Experience

Sedona Cure

By Randy Fridley

Randy Fridley in Sedona, Arizona

Randy Fridley in Sedona, Arizona

Millions of seekers visit Sedona’s vortexes each year looking for a cure for troubled spirits or diseased bodies. They drive to one or more of the easily accessible “big four” vortexes (Bell Rock, Cathedral Rock, Airport Overview, or Boynton Vista) and make the short hike hoping for something unique. I visit the known vortexes too, but I was healed of a terminal diagnosis on the hiking trails in Sedona. Three places along the trails spoke to my body and spirit through resounding words and scenes that I believe will do the same for others. I offer that knowledge here for those desperate for a Sedona Cure.

I was living in Florida when my disease, pulmonary hypertension was diagnosed by one of only three specialists in the USA on Hereditary Hemorrhagic Telangiectasia at the Medical College of Georgia in Augusta. Tiny malformed blood vessels in my lungs were leaking and making my lungs too stiff to breathe normally. I was huffing and puffing just taking out the garbage. I had a battery of medical tests. The progressive nature of the disease gave me a prognosis of about two years to live. When I told my family that I wanted my ashes scattered in Sedona they were shocked. “You haven’t even lived there and you want to spend eternity there?” they asked with some disbelief. Well I had wanted to live here for years, but life got in the way. Surely death wouldn’t have that power. So we moved to Sedona quickly so I could live my final months in the place I loved doing as much as possible of what I enjoyed most, hiking in the Red Rocks.

During the weeks and hikes that followed a miracle began to happen, and I could feel it. I hiked for eight months and found many special places, but three places in over eighty trails called me back over and over. I received nature’s treatment along these trail segments and in two follow up visits to the Mayo Clinic in Phoenix during ensuing months the tests that were used to follow my disease no longer showed signs of the disease. This is something that doesn’t happen in pulmonary hypertension. You don’t get a cure. The Mayo Clinic dismissed me a patient. I was cured.

The trail segments where I found healing are as follows:

If you take the Big Park Trail and link up with the Courthouse Butte Trail there is a segment that starts at the Wilderness Area and ends at the intersection of the Bell Rock Trail. This is beautiful country with incredible scenery and I feel the healing every time I navigate this trail segment.

If you take the Huckaby Trail to the segment that overlooks uptown Sedona and the distant red rock horizon you may receive the same clear healing euphoric rush I feel there every time.

And finally, if you ascend the Brins Mesa Trail from the Jordan Road Trailhead, get on top of the mesa, hike to the intersection of the Soldier’s Pass Trail and continue, you will come to the descent point where you look out over a vast vista of Sedona and Red Rock Country. This is a healing place also.

Three thoughts began to layer over each other each time I hiked the noted places. They are clear, brief phrases that I understood right away. They are life directions for getting the most out of whatever I had left. Here they are:

No Burden Irks. I was getting irked at little things. The time I spent upset over nothing was time I couldn’t get back and was a waste of precious life. Here are a couple of examples. My wife leaves the toothpaste tube uncapped. I have to clear the smudge and recap the tube. She also leaves the car with an empty tank and low fuel light, and I have to fill the tank when I’m in a hurry. These things and similar things would irk me; disturb my peace for a while. That’s time lost to a negative feeling. I couldn’t afford it anymore. I didn’t have much time. Who does?

Appreciation is the Gatekeeper of Positive Emotions. It only makes sense, the more you appreciate things, the more you will feel appreciative and the better you will feel. It works. And the expression chanted in my brain as I hiked the special trail segments. Try it.

Only Love Tells. Words speak words. When you really love, people know it. When you don’t, they know it. Love tells on itself. The message was to let love tell on me. Make sure that the people I love know it.

So now you know some special places and thoughts to find healing for your troubled spirit or diseased body. Give these trail segments a try and see if you don’t find something special. I’m betting on it. I bet you find other places and inspirations just by getting out there.

The author holds several degrees in Education and Science. He is a retired Marine Squadron Commander. After ten years in his second career as a Physician Assistant, Lt.Col. Randy Fridley published his first novel, Sedona Women, based on his appreciation for Hospice nurses and his love for Sedona. He moved to Sedona in 2009 and soon published Zoomie, his second novel, based on his experience flying combat missions in Vietnam. His inspiration for writing comes from his many travels and his experiences with personality typologies. In his career in medicine he worked in areas of Family Practice, Gastroenterology, and Women Health. He and his wife, Dr. Linda Roemer, live in Uptown in Sedona. “Sedona Cure” won the grand prize in Sedona Story‘s “Sedona StoryFest” contest in 2011.

How The Call of Sedona Can Enrich Your Sedona Journey

Tree Meditaion from The Call of Sedona by Ilchi Lee

 

If you’re planning on visiting Sedona and haven’t yet read Ilchi Lee’s The Call of Sedona, you might consider doing so before you arrive. And even if you’re not coming to Sedona soon, aren’t you curious as to why it’s been on bestseller lists across the country, including the New York Times? When you read it, you’ll see why.

Praised by both visitors and long-time residents alike, it’s a treasure trove of information about Sedona’s exceptional energies and their counterpart in the human experience, grounded and balanced within heartfelt personal experiences and ancient philosophy, and loaded with wit, wisdom, inspirations, and specific ways to open to Sedona’s powerful opportunities for spiritual progress and personal growth. In fact, it’s a great guide for such goals no matter where you live!
One of the book’s main messages is the importance of interacting more deeply with nature. Why? Such activity is parallel to, and considerably eases, the effort of going within ourselves more deeply.
TIP: Communing with nature is so much easier in Sedona.
Here are just a few inspiring ideas from the book to help you on your future journey of the heart.

