Last time I discussed my westward trip, and how I arrived under strangely synchronous circumstances at a “metaphysical B&B” located on a beautiful horse farm in Sedona, AZ. My westward wandering had led me to a peaceful place, where I would stay for three nights in a beautiful trailer. The proprietors, Rick and Meaghan, owned the property – formerly a Buddhist retreat center – and Meaghan conducted healing ceremonies there. Sacred Rocks is a popular destination, as Rick had explained to me standing in the trailer’s kitchen. It was not the type of place one could just show up at, yet, that is exactly what I had done.
The road had been difficult in the previous couple of years, as I had largely separated myself from community to engage in an inner journey. Ironically, this process worked to underscore the value of community in my life, causing me to reconsider my conduct in the world (a work in progress). This was not my conscious plan, but I doubt such things ever are. Perhaps it is something we all do at a certain time in our lives, yet, how many of us would sign up willingly, knowing the weight of such a passage. As Bob Dylan penned, “Sometimes you just find yourself over the line.“
Standing in that trailer, I knew at some level that I was not done with the inner work I had been doing, but I sensed this was a reward of sorts: a time of respite and renewal. As the trailer door closed behind Rick, my mind struggled to take everything in: it all seemed so perfectly arranged. Glancing at the dinette table, I noticed something: there was a menu of healing ceremonies sitting on the table. Interesting.
Because I had not sought this place out, I felt no obligation to participate in the services they offered – after all, I had simply been looking for a place to sleep - I planned to spend my days exploring the area. Yet, as I considered my situation, it seemed only right to take advantage of the opportunity. After all, I had come on this trip seeking answers regarding the pain in my shoulder, as well as a deeper understanding of what exactly I had gotten myself into on the yoga mat. What were the odds that I would end up at a place that specializes in energy healing? OK, OK, they are certainly higher in Sedona than most other spots, but still. My heart told me it would only be right to take part while there, so I decided I would do one session, if for no other reason than to practice openness.
Picking up the laminated sheet, I scanned from top to bottom. Halfway down the list was a service called “pranic healing session”. This peaked my curiosity. During my long hours on the yoga mat, I would regularly reach a place where I had so tuned out the external, that all I felt was internal sensations. After practicing with this state, I found that subtle feelings amplified, eventually coming to feel like energy itself, moving in and through my body. I had come to suspect this may be prana or chi I was feeling, but what did I know? Still, those suspicions caused a curiosity in me regarding that item on the list. Putting no more thought into it than that, I decided to go with my gut: I filled out a short form requesting a treatment in two days, then inserted it into an envelope with some cash and walked to the main house, sliding the envelope under Meaghan’s closed office door.
That night, as I relaxed on a hammock outside the main house, a dark-haired woman approached me. She introduced herself as a “medical intuitive.” She had come from Australia with a fellow intuitive, and both were staying at the B&B. The logical part of me did not know what to make of the concept of a medical intuitive, but by that point, I was learning to let go of judgments and accept that which life presented to me.
This is a point worth investigating as - given the relative blindness of this reality - I have come to view life as a series of stories and not much more. Hence, as I watch life pass by, I am engaged in a dance with these stories: observing how they make me feel; choosing how I will relate to each one as it settles on me. In the modern world, we place a great deal of value on stories. We go so far as to make them a part of us: identifying with them to such a degree that, should they be questioned, we find ourselves threatened, often willing to fight and kill to defend them. Yet, they are only stories.
Stories plague us at both personal and organizational levels. Science looks to banish religion for its baseless stories, just as religion ignores science when its stories invalidate its traditions. A sad state of affairs really. Together, they might tell a more compelling story, but for now, they remain relegated to their respective corners.
In their own ways, both science and religion provide us an understanding of the world and our place in it, and they do so by telling us stories. Science may not seem to be a story at first blush, but consider that the hard and inflexible laws of Newtonian physics melt away at the quantum level, just as the fast and loose activity of the quantum realm fails to hold at the level of reality we perceive in day-to-day life. This being the case, both theories - although appearing “solid” from a relative perspective - are by definition interpretations of a greater truth. Yet, they serve a purpose in their limited interpretation: pointing the way to a larger story that is searching for us, one that will obsolete the stories that now serve us.
Science fascinates me, and I am thankful for much of what it has given us – but I have never viewed it as a method capable of revealing ultimate truth. After all, the universe we live in is a whole, not a collection of parts. Therefore, while science may provide comfort and convenience as it continually dissects the universe into smaller bits, it will never explain wholeness; to believe it can is irrational.
In the end, science is simply an updated way of explaining the (physical) world to ourselves, one that bears similarities to its religious predecessors, despite its protestations to the contrary. Priests once sacrificed animals on alters, a practice largely abandoned. Scientists sacrifice animals on lab tables, a practice alive and well. The priest sought spiritual knowledge; the scientist seeks physical knowledge. Yet, what is more important, that which one seeks, or the manner in which one seeks it?
