March 26, 2018

A dear friend recently asked me:

“What is it about hot springs that you love so much?”

For starters, there’s something magical about soaking in bodies of water that are sourced + naturally heated from deep within the earth. The purity of the water is felt + the effects on the body are undoubtedly nourishing.

Typically, the water is rich in silica, calcium, sulfur, magnesium, iron, potassium + zinc. Water gets heated underground at a high pressure + becomes hot enough to dissolve minerals in the surrounding Earth ~ resulting in each hot spring around the world containing different mineral profiles + concentrations based on the geology of the place.

Physically, soaking in thermal pools increases blood flow, circulation, metabolism + absorption of essential minerals. Aaaand of course ~ to look for flowers thriving in these phenomenal locations where the earth is alive + pulsing.

I just returned from a spontaneous trip to Wilbur Hot Springs. I visited this nature spa about a decade ago + recently felt an inclination to go back. I had been putting off booking a trip to go - because some part of it seemed a little bit indulgent ; ). As luck would have it, I was given an award for sustainability, which sent me to San Francisco to receive the award from the sparkly people of the Green Spa NetworkSo I took advantage of this synchronistic gift and extended my time away and spent 2 nights at Wilbur Hot Springs! 

Here’s the download on the spring water at Wilbur. It’s rich with minerals - including sulfur (amazing for the skin), salt, and lithium (uplifting). We had soaking sessions from 1-2 hours each time, absorbing the minerals through our skin by osmosis.

We'd alternate between the 3 Japanese onsen-style “Fluminariums” {98, 105 and 109 degrees Fahrenheit}, the warm springs pool, and cold plunge tub to boost circulation + immune system. The pools are open 24 hours so you can soak while you look at the blue sky, the stars or watch the rain (or hail!) ... it's clothing optional and cell phone + wifi-free so it's a total digital detox too!

When you're in the water, the minerals make your skin feel like it's covered in silk. Afterwards, we'd leave those minerals on our skin without washing them off. Our skin became so smooth!

The water is said to have very special healing powers. We heard many stories of people becoming healed by soaking in these waters, even people who were told by medical doctors that they would never walk again! Absolutely amazing, right!?

After one of our soaks, we bundled up and took a nice + easy afternoon hike into their wilderness preserve to visit their Fountain of Life geyser. Singing to us the entire way were several red-winged blackbirds ~ we captured their song for you. Press play on the video clip below, close your eyes + take a 60 second trip into the wild.

I've been having thoughts of hosting a silent Vipassana retreat somewhere near hot springs, so Taylor + I took a vow of silence on our full day at Wilbur to observe what a full day of no speaking - just being - would look like.

Here are some of our take-aways: 

  • We LIVE all the moments. We don’t miss out on anything by not talking about it as it’s happening.
  • I had the thought “why aren’t we better at telepathic communication!?” ... because when you are 100% present, you can understand what someone else is feeling + communicating — without words.
  • Observation mode requires you to see things differently. *Being + observing* is a powerful practice (vs. *being + engaging*), because you capture everything in rich detail and gain deeper insights into the people around you + your surroundings. 
  • I became super aware of who was around me, along with my effect on them + their effect on me.
  • When you’re not talking, the act of tuning into + having a dialogue with nature is effortless. You notice when winds are acknowledging your presence. You hear birds singing with sheer clarity. You notice every little detail of the environment around you.
  • I didn’t miss talking. 
  • I was reminded that I really love eating in silence + meditating on taste. Flavors become so much more complex.
  • Having a card that says “I want to communicate with you, but I’m on a silent retreat” would be helpful.
  • Meditation on sound is so lovely. We took a power nap on the couches in the community lounge area and woke up to an older gentleman playing guitar + singing old bluegrass songs. Sounds become so rich!
  • Even when you can’t talk, your presence can be just as much a part of a conversation or experience.
  • Laughter is inevitable. One night when we were walking from the hot flumes to the warm springs in the freezing rain, Taylor slipped on the slippery wooden deck and ended up in a cheerful pile on the floor with a wtf just happened look on her face. Not wanting to break my bow of silence unless absolutely necessary, I just stared at her to make sure she was ok. She popped up + we busted out in uncontrollable laughter ... and weren’t able to stop for almost 10 minutes.

Have you ever taken a day (or more) of silent retreat or done a silent Vipassana retreat? What observations surprised you? 

Love + flower petals,

P.S. If you're interested in learning more about retreats with me, visit earthaura.com (our first retreat is happening November of this year in Costa Rica)!