An enchanting soul retreat in Sedona Arizona: Journey Into Self

At least once in your life, take a vacation to nourish and soothe your soul! That’s what I did, and what this blog post is about… that which I will forever call my “soul retreat.”

When I first got the email from Alania Starhawk that she and Patricia McGivern were planning a “Journey Into Self” retreat in Sedona Arizona, I didn’t know if I could get the time off work, find the extra money to pay for it, or even, what my husband would say (as I’ve never taken a vacation “just for me” before)… But above all else, I KNEW that my SOUL wanted to go!!!

How did I know?

You see, I had been to Sedona only for a few hours, 26 years ago with a few girls from my Speech class in college. We had been in Prescott Arizona, not far from Sedona, to put on a play at another campus of my university.

sheila preparing for ERAU play 1990.jpgsheila and girls day out driving during 1990 AZ trip.jpg

Having had some free time one day all those years ago, a couple of us girls decided to drive our rental car from Prescott to Jerome and Sedona.

On that drive, we had stopped at a little old roadside bookstore where I met an precious elder Native American Indian man. I fell in love with the Indian history he began telling me about, and all the books in that store. But because I was with other girls, and we were short on time, I politely told him I’d have to go. However, then I said three little words that have haunted me for years. I told him, “I’ll be back.”

While I never forgot those words, considering them as important as a promise, life got in the way, family vacations, reunions, and work trips, so for many years Sedona had to stay on the back burner. Although, Sedona was always calling me.

So, the particular morning I received Alania’s email invitation, I wanted to leap to my feet! My soul resonated with such vibrancy at the very thought that I could travel back to the enchanting land of Sedona… my intentions roared and I knew I had to go–no matter what!

Logistically, it would mean that I would have to get on a plane, perhaps two, because it’s quite a distance from where I live to get to Sedona and the airfare was not included in the retreat fee. And then, there would be all the explaining I would need to do, as no one in my family had ever even heard me talk about taking a vacation on my own. Plus, I’d have to take time off from work, and the date the trip began on was an important calendar date for my family also!

Normally on this particular date, I’d be in New Hampshire visiting my beautiful daughter and wonderful granddaughter for my granddaughter’s birthday. But in a flash I realized that blessedly this year my daughter’s father and his wife were going to visit our girls in New Hampshire. So, MY schedule was FREE! Wow!!! What perfect alignment! I began to become aware that destiny was calling…

And so it was. I kept my promise. I went back to Sedona. Boy, did I go back!!

miles-of-cactus

Even the drive from Phoenix to Sedona had it share of sights! I was curious about the cacti (plural for cactus) that we were seeing along the highway. I was told that many of these cacti were over one hundred years of age! Because it takes at least one hundred years for one to produce an “arm.” Though I was riding in a car with several other ladies, I managed to grab a few pictures of these intriguing plants.

I must say that I had the opportunity to buy a new camera before going on this trip, but I chose not to because I didn’t want “taking photos” to get in the way of my experiences in Sedona. Lesson learned! I took pictures anyway and they would have been so much better had I bought the iPhone 7 Plus that I’d wanted. Oh well! At least I wasn’t worried at all about dropping my old iPhone down a crevasse!

For five days, I hiked, breathed in the amazing cool dry air of Sedona, touched many rocks along a variety of hiking paths, hung out with like-minded ladies for spectacular sunsets, dined in exceptional restaurants, and immersed my soul in a deep and expansive process! My heart seemed to grow larger and open more to the world with each passing day! My “sisters” for the retreat seemed to teach me something every day! While my feet were totally grounded, my head and heart would fly along with the puffiest of clouds in the sky… dancing in the heightened energies I was feeling and “knowing.”

Our journey took us to many of the major energy vortices ~ including Airport Mesa, Boynton Canyon, Buddha Beach, Cathedral Rock, and Dry Creek Canyon. Sedona impressed us all! I hiked up five mountains in five days and the energy was running high to be sure! I only left thinking of perhaps two things I had not done while in Sedona, but I had been part of so much, and had written much more in my journal, and talked with so many of the gals in our group–yes, even on deep subjects–that in no way was I feeling disappointed.

Airport Mesalook-at-the-red-dirt

The dirt was so red here at Airport Mesa–it took my breath away! I couldn’t quit looking at it, even as I climbed. And this was my first climb, just hours after getting off the plane in Phoenix Arizona!

