Crystal Madras Outlet: A Japanese Outfit That’s Nothing Like a Movie

I got a call to a place called Crystal Madras Outlet, run by prominent Massachusetts intellectual Terry Tempest Williams, who’s known for espousing powerful, thorny ideas about community, sustainable living, love, and wellness. I wanted to visit, but not really for the whole business of getting high.

Crystal Madras Outlet has long been popular for its healing treatments, from super-hot steam baths that help release stress to massage. But there’s also an experience here where clients are encouraged to visualize a scene from the hallucinatory sci-fi film Blade Runner. The attendees are told to imagine their hands cupped in a pair of leather gloves, their arms clutching golden orbs.

Anyone can suggest a “Psychedelic Effect” — invoking whatever number of years they feel like enduring. And it becomes sort of like having a sauna. It’s like being given a chance to undo all the personal tension, many people said, regardless of the positive effects.

One man met a couple there about 20 minutes earlier. He said it was similar to the one that he participated in a few years ago. His visit, however, was a little stronger than his peers’. Once his fog cleared, he said he had a lot of time to think about what he wanted to do with his life, how it all translated into compassion and love and self-reflection.

It helps, too, that the place is in the woods. In fact, the location has long been known for its tranquility and that nurturing environment. It offers meditation, barre, and yoga classes. But recently there’s also a “Pretend Exposure” session, with jungle catchers for the guests to imagine.

At the neighboring Zen Room, a Japanese-style tea house with everything from green tea to honey to ishi kokeshi, a savory, earthy-flavored cold tea, sitting at the counter, Taiji Yamamura, said it’s also a safe zone for visitors to meditate. There are also an array of teas, according to one visitor, along with sake.

There are mists, she said, along with a range of events that keep the place filled up: Herky-jerky walks, late-night music events, massage, mantras. But on that particular day, she had used “The Heart Compassion Map” by goddess Teresa Helzer (who likes to enter people via a doorway into the heart). She’s brought it with her for her years of immersion. She said it’s pretty much guaranteed that it will work.

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