In the same way that qi gathers and pools at the surface of the human body, at certain places along acupuncture meridians – places we then call “acupuncture points” – so it is that healing water makes its way to the earth’s surface, gathering and pooling at places known as hot springs or mineral baths.
Soaking in a hot spring can be wonderful therapy, for a number of reasons. The heat and subsequent sweating have a deeply cleansing effect on our skin and entire bodymind system. The specific mineral content of the spring will offer its unique benefits. If the spring is in a relatively natural environment, chances are we’re receiving the qi (life-force energy) of all five elements: earth (the ground in which the spring is held); metal (the various minerals in the spring-water); water (the water itself); wood (the surrounding trees, and/or the wooden benches etc. surrounding the spring); and fire (the heat of the water, and the sun overhead). As such, hotsprings have the capacity to balance and harmonize our bodymind, quite naturally.
The overall effect of soaking in a hotspring tends to be a relaxing one, so unnecessary stress and tension can be dissolved, allowing our qi to flow more smoothly through all of the meridians. When qi flows smoothly through the meridians, all of our internal organs are benefited, and begin to smile. I don't know for sure, but it's my hunch that the named and unnamed Taoist Immortals have, collectively, spent untold hours enjoying the benefits and beauty of high-mountain and sweet-valley hotsprings. In following their example, we connect with their fully-awakened bodyminds, at a subtle level at least.
As always, it’s important to be conscious of and honor our unique circumstances. Be intelligent in your decisions regarding how long to stay in the spring before taking a break, and in how much water (or isotonic beverage) to drink. Some hotsprings have been developed in a way that makes them very easy to access; others may require a strenuous hike up into relatively uncharted mountain territory. Choose one that aligns with your own levels of fitness and comfort.
Among the hotsprings that I’ve personally enjoyed, my favorites include a completely undeveloped one, amidst a series of small waterfalls, in Crestone, Colorado. Similarly undeveloped is one in rather dense forest, up from the main road through Jemez Springs, New Mexico. Quite elaborately developed, in the context of a mountain spa – but lovely nevertheless – are the springs at Ten Thousand Waves – nestled in the Sangre de Christo mountains, just west of Santa Fe.
My all-time favorite, thus far, is Ojo Caliente, in northern New Mexico. Though these springs have been developed, to an extent, they still have a very natural feel to them; and the energy of the land birthing them is sublime. What makes them unique among the world’s hotsprings, and especially potent, is the variety of mineral compositions (lithium, iron, soda and arsenic) in their various springs.
What are your favorite hotsprings? Let’s share our resources regarding these powerful places – so more and more of us might benefit from their healing energy!