God, it’s been hard to get myself to stop and write. I kept waiting to feel the “pause” I need to get those thoughts out, but it comes fewer and farther between. The goal in Sedona was to spend as much of our time hiking as we could, which was an ideal activity for my monkey brain. There are four main energy vortexes in Sedona – Boynton Canyon, Airport Mesa, Bell Rock, and Cathedral Rock. Supposedly people feel things differently at each location, based on their unique internal energy. Years ago, I went to Airport Mesa and remember my hands tingling vigorously, a feeling that completely surprised me. This time, we wanted to “sit” in all four for comparison.
Our Airbnb in Sedona was clearly too big for the two of us. It would have been comfortable for a family of five – a casualty of planning a trip in 24 hours. So, we spread out and enjoyed the views of unspoiled red rocks from all windows in the house, a feeling that became my refuge for the next few days.
We ventured out to our first hike and vortex location, Bells Rock. Our trail snaked around Courthouse Butte, a massive and domineering rock formation surrounded by sandy paths and squirrely looking trees. We encountered very few people. About three-quarters of the way into the hike, we rounded a corner and hiked along the back portion of the rock, with a meadow to one side. It was perfectly still except for occasional bird sounds reverberating off the rock walls. It looked infinite and made my feel full. I could have stared up at the stone face forever, and for a moment I lingered and paused in a way that felt real. In that bright, cool, and dry air with unique energy, that was both still and alive all in the same breath. Just for a minute, I had what I needed.
Amazingly, Bell Rock ended up being my least favorite “energy”. My moment of peace on the back of the trail was far away from the actual vortex center, one which made me feel strangely nauseous when I stood too close. I’m no expert…I can’t explain why I felt like I did at each of these sites.
Cathedral Rock is a particularly famous vortex location. The rock itself is a collection of jutting columns that allow light to sneak through, much like a sweeping cathedral hall. To reach the official center of the vortex, you must go through some rigorous rock scrambling, including a 40ft assent along a steep “crevice”. Out of shape and generally anxious, we began our climb with few expectations for ourselves. After several passages that required climbing on both hands and feet, navigating for divots in the rock and pushing yourself up and over platforms, we’d reached the entrance to the “rock crevice”. Staring at people awkwardly crab-walking their way up the slipper stone, a decision was made to sit it out. We sat on the ledge where we’d thrown in the towel, about 50% of the way to the top. I’m not quite as brave on this trip, and I can’t push it as far as I did in places like Montana earlier this year. I’m more inhibited than I was. The view was still beautiful from where we stopped. So, it’s okay. Meditation is supposed to teach me to experience what I’m experiencing without trying to change it. I can’t live in the before or the after. I only have now, and only have me. Cathedral rock’s energy was stiller, sweeter, even from the halfway point.
Devils Bridge was not on the “vortex list”, but it claimed to offer a cool photo op along a rock ledge. We walked along a trail that we shared with ATVs, where only the bravest could attempt to navigate the 3ft ruts and unpredictable hills. To get to the actual top of Devil’s Bridge, you had to climb rocks once again. Today felt a little different for me. I had a burst of confidence and trust in my body, and I scrambled up sections of rocks on hands and feet with little fear of the vertical drop below me. Out on the ledge while we waited to have our photo taken (in a congenial orderly fashion where hikers offered to take pictures of other hikers), I barely noticed the fact that we were standing on a 3ft wide slab of rock. I felt grounded. We walked back from that hike on a nature high. Chatty and feeling bright. That open-eyed feeling I always chase.
Airport Mesa Vortex did not give me the same, intense tingling in my hands as last time. It was subtler than I remembered, though I am a different person than I was a few years ago. The tiny parking lot at the bottom was full, so we parked by the actual (tiny) airport a half mile away and trekked along a rocky, cliffside path to the vortex. People scattered along the platform-like rock, waiting for the sun to set. As it did, the rocks changed colors every few minutes, painting the spectrum across my view. A family behind us had several small children who clearly did not want to be there, and they let us know with a set of piercing cries that echoed into the canyon. I let the view hold my focus, and it was my favorite energy thus far.
I normally provide a lot of details on our dinners out and various in-between events of these road trips. And they were lovely – cooking at “home” one night, ordering juicy pork chops and spicy margaritas at a homey local restaurant. If I haven’t belabored this point enough, my head space has been off. It’s difficult to even sit down and remember the details of this trip so that it can be eloquently shared. I never want to idealize an experience when I write. I just want it to feel to the reader like it felt to live it. That being said, as the days went on, and we spent quiet nights staring out our Airbnb windows at the hills, or the stars from the hot tub, or standing along on the back stretch of deck. I felt completely consumed by the air around me – and I did feel things that I wanted to share. I did change. It wasn’t all about reflecting on the hardness of our year or the state of the world. There were beautiful, simple moments. So, I’ll share one last one with you.
My time at the Boynton Canyon Vortex set my heart straight. It was a mild and easy hike to the vortex location along a flat path in the desert. At the end of the path was a triangle shaped rock that sat across from another at the opposite end of the trail. All around it were patches of thick vegetation and sandy hills in the distance. As we approached, we started to hear flute music playing. I’d read about a man in his 70s who climbs to the top of the rock every single day and plays his flute for visitors. He was there today, right when we chose to visit. If you’re brave, he will lean over the side of the rock peak and talk you up the climb to the summit, foothold by foothold. I watched him do this for another 70-year-old woman who was initially petrified but made it to the very top. I was awestruck. I wanted to try it, but I didn’t trust my body that day. I had been experiencing panic, and I didn’t trust my feet to do what I wanted them to. That’s okay. Remember, that’s okay.
I climbed to a midpoint on the rock where there was a thin ledge with a flat back. I sat against the cool stone, legs crossed, and eyes closed, as Robert the flute player painted the canyon with pretty notes from the top of the rock. He exclaimed a few wise words and a theme for each song, his voice echoing off everything in an eyes’ distance.
“If it does not serve you, release it!!”
My eyes welled up, full and fierce. I felt the energy of the canyon like it was boiling inside me. It gave me all that I had needed. I felt a strength on our walk home that I hadn’t experienced in months. I felt like I could walk forever. And there was a calm in my heart. We need to release everything that doesn’t serve us. Let it scatter in the canyon wind, and then move on forward. We have all that we need.