Joshua Tree is known as a remote destination where artists, writers, musicians, UFO chasers and bikers co-exist. It’s a place with Dr. Seuss-looking trees, legendarily named by early Mormon settlers as, it appeared to them as the biblical Joshua, stretching out his arms and guiding the pioneers Westward (coughing – “Peyote”).
The artists and architects who are colonizing Joshua Tree seem more interested in creating do-it-yourself mini-utopias. That’s very much part of the pervasive Wild West spirit here that lets neighbors, rugged enough to settle in the desert and brave the elements, do as they please. – New York Times
“Joshua Tree is the perfect place to be visionary and experimental,” said Linda Taalman of Taalman Koch, a Los Angeles architecture firm. “There’s a sense of remoteness and anything goes.”
Upon doing research on Joshua Tree, I read about this mystical dome out in the middle of the desert. A place where one goes to meditate, re-align/balance chakras or just fall asleep to the sound of 9+ crystal tuning bowls being rimmed simultaneously, known as a “Sound Bath”. The place is called the Integratron.
In 1954, construction began from the design of aeronautical engineer and ufologist George Van Tassel, who built the dome after allegedly receiving instructions from extraterrestrials from Venus known as “The Council of Seven Lights.” During this UFO encounter, Van Tassel claims that he was invited aboard a Venusian spaceship and given explicit instructions on how to create a machine that could rejuvenate living cell tissues. Van Tassel chose the Integratron’s site due to its supposedly powerful geomagnetic energy. He believed the building, created only of wood, could be used as an anti-gravity/re-jouvinating device. He died in 1978 and in 2000, the site was purchased by three sisters, who now play the crystals bowls while you go mee-mees.
The Integratron is also known for its celebrity visitors; in 2008 the Arctic Monkeys dropped by to record part of their song Secret Door, and Robin Pecknold of the Fleet Foxes is also a known fan. Per Jenny Eliscu at Rolling Stone Magazine, “Robin Pecknold of the Fleet Foxes doesn’t do drugs; when he wants to reach the astral plane, he books a “sound bath” at the Integratron. “The notes sound like they’re coming from inside your mind,” says Pecknold, who took his band mates to the Integratron on their way back from Coachella. As well, Anthony Bourdain and Queen of the Stone Age’s Josh Homme visited the site together and tweeted things like “#420 required” and “#Proper prior preperation required”.
I was stoked to go. I looked online and was squeamish about the price to experience the sound bath (around $55/person…less if you have a group) as I was now officially living out of my car and every penny counted but, I was determined to experience this before I left Joshua Tree. I booked my reservation. When the day arrived for me to go I was finishing my morning writing and all of a sudden I experienced a desert “flash flood”. It began with a light rain which very quickly turned into a heavy rain and while I was scrambling to pack up ALL my belongings, break down my tent and throw it all in my already packed car, the desert quickly became a river…right through my campsite! I was literally squealing as, I was alone and panicking not only about all my electronics being out (my laptop power cord washed away) but, I realized I was IN the flood and threw everything in the car and sat on the hood watching it surround my car and rise rather quickly.
The following video is random footage from You Tube but, just trying to give you a visual of what happened in about less than 10 minutes:
My sound bath appointment was in an hour about 16 miles away and since, I had nowhere to go anyway, I headed in that direction. My GPS told me the Integratron was basically an “off-road” trail through the desert. I knew this couldn’t be possible so, I drove to the main road in town about 14 miles out and was stopped several times by the dips in the road which created a small fast-current river I had to cross. I wasn’t sure if my car (Honda Element) would make it through or not…would I wash away? I didn’t want to stay out in the middle of nowhere by myself either so, I took my chances. Obviously I made it out on the other side.
With 20 minutes to get to the Integratron, I called and told the person on the other line that I was lost and needed guidance. They replied “Oh! We didn’t contact you? I’m sorry, we canceled the sound bath today.” Nope, no one called me. The silver lining on this giant storm cloud was that because no one informed me of this, I was comped a free sound bath the following day, sans flood.
The next day I arrived at the Integratron and entered the dome where we are guided to take off our shoes and wait for the upstairs room to be cleared. There were couches, tables, books, posters and framed newspaper clippings hung about the place like an old italian coffee shop displaying the history of the venue. I went upstairs via a wooden staircase (for some reason I remember it being like climbing up to my brothers top bunk bed). There are many yoga mat-type beds covered with mexican blankets layed out in a circle under the center hole in the ceiling where you are to lay outstretched facing upwards. There were enough people that I had to lay towards the wall (not a part of the circle). Some people were “warming up” doing stretches and yoga. While, I consider myself a spiritual person and I DO meditate from time to time, I couldn’t help but want to snicker, I mean, what was about to happen here??
We all lay down and were warned that most of us would probably fall asleep, which I did. The tuning bowl session would last for an hour. I went in not expecting anything but, just ready to receive whatever came. After I awoke, I felt no difference from when I entered but, hoped that somehow I had received some serious chakra balancing while I slept. For the most part, I was glad I experienced it and would definitely do it again with a group of friends for $20-30 but, not for $55-80. I guess the Universe did a bit of bartering by taking away my power adaptor for a sound bath.