Sedona, Arizona. A sweet little 7 hour drive from Los Angeles, or a quick flight from LAX and puddle jumper from Phoenix. I’d heard about the healing powers of this magical destination but I didn’t know much beyond a Google search.
To celebrate my birthday and commemorate the end of my cancer journey, I booked a trip to Sedona for 3 nights and started researching different vortex excursions. What’s a vortex? Glad you asked. According to VisitSedona.com, it’s “Believed to be a special spot on the earth where energy is either entering into the earth or projecting out of the earth’s plane. Vortexes (or vortices) are found at sacred sites throughout the world – the Great Pyramid in Egypt, Machu Picchu in Peru, Bali, Stonehenge, etc. It is believed that the vortex energy moves in a spiral, moving up or down.”
There are several types of excursions you can check out – jeep tours, yoga sessions, guided mediations, balloon rides, ATV rentals, and much more. I sank into a digital wormhole of reviews, photos, and explanations about the endless options, and found a company called Sedona Red Rock Tours. Their Reiki On The Rocks and Chakra Tour hikes sounded enticing so I reserved a couple spots and bought some cute yoga pants because I wanted to look cute for my 12 Instagram followers.
The drive from L.A. was tolerable, especially with ample snacks and Starbucks pit stops. As you approach Sedona, the scenery morphs from boring freeway stretches into shapely cacti and stunning rock formations. You can practically feel the energy shift and the monotony from your car ride transforms into giddiness.
The Enchantment Resort was true to its name. The winding driveway gave me a sense of seclusion, but an adorable group of deer by the check-in area reminded me that you’re never truly alone in nature. A strapping young Enchantment employee escorted me to my “casita” in a golf cart and my shrieks of excitement startled a few of the resident fawns.
My casita came fully furnished with fabulousness. The kitchen had a fridge, microwave, and stove. The cabinets were stocked with plates, silverware, and glassware. I’d love to host a dinner party here, but I doubt my friends would drive 7 hours to watch me burn our dinner and accidentally set the place on fire.
The table and chairs stood under a chandelier with crystals hanging from each arm. The kitchen opened up to a huge living room with a fireplace, couch, queen-sized bed, and balcony that boasted the most picturesque view I’ve ever seen.
I could’ve easily taken 1,000 photos and Instagrammed the night away, but I needed some nosh. I bellied up to the bar at Tii Gavo, Enchantment’s resident “gathering place.” The Prickly Pear Margarita was so tasty and tart, I had to restrain myself from immediately ordering 6 more. Their Yavapai Salad (avocado, piquillo peppers, corn queso panella, and green chile ranch dressing) delighted my taste buds and gave a new definition to the word “yum.”
With a full belly and glass of wine, I tucked into bed with Netflix. I soon nodded off, comfy and content in my casita. A few hours later, I woke up to a weird sound. Um, was that a ghost? An animal on the roof? I was too scared to get out of bed so I stared at the ceiling for awhile and tried not to freak out. Once the sun came up, I walked over to Mii Amo (sister property to Enchantment) and scarfed down the best egg white omelette of my life. I washed it down with the best almond milk latte of my life, and 2 funky ginger turmeric shots.
After breakfast, I discovered a rad little room off the Mii Amo lobby. A crystal grotto. A small, quiet space to set your intentions for the day and release any tensions or anxieties. Perfect! I sat in there for awhile and I noticed an interesting tingle in my feet. Too much caffeine? Or maybe the positive energy coursing through my body? I’d like to think it was the vortex, working its magic.
My first excursion was Reiki On The Rocks. Chris from Red Rock Tours picked me up and we chatted about why I was in Sedona, and what I hoped to get out of today’s adventure. He brought me to a nearby vortex, Airport Mesa, and we hiked uphill for about 10 minutes. I kept stopping to take in the beauty surrounding us and I felt a child-like sense of awe. We sat down toward the edge and did some breathing exercises. He started spritzing me with homemade smudge spray, a blend of essential oils like eucalyptus, cedar leaf and juniper berry (which smelled so good that I later purchased a bottle). We meditated for several minutes and I tried to concentrate on the sights, sounds, and smells around us, while letting go of the noisy chatter running through my brain.
