Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Why Do I Love Hot Springs?

Why Do I Love Hot Springs?

That is a great question. Thanks for asking it.

Across this world people rely on religion, esoteric philosophies, consumption of drugs or alcohol, sports team membership, exercise programs, etc. to relax, to find a little peace from the maddening world, or to heal their emotional and physical injuries. Well, hot springs do it for me, and the experience is healthy, legal, and cheap!

My first hot spring experience was a magical experience that I will never forget. I was around thirteen years old on a trip through California with a nature group that brought children into natural environments. We had spent several hours tiring hours canoeing on the Colorado River when our leader brought us to a sandbank, where he told us to leave the canoes and follow him up a small creek that was flowing into the river. The creek brought us into a narrowing canyon that kept growing steeper and higher as we walked through the clear shallow water. The cold water was getting warmer and warmer. Finally, we went around a curve and stood staring at the face of a cliff that was dripping with steaming water. Most of this water feel into a natural basin in the creek that five or six of us could lie submerged within. The temperature was perfect.

I found myself calmer and more at peace than ever before. As I enjoyed the hot water soothing my aching muscles and sunlight bouncing off the pool onto the opposite cliff wall, I noticed movement above me. Several wild mountain bighorn sheep peered inquisitively at us and then hoofed their way across the sheer edges and disappeared, but this magical moment stays in my mind's eye.

Over the many years that I traveled across Japan, America, and many other countries, hot springs have always been a source of healthy relaxation and so much stimulation and pleasure. The magic has appeared in conversations with strangers, from the views, from first time experiences with different types of springs, from my mental ruminations in the springs, and so on. Each hot spring, even though I have been to several hundred, has a special feel. In a hot spring, I am "in the moment."

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