During the 18th and 19th centuries, lengthy visits at spas were the remedy for everything from palsy to gout. By day, you’d lounge about, “taking in the waters.” At night, you might gamble or dance.

As an ambitious American, it’s difficult to imagine letting go to that extent for even a weekend – much less weeks on end – even if it were healthful. How long can one actually soak in a spring or go without texting or checking in at work? Are there true health benefits to hot springs, or were our ancestors just desperate to find cures before there were antibiotics and pharmaceuticals? And even if I commit to just one weekend, can I ever relax enough to actually enjoy doing nothing? I asked myself these questions as I pulled into Two Bunch Palms, located in Desert Hot Springs, California, early in July, on the hottest day of the year.

I started the morning at the natural hot mineral springs grotto, where I floated quietly on a water noodle past others, who were meditating. The warm water relaxed my muscles, and felt like a gentle massage on my skin. The lithium rich minerals seeped in, working their magic, making time fuzzy, tinting everything with happy hormones.

After a massage that was so relaxing I fell asleep, I plunged my entire naked body into pungent smelling, hot mud. I gazed out over the cactus and the desert, and noted just how Instagram-perfect the grandeur of the mountain vista was. No purse. No phone. Just breathe.

Image courtesy of Two Bunch Palms. Used with permission.

Over lunch, I lounged in a bathrobe, my hair pulled back in a messy ponytail, while snacking on soup. Anywhere else, I would have been self-conscious about being so casual. But everyone was there to let their wet hair down. Au natural.

I became fascinated with a roadrunner sneaking across the lawn, wondering what prey he was so intent on catching. It was another Instagram moment. I reached inside my purse for my phone. Surely I needed to catch a video of this. The roadrunner flitted across the lawn again, and then froze. Funny how fast they move, and how letting your mind wander back to civilization for even a moment means you miss so much in real time. I took my hand out of my purse, and waited for the chase, or the next dash.

In the afternoon, the desert heat, at a record 119 degrees F, was Biblical. However, it was the memory of the soul-parched land of nonstop work that concerned me more. How can I carry this feeling, this utter relaxation, back with me into the real world? No wonder the 19th Century settlers, and no doubt the nomadic Native American tribes before them, would look for the two bunches of palms in the distance as an oasis in the Mojave Desert, where they could take a good, long drink and bathe… and heal.

After I left Two Bunch Palms, I felt refreshed, as if my lungs had been de-smogged. My mind was still swooning. I began my first day back to work feeling crisp, sharp and focused, and also submerged in a perpetual zen state. I started digging around online for evidence of the health benefits of good bugs.

Good Bugs. How Getting Dirty is Beneficial For Your Health.

In an over-sanitized world, with aggressive, antibiotic-resistant bacteria running loose, digestive flora and helpful bacteria are being used more and more as cures. Yogurt and probiotic flora are widely known for benefiting the digestive tract. When antibiotics have killed off too many good bacteria in the digestive tract and C Diff shows up, doctors are actually using fecal transplantation to reintroduce good bugs into the colon and intestines. Recent studies show that “good” skin bacteria is an effective defense against MRSA.

Natural hot mineral springs and mud baths are also touted for helping everything from high blood pressure and eczema, to digestion and circulation, according to Dr. Andrew Weil. Dr. Weil has a few safety guidelines for taking in the waters and mud bath safely, ranging from choosing non-chlorinated natural springs to keeping your head above water. There are a few unwelcome critters that might try to get in through open sores or even your nostrils that you want to be aware of. For additional information, visit DrWeil.com.

So, even though it is not yet widely known in the mainstream, rolling around in the mud bath and getting giddy in a hot mineral spring could be an important part of your health regimen. Perhaps regular visits to the hot springs are just what the doctor ordered for body, mind and soul…

Here are just a few natural hot mineral springs to consider visiting.

Two Bunch Palms

I know tons of people, including me, who are living a lifestyle of health and sustainability as best as they can. Driving less. Eating organic. Meditating. Promoting peace. But it is all taking place in Human World. The only animals are pets. The plants are all landscaped, with way too much grass and concrete everywhere. I can’t remember the last time I saw a bird that wasn’t a crow, dove, pigeon or a sparrow. At Two Bunch Palms, you can lie in the womb of a 600-year old natural hot spring, letting the healthful minerals seep in through your pores. The desert wildlife is abundant with bunnies, roadrunners and snakes, and coyotes howling in the distance. The remote resort is powered by solar, and features workshops on yoga, meditating, healthy food and more. This exclusive getaway is beloved by Hollywood Royalty, and sports a 4-star price tag with posh room accommodations.

The solar farm and mountain vista at Two Bunch Palms. Image courtesy of Two Bunch Palms. Used with permission.

Safford, Arizona

If you are interested in a rustic, Wild West natural hot mineral springs experience, then put Safford, Arizona on your radar. For less than the price of lunch, you can soak outdoors at The Essence of Tranquility. A two-hour experience that includes a soak, sweat wrap, reflexology and a massage, is just $115 at the Kachina Mineral Springs. Though the hot springs experience in Safford is humble and affordable, the area has attracted rock stars, athletes and other famous folks over the decades, including Walt Disney. That is one of the reasons why I host an Investor Educational Retreat in Safford, Arizona once or twice a year.

What’s your favorite natural hot mineral springs experience? Please feel free to share it with me. Just email info @ NataliePace.com or call 310-430-2397.