By Maureen Connolly
REDBOOK 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 introduction.
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 breathe deeply.
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 sleep."
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 de-stressing.
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.