Lush describe their Synaesthesia Spa treatment as being, ‘a metamorphic, multi-sensory experience that’s so much more than just a massage.’
And indeed this is so, as the Lush Synaesthesia Spa Treatment is unlike any spa trip your senses will experience. It is also one of the original Lush Spa treatments that was developed nearly 10 years ago.
Lush is a company that not only had its roots in my hometown of Poole in Dorset, but from the ages of 16 to 21 was also my first job, so it’s a place that holds so many cherished memories for me.
As a result, it was really so special to be invited to review the Lush Synaesthesia Spa treatment at the shop I worked at for so long, and also that Poole was the birthplace of the very inspiration for this treatment.
Not only was it an honour to take a trip down memory lane, but also to see how much the Lush Spa has transformed since I worked there, and to witness how the spa magic organically unfolds.
Moreover, at this period of time, I was actually studying Synaesthesia intensely at University in relation to artists and musicians who were affected by this fascinating condition.
What is Synaesthesia?
Synaesthesia is a truly fascinating condition named from two Greek words, syn (together) and aisthesis (sense). And to truly appreciate this multi-sensory full-body experience from Lush, let us examine deeply what Synaesthesia is.
In its simplest form, synaesthesia is best described as a ‘union of the senses’ whereby two or more of the five senses that are normally experienced separately are involuntarily and automatically joined together.
For example, some synaesthetes experience colour when they hear sounds or read words. For others, it could involve tastes, smells, shapes or touches in almost any combination.
These sensations are automatic and cannot be turned on or off. Synaesthesia isn’t a disease or illness and isn’t at all harmful. In fact, the vast majority of synaesthetes couldn’t imagine life without it.
There are so many fascinating and well-known human beings who have Synaesthesia but one person I have studied for many years now is the Russian artist Wassily Kandinsky.
This quotation from Kandinsky’s Concerning The Spiritual in Art is particularly apposite to introduce you all to my experience of the Synaesthesia Spa treatment at the Lush Spa in Poole.
The sound of colours is so definite that it would be hard to find anyone who would express bright yellow with base notes or dark lake with treble….generally speaking, colour directly influences the soul. Colour is the keyboard, the eyes are thehammers, the soul is the piano with many strings. The artist is the hand that plays, touching one key or another purposively, to cause vibrations in the soul.Wassily Kandinsky
Kandinsky’s painting Impression III (Concert) from 1911 is a wonderful example that truly epitomises Kandinsky’s response to Synaesthesia, and lays the foundation for his move from representational art to abstract art.
This painting can be seen as the symbolic representation of the synthesis between art and music. In fact, this was one of many titles Kandinsky used for his paintings that had a direct correlation to music terminology and can be seen as a metaphor to music.
In Impression III, we see how the black piano is the material source of the sound. The yellow, on the other hand, is the immaterial source. The yellow floods out to the side of the piano, flows downwards in a swinging movement, around the audience, and rises once again to the musicians in the orchestra, and from there finally settles as a round patch in front of the white, slanting columns.
Overall, it is the restless nature of the colours that perfectly represents the jolting clash of the atonal music Kandinsky heard that evening.
Thus, it is no surprise that Kandinsky sought the company of fellow artists who were sympathetic to his ideas and he became more and more of an exponent on the ‘translatability’ of one kind of art into another.
All his life Kandinsky hoped science would confirm his surmises and he quoted the composer Alexander Shenshin as an exponent of a true scientific relationship between music and the plastic arts, who had found mathematical correlations between Michelangelo’s sculpture and composition by Franz Liszt’s on the same theme.
Part 1: How The Lush Synaesthesia Treatment works
It’s difficult to put yourself in Kandinsky’s frame of mind if you are not a synesthete however thanks to the Lush Synaesthesia treatment it now gives everyone the chance to explore the union of the senses in the way he experienced them.
For Kandinsky, Synaesthesia played an undeniable, integral role in his life and artwork where colour and music were inextricably tied to one another.
In a similar way, this is how the Lush Synaesthesia treatment indulges all your senses:
SEE your menu of moods and scents and select how you want to feel.
HEAR blissful bird song and the sound of the Dorset countryside
TASTE the bespoke hot tea, served in the kitchen, to bring you back down to earth.
