I arrived in Sedona for a work related meeting. Leaving the family behind this time, I was looking forward to gorging on sleep. I had never been to Sedona, or anywhere in Arizona for that matter. I did a little research to see what was there. I had heard of the red rocks, but had never seen pictures or had any thoughts about them. I kept coming across the term “vortex”. I was fascinated by the idea of “feeling the energy”. If there’s anything I haven’t been feeling over the past ten years or so, its energy. A demanding career, marriage, children, restoring several old homes- you know, life. The list goes on and on. It was exciting to think of feeling something old, alive and mysterious.
I looked on line for someone to take me to the rocks. A few car accidents in my life have left me afraid of heights and sudden movements-the jeep tour was not for me. I was looking for something quiet and thoughtful, personal. Shopping on line for a spiritual guide felt silly, nothing I could search from home appealed to me. I thought if I waited until I got into town, something would guide me to the right person.
I drove into town at sunset, that first glimpse of Cathedral Rock a golden orange red. Now I understand the meaning of the “wild” west-nothing will ever tame those rocks. I had a very unsettled feeling as I searched for the hotel, driving through this tourist town on the moon. Rocks, commercialism and prickly cacti lined the orderly two lane road. Not exactly the warm fuzzies I was expecting after my on line reading. As it started to get dark my anxiety rose (what town doesn’t have street lights?). Those previous accidents had me afraid of driving after dark.
I went to my room, dumped my bags and headed straight for the spa. A couple of hours later and a little calmer, I could see why this place might not want to have too many street lights- millions of ancient stars danced above me in a field of the blackest black.
A quick internet search locally led me straight to SedonaMysticalTours.com and Mark Griffone. His radiant smile told me I had found my guide.
In my life I have been feeling increasingly disconnected in this world of large impersonal organizations, and communication which no longer involves voices or eye contact. In my work conference this week I learned a new term-“production pressure”. I’ve been feeling this for a few years now. This past decade was fueled by adrenaline, caffeine and huge bites of ambition. I was supposed to be at the top of my game now- reaping the rewards of a life spent working hard. I have everything I have ever thought I wanted and more-a beautiful home, sweet precious children, a husband who loves me, and a rewarding career. But my perfectionism and high expectations were starting to wear us all down. Never satisfied, I didn’t know how to stop striving for more. I was run down, emotionally drained, and numb.
As I walked with Mark toward the Airport Vortex, we stated our intention. Hope springs eternal! Our chattering companion noticed and appreciated everything. Her happiness accentuated my own feelings of isolation. Mark was attentive, sensitive to everyone’s needs while telling us about this beautiful place. As the ritual began, he asked us to close our eyes and focus on the energy under our feet. The smell of burning sage filled the air. It was an absolutely pristine, clear day. The contrast of the red rocks and blue sky were stunning.
We stood in a circle and I strained to feel something. A gong sounded and faded into silence. Starting to chant, Mark waved a griffon vulture feather over and around each of us. This was exactly what I wanted when I planned my visit to the vortex. The only problem was that I didn’t feel anything. I despaired in the moment, uncomfortable in my own skin. “Why am I making such a big deal of this?” I wondered. Sitting down, Mark asked each of us what we felt. I reported feeling like a petrified log- stony, cold, and impenetrable. “You’re blocked” says Mark as he sat beside me, a gentle arm around my shoulders.
Sitting beside this strong spiritual man and my companion who seemed to have moonbeams and rainbows in abundance, I was exposed. There was no faking my way out of this. Hot tears started rolling down. Deep sobs of awfulness. I cried all the way over to the Cathedral Rock, another vortex site. I felt like Mark was going there just for me. I appreciated his concern and effort, but I felt as substantial as an empty paper bag. I didn’t want to do this anymore.
“This is where a rose ray came from the sky and entered the ground. It’s a very powerful place.” Mark tells us. “I want you to focus on feeling the energy of divine nurturing love.” We all lie on the ground to get the full impact, eyes closed. I willed myself to feel something, I tried to “let go”-a concept I found extremely attractive, but didn’t know anything about achieving. As I lay there, I wasn’t sure what nurturing love felt like, much less divine love. I tried focusing on the love I feel with my daughter, particularly at night when she snuggles in for some mama time. Giving was elemental. Receiving was a foreign concept.
