Where it all began | The vacation that changed my life!
Updated: May 13, 2021
In 2017, my daughter Courtney invited me to go to Sedona for a retreat with her. I had no idea what the retreat was but having been to Sedona before with my husband, I knew Sedona to be spiritual type of place. Although I had no clue of what was about to take place I was open to embracing the opportunity.
I thought the experience would involve sitting in meditation (something I had not been very successful at) talking to one another and that's about it. I thought to myself "How bad could that be Mimi? You don't really have to open yourself up to anybody, you just have to sit on a pillow with your fingers together, close your eyes and picture a far away place. Boy was I wrong!
On the drive there, Courtney was leaving me in the dark when I asked her questions about what to expect. With my fear of the unknown, the first thing I wanted to do was find the closest restaurant that served the best Margarita in the world, just in case, this was going to help me through this life altering experience.
We arrived at this absolutely gorgeous resort. It was back in the canyons, and we were lucky enough to get a room that was really far back in the canyon and almost elevated. And it was breathtaking!
On the first night we walked into a large room to meet everyone and I was astounded at the number of women that were there. Maybe 15-20 people? Surely there had to be 40-45 women at this retreat!
Then we met the facilitators who Courtney had known from the year before when she had attended on her own. They were extremely nice women, very astute, very knowledgeable in their field. After the introductions were done, I was thinking - this isn't too bad.
And then we have exercise number one. The exercise that started my journey of my life altering experience.
Life Changing Exercise #1
Let me paint a picture for you:
Stand up in a circle with an inner circle facing the outer circle, holding hands and look one another in the eyes and without saying words, express to them "I see you, I feel you, I know you".
I had no "freaking idea what happened", all of a sudden I find myself crying. Why am I crying? I don't know this person. What is this crazy thing we've been asked to do? I seriously I wanted to run away but I didn't want to embarrass myself by leaving the whole group, so I stayed and gave it a shot.
So I'm standing there doing the exercise and all of a sudden, I heard my own nervous giggle and this wave of emotion, comes up from my feet, up through my legs, and just comes out my eyeballs in a wave of tears. I'm looking at this other person. And in the back of my mind, I'm thinking, What is going on? Why is this happening? I'm looking into this other person's eyes, they're looking into mine. That woman is crying, I'm crying. It is like we are looking into the depths of our souls in this non verbal exchange.
I hoped that maybe that would be the hardest and most emotionally intense part of the retreat. But, then came...
Life Changing Exercise #2
On day two, things happened to me that I had no logical explanation for.
The plan was for us as a group to walk up a mountain to a peak they called a 'Vortex' (having no idea what that was), have a little meditation up there and come back down for lunch. It sounded like fun to me!
Well - it was there sitting on the mountain that I had the most spiritual and life altering experience I have ever had.
I was getting kind of a warm feeling, the sun was beating down on me but this felt different. It felt energetic. I had my eyes closed, because that's what they told me to do. So I'm sitting there trying to meditate, listening to the beautiful ethereal music they had playing for us. And after a few minutes I opened my eyes.
As I looked across this small Canyon I saw my father standing in full body form as though I could just walk over and touch him. My father had passed away seven years before that, yet here I am. And there he is. I was tossed into a world of emotion. I felt fear. I was frightened. Again I wanted to run away. I closed my eyes hoping that this vision would disappear upon opening them again. But he was still there!
I don't even know how to describe the emotions that I was feeling in this instance. My father and I were very, very close. It was like he was coming back to tell me that it's okay to enter into this world where I can see him. That it's alright. It's not scary. And not to be fearful of what I was experiencing. I still don't understand why this happened. But I think it was because I needed to have some kind of closure maybe with him.
These intense emotions stuck with me through the evening and I had a terrible night of anxiety and emotional breakdown that brought on a panic attack. I had trouble sleeping, but when I did - the dreams came.
Dreams of Wolf. Every dream that night was focused around a wolf. Wanting to understand the meaning of it, I asked Courtney and the facilitators about it the next day. It turns out that Wolf is my spirit animal. And again, hello, I had no idea what a spirit animal was. But being in this environment now brought this into my dreams. What's even more interesting is that when we got a small break that day, we went into a nearby store and right after walking in, I see two different glass sculptures of - guess what? Yes - wolfs.
I have to be honest, I was a little freaked out. I needed to get away. To try and understand all of these emotions and everything that was happening to me since I arrived at the retreat. But it wasn't over yet.
Life Changing Exercise #3
Shamanangelic breathwork. Have you heard of it? At the time, I certainly hadn't.
Let me paint you a picture of this next exercise:
Lie down in a circle with everyone's heads directed toward the center. Breathe as guided to. Pay attention to the beating of drums. Enter into a trance state. Recall a time in your life. Relive it. With the assistance of the intentions and energy work of the guide - release, clear, heal what needs to be addressed there.
During the process, the guide dropped glitter on each person's forehead. Whilst I felt the glitter raining down, drums beating - I'm going through this energetic maze of feelings. I'm crying and then I'm laughing. Other people are screaming, laughing and carrying on and others are in this deep hysterical crying. But it's also interesting that no matter what was going on in the room, I was still able to be in my own little space.
After being guided back out of the trance, we all sit up and I look like a Christmas ornament!
Best thing I've ever seen in my life. I am covered with glitter from my head, my entire face, my chest, my body, my arms. All the other 40 women were looking at me. Clearly I was the person who needed the most help, because the guide had dumped the entire jar of glitter from my nose to my toes. I've never seen anything like it. But well, I looked beautiful. I showered for the next three days, and I still had the glitter.
On the last night each woman had to go up to the center of the group in front of the fire and talk about their experience at this retreat. I had become the "pseudo mom" during the retreat and a lot of the women were talking about how meaningful it was to see me at this retreat with my daughter, because they so badly wished their mother could go through that type of experience with them and to have that type of relationship.
When it was my turn to speak, I was able to share how Courtney and I weren't always in this stage and we had gone through tough times and come out the other side. Hopefully providing them with hope for a better relationship with their Mother's in the future. I wished my Mom had come and gone through this experience with me, so that she could understand more about me as a person. I believe the woman who came to this retreat was not the woman that was leaving - and in that moment I declared it.
On the drive home I was feeling different. Lighter. Happier. I didn't feel as emotionally heavy and burdened as when I went there. I also had a different perspective for the type of work my daughter does as a Reiki Master & Intuitive Coach.
As weeks and months progressed I was able to think back to my time in Sedona. Grateful for being able to meditate more easily. Noticing also how much I had changed. How my new perspective on life had influenced the way that I communicate and relate to others, especially my husband and family members. I wasn't as verbally aggressive towards people. I would, to my surprise, listen to what that person had to say. Taking a moment to analyze it and see what the best response would be.
It is a lot easier for me to be more forgiving of others, now that I see people in a different light. I look at the whole person with an open heart and mind.
I had begun consciously living my own Peaceful Existence!
My vacation in Sedona changed my life completely and for the better!
This entire experience and all the serendipitous events that have happened since, have led me to believe that a peaceful existence is something that everyone can cultivate in their own lives, if they so choose.
I believe that there is a place for some spirituality in our life. I'm not saying that you have to be a total spiritualist, where you're reading affirmations and reciting mantras every day. But rather blending your spiritual practice within your everyday living. Which is what I've learned how to do.
I know that it's made me a better person, and I would hope that my family and my friends would would feel the same way. But I would really, really encourage anyone that has the opportunity to go to a retreat or similar experience where you can explore your inner landscapes safely, to do it.
Don't be afraid to take a chance - discover yourself - know that you have the ability to go inward and understand what that means & then how it can change you for the better.