There's something strange and mystical about the desert that can draw you in like a thirsty traveler to an abundant oasis. The climate is almost perfect at certain points of the year, while the dead of summer could result in just that -- death. Natural environments capable of creating extreme danger kind of get my rocks off, even though I wouldn't dare travel to these places in times where an inherent risk is present. Just being aware of the power of these corners of the world is enough to satiate my adventurous appetite.
While planning a trip to Joshua Tree, I stumbled across a few travel blogs that talked about a big white dome, a short drive from the Yucca Valley. I remembered seeing an episode of Anthony Bourdain's No Reservations where he and Josh Homme visited something like that, too. Always one to follow in the footsteps of my favorite journos and rock stars, I couldn't resist traveling down the rolling road to nowhere, passing "Jesus Saves" signs along the way, in search of this strange structure.
Eventually we reached a little town called Landers and found the Integratron, a striking white dome set amidst a desolate, desert backdrop. I was waiting for tiny, green men to swing open the front door and tell us to join them, meanwhile hoping we hadn't stumbled upon some religious cult clubhouse. Luckily, neither were the case.
Situated on top of a geometric vortex, the Integratron was built in the 1960s by aerospace engineer George Van Tassel who claimed the idea to build it was inspired by communications he had received from extra-terrestrial life. I wasn't too far off with the little green men.
The only acoustically perfect, all wood structure in the United States, its energy is said to be capable of cell rejuvenation, anti-gravity and time travel. While I didn't find myself shot back into the early 1970s, a time I fantasize about traveling back to all the time, I did experience an altered state of consciousness that I can only describe as not really being awake, but still being completely aware.
My husband and I signed up for a "sound bath" conducted by one of the three sisters who own the place. A sonic healing technique using giant quartz bowls keyed into your body's energy centres (or chakras), the soothing sound is said to deliver frequencies deep into cellular levels.
Our group of about 20 people were invited into the upstairs sound chamber and asked to lie down on the mats and pillows provided, with our heads facing into the centre. At first, the sound is a little jarring but eventually soothing. For me, it felt like a sound bubble was hovering outside of my right ear before traveling inside my head, lingering somewhere in between my eyes before escaping out from my other ear. At one point it felt like my arms had dropped through the floor and eventually it didn't feel like there was any floor at all. My husband found the whole experience so soothing he fell asleep.
The Integratron, originally financed in part by Howard Hughes, attracts visitors and musicians from all over the world; there to experience acoustic perfection or to absorb it's healing powers. I came purely out of curiosity, but I'm eager to make my way back to experience it all over again.
Reservations can be made ahead of time, and I suggest you book well in advance. According to Nancy Karl, one of the co-owners who conducted our sound bath, interest in the Integratron has increased tenfold over the past few years. Visit integtratron.com for more information.
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