As I lay there, I went through the stages of grief about my spiritual situation- Disillusioned that there was anything “out there” for me, shocked that I didn’t seem to be as deep as I thought I was, angry at myself for lying on the ground with a group of strangers, and finally despair at how lost I have always been. My time with Mark was drawing to a close, and I was feeling defensive. Settling into my comfortable role as the contrarian, I started asking him scientific questions, basically asking him to prove to me this phenomenon of the rocks. He placidly went from speaking of spirits, energy and “clearings” to water molecules, research and nano-tessla. I was impressed by his range of knowledge and felt like a jerk for heckling him.
We returned to his house, and he offered to refer me to a number of other people who might be able to help me with my blockage. As a medical person, I felt that I was being referred to a specialist, which meant the situation wasn’t good. He offered me a variety of resources. I went back to the hotel alternating between feeling doomed and feeling mad at myself for getting into all this in the first place. Why wasn’t I shopping and pigging out in front of the TV like I usually do with my alone time? Calling my husband, I told him of my experience. I was upset and looking for comfort. “I’m completely blocked” I said. “I knew it!” was his immediate response, clearly validated. I didn’t know what to do with myself and all the uncomfortable feelings this day had triggered.
I decided to keep going.
Michial Joseph was one of the people Mark had mentioned, and he had given me his card, so I called him. I told him that I had done a vortex tour with Mark. When he asked me how it went, I told him “It was awful-I didn’t feel a thing. Mark says I am completely blocked.” He laughed and said that there was any number of reasons that might have happened. “Well, let’s just see what the cards say”. I was so relieved that he laughed, and intrigued that he thought answers could be found so easily. “This is someone I can work with”, I thought. “He has a sense of humor”. He gave me directions, and I told him that I would probably end up calling him, because I get lost so easily. His laugh kept me going for the next two days until our appointment.
I got lost on the way to the appointment. He told me that I would pass Bell Rock on the left, and see the Chevron station on the right. As I left the hotel, I saw a Chevron station, but it was on the left. “There must be another one further along”, I thought. I passed Bell Rock, but it was on the right. I started to suspect that maybe I was looking at the landmarks backward, and Michical thought I was coming from the opposite direction. That didn’t stop me from continuing to drive for awhile, until I called him and we straightened it out.
I was starting to get anxious again. “What am I thinking? I’m going to a stranger’s house in a strange town to get a psychic reading. Nobody knows where I am.” I have seen enough Cold Case Files to know that this was a bad idea, and that when my story ended up on the new season everyone would say that it was my own fault I disappeared. I called my husband to tell him where I was going, and that if I didn’t call in two hours, he needed to start looking for me. Which really wasn’t going to help me personally, but it would help them find my body after it was all said and done. Obviously, I was freaking out. I thought if it looked sketchy once I got there, I could ask him to do my reading on the front porch. It’s good to have a plan!
Lynn Starkey answered the door. I was so relieved to see her! She had a big smile and a warm handshake as she let me into the house. When Michial came into the room, I went to give him a quick handshake so we could get down to business. He held onto my hand for a moment, and looked into my eyes. I was stiff as a board and doing a terrible job of playing it cool. As we sat down, he had me sit across from him. I was feeling very uncomfortable. I asked if I could sit in the chair beside him, so I could see him better. He said he preferred I sit across from him, so he could see me better. I felt vulnerable sitting with my back to the room in this cowboy town, but I did.
The cards were in front of me. He asked me to pick a card, which would be my life card. I had never seen tarot cards, and never had a card reading. I was fascinated, but still scared to death of this whole situation. We turned over the card-the Empress. It was beautiful, and sounded impressive, but I had no idea what it meant. As he read to me from his little book about the Empress, the hair stood up on the back of my neck. The mother card. I had a feeling of something falling away (my resistance?) and at that moment I knew that this was for real.
Anybody who has ever known me for more than an hour knows I have mother issues. I have fought and kicked and screamed and read and studied and seen psychiatrists and meditated and medicated and prayed and acted out and cried and fought and kicked and screamed some more. To say I have a contentious relationship with my mother is an understatement. I have been truly at the end of my rope for years as to what to do about her. I have blamed her for all the bad things that happened in my life,and have given her none of the credit for the good.
