About the Author: Kate Olson, CHt, is a NLP Life Transformation Coach, Registered Clinical Hypnotherapist & Reiki Master with a practice in the Seattle, WA metro area, Northern Lights Life Coaching. She offers workshops and classes, as well as, individual and group life coaching. Her emphasis is on guidance in finding path, purpose and peace. She focuses on integration of mind, body and spirit wellness. It is her mission to help others find joy through connection, creative expression and change facilitation. She is passionate about music, art, writing, travel, the environment, personal growth and living joyfully with purpose. Oh, and the Seattle Seahawks! She has a second wellness related business offering Salt Therapy, Salt Works Saltariums. Salt Therapy offers an all natural treatment solution for respiratory and skin problems.
For me, 2015 started out a whirlwind. It seemed like January flew by. It was a snap decision on my part to go to Super Bowl XLIX. After an amazing playoff season, I just had to go. From meeting my son in Las Vegas, seeing the sights there, visiting Hoover Dam, Red Rock Canyon and Laughlin to the unbelievable excitement of the Super Bowl itself and seeing our Seahawks almost pull it off; it was an unforgettable experience. I made it home the second week of February, still buzzing from all the excitement. I was expecting a busy year ahead with making decisions on changing my career direction and lifestyle. I was fairly sure I wanted to pursue becoming a full-time Life Coach. The first step in my plan for the year was to get my Life Coach Certification. After researching a number of schools offering certification, I finally decided on Bennett / Stellar University. They were offering an accelerated course in March 2015, in Seattle. After registration, it turned out the Seattle class was cancelled. As luck would have it, however, they were having a class in Sedona, AZ. It seemed to happen in the blink of an eye; I was driving to Sedona for the 3-week, 12-hour a day certification course.
I had heard of Sedona and certainly it was a place I wanted to see, but it had not been on my current travel agenda. I took my time driving down. On the fifth day, I drove through old historic Jerome, AZ. and finally, as the sun was setting arrived in Cottonwood, AZ. I had rented a room with bath for my stay. The drive had been full of beautiful, varied scenery and I had taken my time and enjoyed it. So far, Cottonwood looked much the same as the desert scenery along the way.
Waking up in a strange room with the sun streaming brightly through the slits in the blinds, I glanced at the clock and it was just after 6:30 am. That was early for me, but I was excited to start my day. After arriving early the prior evening, doing some laundry, getting acquainted with my Airbnb host and going out to eat at a local gourmet pizzeria; I had gone to bed fairly early. I hurried to get ready and stopped by the kitchen to grab my water bottle and a juice. Out the back window, I was surprised to see a gorgeous view of Mingus Mountain. It was a 16 mile drive to Sedona. I wasn’t sure what to expect. It looked like a direct route, once I got onto 89A going east. The highway the entire way was surrounded by red rock peaks rising up in the distance on both sides of the road. With the spectacular scenery the trip went quickly.
As I drove up over the final rolling hill and into West Sedona, the view literally took my breath away! The Red Rock Bluffs rose up almost hugging the quaint village-like buildings that made up this beautiful little town. The traffic was busy for a Saturday. There is just one main roadway, but I really didn’t notice what was going on. I could not take my eyes off the cloudless blue sky framing the Red Rock Cliffs in soft brilliant sunlight. It was like nothing I had ever seen. It was simply beautiful, unique and hard to describe with mere words. I didn’t know what I was feeling that first morning. I knew it was something big and different; something amazing was about to happen! I was definitely on an adventure and I couldn’t wait! It seemed like a dream! I would repeat this daily with the same sense of awe for my entire stay. My life coaching classes took up my days and I had only three free days for exploring Sedona. My classes were a transforming experience, themselves, but that’s a different story. Being in Sedona took on its own special magic!