Because I believe myself to live in a word of stories, none more true than the next – relatively speaking - I have come to practice suspension of disbelief, viewing everything as data arriving. Yes, I could view some stories as unworthy and send them on their way, but there is far too much beyond my understanding to engage in that kind of judgement. I suspect most will live and die having never understood the true purpose their life, yet, I feel there is purpose. Hence, I do my best to smile and see what life has to offer me when things come my way. Life proceeds in the blink of an eye and, for my part, I do not have the time for either religious or scientific dogmas, and there are many on both sides.
As I lay in my hammock, the dark-haired woman continued talking with me. She began to tell me things about myself, speaking of energies that locate themselves around me and the purposes they serve, as well as pointing out issues with my hips, knees, and shoulder rotation, recommending ways of healing them. Before too long, she was on her way. But before she went, she mentioned that there would be a crystal-bowl healing ceremony in the main house that night, adding that Meaghan - whom I had still not met - had wondered if I would attend. What could I say?
Later that night, I entered the main house for the ceremony and finally met Meaghan, a fair haired, attractive woman, close my own age. She instructed us to gather cushions and lay in a circle around seven large crystal bowls in the center of the room. I was now in the heart of it: the much maligned new age culture so intimately associated with Sedona. For my part, I have chosen to forsake passing judgement on such things, yet, as one who considers himself “rational”, I could feel judgments circling around me in that moment. I let them circle.
Making matters more interesting, Meaghan’s babysitter had failed to show, meaning three young boys would be joining the ceremony. As the boys laughed, running from here to there, I wondered how this was ever going to get off the ground. I began to guard against the frustration I felt growing inside me, given the situation, and looking at the two Australian women sitting on their cushions, I could see that they were visibly agitated at the state of affairs.
Once coaxed onto their cushions, the boys settled a bit, and Meaghan began the ceremony. It took a while, but eventually the group found relative silence as Meaghan sat in the midst of the crystal bowls, moving her hand around in circles on one bowl for a long while before switching to the next. As her hand circled around each bowl, out sprang a beautiful stream of frequency that seemed to vibrate into and through every fiber of my being. I lay quietly, breathing deeply, still in disbelief that I had started the day not knowing where I would be sleeping, and yet, here I was.
Nothing magical happened at that ceremony: no fireworks in my head, no revelatory visions dancing in my mind; yet, as the stream of vibration continued, I felt myself sinking deeper and deeper into the present moment. There was something true about that evening, a sense of being deeply grounded. I felt that at some level - although I may never know why - it was important for me to be there.
Once Meaghan had concluded the ceremony, I found that I was tired, so I headed back to my trailer. Although I had thought to hike to each of the four “vortexes” while in Sedona, it would not turn out that way. A deep weakness would come to take hold of me throughout my time there; as if I was meant to stay on Meaghan and Rick’s property rather than exploring the area, which is largely how things went.
In writing this blog, one of the things I have struggled with is deciding what to leave in and what to leave out. For all I will share of my journey west, it will be but a part of the full story. In taking the trip, I was actively searching for answers regarding my shoulder, yes, but so too were there other, deeper narratives unfolding. In watching the last few years of my life, I have been helpless but to observe their conformance to the archetypal pattern of Joseph Campbell's Monomyth, or “the hero’s journey.” This is not as out there as it sounds, as psychologists are now beginning to draw parallels between Campbell’s monomyth and a person’s inner journey to healing.
For me, arriving at that trailer in Sedona felt like finding a desert oasis. Some part of me knew that, although there were miles left to travel, this was a time for rest.
I have typically suffered “fools” gladly where many others would not, just as I have counted on the charity of others in suffering me. In doing so, I have repeatedly discovered treasures where one would least expect to find them – the possible benefit of keeping an unusually open mind I suppose. Prior to my arrival in Sedona, I was told some things by a person whom many would consider to be an irrational or otherwise unreliable source of information. I listened, however, taking it all in. Among other things, this person told me there was something in the night sky I needed to see on my trip. With this in the back of my mind, I returned to my trailer following the ceremony and took a seat in one of the chairs beneath the trailer's retractable awning, facing the sunset. The night was perfect beyond imagining, just as the day preceding it had been.
As the sky dimmed, two stars emerged in perfect balance before me. I could not help but notice that I was centered between them, as they sat alongside each other, separated, but dead even on the sunburst horizon. As I sat and watched them, I found that they called to me for some reason – comforted me. After some time had passed, I remembered an application called SkyView that I had installed on my phone some years earlier. The app used the phone’s camera to identify stars, planets, constellations … even the international space station. Having remembered the app, I pulled the phone from my pocket, curious to know what these stars were.
As I pointed the phone’s camera towards the night sky, the application superimposed a mythological image over the stars, identifying the constellation at which I had unknowingly been staring. There is no way I could explain the personal significance of that moment. No matter what I said, it would be lost on another, you would have to be me; to have followed my path. Yet, it is enough to say that in that moment, I knew I was right where I needed to be, and that I had received the most meaningful gift imaginable. What’s more, I had indeed found the renewal of faith I needed to continue my journey.
Americana Singer Songwriter Ed Dupas’ lived-in melodies unwind with reflective lyrics that speak to the current state of the human condition. Soothing where possible, agitating where necessary, and calling for change where appropriate. Ed Dupas creates and shares well worn wide awake music.
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