From my room on the 18th floor of this hotel, the view is extensive. The city skyline is doused in a gray blue haze. A train is winding its way in a lazy arc below. The trees, which all seem to grow to one level, form a dark, mossy green carpet below. You can only barely see the houses, which are sparsely dotted beneath them. True to what you’d expect of a humid area like the south, the paint is chipping off of the wood on the sides of the houses. It evokes a ghost like feeling that the old southern life is still here, just beneath a coat of modern paint.
The people of Atlanta are the friendliest demographic of people I’ve yet to encounter in the metropolitan United States. I can hardly make it anywhere because of how easy it is to get into conversations with “strangers”. And this city is definitely a food city. I am struck by how much the imprint of the days of slavery still remains on some of the older buildings and railways here in town. It has soaked its way especially into the old wood that dots the brick walls. The venue for yesterday’s workshop was one such a building. It was a fitting energy, seeing as how the theme of the entire workshop was self-liberation.
This group of people coming to my workshops are the most open minded, eccentrically intellectual group I have ever beheld. I think it is now my favorite part of holding these workshops. Long-term friendships are formed. People find their place to belong. And I get to witness the fact that this world is in good hands. All across the globe, they form a supportive web of awakening. They touch the lives of the people in the cities they live in. It is like a little legion of enlightened spirits, whose practice is that of non-resistance and expansion. Yesterday’s workshop ended well. Only the usual hiccups involved with event planning occurred. I was expecting worse technological issues to occur in a building of that age. I had a difficult night last night. In order to get out of the building I had to be taken down a flight of stairs into an unfinished basement that was nearly pitch dark.
My host in the city took me to a Korean Spa last night called JeJu. It was one of the most dichotomous experiences I’ve had in a long time. Driving up, the building and the lobby looked like a whorehouse, complete with neon lights, impatient older Asian women and the smell of cigarette smoke. On the inside, the women separated from the men and we went into locker rooms to remove all of our clothing so that we could enter the bathhouse. There were three large hot tub like “baths”, each boasting a different temperature, stand up showers, sit down showers, a sauna, a steam room, an area to lay and soak in infrared light, a “hip bath” area, designed to help women specifically where you go in, spread your legs and sit down over the top of a steaming bowl of traditional herbs. And a scrub area which is comprised to two rows of white rubber tables where women lay completely naked to be scrubbed head to foot by older Asian women, who are wearing only bras, panties and scrubber gloves that strip every dead skin cell from your form.
We removed our clothes and upon entering the bathhouse, the immediate impression I had was that I was entering a harem. The place was littered with women and at 11:00 pm no less as most Korean spas are open 24 hours a day. I have never seen so many women naked in one place. Like ice cream flavors, there were women of every race, shape and size. It is a voyeur’s paradise. It was liberating to be near women who felt so free about their bodies. It was like a snap shot of the whole female experience; women all the way from age 4 to age 90. Some bodies had withered; some were in their peak stage of ripeness. Some like young flower buds had not yet begun to ripen.
One woman had brought her daughters there with her. They were naked with all of the rest of us in the medium temperature bath (they were probably age 4 and age 6). I can honestly say that it would be a healthier experience if girls were exposed to women of all ages like that early on in life. We are too isolated from each other as women. Most of us have no idea what to expect from the experience that is to come for us. Most of us in the western world don’t see the process of womanhood before we enter into it ourselves. And it proves more than daunting when you #1. Don’t know what to expect and #2. Have been taught that your naked body is shameful. I felt much more at one with my femininity last night.
I elected to get scrubbed down. Admittedly, I felt a bit like a cow. They washed my body with dish soap. Asian businesses based around beauty have not yet embraced the idea of organics. I have sensitive skin and so it hurt like hell. Asian spas in general are not gentle with bodies. It seems their strategy is designed to “break up blocked chi” rather than to induce a state of surrender. I was gritting my teeth during the entire process. But I feel clean as hell this morning, like my skin can breathe.
While we were there, we went into the part of the spa called the “common area” where both men and women are allowed to commingle. And it felt exactly like a cultish commune. Everyone was dressed in the same shorts and t-shirt. You walk into an enormous room that is like stepping into a futuristic scene in an old 80s movie. There are people sleeping on mats on the heated floor. There are pools for swimming, there is an area for foot massages and an area for body massages and then there are “the rooms”. The rooms are comprised of different elements. The idea is to lie inside them and soak up the healing properties of each room. For example, one room is comprised completely of crystals. Every inch of the entire inside surface of the room is covered in amethyst and citrine and green calcite and selenite etc. The stones create a beautiful mural scene of mountains and trees, complete with a starry ceiling. The floors are heated to the point where it is painful to the touch. But as you lay there, the stones permeate your body with healing frequencies. It was my favorite of the rooms. It is truly a sight to behold. They also have rooms of salt, charcoal, jade, gold and silver, clay and an igloo room, which is as cold as a refrigerator.
The awesome healing properties of the rooms are offset by the dizzy-money making design of the place and the mentality of the Asian body workers in general. In contrast, there is a brightly colored, tacky Korean fast food restaurant with people seated at the table consuming unhealthy food with chopsticks.
It was a sensory experience. I kept thinking, the “Tealers” would love these healing property rooms. In fact, I actually met one such person, who recognized me when I walked by him in the spa. He came up to say hi, and had no idea that there was a workshop being held in Atlanta. I’m telling you, if they replaced the Korean fast-food restaurant with a raw vegan café, replaced the shampoos and scrubs with organic soaps, explained to the bathing women how to be “soothing” and took the neon lights district signs down, it would be a paradise for new age/spiritual demographic. I’m secretly hoping someone who reads this blog, goes to try it out just so that they can catch a glimpse of the mysterious 24-hour surrealist reality I’m describing. http://jejusauna.com/
Today, we are hosting our Intentional Community Expo. And I cannot wait to meet people one on one. I am especially passionate about these intentional communities that are the future of our social structure in the world. I cannot wait for the day that these expos are held in venues so large that you couldn’t see all the booths and presentations even if you wanted to. I cannot wait for the day that people travel from all around the world to attend them. The future of sustainable resources, social structure and energy technology will be seen at these expos.
Now, I’m going off into the city in search of another culinary delight.