It was a cold and rainy day when I arrived at Willow Spa just off of Santa Monica Boulevard. The traffic had been horrid, and I was filled to the brim with anger and hostility for my fellow L.A. drivers.

Yet the moment I passed through the bamboo gate and entered the front garden, a sudden and palpable shift of energy was felt deep in my core. A gentle waterfall trickled alongside the stone path as it led to the front door of an old craftsmen home, a relic of old Santa Monica.

Inside two young women dressed completely in black met me. The meeting room was filled with sweet, exotic aromas. In a short time I was led through the house to a dressing room and handed a pair of white garments.

Next, I met Julie, my “technician.” In moments she had my feet in a wooden tub of warm water and rose petals.

I was served a small glass of Akatsuki, an enzyme elixir made from over 400 fermented fruits. It had a syrupy texture and was very sweet. After a brief, yet luxurious foot and leg massage, I was guided to the room where I would take the enzyme bath.

“Did you bring a bathing suit?” Julie asked.

“Uh, no,” I replied.

Not to worry, I was supplied with a pair of black disposable underwear, which was more like a string bikini made of soft paper. The “bath” I was to lay in was in fact a mass of dark earth, two smoldering piles of hot mulch composed of Juniper wood shavings, rice bran and vegetable enzymes.

Supposedly, I spent only 20 minutes in the tub, but it felt like a great vast expanse of time that I lay buried in that sweet dirt. Julie would come by every few moments to gently wipe the sweat from my brow and offer me a straw to sip on water.

The experience was transfixing, a miraculous state of tranquility lulled me into a deep peaceful reverie. In the shower afterwards, I could not help but smile. Alas, the treatment culminated with a 20-minute Thai massage.

Whatever bitterness I had felt earlier towards my fellow man was but a distant memory as I stepped back onto a busy Santa Monica Boulevard, ready to love again once more.

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