FEEL relaxing strokes from head to toe.
SMELL your bespoke blend of essential oils to alter your mood.
My Lush Synaesthesia treatments started in the cosy Lush Spa Kitchen.
This has been designed like a homely kitchen because the owners of Lush felt the most intimate, most important gatherings and conversations happen in this part of the home.
With this in mind, the kitchen is a sanctuary of warmth and intimacy for your 20-minute consultation as the first part of your treatment.
My lovely specialist Gigi then asked me to pick a word from the chalkboard in the kitchen and write it down with the chalk in front of you.
The word choice then decides what type of massage bar is picked from the row of mason jars on the shelf behind you. This is very much akin to Kandinsky imagining the spiritual effect of the colours he would use in his artworks.
For Kandinsky colour had its own meaning, its own depth and its own purpose in our world. For the Synaesthesia treatment at Lush, we are prompted to be directed by our intuition and hearts to do the same for words.
In picking words, you are already looking beyond appearance, or how it appears when manifested physically. Instead, it is through what these words will mean for you. What do they represent for you? What is its purpose?
The first word I was intuitively drawn to was ‘peace’. For me, this word has been at the forefront of my mind and being this year. This first word would then inform the whole Synaesthesia Spa Treatment. It was picked from the massage bar jar by Gigi and placed on the table.
I was then asked to pick a bottle from the shelves full of a selection of rainbow-coloured bottles that were oh so Alice In Wonderland. With my first word ‘peace’ I browsed the labels deeply while I made my next selection.
As you can see from the photos in this post, the treatment could target a number of concerns, from ‘forgiveness’ and ‘acceptance’ to ‘joy’ and the sweetness of a ‘hug’.
I opted for ‘detachment’ because I felt that once you surrender and detach from the burdens that are stopping peace from entering your life, you can then discover more peace and joy within your heart as a result.
Part 2: The Lush Synaesthesia Treatment
You then head into the soothing blue-hued treatment room oozing with calm and serenity. Interestingly, for Kandinsky, colour also had the ability to put viewers in touch with their spiritual selves.
Kandinsky believed that yellow could disturb, while blue awakened the highest spiritual aspirations. The fact that the treatment room reflected this was special to experience already.
With the words that you picked in the kitchen, these are then transformed through their essential oils, bubbling away in beakers, and along with some abracadabra magic filled the room with an aromatic smog. They looked so enchanting and mystical, like wizardly potions that filled the room with the heady aromas.
I was then given a bell and told to underdress to my underwear and settle underneath the cosy blankets on the bed, and when I was ready to ring the bell. Lush mark this as a ‘level 3 of nakedness’ but you are always made to feel so comfortable.
The treatment begins with a foot cleanse with heavenly warm flannels that for my Raynaud’s Disease was a dream! Following this, hot stones are applied to the chakras to enhance the treatment.
The concept of the chakras originates from India and the theory behind the chakras is that the energy of life in the human body flows up and down two lines. Discovering the chakras opens up the mystical world of your inner-body and truly illuminates the sensory experience.
It is believed that there are seven main chakras in the body that all control the function of various organs, keeping them balanced. This almost felt like applying a beautiful primer underneath make up to truly enhance the ultimate result.
Following this, Gigi started with the upper body where you have a beautiful head massage, that then moves down to the rest of the upper body including the chest, arms and shoulders.
My therapist Gigi then moves to massage my legs pressing down on certain pressure points throughout to inspire complete and utter relaxation. The strokes over the body are long, deep sweeps alternated with kneading hand movements are deeply melodic.
Finally, Gigi asks me to turn over, where she then gives me a full body massage. This includes the back as well as the back of the legs. Each and every limb is treated to sweeping graduates and focused technique to bring about complete top-to-toe wellness.
Once the massage is coming to an end, Gigi then stimulates the essential oils once more to fill the room of the aroma of the words you picked at the start.
At this point, the experience at this point has come to a gradual end, and you’re then left to change and head back into the kitchen room where you first met the consultant.
Part 3: The final part of the Lush Synaesthesia Treatment
In the Lush Kitchen Gigi had left me a soothing tea that contained all of the essential oils that had been used in the treatment.
I then presented with a ‘Peace’ massage bar and ‘Peace Bubble Bar’ to take away with me to remember my experience.
