This blog was written by SpiritQuest client: Dr. Christina Tarantola, PharmD, CHC about her experience at SpiritQuest.
I’m turning 30. I want to go on a three-day retreat in Sedona,” I said to my mother two months ago. What is it about “30” that makes us all pump the breaks and evaluate our lives? I am not sure what we make it mean, but something happened inside of me that awakened me to really look at my life. I wanted adventure, excitement, and transformation. No, I needed it. The last 6 months of my life have been like a roller coaster – many ups and downs and at times, feeling out of control. I don’t do well with that feeling and yet, somehow I know that letting go is my biggest lesson.
God certainly gives you the lessons you need, even if it seems inconvenient. Needless to say, within the next week I had the retreat, Air B&B, flight, and rental car booked. My enthusiasm packed for the trip months in advance.
On my day of departure, I had that same enthusiasm even at 4 AM when my alarm went off. Upon arriving in Phoenix, I hopped in the rental car and headed off to Sedona: a 2-hour drive full of groves of cacti, brilliant red rocks, and a vast, open highway. The arid climate made me regret only picking up a Starbucks Venti ice water and a bottle of SmartWater. Multiple people had warned me to “take tons of water” on the two-hour drive up.
Despite being parched, I couldn’t remember the last time I felt such an immense sense of freedom and expansive independence. I was looking so forward to a three-day retreat with SpiritQuest. As the din of the car music radiated out the open windows to the desert, I couldn’t help but feel invincible and powerful all at once.
Approaching Sedona, AZ for My Retreat
As I approached the cusp of Sedona, I noticed a small crystal shop called Crystal Magic. Of course, I had to stop! As I walked into the store, a chime on the door greeted me along with a ‘Hello! Welcome!’ from one of the shop employees. This is definitely not New York City… people are so NICE! The woman behind the counter was eager and energetic, helping me locate a few (much needed) crystals and giving me directions to a vegetarian eatery called ChocolaTree. Yes, there is chocolate there and it is all dairy-free, gluten-free, and some even sugar-free. I passed on the idea of buying chocolate, imagining dark gooey dairy-free chocolate melting in the hot sun, smearing across the seats of my rental car. No thank you!
Upon arriving at the eatery, I was guided to a garden seating area in the back where the swell of spiritual music filled my ears. The owner hummed along with the songs as she set up the metal trays for what looked like a buffet-style lunch. The menu had so many health-conscious concoctions. Everything from Chaga immune shots (medicinal mushrooms for immune health) to goji berry smoothies. I just wanted a simple coffee but decided to indulge in a Chaga shot to help boost my immunity. You know how clean those airplanes are.
After checking into my Air B&B off Mountain Shadows Drive, I embarked on a drive to find a hub to take pictures of the red rocks. The red rocks of Sedona are made of an amalgam of hematite, limestone, and oxidized sandstone that create the vibrant orange-colored hue. Side note: I have to say, the most beautiful time of day to view the red rocks is at sunset. Seeing the sun hit all of the layers of stratified rock is breathtaking! At some point on the drive, the words “No Service” appeared on my phone. It actually felt nice to be present without having to answer text, email, or phone calls.
Energy of Sedona
There is definitely an “energy” about Sedona and millions of people travel from all over the world to experience it. One morning I drove to Cathedral Rock, one of the feminine vortexes. A vortex is like a whirlpool, except instead of water, it is energy that swirls and pools into one area. Some of the vortexes have electrical, masculine energy (good for getting energy moving, energizing, and setting intentions), while others are magnetic and feminine (nurturing, good for reflection, and meditation). I could feel a deep sense of peace permeate my body to accompany the silence there. A few bunnies passed me as I stared up at the huge rocks reveling in the peacefulness and expanding my presence. My three-day retreat was approaching.
SpiritQuest Retreat Center
On day 2, I entered the SpiritQuest Sedona Retreat Center along with 6 other souls from all over the United States. Katherine, the owner, seemed to float into the room coated in delicate, feminine energy and clothed in a long, flowy white dress. Her spirit was friendly, comforting, and gentle. We entered into a meditation that was enhanced by the swell of the Tibetan singing bowl. If you have never experienced sound healing, check out sound healing on YouTube.
