recommend looking into studies and articles that discuss the impact of sensory isolation and binaural beats on mental health. These resources can provide deeper insights into the scientific basis behind such technologies. Somadome themselves have a page dedicated to scientific research surrounding mediation, music and light therapy amongst other alternative approaches that feed into the Somadome experience.

I would suggest reading meta-studies and the latest research on these topics, which you can find at dedicated, reputable academic sites, and you can take a look at some example topics on our blog page, like Benefits of Mindfulness: 8 Science-Backed Results. And, if you’re just getting started on your mindfulness journey or seeking to deepen your existing practice, check out our comprehensive guides and tips on the Get Started page and on our Blog.

Picture of John-Paul Kozah

John-Paul Kozah

John-Paul is the Founder of Benefits of Mindfulness and has been committed to working with and supporting the most vulnerable members of society throughout his career. Combining experience in the mental health sector and education, his aim has been to raise awareness about the impact of stress, anxiety and depression in modern life and explore the ways that mindfulness can help. John-Paul is a trained advocate, qualified teacher and has a particular interest in supporting open dialogue about mental health within minoritised ethnic groups.

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