By Maureen Connolly
tested 6 relaxation tools. Find out which ones delivered results.
Our experience: Coiled energy? Theta waves? We were skeptical—and the
warped-sounding background music was odd. But Kelly Howell's soothing voice won
us over. In fact, one tester felt calmer after listening to just the
Bottom line: There's no knowing whether this CD arouses kundalini,
but it can lay stress to rest.
Until Tomorrow...A Gentle Guide for a Good Night's Sleep : ($15.99,
sleepuntiltomorrow.com): Created by Juhi Singh, an acupuncturist, Chinese
herbalist, and yoga instructor, this CD has a guided-meditation track with
instrumental music to help you fall asleep, and another track to gently rouse
you (this requires a CD alarm to activate). Singh's sleep-inducing plan: She
asks you to close your eyes, follow her voice, put aside expectations, and
Our experience: A few seconds of Singh's voice was enough to make our
eyelids grow heavy, and listeners reported feeling "very relaxed"
before drifting off into a sound sleep—though one tester found the wake-up
track "irritating. Her soothing voice just made me want to go back to
Bottom line: This CD can bring on sound slumber, and adequate sleep
is proved to lower stress-hormone levels.
Instant Relaxation Guided Meditation DVD ($27, meditainment.com):
Using your DVD remote, you can customize your experience by indicating your
stress level, your goal (such as calmness and clarity or a good night's sleep),
where you want to meditate (by the ocean or in a meadow), the music, and guide
(a male or female voice).
Our experience: We liked being able to personalize each session.
Graphically beautiful settings and the narrator's comforting voice helped put
one staffer "in a happy, mellow zone."
Bottom line: A really effective, user-friendly device for
Brookstone Nature Sounds Massage System ($60, brookstone.com): This foam
neck cushion with built-in speakers comes with a handheld control pad that
allows you to choose a neck massage, heat, and/or nature sounds, including a
summer night, waterfall, or rain forest.
Our experience: The massage and sound quality were just so-so.
"The waterfall sounded more like a frying egg," said one tester.
Bottom line: Save yourself the 60 bucks and invest in a CD of
soothing nature sounds you can listen to while taking a hot shower.
The Journey to Wild Divine: The Passage ($159.95, wilddivine.com): This
computer game comes with finger sensors that measure pulse and skin-conductance
level (sweat-gland activity), both of which jump when stress is high. It then
coaches you to control these reactions via breathing, relaxation, and
meditation techniques, all the while guiding you on a visual journey through
Our experience: The graphics are gorgeous, and the breathing
exercises kept us centered and calm. But one staffer's computer couldn't handle
the elaborate animation, so the sound often lagged behind the images, plus the
program worked more smoothly on Macs than on PCs.