Sound healing is meant to entrain, or synchronize, a certain frequency with the human body to realign the energy system. Since we are all energetic beings, we can get “off-key” and out of balance when traumas, experiences, and toxins impact our bodies. Entrainment helps attune the body back to a harmonious homeostatic balance. Within a couple of hours, the group had created a strong bond from sharing experiences and intentions and we were ready to go hiking.
That afternoon we ventured out near the Thunder Mountain trail, water bottles in tow. A hawk greeted us as we stepped onto the trail and the red rock dust immediately started to coat my hiking shoes. Our tour guide, Todd, stopped every few minutes to explain more about the land. He described the medicinal properties of the juniper trees and aloe vera plants, explaining that the natives used juniper as an antiseptic and antioxidant. “Nature has everything we need,” he said. I couldn’t agree more!
Shenpa: Let Go of Triggers
We stopped near a large tree and Katherine taught us about “shenpa” a Tibetan concept that describes how human beings get emotionally triggered by each other and want to react. I think we can all relate to that! Shenpa is the reaction you get when someone cuts you off in traffic, or your boss makes a comment that you don’t agree with. Deep stuff here, people! Unexpectedly, I was called to stand up and was led through a powerful releasing exercise that ended with me dancing amongst the red rocks. Apparently, I’ve been holding anger in my solar plexus chakra.
Who knew! The solar plexus chakra is the third chakra of the seven energy centers and is responsible for personal power, self-esteem, independence, and confidence. It also controls digestion and the metabolic functions of the pancreas. On the drive home, Todd turned to me and said, “You are f***ing powerful” and I felt something deep inside agree with him.
Powerful Group Dynamic
My favorite part of the Sedona retreat package was connecting with the other people in the group. Everyone had a unique story, however, we all came here as seekers looking for healing and integration. On our second hike, Todd had us pick up various rocks on the trail that represented our “burdens.” Each of us picked up about 4 or 5 different rocks, big and small, and kept hiking.
“How long are you going to carry these burdens?” Todd asked. I tossed mine to the side right away, letting go easily. Some people held onto them for a while! I think we can all relate to this – we carry things with us from the past, not wanting to let them go. We are afraid that if we stop worrying about it, we will lose control.
Or maybe if we let it go, we will actually have to step into our power and life purpose, which can be scary. What is it costing you to hold onto toxic thoughts and patterns? Well, I realized it was costing me A LOT – my joy, creativity, self-expression, and self-love. Once you let go of what no longer serves you, you open yourself up to amazing possibilities.
Amazing Experience in Just a Couple Days
Overall, this Sedona retreat with SpiritQuest Sedona Retreats was an amazing experience. Our group ended the trip with a beautiful sunset dinner at Mariposa, which means butterfly in Spanish. #symbolic #transformation :)
It was cool to see the personal transformation amongst each of us in only a couple of days. I am grateful for the experience I had here in Sedona. The people, places, and amazing sunsets inspired me to heal. I was able to transform and shift into the woman I am meant to become as my 30th birthday approached.
Leaving Sedona with a deeper sense of who I am, and why I am here with an abundant, healthy dose of self-love. I am departing knowing that I am “f***ing powerful.” This trip allowed me to release what no longer serves my relationships, purpose, and self-love. I am ready to move into my 30s with power, confidence, and grace, knowing that joy is my natural state!
Trials Turn Into Strengths
Turning 30….daunting? Exciting? I am embracing it. I know that even when I am 60, I’ll be rockin’ it. As I reflect on my 20’s, I feel gratitude, compassion, and nostalgia. It was a decade of discovery, feeling into my soul’s purpose, and stepping into my true self. I made countless mistakes in love and business and yet, there was so much gold in those “failures.” Through those trials, I was strengthened. As I fell, I became even more rooted in what I stand for and why I am on this planet. I am reminded of the quote, “The deeper the roots, the better the fruit.”
After this three-day retreat, I am learning to let go and trust. I am discovering that everything doesn’t have to be “known” or be “perfect” because there is divine perfection in all of it. I loved my Sedona Experience.