We had the good fortune of connecting with Manori Sumanasinghe and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Manori, can you talk to us a bit about the social impact of your business?
My Neuma Being co-founder and I both experienced high levels of stress and burnout in our careers in engineering operations and architecture. We turned to our decades of mindfulness and substance-free altered states practices as a resource: a blend of traditions both ancient and modern that allowed us to tap into the creative, healing, and transformative power of the subconscious.
We realized that we are not alone. Increasingly, across the world, professionals in every major field are encountering record-high degrees of stress and fatigue. We realized that we could use the same techniques that helped us and refine them with a newer technological bent. We could help leaders achieve true cognitive shifts, re-light their creative spark, and boost their energy easily, safely, and relatively quickly. With the advent of the COVID-19 crisis, our offerings have become more important than ever as the risk of burnout dramatically increased even more.
That’s why we began offering complimentary and discounted sessions to healthcare workers, essential workers and activists back in June 2020. We are currently looking to partner with non-profit organizations that support the well-being of healthcare workers and activists to continue our efforts into 2021 and beyond.
What should our readers know about your business?
At Neuma Being, we use tech-facilitated altered states to reduce stress and promote recovery, allowing individuals to live as their most authentic, creative, and productive selves. We promote journeys that facilitate a form of substance-free hypnagogia — that’s the state between wakefulness and dreaming, which has proven benefits that range from increased creativity to improved focus and lasting relaxation. We have a demo app that shares our methods to achieve insightful and restorative states like hypnagogia, lucid dreams, and even out-of-body body experiences. In addition, we have developed cutting-edge Neuma Lounge tech-embedded recliners. The app can be used standalone or augmented by sound and vibration patterns crafted to reach those states even faster, deeper, and easier.
Our methodology was developed over more than 20 years as architects, engineers, and mindful altered states experts. As creatives, leaders, and change-makers, we bring unique first-hand experience that lets us take each client on a one-of-a-kind mindfulness journey. The results of the first 31 app sessions and 120 lounge sessions have been phenomenal: people are achieving altered states, getting insights, ideas, energy, rest and relaxation quickly, easily and safely.
In our relatively short existence, we have already had to face two serious challenges. The first was the COVID-19 pandemic, which interrupted our soft launch in late 2019 led to a temporary pause of our Chinatown concept store in February 2020. This made building a first-adapter audience and gathering feedback extremely difficult. By June 2020, we had begun working with medical first-responders and activists, all of whom were in desperate need of relief from chronic burnout. This shaped our mission and has re-directed our focus for the time being towards community service instead of private clientele.
Another challenge we are still facing is that of helping the public understand what it is we actually do at Neuma Being. Because our products and services are new—though based on existing tech and ancient methods—crafting a message for mass appeal has been difficult. In late summer of 2020, we were finally able to conduct beta tests of our experience and collect meaningful data, insights, and reactions. Additionally, we began running media campaigns to test public perception and continue shaping our narrative as we prepare to expand.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Neither my husband Nelson, nor I are LA natives, but we both quickly fell in love with this stunning city and the people who live here. An undeniable part of its appeal is the weather, which means that our itinerary would be incomplete without outdoor staples like Huntington Garden, Eaton Canyon, or even just a casual drive down the PCH on a warm summer day. Even a walk through the Hollywood Hills can be stunning. And with the pandemic going on, exposure to accessible outdoor recreation really sets this city apart.
Pre-pandemic, other activities we’d have to feature are checking out the rich, varied art scene — from a performance at the Hollywood Bowl to something a little bit nerdier, like the Science Museum or Griffith Observatory. And of course, LA has such a remarkable food scene, whether you’re a carnivore, vegan, or anything in between. Some of our personal favorites include Mr. Masala, Tulsi, and Badmaash for Indian, Daikokuya in Little Tokyo for ramen, and Mike and Anne’s in South Pasadena for Sunday brunch. We also love to frequent food establishments in Chinatown, Grand Central Mark and the Arts District, like Blossom, Manuela, Bread Lounge, and Urth Cafe, among many others.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
We owe the success of Neuma Being to so many people and organizations that have supported us across the years, from the time that our prototypes were only sketches and our concepts were just emerging from our own personal practices. In particular, we received essential support from Bixel Exchange; their Startup LAunch Program offered us expert mentors and advisors in the areas of finance, marketing, technical development, HR, and legal and business strategy. Thanks to a partnership with the Small Business Administration, the Los Angeles Regional SBDC Network, and the LA Area Chamber of Commerce, Startup LAunch is a non-equity no-cost program. This means that every facet of their program was free for us to participate in.
Other: Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/neuma_being/?hl=en
Photographers: Khalid Farquharson Emmi Rose Kitawaki Jen Whitaker Models: Rachel Labovitch Dana Nichols