There are places in our world that hold particular meaning because of their beauty, opportunity or uniqueness. It can be related to climate, terrain, recreation, isolation, astonishing vistas, wildlife, culture, history, architecture, entertainment, food, people, memories or something quite undefined. It is undeniable though, that some places seem unlike any other, even mystical! For each of us, it may be something different that gives a place that fascination, but on occasion there is just an essence about a place that feels like “magic” to us all. I think Sedona is one of those places. Though it has all the attributes I mentioned above to its credit, its special charm comes from something very hard to define.
There is a vibe about Sedona that calms and excites at the same time. Much of the time I felt an inward discomfort that often comes with change. At the same time, I slept more soundly and felt an extreme calmness. Solutions and new ideas seemed to come to me easily and I felt very connected to something greater than myself, an increased awareness or aliveness. I pushed myself to do things I had not planned and I learned and became aware of things I never expected. A lot of it, I have to attribute to being in Sedona and its powerful energies!
Sedona is a small town with less than 15,000 full-time residents. It is unique for a small town though, as it attracts 4,000,000 visitors annually, second only to the Grand Canyon. It is high desert located 4,500 feet above sea level with a more moderate climate than most of Arizona. It is a mix of old and new with ancient Indian ruins and many miles of protected park lands surrounding it. The town area is about 19 miles total and in the middle of the old and rustic are some of the most upscale resorts, restaurants and art galleries you will find anywhere. There is a unique and interesting culture in Sedona drawing a large number of artists, musicians and writers, as well as, those with a mystic or spiritual inclination from all over the world. Sedona is considered a niche for all things metaphysical. It is a place where Native American, Buddhist, New Age, Christian and other forms of sacred belief meet and mix with amazing comfort. Cowboys, hippies, gypsies and psychics mix with intellectuals, artists, educators and some of the most conservative folks you’ll ever meet. With all of this, there is a peacefulness about Sedona. This vibration is often attributed to its distinct geography and what are referred to as its “energy vortexes”.
Surrounding Sedona among the red rock peaks there are four main and two lesser vortexes. A vortex is the funnel shape created by the whirling motion of fluid or another substance. Some examples would be whirlwinds, tornadoes or water going down the drain. It can be anything with a flow, such as, water, wind or electricity. In Sedona, they are whirling centers of subtle energy coming out from the surface of the earth. It is not really electricity or magnetism, but leaves a slight measurable magnetic residual where the flow is strong. It is scientifically measurable. The attributes given to or used to interpret the effects of this phenomenon are more subjective. The four main vortexes of Sedona are Airport Mesa, Boynton Canyon, Bell Rock and Cathedral Rock. Two lesser vortxes are Spaceship Rock and Munds Trail. There is also a fairly weak vortex that is said to run through and under the post office in Old Sedona. Each is said to have its own particular feminine, masculine or balanced energy, which imparts different gifts or awareness upon those visiting. Airport Mesa is known for its masculine energy, while Cathedral Rock is known for its feminine energy. Bell Rock is the strongest of the vortexes and has powerful energy in all three areas; masculine, feminine and balance. Boynton Canyon is known for its yin/yang or balanced energy.
Sedona has a number of other attractions with special spiritual significance. There is Amitabha Stupa & Peace Park located off Thunder Mountain Trail. It is a majestic Tibetan Buddhist temple built on the mountainside and maintained by volunteers. They do meditations and many traditional ceremonies there. It is a truly peaceful and uplifting place.