By the end of my session with Michial, which stretched to more than two hours from the original one, the truth was revealed. He used the cards as tools to help me reveal the truth to myself. I felt like Bruce Willis’ character at the end of the movie Sixth Sense where he realizes that everything he thought was true was actually the mirror image of the truth. Remember the Chevron station and Bell Rock? I was looking at the landmarks backward. I was headed in the wrong direction. How stunning to be so close to the truth, living in it all this time and not to being able to see it.
It wasn’t my mother who was to blame for my emptiness. 46 years into this life I realized that I was using her. She blamed me for what was wrong with her life, and I learned to blame her for everything I found unsatisfactory about mine. I prayed for her to see the opportunities for happiness she had rejected, but I couldn’t see that I had done the same. Anger and bitterness were keeping me from feeling any pleasure or happiness at my own achievements, most of which were fueled by my determination to prove that she was wrong about me. What a precious, precious gift to receive!
Some of the things we talked about had occurred to me before in a fleeting sort of idea that passed. Sometimes you can intellectually know something, and then there is the deep knowing that comes from your heart. You know because you have lived it and all the potential alternatives have already been ruled out. He listened to every word I said. As we talked, he knew what questions to ask and what path to take. He had me visualize different scenarios, and feel the feelings that came up. He looked deep into my heart. He gently suggested to me some very ugly truths. He allowed me to release such a heavy burden into our space together. I felt safe and free for the first time in my life.
Lynn, Michial and I left each other with the most heartfelt hugs I have ever given. I felt like I had a helium balloon in my chest and it was expanding. I giggled as I called to tell my husband (right before the deadline) that I wasn’t dead, I was more alive than I had ever been in my life. I rushed back to the hotel so that I could sit and write down everything I could remember about this time. The pieces were falling into place so quickly, I was afraid I would miss something. Little bells were going off everywhere in my head.
Suddenly my life experiences made complete and absolute perfect sense. I cried some very healing tears. I slept like an angel. I wrote down the dream I’d had the first night I was in town. Michial’s advice had been to pay attention to the feelings occurring in those nightmares, not the actions that I took or the setting or the other people. I saw the dream in a whole new light. It wasn’t about work!
Michial called to check on me several times. He knew I was processing a lot of “stuff” and would have questions. He offered to work with me again the next day, and I went happily and with no fear.
As my last day in Sedona arrived, I wasn’t ready to leave. I had a feeling of unfinished business. I wanted to experience the vortex with my new found clarity. I went to Bell Rock, and didn’t pass by as I did so many times this past week being lost. I walked up to the base of this beautiful awe inspiring rock. I walked off the main trail, and found a private place to be, just as Mark had done four days before. I stated my intention as I approached her-(she is a woman, you know)! I thanked her for being my landmark, and for giving me such a profound life experience. I lie on my back and pushed all thoughts away, zoning into bliss.
The first pulsation was fleeting-it startled me out of my meditative state and I shouted (probably something like “holy shit” but I don’t remember). It was hard to suppress the excitement, to settle into blankness again. The next pulsation was stronger. I kept telling myself, “one more time, and I’ll leave”.
After feeling several (6?) waves energy, each stronger than the last, I could tell the sensation was starting to subside. I opened my eyes, stared at the peaceful blue sky and knew it was time to go home.
I have returned home to my family and work with joy. I love work again! I have more of myself to give to my family. I didn’t seek out this experience looking for anything heroic, I just wanted some help in getting through my days. Empowered is a word I’m using a lot (to myself) these days. I have energy that feels boundless. My husband would probably kiss Michial on the lips if he had the chance! My friend was grilling me about what specific spa treatments I had in Sedona. I realized she was trying to figure out what happened to my face! My expression has changed with the release of all that baggage. I told her that it was the mud treatment, but I know what really happened.
Sedona, Bell Rock, Mark, Lynn and Michial taught me so much in such a tiny amount of time. I am humbled by their talent, resources, and ability to reach out to people who, like me, don’t know how to “receive”. They all are touchstones that I will return to again and again. The work has just begun. If I can release a lifetime of grief during my first visit to Sedona, will happen next time?