Our group spread out and some of us sang, played shakers, rattles, and drums. Many of us went our own way for awhile, then regathered up the mountain a little way, for Divine Blessing, and more singing, etc.

The view with the rain in the distance was exhilarating! Sedona even gifted us with our own Sacred Sedona Sisters rainbow!

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Sunset seemed to be the very best time that we could have climbed and sat in the glory of Airport Mesa! I would come to learn that every time I took my eyes of the red rocks even for a moment, as the sun would deepen in the sky, the colors of the rocks would mystically change, blazing ever so many new hues and shades!

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Note the red orbs in the picture of the sunset that I happened to grab. Ancestors, ancestors, we are calling! Come, come, come.

The artist in me was perplexed in trying to capture just a small portion of this bewitching magnificence with my mere old silly iPhone! Haha!

As is usual for me, my thoughts turn to our Divine Source… and I thought, this must be akin to what God thinks of us… we’re each so immense and powerful, yet we can only see such a fraction of our extraordinary essence! Ohh, we are but fractals of the light of the Divine–yes?

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During one of my moments of just “be-ing” I looked down and noticed this small plant growing inexplicably, on its own, in between rocks! I thought, “life always finds a way” and truly, life does! When at times we wonder where a plant like this little guy would get its nourishment from, ah, there it is anyway, just being it, doing it, amazing us. Isn’t it fascinating? How that happens I mean?

This little plant has no seemingly apparent means of life support, yet, here it is anyway! Brilliant! And we get to live on a planet like this! So nurturing, even in the subtle ways when we cannot or choose not to see all the invisible means of support that it gives to us all! Ahh!

Also, as a writer, I see that the word “plant” is contained within the word “planet”… hehe, my mind is dazzled by the way our English words are put together!

Boynton Canyon

climbing-boynton-bThis was the site where I climbed the highest. However, once I got almost to the top, I suddenly realized, whoa there Betsy! What the heck did I think I was doing?!? Uncannily (and Blessed Be) I made it to the top and was totally energized!!

I met several people on my hike also. One man in particular told me to repeat the words to myself, “feet like glue” and that actually did help me, especially on my way back down!

Another gentlemen told me exactly where to walk near the twisted Energy tree, and point my dowsing rods near it for a fascinating experience.

sheila-dowsing-by-energy-tree

I could see the energy whirl one of my dowsing rods a full 360 degrees spin! Over and over again! It was mesmerizing!!

The tree is turned and twisted, supposedly, due to the amount of energy it receives.

I was having so much fun up here! I was certainly “in the moment” experiencing Energy as never before! At one point I remember noticing that I hadn’t had any vertigo during this climb, and I must say that I was shocked to realize that! As I had climbed Airport Mesa the day before, I had gotten near the top and suddenly realized there would be nothing stopping me if I fell, so I sat down and just “enjoyed”–and that’s when I had taken a lot of pictures, sang, and shook the rattle.

It seems to me that when I am caught up in a moment of JOY that I do not even consider any of my so-called “limitations.” Is that true for everyone? If so, then, I say, let’s stay caught up in our joyful moments, yes?

Know this: Joy is our natural state of be-ing.

We’re so drawn to be in JOY!

Joy is why we love hanging out with our children! They show us that in nearly every moment–well, after their immediate needs are taken care of, like food, liquid, warmth, and so on.

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Here’s another picture (from my friend Carolyn) of what I guess is the “secret” rock atop Boynton Canyon. It so mesmerized me because of the way it just sort of hung there!

Speaking of being mesmerized, every where you look while hiking the Sedona red rock trails, you can find a way to be in awe of nature! From the way the light dances on the rocks, to where and how the plants grow, to the variety of foliage, and how the air is just filled with a certain sense of peace!

Even when it drizzled the rain there, I noticed the air still felt dry. An odd dichotomy!

Zen Den space

Our little group of fifteen soul sisters went to this place, sort of a little community meeting space primarily made up of one large room, where groups could rent it and meet for yoga, meditation, or the like. We had two sessions here during our five day retreat. Here is a link to Zen Den.

Here, we had time for meditation, conversation, and a guided regression session. While technically speaking, our guided “regression” session is called a past life regression, some may choose to see it as exactly that (if they believe in reincarnation), while others may choose to see it as a reconnection with one’s soul, DNA, ancestral visitation, or in many other ways.

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Since, as you know by now about me, if you’ve been reading my posts, I do not limit the Divine (God, Universal intelligence, life force, Energy, All that Is) at all, so I get into, or love to play with and in, anything that brings me into conscious unity with God. We are to live life fully and abundantly and this is just one of the myriad of ways of living that I find appealing and resonating with my spirit and soul.

