Technology: Turn On and Tune Out

New light-and-sound machines are designed to reduce anxiety

As recorded birdcalls and musty incense fill the air, half a dozen customers file into a tiny office in Manhattan's SoHo district. Soon they slip off their shoes, climb into beds and lie with eyes closed for the next 45 minutes. Spinning patterns of intense colors appear before their eyes, and a low pulsating beat follows them as they drift in and out of dreamlike states. After the session, a young man rises, looking dazed. "Welcome home," a woman says to him. "That was a nice one," he answers contentedly.

Was this a mind-expanding drug trip? A cult happening? The exercises...

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