Many of us have had a point in our lives where we are lost, not sure of which path to take, not sure of our life purpose. We sometimes lose the motivation and drive to better ourselves. We feel stuck. Summer 2021 was that time for me. The pandemic took away my escape, travel. Sure, I took some trips, but it wasn’t the same. There was no freedom of movement. There were tests before going here, mask before entering here, closed businesses, limited people interaction. Heck, even National Parks limited access.
I was sinking into a depression. There was no desire to do anything, no drive to better myself. My job that I enjoyed for 10 years pre-pandemic was slowly killing me. I knew I needed something to help me live again. I wanted a wellness retreat to help me into better health, mentally and physically. Many life events, that at some point I may decide to share, put me into this slump. I am notoriously a very private person, so we shall save those details for another time.
Google landed me upon Sedona Mago Center for Well Being. In my slump, I started dabbling into some spiritual healing. I figured if everything else inside the box failed me, it was time to start thinking and learning outside the box.
I signed up for the Finding True Self program at Sedona Mago. Their website describes the course as:
“Finding True Self retreat program opens a spiritual journey to uncover who you are behind your title, degrees, bank accounts, heritage, and accomplishments.
Here, surrounded by Sedona’s natural healing energies and an endless landscape of majestic red rock vistas, you will be guided through an exploration that will help to unravel an unshakable light and power that emanates from within.
Over the course of four days, you will be free to discover who you are, authentically, at your core. You will be free to peel away the external and internal layers of your life, and look at the belief systems driving your subconscious thoughts and actions. You will be free to decipher the consistent themes of your life and connect its missing dots. While at Mago, you will be free to truly just…be.”
Ok Mago, I’m in.
My expectations were that I was going to learn how to meditate, maybe some yoga poses all while sipping some cocktails poolside. Holy f* was I way off. There were 20 of us in the group. Men, women, mothers, sons, friends, boyfriend/girlfriend, doctor and many others just like me on a solo journey not entirely sure why we were there, but something drew us to this program.
There are posted rules in the retreat classroom:
Out of respect for guideline #6, you will not get the nitty gritty details of the retreat here. You will however hear me say that if you are ever in point of your life where you feel stuck, lost, hopeless, need to heal from past traumas or just need a reset, you 100% need to attend this 4 day session. Before you get too excited, I will tell you there are no special hallucinogenic smoothies like you’ll see on Nine Perfect Strangers.
I will tell you, this session was hard. Physically, emotionally, mentally-hard. You won’t drift off into a chamomile slumber, you will pass out from exhaustion. The euphoric feeling on the last day and the power you feel within yourself for the days, weeks, months that follow are worth the hard work.
The campus is lovely. There are many areas for meditation, a pool, hot tub, a healing garden, a pond, walking paths, (for the love of God watch out for the bats at night) and so many areas to sit and reflect. One of the things I wished was included in the retreat was more time to self reflect. Finding True Self is an intense program fit into four days. There were not many opportunities for down time. Everyone had their own room. Despite the warnings to keep your doors closed so no critters could enter, the accommodations were comfortable.
The staff are the kindest people you could ever imagine. The entire campus is 100% non-judgmental. When they look into your eyes you feel a comfort that you only get from people who truly care. This isn’t a money grab for them. They really have a passion to help every single person that steps onto the Mago property.
The food was amazing. It was mostly vegan/vegetarian and everyone raved about the food. We never felt hungry after a meal.
One of the tools we were taught in the session was a Tao practice. If you’re reading this and thinking I have no idea what I’m talking about, you may be right, but this is what I took out of it. The Mago uses a Taoism belief system. Google defines this as: an ancient Chinese philosophy and religion that instructs believers on how to exist in harmony with the universe. Meditation, tapping, plating (think tai chi) and energy movement is something we practiced multiple times a day, everyday. When we have feelings of tiredness, anxiety, pain and stress the act of creating, moving, releasing and accepting energy makes a huge impact on how your body responds to situations and heals itself. The best thing anyone can do is go into this program with an open mind. If you have read this far and think I am a fruit loop, I challenge you to go to this YouTube link and try the tapping and tell me you don’t feel any different after. Sure, you are going to feel silly doing it, but give it a shot. Go ahead–I’ll wait. Despite your current beliefs, it never hurts to be open to new ones.
One memory that will always stay with me was the kindness one man showed another younger attendee on the last day. A simple act of kindness, like giving him his brand new pair of hiking shoes, could have been the most impactful, generous thing that person has seen in his entire life. In a world where people have literally gone crazy, (if you work with the general public you know what I’m talking about) it was so reassuring to see there is still kindness in the world.
Twenty frail strangers entered a room on that first day. Twenty superhuman best friends left on the last day. I remember the messages sent in our Whatsapp group after we all left. EVERYONE felt the power to be a better version of themselves. I hope my fellow retreat attendees are still doing well.
I returned from this retreat with a new light inside of me, new friends, new tools to use throughout life and a resignation letter drafted in my email.