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Unlike Los Angeles, where esoteric healing modalities are a normal part of the culture, New York’s marvelous world of woo-woo wellness is a little more hidden. You wouldn’t guess, for example, that behind an inconspicuous door in Nolita, there’s a rare, magical looking contraption known as a crystal healing bed, that pairs color and crystal therapies to induce deep relaxation.
The bed belongs to Dr Julie Von, a lauded NYC acupuncturist who specializes in fertility. Like many of the more holistically minded practitioners I’ve met, she has a caring disposition that sets a soothing tone right out the gate, before the treatment itself has even begun.
Once I’m reclined on the table a machine is situated directly above me, with seven Vogel cut quartz crystals, each projecting a differently colored light onto my body. The hues, and the anatomical point at which the beam lands, correspond with the chakras—known as the body’s energy centers—and are said to help clear and balance them.
Dr Julie sets the beams to flicker at a medium speed. The fastest setting, she explains, is a bit trippy, which some of her patients actually prefer, but as this is my first time we aim for a more relaxing experience. She also gives me an eye mask, applies a few dabs of essential oils (including one at my third eye center—the space between, and just above, the eyebrows) and a few strategically inserted acupuncture needles to help reduce stress—a widespread issue for New Yorkers, of course.
Then she leaves me alone for a while to meditate and chill. It’s extremely sensory—the flashing lights, the heady oils, the occasional tingle from a needle—and for a while I feel overwhelmed, but that fades soon enough and I start to slip in and out of sleep.
When the therapy has concluded I feel floaty and, well, kind of high. Dr Julie gently sees me to the front door, advising me to drink plenty of water. I don’t fully understand what just happened, but something certainly did.
Esme Benjamin: I’ve never seen a crystal light bed before. Who invented it and why did you decide it would be a good addition to your practice?
Dr Julie Von: The crystal bed was created by John of God, a spiritual healer living in Brazil. I was happy to add it to my practice as another tool to help people detach from the analytic mind and find deeper relaxation. By balancing the body energetically we can heal it physically.
EB: What are the chakras and how do these lights interact with them?
JV: Chakras is a Sanskrit word that defines different sections of spiritual power, which are aligned along the spine. I refer to them as mini brains—each one corresponds to a particular part of your anatomy and the emotions associated with it. If they become blocked and energy can’t flow freely between them, that’s when illnesses can occur.
The lights are designed to cultivate and open the energy of each corresponding chakra.
EB: What is the purpose of the crystals? How do they participate in the healing?
JV: Each crystal is cut according to the Marcel Vogel method, to send off a specific vibrational frequency. The colored lights, which match each chakra, are then projected through the crystals—emerging in a concentrated beam that helps balance your energy.
EB: What kinds of ailments is the treatment effective for?
JV: Mostly we use the lamp as a supportive and energy increasing addition to our acupuncture sessions. I describe the lamp as being deeply nourishing—you will leave feeling rested and relaxed.
EB: What sensations can people expect to feel during and afterwards?
JV: Most people feel energized, balanced, and experience a sense of clarity. It is often compared to the effect of mediation.
EB: You paired my session with essential oils. How do these therapies complement each other?
JV: The power of essential oil is subtle but powerful. Custom blends can help to open the senses and cultivate an internal sense of relaxation.
Crystal bed therapy session provided by Dr Julie Von