Put This on Your Bucket List: A Sound Bath at the Integratron
The Integratron is a 38-foot high, 50-foot diameter, non-metallic structure (not one nail!) designed by the engineer George Van Tassel as a "rejuvenation machine". Van Tassel was a legendary figure, a former test pilot for Howard Hughes and Douglas Aircraft, who made his home in a cave hollowed out under nearby "Giant Rock." Van Tassel led weekly meditations during the 1950s, which he claimed, are what led to many UFO contacts.
It's hard to even begin to explain all the reasons why a visit to the Integratron near Joshua Tree is an absolute must-have on anyone's bucket list, but balance these facts; What makes it such an unusual and unique experience is not only it's long history of UFO visits, but it's also so acoustically perfect that musicians from Robert Plant to the Smashing Pumpkins come here to record.
When you visit you'll wonder what the heck this amazing structure is doing literally in the middle of nowhere - but the location of the Integratron is an essential part of its functioning. The exact site was worked out according to a complex set of theories involving the earth's magnetic field, and the Integratron's relation to the Great Pyramid in Egypt and Giant Rock, the world's largest freestanding boulder, the weight of which Van Tassel believed produces a piezo-electric effect on its granite crystals, creating a magnetic field.
And if pure curiosity does not lead you there, the healing effects of the sound baths offered at the Integratron surely will. More from guest author, recording artist, meditation teacher and awesome friend of Glad.is, Julianna Raye:
Sound Healing Changed My Life & Why it Can Change Yours
By: Julianna Raye
A few weeks ago, I went with a group of friends on an adventure to the desert. It all started because two very talented friends, Rufus Wainwright and his sister Lucy, were playing a show at Pappy and Harriet's in Pioneertown, California. Rufus had arranged a visit to a domed building called the Integratron. But first, we all hiked out to a gigantic boulder known (surprisingly) as Big Rock. This was the birthplace of the Integratron back in the 1950s.
The lore says that a man named George Van Tassel was meditating under Big Rock one night when he was visited by aliens. George was an aeronautical engineer who said the aliens gave him instructions on how to create an age-defying machine. He worked on it for 17 years, never managing to complete it before he died suddenly in 1978. The instructions mysteriously vanished.
Eventually, the Integratron was turned into a chamber for sound healing. So, after our visit to Big Rock we went there for a session. If you’ve never participated in a sound healing session, crystal bowls of varying size are placed next to each other and played by circling the outside rim, which causes a sound vibration. Some say this sound vibration has special healing properties, and the environment of the Integratron is said to heighten the healing effect.
We all lay in a circular formation with our heads towards the center of the dome while the sound bounced off the walls in interesting and disorienting ways. The vibrations were as intense as sitting on top of a bass amp. You could feel it through your whole body! The session lasted about 45 minutes.
I can’t speak to the truth of any claims about the Integratron or even about sound healing. But, as a meditation trainer, I could immediately see the value in the experience. You may be familiar with the Buddhist term "impermanence." In the practice of meditation, the flow of impermanence is more than just an intellectual understanding that change happens in your life. It’s experiential, right now in this moment. We begin to discover ourselves and our world as being in a constant state of flux.
For many meditators, this is detectable in the body as a deeply pleasant tingly, wavy or bubbly flow of energy. This flow of energy is pointing us toward our true nature. When we know the flow of impermanence completely, we experience the absence of separation between ourselves and the world, even between being and non-being. We experience change as the only true constant. We recognize nothingness, pregnant with the possibility of all things, as being our true nature. This realization liberates us from the constricting, yet familiar, habit of having a limited identity. The meditative path is about recognizing our true nature over and over, with greater and greater awareness.
But for many of us, the path from our ordinary mindset to liberation can seem like a daunting journey. So, from my perspective, the true value of an experience like sound healing is its ability to heighten your awareness of impermanence. When your whole body vibrates in response to sound waves, you're sensitive to the flow of impermanence. You are experiencing yourself as porous and resonant.
A sound healing session is ceremonial, treating sound in a novel and sacred way. If your goal is liberation, the key is to use the sound waves as a path to greater insight. Rather than viewing the experience as conditional, or placing the experience outside yourself, you can treat sound healing as a unique opportunity to discover your true, formless nature. Then the sound is healing on the deepest level.
"The purpose of the Integratron is to recharge energy into living cell structure, to bring about longer life with youthful energy."
-- George Van Tassel
builder of the Integratron
About our Guest Columnist: Julianna Raye is a professional singer/songwriter and meditation trainer. Her first cd was for Warner Brothers, produced by the legendary Jeff Lynne (ELO, Travelling Wilburys, Tom Petty.) Follow up cds were produced by Ethan Johns (Ray LaMontagne, Lara Marling). Julianna began meditating 17 years ago, to cope with the challenges of her profession. 12 years ago, she began training people in meditation. As a trainer, she was recently featured on ABC news, Los Angeles. Julianna has just launched How To Meditate With Music a method of merging her two areas of expertise into an approach to mindfulness that addresses two big challenges for beginning and intermediate meditators: Sticking with a practice and bringing it into the world.
If you enjoyed this article, you will also like a post Julianna authored for us called, "Just Sit Still".
What is your favorite music (or sound) to zen out to?