Calm your brainwaves, and stress ebbs away
Listening to what sounds like a demented woodpecker for 15 minutes for relaxation does seem unlikely, but with this app, it works.
Example: one Saturday, we had a dinner invitation, but by 6pm - after a day of work, shopping in Sham Shui Po and watching a family member play rugby - I simply felt like collapsing. Instead, I lay down, plugged my headphones into my iPhone and switched to the app.
Twenty minutes later, I arose totally refreshed and ready to sparkle with effervescent dinner conversation. (At least, I thought so.)
The Silva Method teaches how to consciously lower your brainwave activity and enter the relaxing 'alpha state' - where brainwave frequency is between eight and 12 Hertz, below the human hearing threshold - at will, while remaining awake. This app guides you into deep relaxation using a tapping sound to mimic this frequency.
There are three relaxation sessions: Quick (17 minutes), the one I tried, is for re-energising while you're on the go; Tranquil (20 minutes) calms and encourages peaceful thoughts; Deep (30 minutes) is recommended at least once a week for intensive stress management.
Laura Silva, the daughter of the method's late founder, Jose, talks you through the sessions. She tells you to listen to the background tapping indirectly. Then, she instructs you to tell yourself: 'Body, it is time to relax.' She then guides you to focus on different parts of your body, to 'sense the skin covering your forehead', and so on.
Before you know it, the tapping sound picks up speed, apparently mimicking the waking brain 'beta' frequency (16 to 30 Hertz). Laura says: 'At the count of three, you will open your eyes, be wide awake, feeling fine and in perfect health.'
You do wake up feeling so, and this is my only complaint: you cannot use the app to go to sleep.