Chris then drove us to a nearby picnic area and we had our reiki session. Again I tried to be present in the moment but all I could think was, “Am I breathing too loud? Too fast? Too slow?” Eventually I relaxed and quieted my mind. Chris suggested we watch the sunset and I couldn’t recall the last time I felt this chill.
The next day, I was scheduled for the Sedona Red Rock Chakra Tour. I knocked back 2 scrumptious cups of coffee on my beautiful balcony and met Jared, my tour guide, in the lobby. I gave him the same spiel that I gave Chris yesterday (“I have anxiety and I can’t sleep and I’m worried about the state of our country and cancer was scary and I forgot to run the dishwasher before I left…”) and we drove toward the vortex, an amused look on Jared’s face.
He brought us to Bell Rock and we started with some gentle yoga. Even though the poses were super easy, I kept toppling over and my thighs shook during every stretch. Jared was polite and didn’t laugh at my lack of skill. We then proceeded with a guided meditation and this is when I experienced a very cool revelation.
Jared had me lie down and close my eyes and said to envision myself on a beach, with ocean waves softly lapping over my legs. As I listened to his voice and focused on the sounds of birds chirping, the sensation of the gentle breeze, and the warmth of the sun on my face, I suddenly realized, “OH…this is what it means to live in the moment. To be present and appreciate everything around you.” I shared this with Jared, and he said that I have the ability to feel this way all the time. Woh. I’ll have to keep this in mind next time I have Level 10 Road Rage in Los Angeles, which will probably happen during the drive back home.
After my rad epiphany, we trekked over to Rachel’s Knoll, a striking property that overlooks a golf course. Jared was an encyclopedia of knowledge, pointing out the names of every bush and tree that we passed. He gave me a nontoxic berry to eat and although it was pretty, it was very bitter (which is what people probably say about me). As we walked, we delved into the mental and emotional stresses that I’m working through, and Jared helped me understand that all my doubts, uncertainties, and insecurities have one thing in common – they’re all rooted in fear. So instead of stressing about 100 different things, I need to adjust my outlook so that I don’t live in a constant state of anxiety. Jared is smart.
I got back to my casita and wanted to revel in my newfound fulfillment. I meandered over to Tii Gavo again and scanned their selection of top-shelf whiskeys. My eyes landed on a seductive bottle, one that I’ve seldom seen in bars but has caught my attention online. Pappy Van Winkle 15 Year. 85 bucks a glass. I figured that I deserved a reward for all my spiritual growth, so I ignored a pang of guilt about spending that much on one drink and thoroughly enjoyed my overpriced elixir.
I got a solid night’s sleep, and decided to make the most of my final morning in this mountainside paradise. I squeezed in a quick hike up Boynton Canyon, right outside of Enchantment. Without a tour guide, I went at a much slower pace and sat down several times to stare at the cool twisted trees. The terrain got a little dicey toward the top, but I scurried up as far as I could go. My feet got really tingly and I meditated for about 10 minutes. With a great mellow vibe, I trotted back down the canyon and grabbed a smoothie at Mii Amo. It was time to pack and bid adieu to my casita.
I reluctantly left Enchantment and grabbed brunch at a cute little spot called The Secret Garden. My patio table overlooked a garden (duh) and each table had a blanket to keep customers warm and snuggly during their meal. I ordered a Bloody Mary, a cappuccino, and a water so I could cover all my basic beverage groups. My server told me that she’d visited Sedona in 2007, then she later came back for a few days, then for a week…then she moved here for good.
Wanting to delay my departure as long as possible, I then popped into a local bookstore. I bought some candles, books, keychains, and a necklace with a small bottle of red rock sand (this way I could bring a teeny part of the magic home with me). As I paid for everything and struck up a conversation with the cashier, a woman overheard us and came over to tell me that my story really resonated with her. She said she could feel my positive energy and asked for a hug. We embraced for a moment and I left Sedona with a huge smile on my face, and in my soul.
During the drive home, as the mountains and cacti faded into the background, I reflected on the mysticism of my weekend. I felt happier, healthier, and better equipped to deal with life’s obstacles and hurdles. And as I gripped my sweet new necklace, turning the small bottle of sand over and over in my hand, I realized that maybe, just maybe, the magic is inside me.