As I sipped my tea, I flicked through the other treatments the Lush Spa offered.
At this moment I realised more than ever that a trip to a Lush Spa is a time of indulgement that is unlike anything you will have ever experienced.
From truly innovative healing massages to treatments that move and stir every part of your being, to a feeling of joy, inspiration and feeling of absolute bliss. to create the ultimate immersion of the senses. I just wanted to prolong the feeling I had at that moment forever!
Synaesthesia Treatment Soundtrack
Throughout the Lush Synaesthesia treatment, you are treated to a truly sublime soundtrack mostly from a band called “The Nightjar Orchestra”.
Of all the arts, Schopenhauer, a philosopher that inspired Kandinsky, considered music to be the most competent medium in which to express mystical truth.
To Schopenhauer, music was the only art not to be bound by some kind of function or material limits, as painting is to paint and canvas or architecture to stone.
Thus, in this truly magical sensory massage, the music is as much a part of the experience as the physical side.
The Lush Synaesthesia treatment soundtrack is deeply immersive in the sense that the treatment is supposed to take you through a full 24 hour day in the space of 80 minutes.
As your sense embarks on this journey, the movements of the massage are choreographed like a ballet to the music to envisage the sun rising, to the sun setting, as a result of the carefully crafted sounds that were playing at the time.
As you begin the treatment, blissful bird song welcomes you, along with an orchestral score that places you in the dreamy Dorset countryside on a perfect English Sunday morning.
As a Dorset girl, living just a short distance from where the audio was collected, hearing this was beyond special. I immediately had a huge connection at that moment as my grandparents would take me out to birdwatch as a little girl.
Additionally, it makes it even more deeply special that Mark Constantine, the owner of Lush, and Musical Director Simon Emmerson, are both synaesthetes. For a fascinating interview with both of these men I highly recommend this interview.
Passing through the day, the soundtrack leads into a fantastical twilight of majestic soundscapes of bird chorus. As these musical elements build in-depth and motion so does the massage itself, that becomes deeper and quicker.
From here, the music takes your weary soul into the still, dark forest as night closes in. The patter of soft rain beckons in a glorious dawn chorus of rooks and jackdaws stirring all around you whilst the synchronicity of these sounds are mirrored beautifully in soft tapping movements across the body.
To end the treatment, the soundtrack sweeps you off again to the magical Scarborough Fair and the scents of the oils are even more potent. And you feel like you have entered another world entirely.
The Lush Synaesthesia Treatment is without a doubt one of the most unique, multi-sensory experiences you could immerse your body and mind to.
Throughout this 80 minute treatment, every essence of your mind and soul is tended to, addressed and lovingly restored simultaneously during every single second of this magical experience.
In this noisy and stressful world we live in, especially as a Highly Sensitive Person like myself, these excessive elements we face can agitate your mind and feelings, and prevent us from experiencing inner peace.
Throughout my life, and especially this year, I have felt overwhelmed with how I allow other’s people thoughts, words and actions to influence my happiness, actions and reactions.
Through working and tending to my sensitivity as the gift it is, it is now that I can see the peace and serenity when you practise emotional detachment. The Lush Synaesthesia treatment is a truly special way to engage with this.
After my Lush treatment, I truly felt illuminated, and lighter with a genuine pure feeling of bliss, peace, detachment and equanimity. This truly speaks to the power of words and the overall treatment.
It is so powerful to take everyone on an experience through words and to then fuse them with scents, music, colour, and lighting effects, to tailor an experience so unique to you.
Lush’s multi-sensory delight from the Synaesthesia treatment is a massage like no other that will transport you into a world of pure imagination, relaxation, and every beautiful sensation you can think of.
I cannot thank Florence at Lush and the Lush Spa in Poole enough for this experience I will treasure and cherish forever. It has made me re-think forever how I tend to my body and mind.
How many of you have experienced the magic of the Lush Synaesthesia Spa Treatment? There are Lush Spa locations across the country, but I am so thankful to have experienced it in the very place that is the inspiration for all the magic that unfolds.
Synaesthesia Treatment Details
Duration: 80 minutes
The Lush Spa Poole Details
29 High Street, Poole, Dorset, BH15 1AB
01202 672217 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org