To most people, meditating in a room full of strangers followed by a full album playback of Radiohead, might sound a little bit odd – not to mention “depressing”. But this is just the kind of talk that gets the Radiohead frontman’s back up.
“That to me implies that to suffer from depression is like being… Subnormal… It’s a stigma, which it shouldn’t be, because there is an awful lot of people who suffer from depression”, he said in an interview. “I happen to make music sometimes when I’m in that frame of mind cause I suffer from it [depression]. Actually sometimes it’s not suffering. It’s a bonus … Because a lot of creative power is from that feeling”.
That creative power is something that I and clearly a lot of others (judging by how tightly packed this room is) can relate to. Yorke’s haunting, melodic vocals are so deeply woven into my childhood that they have the power to trigger all sorts of memories from sibling road trips to heartbreak.
So here I am on a Sunday morning, lying on a yoga mat in a recording studio, being guided into a deep vedic meditation, cited as being 250% more effective at reducing anxiety than any other technique.
It is because of this, Shavasana Disco founder Will Williams explains, that it has been singled out as one of the two most effective tools for twenty-first century executives by two leading business schools, Harvard and INSEAD.
After 20 minutes of repeating the mantra “So hum” silently in my head, I enter into a dreamy, tranquil state, somewhere between being awake and asleep. I guess this is what they call “transcendence”.
I almost forget where I am as the first chord of “Planet Telex” blasts through the speakers. The band might as well have been in the room with us, it’s that intense.
Did I mention that this is all taking place at RAK studios in St John’s Wood – the same studio where the band recorded “The Bends” in 1994? It certainly adds a special something. You can’t even hear the rumble of cars driving past, thanks to the heavily soundproofed walls.
As the album draws to a close after “Street Spirit (Fade Out)” (i’m almost in tears by this point), we lie there in a still, blissful silence. The benefit of the guided meditation and being forced to listen to the entire album from start to finish, is that you really tune into the rhythms and soak up the space between the notes. You’re filled with a profound sense of appreciation for these musicians and their craft.
It feels a bit like going to church where you’re connecting with the universe through the medium of music. In fact I was so moved by the experience that I went home and repeated the process with another album. (I can sense a new Sunday ritual coming on).
For anyone with an appreciation of music and a willingness to open their mind to the benefits of meditation, Shavasana Disco is something truly special. I can’t wait for the next one featuring Massive Attack “Blue Lines” taking place at EastCote Studios on Saturday 2nd December, 11am – 1pm, 249 Kensal Rd, London W10 5DB. You can apply for free tickets here. Successful applicants will be contacted in mid November.