Tuesday 8 September 2020

Syntropy States Review

Syntropy States Review

Written by Casey Douglass

Syntropy States

I’ve been doing various kinds of relaxation and mindfulness meditations for decades. My at times rampant OCD and other health issues mean that losing a bit of tension, when I can, makes all the difference between coping, or falling down the rabbit hole. As a consequence, I’m always on the lookout for new ways to relax. It was while browsing the net one day that I stumbled across Syntropy States, a collection of relaxation videos that make use of evolving geometries and soothing music to help the viewer refocus and refresh. The folks at Heartmath UK+IR kindly provided me with review access to Syntropy States, and in this post, I will describe how I got on with them.

Added Nov 2022: These breath pacers now only seem to be available as part of the Syntropy app. You can read more in my review.

Syntropy States consists of eight, five minute videos. Seven of these are themed around the chakra energy centres of the body, with the eighth being a heart coherence breath pacer. If you haven’t encountered them before, chakras are energy centres in certain parts of the body, and are the focus of a variety of Eastern spiritual and healing traditions. On a personal level, I neither fully believe they exist, nor disbelieve it. I do think that they are a nice concept to theme the various videos around, and they do lend themselves to focussing on a particular video with the attributes of that particular chakra in mind, such as the creativity and passion engendered in the Sacral chakra.

The heart coherence breath pacer is a tool to help you reach a ten second breath cycle, and to enter a state of coherence. Coherence is something that is core to many of the HearthMath techniques and devices. It is a state of balance that the experiencer can train themself to achieve, to use in situations where they can’t simply shut themselves away from the world, close their eyes and navel-gaze until they feel better. This state isn’t the same as relaxation, although it shares some of the same benefits. HeartMath sell a range of biofeedback devices and tools to help you monitor and reach this state. Sadly I don’t have one of these devices, so I couldn’t tell you if using Syntropy States put me into coherence. What I can describe however, are the effects that I was able to notice in a bodily, and a mental sense.

I spent around a week with the videos, beginning with the Root chakra video, which is themed around the notions of self-regulation and security. I have been suffering with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder for decades and I find myself in a particularly bad period. Bad enough that I have been cranking out Exposure and Response Prevention charts at least twice a day, trying to expose to my fears and to get my brain to come down from high alert. This is the state that I would often bring into my session with each video, a pounding heart, a racing mind and a fatigue that would have happily seen me go to bed and not wake up for weeks. I didn’t expect a five minute video to flip a switch and make me feel like a unicorn had just pooped a winning lottery ticket into my hands; I just want to paint the picture that it was quite a severe frame of mind I was experiencing. So did the videos help? I think they helped to some degree.

One small fear that I had about using the videos was that the shifting patterns and shapes would cause after-images while I focussed on them. I often suffer with very tired eyes, tired enough that reading a page of black text on a white background gifts me the lovely illusion of floating black line-shaped shadows as my eyes roam the page. The few times I’ve used other visual meditation videos, this effect occurred, and just became irritating. The Syntropy States videos do make a lot of use of white space, but I’m glad to report that the shifting geometries and colours didn’t once cause me any eye fatigue symptoms. So that was a great start. The geometric patterns and colours shift, undulate and flow, and there seems to be so much movement at times that it’s nice to realise that you can’t really keep track of it all, nor do you need to. I think that this is partly what helped me to get out of the hyper-vigilant, controlling frame of mind my anxiety often puts me in. The ambient chill-out soundtrack also helped, even though my mind tends much more towards a love of dark ambient, when I get the choice.

As far as their effect on my stress level, I found that about half way through each video (around the two and a half minute mark) a state of clarity or mental calm did seem to emerge in my mind. It was subtle, but it was there, a bit like the moment you realise that you are holding your breath and you didn’t even realise it. This state stayed with me until the video ended and for some time beyond. Hand in hand with this, I did notice a slight calming of the sensation of my heartbeat. Nothing major, but enough to notice that I felt slightly less “pulsey”. This seemed to be my general verdict on each video, that it did have a modest positive effect on me. Naturally, there were some that appealed to me more than others, with a favourite being the swirly patterns of the Third Eye video (the still at the top of this post is from that video). I also came to realise that I’d also have been perfectly happy to watch a video that was far longer than five minutes.

I enjoyed the time that I spent with the Syntropy States videos. Before I tried them, I was much more of an “eyes shut” kind of meditator, because I like to rest my eyes and focus in the darkness. Having spent time watching pleasing geometries flow and expand in these videos, backed by chill music, I can certainly see the benefits that open-eyed focus can bring. If you think Syntropy States might be something you’d be interested in, head over to the HeartMath UK+IR website for more information.

HeartMath UK+IRL commissioned Syntropy States from The Syntropy Partnership. It features the geometries of artist Allie Joy and soundtracks from Serenity States.

Thank you to HeartMath UK+IR for giving me review access.

Product Name: Syntropy States

Available From: HeartMath UK+IR

Price: £19