There are numerous sacred labyrinths in and around Sedona. A labyrinth is an ancient symbol that relates to spiritual wholeness. It combines circular and spiral shapes into a purposeful prayer path. It represents the journey of inward growth and manifestation back into our outer world. Labyrinths have long been used for connection to the spiritual world and as meditation and prayer sanctuaries. I found it to be a peaceful place for thought and meditation and did find a few personal answers there. You can visit ancient Indian ruins in Sedona or find many handcrafted works of art or Native American healing symbols. Crystal shops abound and any other purveyors of healing in almost any form you can imagine. Visiting a psychic or medium depending on what you would like to find out is probably a must, whether you believe in them or not. Some of the world’s best and most gifted healers make their home in Sedona. I visited one while I was there and she told me some interesting tidbits. Some turned out to be right on target, though I have not yet met that adventurous, handsome man she saw in my future. If you have not experienced a Reiki Energy healing session, Sedona is an excellent place to do so. You can go to the Reiki Center in downtown East Sedona or one of the many other practitioners located in the area. The healing power of Reiki was definitely a surprise discovery for me. I was a definite skeptic, but when my headache disappeared in about 10 minutes with a reiki healing after failing to respond to Excedrin, I had to give it consideration. Since, I am now a Reiki Master my attitude has turned around completely. The whole vibe of Sedona is a convergence of spiritual beliefs from around the world. The Chapel of the Holy Cross is a Catholic Church that was constructed right among the Red Rocks and with its tall spiral windows with views of Bell Rock and Cathedral Rock it is beautiful and breathtaking. The chapel is both inspiring and incredibly peaceful. It draws people of all faiths who make gift offerings, pray and gather with peaceful intention. They still provide church services, as well as, special ceremonies. When I visited, I saw a group of Buddhist monks, Muslim families, Christians of all denominations and there were nuns operating the gift shop and information desk. It was such a beautiful feeling. I doubt that it is possible to visit Sedona without feeling some sort of spiritual connection, no matter what your beliefs may be. That is the wonderful thing though; Sedona leaves you to interpret the majesty of an energy greater than and beyond ourselves on your own terms, while leaving you certain that you have made that connection with spirit.
I left Sedona knowing I would be back soon. I was surprised though, that it was less than a month later when I returned. I was headed to the Jazz Heritage Festival in New Orleans, but Sedona was calling me back. Since, I had only had a few free days to explore during my classes; this visit was for really taking in the essence of Sedona. It was as leisurely and unstructured as I could make it. I stayed right in Sedona this time, which was a unique experience, in itself. Waking up each morning to views of those magnificent red rock peaks was a bit surreal. I took my time, revisiting places I had rushed through on my first trip. I experienced the people and the culture, absorbed the energy and immersed myself in all that is Sedona. I revisited the Labyrinth, the Stupa, Bell Rock and Airport Mesa Vortex. I meditated, contemplated and let Sedona wrap her magic around me. I savored a delicious dinner at the beautiful Enchantment Resort, which is located near the Boynton Canyon Vortex. The food was amazing, as were the stunning views! Watching the sunset from Enchantment was indeed enchanting, and seeing a herd of wild boars and a young doe that walked right up to my car window were just added perks. I took a jeep off-road tour that was amazing and quite informative. The driver was well-educated on Sedona and an expert on the terrain and history of the area. Seeing the high-desert in full bloom was gorgeous and not what I had expected. There were an amazing variety of plants and wildlife making it so vivid and colorful. I enjoyed hiking some of the many trails right around town, all with breath-taking views. I sat in the local coffee shops and enjoyed “people watching” and taking in the local vibe. Going to a wine tasting and open-mic night at one of the local eateries made for a fun night and I really appreciated the great sampling of local talent that turned out. I visited shops and galleries I had not had time for on my first visit. I visited with friends living in Sedona and met some interesting of the locals. Sedona is known for its abundance of residents with colorful demeanor and unique character. I visited the craft and crystal shops, boutiques and some of the cultural landmarks, of which, there are many. It was a busy, unforgettable week that touched my heart and soul, leaving me feeling more connected, more peaceful and in complete awe!
My month in Sedona changed me, inspired me and connected me with a deeper part of myself. Sedona will always hold a piece of my heart and draw me back with her mystic charm and unique beauty. If there is something to the vortexes, I do think I left Sedona with more confidence and a greater sense of commitment (masculine energy), stronger intuitive awareness (feminine energy) and a greater feeling of peacefulness (balance). I am sure that I will always find mysteries to uncover and never tire of her stunning vistas. I truly believe Sedona is one of those “magical” places.
Info & Authors
This guest blog will feature contributions from experts & other advocates on topics that speak to integration mind, body & spirit wellness.