We had two regressions with Patricia here, inside, and though I will write in another post about my experiences during the sessions, I will tell you, and show you, what I saw when I stepped outside of the Zen house… it knocked my socks off! Hello wizard Merlin!

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Just in case you couldn’t see him, here’s a zoom of a close-up!

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This was the tranquil Zen garden labyrinth (I am in the middle) where some of us chose to get our walking meditation in… ahhh!

Amitabha Stupa and Peace Park

Look at the  top of the smaller of the two Stupas. Oh, it looked just like an angel on top of a Christmas tree!

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It was certainly true for me that once I stepped foot on the land at Amitabha Stupa and Peace Park, my mind quieted down quickly, and a holy reverence lit upon me, much as it had years ago when I would enter a church building. But out in nature, this was the very essence of “church” that I have always known exists, and I’ve hinted about in previous posts (that we do not need buildings in which to “hold church”, but that we have our own body temple for this purpose–no other “things” are required in order to pray, meditate, worship, etc.) and I had quite a knowing of this truth, being in this park.

my-deep-abiding-love-and-sadness-for-all-the-worlds-religionsThe deeply moving “religious” zone I was in, fell on me quite profoundly as I walked three times around each of the Stupas (as it is suggested you do when you visit–there are informative kiosks that explain it). I am also sure that I will continue to write about my thoughts on this in future blog articles. I was very, very moved–and quite unexpectedly too!

To put my experience at the Stupa in the deepest yet most brief way, I was saddened to my soul for anyone who could not find beauty here, could not find the sacred reverence, the divine knowing of this place and what it means to have it here, in America.

stupa-sizeI watched people of many different colors and nationalities come and walk around the Stupa in silent reverence, and I was oh so moved! You can see how large the main Stupa is in comparison to this gentlemen as he reverently walks around it.

One of my new sisters on the trip prostrated herself before the Buddha and I could feel the tears well up in my eyes and I witnessed her devotion. And though this is not my religious practice, I was moved to tears!

It seemed as though I was feeling the tears of many saints and guardians who yearn for us all to understand the transcendent importance of such a place as this!

I felt God’s Spirit move through my body! I felt an immense and abiding sense of wanting to protect this place… so much so that it startled me! I resonated with the reason all military have fought to defend our nation for–the right for our freedoms, especially for our freedom to practice different religions. (It’s probably also why free speech is so important to me too!) We just cannot take any of our freedoms for granted!

Amen. Namaste. OM

Buddha Beach

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Between seeing a lady do Tai Chi upon our arrival here, being blessed and attuned in the water, as well as all wandering around all of the magical cairns people had placed here, Buddha Beach was quite the treasure!

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I wrote a bit in my journal here, sang to the trees, and shook a rattle.

We met a lot of people on our walk here… some of us even got out picture taken with a couple who were traveling the world carrying a penguin statue! (I’m not kidding!)

Dry Canyon

We had our last regression session in the middle of a mandala that we all built, which included our own artwork and words for peace, love, joy, bliss, etc. that we left here:

sheila-in-middle-at-mandala

sheila-with-scarf-and-bindi

And I was gifted a bindi for my third eye, which I embraced wearing. When the sun was overhead, I pulled my scarf over my head as a wrap, not even thinking about “why”– but oh, I was stunned when I saw the photos later! I love Indian food, music, and dance, and now I think  I know why!

Also, going back to my childhood for a moment, my mom would always take a picture of me standing on a big rock at Blackwater Falls WV, so I had to jump up for this fun tribute to her!

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Sunset on the Cathedral Rock trail

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You can get a little idea of how rocky of a path we had to climb on the Cathedral Rock trail.

Our group of Sacred Sedona Sisters had a time of song and blessing on this flat area of the trail. I still hear our voices singing the enchanting songs! It was one of the most special times of our journey for me.

my-view-now-feet-over-edgeAs I sat,  probably mid way up the Cathedral Rock trail, I hung my feet over, appreciating the hiking shoes my dad had given me (they still had a bit of West Virginia dirt on the soles too) but now, they had this noble red dirt embedded in them as well. Ohh!! I love these red rocks! If I could live the rest of my life here, I cannot imagine getting tired of this dirt, these rocks, and the majestic glorious vistas!

I am dreaming of a day when I can bring our whole family here, especially my amazing granddaughter, Jennifer. Oh, what bliss that would be!

