Cindy Capobianco was getting high and going to sound baths before many even knew what the Integratron was. The California transplant with a long history in fashion and marketing said it was in the mid-’90s when she first smoked a joint and headed inside the UFO-looking structure in the desert, to be calmed and spiritualized by this type of aurally enhanced meditation.
“It was totally a transformative experience,” she said. “No one was really thinking about sound baths back then.”
Traditionally, sound bathers stretch out on some type of cushion or yoga mat, close their eyes and let the gentle reverberations of gongs and crystal bowls wash over them. If you weren’t stoned before the bath, you may feel that familiar sense of calm and Zen after. It’s this natural link between the two that has led an increasing number of California cannabis brands to host “medicated” versions of these sonic experiences, where they offer a sample of their products followed by a 45- to 60-minute sound bath.
“The experience is very calming, very centering; you feel kind of like your best self,” said Capobianco, owner and co-founder of cannabis luxury edibles and topicals brand Lord Jones.
Based in Los Angeles, Lord Jones, co-founded by Capobianco’s husband, Robert Rosenheck, has made a name for itself through its sophisticated marketing, artisanal approach to edibles and creatively “cool” factor. Its logo is a crest of deer and birds. Its slogan is “For Your Royal Highness.” Even the orange of its packaging suggests superiority in its subtle resemblance to the Veuve Clicquot label. This eliteness reached new heights earlier this year when Lord Jones teamed up with Iceland's ethereal rockers Sigur Rós to host a vibey, newfangled sound bath for L.A.’s musically inclined.
Capobianco had already organized a handful of more traditional sound baths — complete with crystal balls and Lord Jones products — prior to this marquee event. While most of these baths took place on the roof of Hollywood’s NeueHouse, far above the sounds of the Sunset Boulevard traffic, the Sigur Rós event attracted more than 250 people and was hosted in a massive, darkened studio inside the multi-use creative work space.
With mattresses covering the floor and a huge, light-up orb that hung from the ceiling and glowed in response to musical beats, guests — as well as the band — popped a low-dose, all-natural weed gumdrop (a special “Wild Sigurberry” edition that channels Icelandic wild berries) and let themselves be awash in the live performance of Sigur Rós.
“It was one of the most incredible experiences of our lives,” Capobianco said. “It was just like one state of mind. You felt so connected to everyone else and their consciousness.”
The event was especially meaningful to Capobianco and her husband, who have an intimate connection to the Reykjavík rockers.
“Our twin daughters were born to Sigur Rós, it was playing in the delivery room,” Capobianco said.
Lord Jones has always prioritized health and wellness, she said, and cannabis’ “restorative and relaxation properties” work in harmony with the meditative aspects of sound baths. One sugar-coated gumdrop can help people connect more deeply to themselves, their body and the energies of those around them, she said. Like most modern edibles, Lord Jones’ gumdrops, sea salt caramels and espresso chews all have their THC and CBD components explicitly labeled. This is key to a successful cannabis experience, said Capobianco, and contrary to the old days when strong weed cookies would be haphazardly wrapped in a plastic bag with a piece of paper stapled to it. It was a “total crapshoot” figuring out how much to eat.
“Sometimes you’d have a great experience, and sometimes you’d trip balls,” she said.
North of L.A., cannabis company hmbldt hosted Northern California’s answer to the medicated Hollywood sound baths of Lord Jones. Just outside the picturesque Muir Woods (weed is not allowed on federal grounds), 65 people gathered for a “guided journey” that included a hike followed by an hourlong sound bath. Despite its name — and where its product originates — hmbldt’s operations are all based in Santa Monica, and marketing manager Ryan Hamilton said that promoting healthy lifestyles has been a long-standing priority for the company.
Weed-inclusive sound baths are simply another way to force people to slow down, take a step back from the everyday stress of life and open themselves up, Hamilton said, adding that it’s a form of “sonically enhanced meditation.”
“You walk away feeling healthier and happier and better about yourself,” he said.
At hmbldt's June event, the leader of the bath sat atop a pillow in an airy, sun-filled room and was surrounded by gongs, bowls and pillows. In addition to the leader aka sound healer gently playing the assortment of ancient instruments, participants could have one of the bowls placed on their stomach during the session in order to physically feel the vibrations first-hand. This whole experience is, of course, enhanced by hmbldt’s carefully calibrated dose pens, which participants puff prior to the bath. There are six formulas to choose from — bliss, sleep, calm, relief, arouse and passion — and most are high CBD-to-THC ratios, meaning participants relax their bodies without losing their minds.
Hamilton said he got the idea for the medicated sound bath from a non-cannabis version he attended in the Bay Area a few years back. Then he attended one of Lord Jones’ L.A. events and was further convinced it was a natural fit for the company. In addition to the NorCal event, hmbldt participated in a sound bath in Long Beach in July and plans to bring the practice to L.A. this fall.
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While hmbldt joins a small pool of cannabis companies adopting the sound bath practice, the larger concept of using weed to enhance a healthy and spiritual lifestyle is one that’s exploded in recent years. From cannabis-fueled hikes and yoga sessions to the 420 Games and weed-based gyms, many brands have made it their mission to repeal the “stoner” stereotype. In May in Monterey, Cannabis Healing Solutions hosted a mashup yoga and sound bath event, and in August in L.A., Mahogany Mary’s combined these two spiritual sessions with cannabis-infused snacks.
For Lord Jones’ Capobianco, her intention was always to be a health and wellness brand. They currently sell CBD-infused body lotions that have “incredible recovery benefits” pre- or post-workout, she said. While she respects the stoner culture for the trail it has blazed, Lord Jones caters to a new generation of consumers, who, like her, prefer to smoke a joint and go for a hike.
"We believe in the restorative and relaxation properties of cannabis," said Capobianco, and the needs of Lord Jones’ patients have driven much of their research and development. For example, through one of their patients, Capobianco discovered that the cooling component in their lotion was too intense for her neuropathic condition, so Lord Jones formulated a CBD oil without it for all patients who may have a similar experience or condition.
“We didn’t think we’d become caregivers when we got into this business, but it’s become the blessing of our lives,” said Capobianco.