Every once in awhile you need to escape the neon lights for the calm quiet of the desert.
And every once in awhile you need to do something totally unlike anything you’ve ever done before.
Enter a day trip (roughly a 3.5 hour drive from The Strip) to The Integratron near Joshua Tree, California.
For me, since getting sober I’ve found that I have space in my life to ask questions, and I’ve found myself way more open to new opportunities than when I drank.
Again, for me…I drank when I started to have questions of uncertainty about my life or larger communities at large… or when I felt empty spiritual places opening up.
I would try to shut down that quiet voice that asked questions about the afterlife, spirituality, or the feeling of something bigger than myself.
I know this may sound strange–but it made me sad to think of how we’re all connected and yet (myself included) treat our neighbors, either literally or figuratively, with so little love and respect.
I also felt this aching feeling that I would never experience anything new again. And it made me want to stop existing.
The irony of it was that it was my own self-perpetuated cycle–I wasn’t experiencing anything new because I spent all of my free time getting wasted. But I couldn’t see that at the time.
And rather than allow myself to actually feel any sadness or take any kind of action, I drank to numb it.
I’m not saying that I’ve got everything figured out magically now that I am sober.
I’m also not saying that folks who do have alcohol in their lives are doing what I did–far from it. Everyone is different.
But for me, that’s part of why I used alcohol in unhealthy ways.
And when I got sober, I didn’t have the option to shut down my voice of questioning, wonder, sadness, or darkness with alcohol induced blackouts.
And sometimes to go through the darkness and come out the other side, you have to to sit with the darkness.
And from there, healing can begin.
Back to my original point…probably 3-4 years ago in my ugliest, darkest, suicidal-depression-blackout-drunk era, I would have rolled my eyes 30-rock Tina Fey style and proclaimed that The Inegratron was a sack of shit.
But, after a few years of sobriety, I’ve come to be more open to things that aren’t my go-to activity, and this was one of the most rewarding of these out-of-my-wheelhouse outings.
I can’t even remember where I heard about this place…maybe a podcast? A website about roadside oddities? A ‘weird stuff of the west’ article? I’m not sure but I’m so glad I did.
For those of you who haven’t heard of The Integratron, the basics are this:
- In the 1950’s George van Tassel built the structure for UFO communication activities and claimed the building was also (his words) “a high-voltage electrostatic generator that would supply a broad range of frequencies to recharge the cell structure.”
- The building went through a number of different owners after van Tassel passed away in the 70’s before three sisters purchased it in the 2000’s
- Today, the Karl sister’s focus is, “…to restore and preserve the structure while sharing it with people interested in its potential. Since their tenure, the Integratron is open to the public for the first time in its history while its restoration continues.”
The way to experience The Integratron today is through booking a sound bath session (either group led or private).
Sound baths run about $30 per person for a group session attendance, and they last about 1 hour (including setup time).
I wasn’t totally sure what to expect…I had never experienced a sound bath and I wasn’t sure what the grounds here would be like.
I did know that the sessions sold out a few months in advance, and that they had a few picnic tables there.
We arrived about an hour prior to our booked session. FYI parking was ample and free!
Above is a picture of where you check in and they also have a small gift shop here.
The common area was great–there are a number of picnic tables (as I mentioned) and you are more than welcome to pack a picnic lunch and enjoy it outside here.
There is also a hammock area where you can relax under the desert sky, and during colder months, they’ve got a fire pit area to warm up near.
They’ve also got restrooms, a water tap available, and a chalk wall area if you want to do some drawing!
There is also a ton of art here.
Sculptures, paintings, fountains–you name it, they have it! And all of it feels handmade and much of the art was made from recycled items.
After our leisurely hour, we were finally ready to go inside!
The first floor where you and your group enter has an area for you to leave your shoes and personal items.
The structure is locked during your sound bath so no one can come in to steal anything, so personal items are safe.
The first floor also shows many historical fliers, books, articles, etc. from the past 50-60 years of the Integratron’s history.
As I mentioned, I had never experienced a sound bath before. I honestly didn’t know what to expect, even though I’d read through the FAQ on the website.
The sound bath consists of the quartz bowls below being played–and they are keyed to activate/heal each chakra in your body.
Now, back to my earlier writing. A few years ago I don’t know that I was in a place to really experience something like this.
And not that I’m some clear minded, all balanced, all knowing person now–not at all.
But I was open to having some kind of experience here that differed from the every day.
Both my husband and I had joked about how we were a little worried it was going to feel like forever when the bowls were playing.
We both had really great experiences though!
For him, he said it felt like the sound bath was over in a matter of seconds and like no time at all had passed–almost like being asleep.
For me, it felt like I saw a bunch of colors during the sound bath. I also felt like the time moved really quickly–it was over so much faster than I thought!
And we both felt kind of….tingly(?) afterward? Buzzed?
For me it almost felt like an alcohol buzz. It was bizarre. It wasn’t exactly a life changing experience, but it was really fun and encouraging to spend a day trying something a little different and out of character.
I’ve read some reviews on YELP and not everyone had the same experiences we had…and that is totally okay too.
Even if you don’t have some kind of semi-spiritual experience here, the sounds of the quartz bowls are worth the money on their own.
And, you can stand in the very center of the 2nd floor and when you speak, you feel the vibrations of your own voice come back through you. It’s amazing!
All in all, I would recommend this place to anyone looking to spend a day off the beaten path doing something a little different.
I know this isn’t technically in Vegas–but it was doable in a day and we even had time to stop for lunch in Joshua Tree! 🙂
I hope sobriety helps me continue to be open to trying new places and experience new things…here’s to alcohol-free exploration!