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“Singing bowls are not inanimate objects; they have their thoughts as well. When we play, it can seem like we are talking with them … It is important to pour in your positive thoughts when you play – whatever you are focusing on is magnified by sound and vibration,” explaining Oanh Ngô, Four Seasons Nam Hai’s resident singing bowl artist and spa manager when sharing with Saigoneer how the resort incorporates the instruments into treatments that can address depression, anxiety, and even psychosis or mania.

Oanh Ngô demonstrates how to play the singing bowls.

She further explains that the bowls have spiritual energy and thus they undergo a special cleansing ritual every full moon that involves lotus petals collected from the spa’s lagoon and Nha Trang sea salt. 

Each of Four Season Nam Hai’s 32 quartz-crystal alchemy bowls are tuned to 432 Hz, the “harmonic intonation of nature” and played every night during the Goodnight Kiss to the Earth ceremony, which involves staff and guests writing down hopes or messages and releasing them with traditional wishing candles into the Hội An resort’s peaceful lagoon. Their calming sounds are also incorporated in all of the treatments provided at the Heart of the Earth Spa including the signature Earth Song experience that involves spicy cleansing smoke from sustainable Hội An agarwood and a Vietnamese scrub and bath with herbs grown in the resort’s garden. 

The singing bowls are just one of the numerous ways Four Season Nam Hai seeks to differentiate itself in a crowded market where most spas seem to offer similar services without motivation for their menus beyond what customers have been conditioned to expect. Four Seasons Nam Hai is different, and to that point, all of their treatments draw inspiration from the teachings of the renowned monk and teacher Thích Nhất Hạnh. According to Oanh, his books help people understand that “we are not separate from the Earth but one with her. He encourages us to slow down and be in the present moment,” and thus all the massages, stretches and hot stone therapies can be categorized into three of his wellbeing virtues: Stability to nourish the physical body; Creativity to release physical blockages and welcome in new possibilities; and Non-Judgement to promote inner serenity and compassion.

In addition to treatments that guests have likely never encountered elsewhere, the spa offers novel mindfulness meditations. Frequent spa-goers are probably familiar with fighting off the urge to sleep, but at Four Seasons Nam Hai it's actually encouraged. Cocooned in a yoga hammock, for example, guests are coaxed into a restorative sleep with a sequence of breathwork, mental imagery and body-mind awareness so they will be recharged once they wake up. And of all the body parts one hopes to pamper at a spa, the eyeballs are tragically overlooked. But the Candlelight Trakata Meditation does just that. It involves steadily staring at an item in candlelight without blinking to refresh and strengthen the eyes and by extension, the body and mind.

Oanh told Saigoneer that they learned of trataka meditation techniques by chance when attending a demonstration session led by a seasoned yogi. The spa’s eagerness to learn from outside masters and bring their teachings to guests is another important key to its popularity. They have a year-round program of inviting wellness experts to teach staff and guests about breakthrough and traditional techniques. Past standouts have included the father of antigravity yoga, Christopher Harrison, sixth sense healer Marco Della Valle and intuitive healer Carelyn Gentray who combined reflexology, craniosacral therapy, jade stone and bamboo cane work to relax muscles and energize skin. And next year, Four Seasons Nam Hai will invite more masters of various healing skills and expertise that include a focus on mind, body and emotions.

Even fairly conventional treatments and activities at the Four Seasons Nam Hai spa stand out because of the beautiful setting. For example, aerial yoga, a technique that challenges one’s physical and mental poise, is held in the resort’s Tranh Tinh Yoga Pavillion. The 130-square-meter structure is set within lush gardens and lavished with birdsongs. The large resort grounds also include a garden that provides not only ingredients for the F&B outlets but supply many ingredients for the scrubs, aromas, oils and products in the spa. 

Guests frequently inquire where they can purchase the items and thus, in addition to complimentary in-room use samples, the Four Seasons Nam Hai sells take-home essential oils that contain cedarwood, grapefruit, lemongrass, lavender and geranium, amongst other natural ingredients. Similarly, all the rooms contain a small metal bowl similar to the ones used by Vietnamese monks. Simple instructions suggest that after “waking” the bell gently with a showing of respect, guests should focus on their resonant echoes along with their breath and body.

Given their convenience, any spa located in a luxury resort will receive guests. But the Heart of the Earth Spa clearly aims to achieve far above this bare minimum as exemplified by the wide-spread incorporation of carefully maintained singing bowls, the involvement of outside experts and in-room kits that ensure that everyone has an opportunity to consider mindfulness when staying at the Four Seasons Nam Hai. It all takes extra effort but it’s worth it to help guests pursue mindfulness as exemplified by one recent visitor who told Oanh that the spa's services are "so unique and nowhere else in Vietnam."