Tag Archives: Harbin Hot Springs
Swan dive from above

Hypnosis in a bathing suit

The California retreat, Harbin Hot Springs, invented a powerful form of deep trance work variously called watsu and water dance

BY PAUL KAIHLA — I first heard of watsu when I went to Harbin Hot Springs with an ex because of its rep for having the best mineral baths north of San Francisco. We were surprised to discover that the place was actually a New Age hangout.

When my significant-other saw people in a pool doing what we later learned was watsu, she almost sounded like a socialite encountering lepers — “Ewww, who are those people?”

At first glance, it did look somewhat sideways: What seemed like a bunch of aging hippies in the nude, paired up and cradling each other as if they were attempting some kind of re-birthing exercise.

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9 Spiritual Resorts in the West

In our mind, a spiritual resort is a place where you can go out of mind. A place that’s therapeutic not just for your body but your most over-worked and over-heated organ in this mad, mad world — your brain. A spiritual resort is a place that chills your brain organ to the point that it releases itself from its compulsion to think.

Here is our ranking of the top 9 resorts on North America’s West Coast, ranging from Vancouver Island in the north to Carlsbad, CA in the south:

1. Harbin Hot Springs, Middletown, CA: Three hours north of San Francisco, this new age community features the only real mineral hot springs in the vicinity of Napa Valley wine country. Equally noteworthy, it is the birthplace of a deeply-somatic therapy called watsu, a word conflated from “water” and “shiatsu”. Think Swedish massage meets reiki meets hypnosis trance — in water. Watsu is as powerful as it gets.

This year, for the first time, Harbin has opened the doors to these domes that look like they’re out of the movie, Dune, to outside guests. To book a room, go here.

Cost: $60 – $160 per night.

Fine print: Harbin is an out-there scene, not some yuppie weekend-massage spa — cell phones, computers, booze and drugs are verbotten.

2. The Esalen Institute, Big Sur, CA: Call it the cradle of West Coast civilization. Founded in the 1960s, it was here that figures like Joseph Campbell, Abraham Maslow, Fritz Perls and an Episcopal priest-turned-Zen Buddhist named Alan Watts fused eastern mysticism with modern psychology. They seeded mega-trends ranging from Gestalt Therapy to Star Wars.

If physical place is the dominant force that shapes your experience then nothing compares to Esalen. Its sandstone cliff-hanger mineral baths are fed by a spring on the beach that in earlier centuries were a healing force for the coastal Esselen Indians. Today’s baths are open all night long, and nude lounging is welcome. Entranced by the moon, stars and breakers five stories below, visitors from around the world take full advantage of both options.

Cost: $105 – $180 per night.

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Barack Obama’s astrology chart: “Grace in a Cracked Vessel”

Barack Obama’s astrology chart: “Grace in a Cracked Vessel”

BY HUNTER REYNOLDS, resident astrologer at California’s celebrated, Harbin Hot Springs, does a reading of the Democratic nominee for president

Choosing a president is embarrassingly similar to courting a mate. In the initial stages, the temptation is to disqualify, or idealize. The astrologer’s job is to help you find the middle path. As passionately supportive as I am of Barak Obama, when I stare at the symbolic map of his psyche and consider his unique blessings and blind spots, I am sobered. He — like all of us — is a cracked vessel.

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The Top 9 Spiritual Resorts in the West

The Top 9 Spiritual Resorts in the West

In our mind, a spiritual resort is a place where you can go out of mind. A place that’s therapeutic not just for your body but your most over-worked and over-heated organ in this mad, mad world — your brain. A spiritual resort is a place that chills your brain organ to the point that it can release itself from the compulsion to think.

Our picks for the top 9 resorts on North America’s West Coast span Vancouver Island in the north and Carlsbad, CA in the south.

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Top 9 Spiritual Resorts: Harbin Hot Springs

Top 9 Spiritual Resorts: Harbin Hot Springs

No. 1

Harbin Hot Springs, Middletown, CA: Three hours north of San Francisco, this new age community features the only real mineral hot springs in the vicinity of Napa Valley wine country. Equally noteworthy, it is the birthplace of a deeply-somatic therapy called watsu, a word conflated from “water” and “shiatsu”. Think Swedish massage meets reiki meets hypnosis trance — in water. Watsu is as powerful as it gets.

This year, for the first time, Harbin has opened the doors to these domes that look like they’re out of the movie, Dune, to outside guests. To book a room, go here.

Cost: $60 – $160 per night.

Fine print: Harbin is an out-there scene, not some yuppie weekend-massage spa.

Read more