Monday, October 4, 2010

Wilderness Pools: Examination of the effects of the pools, particularly the relaxation response, An ethnography of a culture of pool meditation

Harbin ethnography:

... Ellen Klages' “Harbin Hot Springs: Healing Waters, Sacred Land” is the most focused endeavor, tracing Harbin's history from the Lake Miwoks to the early 1990s, the last chapter focusing on Harbin since Ishvara bought the property in 1972, and then sold it to Heart Consciousness Church.

In this actual / virtual ethnography of Harbin Hot Springs with its focus on characterizing Harbin's culture, Klages' history hints at cultural aspects there, since the Lake Miwoks. Her last chapter on Harbin's recent history since Ishvara bought the property in 1972, while highlighting aspects of the 'tribe' that has emerged there, doesn't consider, for example, in depth Harbin's pools' culture. In my anthropological field work, turned water work, turned examination of the effects, particularly the relaxation response which the pools cause, of the Harbin pools where clothing-optionalness is normal, I develop, too, an ethnography of a culture of pool meditation and emergence of Watsu, which history “Harbin Hot Springs: Healing Waters, Sacred Land” doesn't consider in detail. In conjunction with these processes, I'd like to suggest, in an historical sense, that the emergence of the Harbin Warm Pool and the pool area itself, as well as the community which has emerged at Harbin as a whole since 1972, has given form to a kind of tribe – residents, one main historical record of which can be seen in the Harbinger. Klages' history does focus on Ishvara's vision of community, citing Ishvara:

“'I had a dream of community. The most ideal living situation I'd ever had was in college (Harvard). Each [350-person] House had its own dining room, and I used to spend four or five hours there, hanging out with people and discussing things. It was a very creative, very enjoyable period for me. I wanted to have that kind of environment.'

More and more radical changes were developing in California, and in 1967 the Hartley's (Ishvara and his wife) moved to Berkeley, living a few blocks from Sproul Plaza and the anti-war protests for eight months before buying a home in nearby Kensington. Bob had read all of Fritz Perls' work on Gestalt therapy years before and, after two years of training, was accepted at the Gestalt Institute of San Francisco for continued training and study” (Klages 1991:281).

As a 'formal' history, written nearly 20 years ago, probably in conversation with Ishvara himself, it provides a founder's first-hand account, emerging from the 1960s of Harbin's vision, giving rise to the ongoing community, where Ish still lives on property. While I know of no direct Gestalt therapy practices occurring since around 1994 – Ish didn't like the unequal relationship between therapist and patient (Klages 1991:281) – the sense of realizing the whole may have found form in the pools themselves, naturally, as place, although Klages doesn't suggest this. The social and conversation aspects that Ish found so edifying at Harvard, and which he had in mind in envisioning a community, take place all around Harbin, but especially on the sun deck in the pool area, in my experience. I know of no other ethnographies of Harbin Hot Springs other than this one, which in many ways is two, or at least and actual and virtual two. Klages' history comes closest to providing a kind of historical ethnography.

In Klages' history, hippies were around at Harbin since the 1960s. ...

( - October 4, 2010)

No comments: