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Harbin Hot Springs Resort: Organic & Exotic Vacations Away From Urban Life And Noise

  • Written by  Amber Lovejoy
Floating your troubles away… Floating your troubles away…


When you’re working and playing hard and want a vacation, you’ve got a lot of choices. Cruise ship, road trip, Hawaii, the Caribbean, luxury hotels, get in an airplane and fly far away…it’s all about renewal, relaxation, and escape.

So how about a vacation that combines Nature, health, fitness, and an eye-opening look into another world?

It all happens at Harbin Hot Springs, located in Northern California only a few hours from San Francisco, and one hour from Napa Valley’s famed wine region.

When you really want to get away, this is a primo place to do it.

Harbin Hot Springs is a retreat center, a nature reserve, a hiker’s paradise, a place where pure healing waters emanate from deep inside the earth and are channeled into several pools ranging from blazingly hot to glacially cold.

Harbin was the birthplace of a type of massage done in water.

It’s called Watsu®, and as the name implies, it’s a technique in which Shiatsu massage is conducted in water.

Watsu starts with the deeply relaxing “Water Breath Dance.” Under the careful supervision of your Watsu® guide (so you don’t have to worry about your head going under and you getting water in your nose, mouth or lungs), the Watsu session begins with guided breathing in warm, mineral-rich, geothermal water.

By the time you’re finished with the Water Breath Dance and the swirling, twirling, water-assisted stretching that comes after it, you feel like you’re flying.

But Watsu is just one of the many restorative experiences you have at Harbin Hot Springs.

Harbin is a bodywork mecca with its own massage school providing massage training in a variety of modalities. You can get impromptu massage freebies from massage students wanting to implement their new skills!

You can drop in for a couple of days to do nothing more than relax in the natural hot springs pools.

Or you can take a “Love, Intimacy and Sexuality seminar” from the Human Awareness Institute (HAI). Along with HAI classes, Harbin offers a wide variety of personal growth and therapeutic seminars and services.

If you’re looking for nature, the Harbin property includes many hundreds of acres of hiking and running trails, meadows and forests set amongst rolling inter-coastal hills and rugged mountains in one of California’s most scenic, unpolluted areas.

Harbin offers an eclectic menu of “California counterculture” healing arts and personal growth experiences, including yoga, nude lap swimming, organic homemade food at quiet restaurants and cafes, chanting, herbal medicines, sweat lodges, workshops, art, music, dance and the kind of unfettered we-are-all-one “hippie” camaraderie that’s hardly found anywhere anymore.

At Harbin you find healers, artisans, visionaries, engineers, university professors, organic chefs and gardeners (many of whom appreciate or have engaged in hydroponics gardening), inventors, wealthy celebrities and others seeking a way of life that emphasizes community, health, and nature.

And in case you’re wondering about the nudity, I discovered that after a few minutes being naked, or even just being around a bunch of naked Harbin residents and visitors while you’re still shyly wearing your bathing suit, you find your lifelong ideas about sexuality, clothing, nudity, modesty and the human body shifting…whether you want them to or not.

Harbin is one of my favorite places because it has a near-total ban on machine noises and urban intrusions.

In fact, Harbin management requires you to leave your car, boom boxes and other diversions in the parking lot…then you walk up a hill toward trees, water, hiking paths, the hot springs pools.

The water comes straight out of the earth, and it burns away your troubles while invigorating your body and mind.

Within a few hours of hanging out at Harbin and tuning into the vibe, you see how Harbin changes lives…and even saves them.

Some people visit Harbin as tourists, but decide not to leave.

“I came here for vacation because work had gotten too intense, and I saw Harbin as a culture, a way out of regular society,” says a 30-something woman I met at Harbin.

She took a leave from her career, and is now training to be a Watsu therapist, camps under madrone trees on a remote hillside, spends hours in the pools, eats organic food, fasts three days a month, and has an alert radiance about her that dazzles you with its innocence, sincerity and contentment.

“Harbin has a residency program so people can stay to help with the grounds, guest services, training, preparing food, whatever the community needs,” she says. “This is a healing community. What people can be when they’re not a slave to ego, to money, to the city life.”

And whether you intend to Harbinize for only a weekend or maybe the rest of your life, it’s a hop, skip and a jump from San Francisco…just drive east on I-80, turn north through Napa Valley and Calistoga, enjoy the winding mountain roads, then through a scenic valley down the long and winding road to Harbin’s front gates.

You arrive at and enter Harbin as the person you have been your whole life, but you leave as someone else who is more gladdened in heart, more relaxed in body, more renewed in spirit.

Here are some details that’ll make your Harbin experience more enjoyable…

First, visit the Harbin website at http://www.harbin.org/intro.htm

Call Harbin to inquire about accommodations and other aspects of what you want from your stay, such as Watsu appointments, training, etc.

If you have children, ask about the appropriateness of bringing them to Harbin. The general Harbin attitude is to maintain a very quiet and healing environment free of noise and commotion. Some children fit this environment; others don’t.

Cigarette smoking, boozing, trash talking, profanity, big ego, trying to get laid and similar types of “hedonistic” activities and personas are very much frowned upon at Harbin.

This is not Club Med, Las Vegas or a singles cruise ship. If someone makes a nuisance of themself at Harbin by leering, drooling, hitting on people, or otherwise engaging in sexual harassment, they will be quickly removed from premises and permanently banned.

Harbin is a fantastic organic experience year-round, but can be very crowded on holiday weekends, during seminars and workshops, and during peak summer months.

So when you’re looking for an all-organic vacation getaway that combines health, fitness, adventure, relaxation, fun, and travel…Harbin is the experience of a lifetime that gives you more life.

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Last modified on Tuesday, 04 September 2012 14:04

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