Battle Over a Rock Fest That Joshua Tree Locals Say Will Rattle Wildlife and the Desert Town’s Chill Vibe

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This desert landscape has long been an enclave of nature lovers, artists, seekers and misfits of every stripe, drawn as if by a magnetic vortex to its otherworldly landscape of weather-sculpted rocks and forests of the spindly icon for which the reputedly chill town is named.

Victoria GeVoian, executive officer of the Institute of Mentalphysics, walks through part of the 400-acre desert landscape used for meditation and group retreats. (Credit: Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)

Victoria GeVoian, executive officer of the Institute of Mentalphysics, walks through part of the 400-acre desert landscape used for meditation and group retreats. (Credit: Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)

In recent months, though, Joshua Tree’s peace has been shattered by a debate over a neighbors have been at each other’s throats over a local meditation retreat’s plan to jump on the desert music festival bandwagon — a decision its director this week said she would reverse, after the organization’s Desert Daze concert in October.

Nestled on a 400-acre spread along California 62, about 30 miles north of Palm Springs, the Institute of Mentalphysics has, since 1941, focused on teaching a combination of breathing techniques and spiritual awareness that its website calls “the science of the future” and a “Super Yoga.”

In March, however, the institute surprised the community by hosting its first rock festival.

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