But, I can hold them dear in my heart as I sit here and look at the world. Because it sure feels as though I am on top of the world!

Saying so long…

Not long after I woke up on the last day in Sedona, I put my moccasin booties and went for a hike up the mountain behind the resort one last time. I wanted to feel the rocks under my feet, pebbles and all, similar to how my grandparents, great grandparents, and other ancestors from my Native American Indian lineage would have walked. Living my grandmother’s quote, “before judging others, walk a mile in the other person’s moccasins.”

Even the view from our resort was breathtaking, all the way around! Had we done nothing else but stay at the resort, I would have had a magnetic time!

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I learned several new natural healing modalities that I continue to practice daily. Plus I met my protector guide, Screamin’ Eagle (thanks to my wonderful roommate, Kim — who I will introduce you to in my next blog post).

Each of the attendees, or rather “Sacred Sedona Sisters”, received an “Attunement to Divine Frequency”, sacred blessings, and regression sessions (read more about that here: Releasing “past” hurts or traumas to heal current ills in the body). We enjoyed, relaxed, and had fun, but oh YES, we can allow our body to heal NOW by releasing stored cellular memories from the past!

I want to soulfully thank Alania Starhawk and Patricia McGivern for brainstorming, planning, and facilitating this aWEsOMe and transformative, yes, life-giving retreat!

We absolutely packed a lot into 5 days!

For me, I loved every moment, every trail, mountain, and vista! We hiked, climbed, shopped, ate, sang, took photos, had deep conversations, sat in a hot tub, and around a fire pit. I’ve never done so much on a vacation before!

Stay tuned. I am sure to be updating this page (especially with the other blog links when I get those written)!

Thank you Sedona!

OM Shanti OM – May the peace that passes all human understanding be yours.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Be Open To Receive – a follow up

This blog post is going to attempt to catch the many times that I myself need to “be open to receive”.

I believe teachers, okay, everyone really, should practice what they preach. So here I am, practicing what I preach (read my book chapter, Be Open to Receive for context).

Talking with someone near and dear, he mentions a certain “theory” that has recently been trending on Google. I poo-poo it. Ta-da! What happens? I am doing research on a seemingly unrelated topic for an Examiner article that I’m writing and POOF! The same theory shows up! I begin to feel perplexed. I take a shower and I realize that I must “be open to receive” and at least, research it.

Another day, one of the subjects of my book chapter and I go to lunch. For me, just the very act of going to lunch was “being open”. In fact, due to both of our schedules, the lunch was rescheduled many times!

So, of course, as I imagined would be the case, this person presented me with new insights on several topics. I made notes on my iPhone for further investigation. Later, she presented me with some additional information though, and my first response? I asked, “Did I ask for this”? But just as quick, I realized what I was doing, so I followed with, “thank you, at some point in the future this might be some information I will need, though right now, it is not what I had in mind”.

I have been presented with a challenging opportunity. Okay, it did not present itself quite so elegantly packaged exactly. It came by way of a bit of struggle. Little bit of ranting and complaining occurred here at the old iMac.

In the struggle of attempting to meet the “rules” of a big blog site, I realized I could update this site (or at least open to the idea and explore this as a solution), hence, Take It Upon Yourself gets a shift. Oh JOY! Now, We Are All Connected is born. The page that all of my posts about Limitless Creator, God, Spirit, Energy, and so forth, will be linked. Let’s see if we can have some fun with this!

Isn’t life fascinating? Brilliant? Heart-opening?

I am finding it challenging at times to “be open to receive”. The Universe is showing me that I still say no often, judge, and close doors that I don’t think I need to walk through.

When you let your ego take a back seat to what’s out THERE, all around you, YOU will be amazed how God, Creator, Universe will speak to you.

I nearly feel that every time I open my mouth to judge something, a moment later I might have to eat my words! I write quite a bit about self help issues, no doubt because I need to help myself! So, it should come as no surprise that I’m always in analytical mode. Constantly weighing pros and cons, always finding that change is the only constant in life.

I hope my sharing these struggles and triumphs might help you too.

I over-think, I contemplate, then I allow the Universe to show me.   When I’m wrong, I admit it. I am humble. I am living in my head a lot. But I write. Writing is my voice. I am transparent. When you read my words, you see my soul. I hope it helps you. I always want you to Take It Upon Yourself though. Strengthen the fabric that connects us all. Challenge me. Improve us all.

To be continued…