When you think about Joshua Tree in California, maybe images of desert campsites — or Bono in profile — come to mind. But, there’s something else that draws visitors to the area. Something more otherworldly. It’s a magical white dome called the Integratron, which is considered to be “the only all-wood, acoustically perfect sound chamber in the U.S.” It was built by aeronautical engineer and UFO enthusiast George Van Tassel in the late 1950s specifically as a “time machine” to prolong human life through cell rejuvenation and recharge. Today, people flock to it for the daily “sound baths,” where quartz crystal bowls are played by a musician to a vibration loud enough to make your teeth chatter and your brain see transformative colors. The goal is to foster a strange interconnectedness with the land and with yourself. If this sounds like something out of a New Age manual, I understand. But of course, I had to try it for myself. Walking inside the dome feels like stepping into a giant musical instrument. A wooden ladder takes you up to the second, main floor of the space, a brightly lit room where, when laying on your mat, sound plays tricks on you (you can hear the whispers of someone across the room as if they were speaking right into your ear). Once the bowls are played, the floor catches the sound and begins to vibrate, too. I’ve now done several sound baths, and I’ve had visions during them: a purple wash of color (the highest color vibration) and whole visual scenes that felt like films unspooling. One visit even helped me solve the problem of ending my novel. Inspired by the experience — I’ve always been the type of person who’s drawn to alternative feel-good treatments — I decided to look for peace closer to home in Los Angeles. That’s when I discovered the guided crystal meditations at Spellbound Sky. The petite, divinely curated shop, owned by former fashion designers Mark Phillips and Martin Anguiano, sells a wide array of crystals, including Peacock Ore, Amazonite, Tiger’s Eye, and Angel Aura Quartz. They’ve teamed up with beloved local meditation teacher Jessica Snow to do transformative meditations each week. Crystals have long been thought to hold specific energy within them — Citrine, for example, fosters a connection to creativity — and Phillips, Anguiano, and Snow build each meditation around a specific crystal that they’ve chosen. Then, they set an intention, so the practice is grounded in positive thought. Each meditator is asked to pick the week’s crystal from a small plate, along with a card detailing the specific powers of the crystal, and find a space on a mat. From there, where you keep your crystal during the meditation is up to you — whether it be on a chakra, in your hand, or on the floor beside you.
Snow is the type of person who is so full of love and light that it’s impossible not to feel buoyed by her joy. A cynical Daria, I was aching to get a small chip of that joy. At their 100th meditation recently, the trio based the meditation on the power of rose quartz, the stone of unconditional love, as a thank-you to their tight-knit community of followers. With powerful drumming by Martin to ground us in the space and leave the outside world behind, we leaned back on the floor to settle onto our mats — and felt like we were floating through the sky and stars. Snow’s inspired approach led us to the place where we felt the most joy, and she asked us to empower ourselves with the bright light and love of our rose quartz crystal. Snow says her intent has always been “to help people activate the magic that is dormant inside them and all around them, to gently help them stretch their imaginations in the direction of things that feel good to them, and to help them know their aliveness in real time.” My vision was a field I had visited in Colorado as a small child, all yellow and purple wildflowers — a place I had not thought of in years. I felt an electricity shoot through me, a feeling of intense, childlike joy — one I couldn’t remember the last time I had felt. It was accessing a memory I had long forgotten, and it’s strange to think that within our minds, there are pockets of memories that can be happened upon in meditation. Long-ignored feelings that are tamped down in the day-to-day of our lives. Honestly, I wanted to stay in that field forever. When we finally came out of our meditation, my friend told me I was glowing. It was true; I could not stop smiling. I’ve spoken to other meditators who have said Snow’s meditations have done in one evening what a year of therapy could not accomplish. I resolved to look for that level of joy in my real life from then on. I’ve achieved that by looking for something that brings me joy each day — whether it be a hike at sunset or a quick visit with a friend — and feeling gratitude for it. As my nearly weekly practice shows, I’ve become happier, more present in my relationships, and more self-aware. Recently, I found myself worried about a friend who was going through a difficult time. I assembled the crystals I had amassed from meditation, some we had been to together, and held them and thought of her. I wanted her pain to ease and for her to feel like she was loved. Whether or not crystal meditation is your thing, think about it: How often do we stop in our day to send someone good intentions? This practice has made me a kinder, more present person, who now faces the world with a joyful, open heart. I’ve come to realize I am the catalyst for change in my own life and have stopped waiting for things to “happen.” It’s inspiring to realize that one hour a week can create such change.