Last November, Wuggs and I treated ourselves to a short vacation to Sedona after we successfully completed El Tour de Tucson. I was quite moved by the awesome imagery of this red rock region–so moved, in fact, that I wrote an epic email to some of my close friends and family. I was recently reminded of my “lessons learned from Sedona” as I have been reflecting on my bucket list and my hopes and dreams for the future. If I had composed my bucket list last year, it certainly would have included both Sedona and the Grand Canyon…
I chose not to publish this essay in November because its personal nature. I really wrote it for myself. I was processing so much after our hikes and meditation that I had to put it down on paper so to speak. But Sedona was SUCH a magical and cathartic journey I’ve decided to share the experience in this blog…
As I mentioned, we spent two days hiking in Sedona. In between breathtaking views of giant red rock, we managed to squeeze in several hikes. It was an active vacation–active for my body that so craved the arduous climbs and descents, and active for my mind that craved a similar workout.
On the first day we hiked:
- Bell Rock
- Chapel of the Holy Cross
- Oak Creek at the base of Cathedral Rock, and
- Aviation Mesa
On the second day we took a break from Sedona to drive North through Flagstaff and the Grand Canyon. Then we picked it back up on the third afternoon with one last hike through Boynton Canyon.
All of these locations have one thing in common: they are among Sedona’s many hot spots that have become wildly popular in the New Age movement. They are called “vortexes.” I know…that looks like I misspelled vortices. But, instead of a turbulent flow of water or dust and air, a vortex in Sedona is believed to be a spiritual center wherein there is a spiraling flow of energy. Wuggs was inspired to check these out as she had poured through the various brochures and pamphlets for Sedona.
I am comfortably agnostic about the theories around these spiritual meccas. That said, there is something so rarefied in the environment and imagery of Sedona. It is near impossible not to feel enraptured. I will share with you my lessons gained on my own—and then I will share with you what I learned from my reading following these hikes. It is interesting to me how connected my insights are to what the practitioners says about the locations… That said, like all theological studies—I think a person can gather insight from the teachings without embracing the entire philosophy. And that is how I’m proceeding.
As I hiked and soaked in the artistry of this Red Rock region, I did meditate and this is what I learned:
In Bell Rock, I learned the importance of releasing toxic emotions. This is one of the canyons that is said to “strengthen” three parts: the masculine side, the feminine side, and the balance. Balance is anything BUT what I felt before we began our hike. I was an emotional mess that morning and had just thrown a pity party over the slightest of an eye-roll that Wuggs had given me (poor thing didn’t know WHAT to make of my blubbering mess). However, when we reached this canyon, I resolved to dry my eyes and move forward with the hike in an introspective manner. With the sun beating down on us (how LOVELY that was for this New England girl!), we slowly ascended the red bell-shaped rock. When we were close to the top, we walked a bit off trail until we found an overlook of the canyons and roads below.
Back to back, Wuggs and I sat in quiet meditation for about 10 minutes. I’m very accustomed to my mind racing and taking the extra time necessary to calm my thoughts. But this time was different. I began my meditation just focusing on sensory points—breathing in and out steadily, I observed how my eyelids felt against my eyes. I breathed deeply into my stomach and imagined the rich oxygen relaxing tight muscles in my lumbar. I observed the breeze and sun on the tops of my hands and feet. I went through this routine again and again: eyes, back, hands, feet…and on and on until I found the stillness I sought. But it was the imagery behind my lids that was just going berserk! It was like a light show going off behind my eyes…a light show of climbing rocks. I tried to push it to the side at first and it was too much…so I just went with it. And that is how I finally came to my quietness. From this quiet state, I could observe the tug I feel between my mind and body when I wrestle with my emotions. And so—therefore—it is good for me to keep these emotional pathways clear.
At the base of Cathedral Rock, I understood the power of collecting and restoring my energy and to “go with the flow” so that I might harness its power in future moments. Interestingly enough–according to the literature that I read after this visit–this place is known for strengthening things one normally thinks of as feminine: kindness, compassion, patience, and the ability to let others need you and depend on you. I think that if I can collect my energy and “go with the flow” it will make it easier, also, to anticipate the impact of actions before I make my move—and allow me to harness the energy instead of allowing it to dissipate in unfocused spray of energy.
As I hiked Aviation Mesa, I had a remarkable epiphany that I know best what I need. If I’m quiet, the answer will come and I must trust my intuition and resolve. This “vortex” is supposed to strengthen the masculine side. According to my reading, people who have strong masculine side are self-confident, they have the internal strength to take charge of their own lives and claim their rights and they are good at standing up to people who try to take their rights by force, intimidation, or manipulation.
I felt so strong and empowered on this hike. An exchange that would have made me feel sad and weak earlier in the day, had the opposite affect here. I found myself pushing forward, leading the way, and trusting my gut. I loved how this felt and I saved a rock from the hike to remind me to trust myself and take more calculated risks and make my own decisions more. I really do let others’ feelings and emotions rule me and—while it is necessary to be sensitive and empathetic with communication–I can’t continue to run around trying to tend to everyone’s feelings.
Finally, in Boynton Canyon, I realized that I must be kind and gentle to myself and others. This was probably the most powerful hike for me—both in physical exertion and mental processing. It is also spiritual ground for the Apache Indians and there is a huge sign at the beginning asking all who enter this space to be respectful and mindful. The trail circles around majestic red rock that is shaped so that it appears that gods or ancestors are watching over you as you hike. After about a mile of hiking up and around the red rock, the trail moves into a forest and the temperature drops a good 10-15 degrees. We hiked over washes and giant boulders and looked up at giant sequoia-like pine trees mingled with twisted juniper trees all around the trail.
I learned later that the energy at this “vortex” is supposed to strengthen the yin/yang balance (masculine/feminine). From what I gather in my readings on this, a good balance of yin and yang help strengthen things that make relationships work well—such as intimacy, commitment, honesty and openness. Too much masculine energy and we run the risk of being pushy and taking unfair advantage of others. Those with whom the feminine side outweighs the masculine have more goodness than strength and are susceptible to being pushed around and taken advantage of.
What does this all mean?
I’m still processing it all, but I made a few promises to myself to:
- Continue to be aligned with my emotions and do my best to understand the smallest steps between each emotion I am experiencing within the wide range of experiences.
- Be more protective of my energy and to contain it where I can.
- Trust my instinct and take time to know where I stand with personal decisions rather than seeking permission and walking on eggshells.
- Be gentle with myself and others. First, I will go easy on myself. No more personal flagellation. As long as I can feel good about my personal intentions I can love and forgive myself of just about anything. Similarly, I believe that we are all truly connected and I will do my best to be gentle with others. I will “seek first to understand than be understood.” And give the benefit of the doubt.