The Wizard of Tulum | How the Doors’ Former Photographer Became a Psycho-Spiritual Healer

From shooting Janis Joplin & Jim Morrison to healing people over Skype, Bobby Klein's life has been one crazy journey

by Malika Dalamal
Jun 1 2018, 8:51am

“Quite honestly, I don’t like the word spiritual very much.” This is how Dr Bobby Klein responds when I ask him what a psycho-spiritual healer is – a term I find used all over the internet to describe him. I can almost see him cringe. “It’s in the same category as inner child for me – a phrase that is just… overused.”

While there might not be an easy way to describe Klein (spiritual educator, multi-dimensional healer and intuitive counsellor are some others you’ll hear) or what he does, there is something wizard-like about him that immediately disarms you.

Based in the Yaan Wellness Energy Spa in Tulum, it’s not unusual for people to book a trip to Mexico based around his availability. London-based photographer Sara Nadhim was introduced to him through a friend who insisted she saw him while they were on holiday.

“There’s a very special energy [in Tulum]. There’s a reason the Mayans ended up here and built their cities here.”

“I’m really not a touchy feely, talk-about-my-feelings kind of person but can honestly say I was different after I saw him, ” she tells me. “It was a pivotal moment. I felt lighter and things in my life started to change, little things at first.”

Klein himself confirms there have been some remarkable stories – tumors disappearing, headaches going away, career changes, relationships that start, or stop but the experience is different for everyone. “For me that one hour with Bobby Klein felt like 10 years of therapy, ” Nadhim adds. “Although he’s so much more than that a therapist.”

So what is that he actually does? “I’m a psychologist,” Klein explains. “I’m trained in psychoanalysis but I guess what I do and why people say it’s spiritual work is that we go deep inside, into that place where you hopefully begin to remember who you are. I help people delve into their own levels of consciousness which is what makes the process so healing.”

A typical session with Klein starts with some simple cranial energy work to help him tune in to you and from there it’s basically a conversation. But don’t expect to be handed a tissue while you pour out your sob story. “He knew what I had suffered and how hard it had been, we didn’t really dwell on it,” Nadhim continues. “I felt like he was pushing me instead – pushing me to question why I did certain things, to make different choices and to think about things differently.”

Bobby Klein relaxing in Tulum. “People come to Tulum and they are changed,” he says. Photo: Courtesy of Bobby Klein

For Klein the process is about helping people to rediscover their soul, the essence of who they are and their authenticity. He tells me, “If we don’t care for that part of ourselves then illness happens and emotional and psychological stuff starts to roll out of control.”

He insists that what he tells people is actually their own information, things they have stuffed way back or doors that can be opened. Years of experience mean he can give suggestions and tools to help you go deeper.

How did this 70-something, graying, former Southern California hippie who was once a rock ‘n’ roll photographer for The Doors and Janis Joplin find himself in Tulum healing strangers?

While still a photographer, Klein opened LA’s first natural restaurant with Jack Nicholson when organic vegetables were simply considered dirty and in 1967 when the stress of running a restaurant left him nearly blind he discovered acupuncture in the backstreets of Chinatown when it was still illegal in America.

“He opened LA’s first natural restaurant with Jack Nicholson when organic vegetables were simply considered dirty”

He went on to become a student of the Chinese master who cured him and when he started practicing himself he found that he instinctively knew what was wrong with people and how to treat them. The realization that most ailments – unless a dramatic injury – were either emotional or spiritual problems led him to go back to school at 40 to get a doctorate in psychology.

As rich and interesting as his life has been, it has not been devoid of tragedy, in particular the death of his daughter and a horrific gun incident in which he was nearly left for dead. By his own admission, he has been through a lot in his life but believes each experience is part of his journey and he’s a better practitioner because of it. It was the brutal gun assault that ultimately brought him to Mexico seven years ago.

Tulum itself plays a big part in Klein’s practice. Scientists believe that about 66 million years ago an asteroid hit the earth in the Yucatan Peninsula (a region of southeastern Mexico, consisting of the states of Yucatan, Campeche and Quintana Roo). The asteroid – responsible for the extinction of dinosaurs – left behind a 112-mile wide crater (the only one on Earth visible from space).

The Yaan Wellness & Healing Spa in Tulum, where Bobby treats visitors. Photo: Courtesy of Bobby Klein

Despite Tulum’s recent reputation as a party town, many, including Klein, believe the incredible amount of energy produced by that asteroid can still be felt. “It’s a very special energy, there’s no doubt about. There’s a reason the Mayans ended up here and built their cities here.

“People come to Tulum and they are changed – some people sleep better than ever, some can’t sleep, others get emotional. And for me as a practitioner, it’s been a really great help. It works as a starting point because the healing energy of Tulum makes them really ready.”

While seeing him in person in this environment is obviously ideal, he is also available for video conferencing sessions and insists that healing via the internet is possible. “We are all one. I can see the energy field around you right now,” he tells me, and to prove his point he stops talking, closes his eyes as if to focus and tells me about a digestive problem I’ve had since I was a child.

“To prove his point he stops talking, closes his eyes as if to focus and tells me about a digestive problem I’ve had since I was a child. I’m blown away.”

I’m so blown away by his accuracy and his casual, knowing tone that it takes me a few minutes to react. He’s moved on and is talking about something else when I interrupt him slightly in a state of disbelief. He brushes it off as if it is obvious he would know and continues what he was saying.

Klein first knew he was an intuitive when he was about six years old. It freaked his parents out and by the time he was ten he had suppressed it to stay out of trouble because his father was convinced he was a junkie, getting stoned and seeing things.

He reconnected with his intuition much later in life and through his practice, for the nearly the last 50 years, has been using it to teach people how to access their own intuition by connecting more deeply with themselves and each other. “My life is made up of service. I’m fortunate I do very well but really I believe a life without service isn’t a life at all.”

Klein claims he first knew he was an intuitive when he was about six years old, but hid it so his parents wouldn’t accuse him of taking drugs. Photo: Courtesy of Bobby Klein

Later I read an interview Klein has given talking about his younger ‘happy hippie days’ as the official photographer for The Doors, living in Laurel Canyon next to Jim Morrison. They were around the same age, they hung out, smoked loads of hash and listened to records – in his own words they clicked intellectually.

It is well known that when it came to naming the band, Morrison was inspired by the poet William Blake via Aldous Huxley’s book on mescaline, The Doors of Perception. I re-read Blake’s poem and it strikes me that Klein went from photographing The Doors to helping people open their own doors of perception.

“If the doors of perception were cleansed everything would appear to man as it is, infinite,” wrote Blake in The Marriage of Heaven and Hell. “For man has closed himself up, till he sees all things through narrow chinks of cavern.”

Perhaps it’s a mere coincidence. But it strikes me that this is what Klein means by “finding your authenticity”. Either way, I’m sure the irony isn’t lost on him.