Can Nature Help Us to Understand Life?

Did you know that our ancestors observed nature in great detail and used that knowledge to survive? Come on, you might be thinking, I live in a very different world and I don’t have to hunt for dinner.

And you are correct. However, modern life has probably also obliged you to work in a building with artificial light and recycled air, endure long commutes and, aside from home plants and maybe a backyard seldom used, provided very little time for contact with nature except maybe during weekends. Maybe.

You’re anxious to get out in nature, where Sedona’s highly charged energy is most powerful, hike, breathe in the stunning scenery, maybe meditate, and get in touch with your spiritual self. Maybe you’ve been asking yourself, “Who am I, really?”

So Let’s Get Started.

  •  Find a spot on Oak Creek.
  •  If it’s a warm day (or maybe even if it’s not), slip off your shoes and dangle your feet in the water. Swish your feet around and feel the water flowing around them.
  •  Now sit quietly and meditate – either actively or passively. The point is to clear your mind. There might be irritating things jangling around in your head – problems that you wanted to leave behind.
  • Now focus on the creek’s water as it rushes over and around the rocks. Notice how those irksome thoughts are fading.
  • Listen to the sounds of the water as it gurgles and swooshes over every obstacle in its way. Notice where a twig or stick is stuck dancing in a tiny gully. Sit long enough to watch the water finally dislodge it and wash it downstream.
  • Notice that the water’s momentum – or perseverance – and its ability to find a way around something – or flexibility – are key to its success in getting to its destination – or goal.
  • And if there isn’t an obvious path to its goal, it makes one – in its own creative way.
  • Notice again the sounds the water makes as it collides with obstacles in its path. Beautiful, aren’t they? How different would it be if there were only silence, or slight sounds?

In the book, Ilchi Lee observes that, “Conflict is the source of creation. A life that avoids conflict never changes . . . We must live making sounds like the stream of water, not just making small, quiet sounds, but big, beautiful ones. We can produce beautiful sounds in our lives by colliding with obstacles.”
This little exercise is simple, but profound. Do you feel a kinship with nature, however slight it may be, arising within you? Can you see similarities between the water’s path and your own?

Talk to the Trees and the Mountains. Really.

Ever thought about doing this? It’s not just for granola crunchers. You can send your thoughts telepathically, but aloud might work better.

Stand alone among the trees in one of Sedona’s forests – on a mountain or canyon or on a trail. You might want to meditate a little. When you open your eyes, see that the trees are looking at you and not the other way around. Focus on those trees and not yourself. Empty your mind. One of the trees will appeal to you in some way. Walk up to the tree and touch it or give it a hug. You may hear the tree say something. Speak to it as you would a friend. Go ahead and give it a compliment. After you are feeling more comfortable, ask it a question. Don’t be surprised if you get an answer.

You can do the same with a mountain. Just focus on that mountain and speak with it, even from a distance, as you would a friend. Take interest in it and really focus on it as another being. Ask it something and be prepared to hear its answer.
Can nature take away your negative energy and maybe even give you advice? Yes, it can. See the book for another exercise about communicating with trees.

Feeling Energy

Here’s a quick exercise from the book (where it is much more detailed) that will help you to feel energy.
Sit straight with eyes closed; rub or shake your hands for 30 seconds. With palms upward, place hands on your knees and then raise them, very slowly, about five inches. Now lower them about three inches. Keep repeating this and focus on your palms. Be one with them. Imagine them receiving continuous energy from the air. You’ll notice a heavy feeling in your hands. That is energy.

Now bring your hands slowly in front of your chest with palms facing and two inches between them. Again focus on the sensations in your hands. Now move them apart a few more inches and back again. Repeat slowly. You will begin to feel an energy field between them. Imagine your hands linked with energy. Notice all the sensations you feel: magnetism, tingling, warmth, etc.

Such energy exercises will help you to become more aware of your body in a state of relaxed concentration, which will prepare you to respond more fully to the vortex energy and transformation of your body and mind.

As Ilchi Lee so aptly puts it in The Call of Sedona, “The experience of interacting with the earth connects us with a greater and more permanent power beyond the limited and finite self to bring us spiritual fulfillment and a sense of unity.
We say that the red rock mountains of Sedona, the souls of Native Americans, the juniper trees that are hundreds of years old, the eagle flying through the endless clear blue sky gave us a message, but actually it’s that with the help of Sedona’s energy, we have a meeting with ourselves in a state where our various defensive walls surrounding us have come down.”

 

Don’s Personal Experience at Sedona Mago Retreat

This past summer, Don arrived at Sedona Mago Retreat for the very first time. Recently, he agreed to be interviewed regarding his retreat experience. This is his story.


Don at Sedona Mago RetreatHow did you learn about Sedona Mago Retreat?  

I had a personal situation – my marriage had ended – and I was planning on going to Sedona just to get away and hike, and then I thought, why just go to a hotel? Why not try something more? After some research, I found Mago and it appealed to me, especially because I practice meditation and yoga several days a week.

What made you decide to attend a retreat there and which one did you choose?

There was something about Mago that attracted me.  After speaking with someone there on the phone, I was able to better understand the program’s intent. I knew nothing about Dahn Yoga and I didn’t know if this was for me, but I needed something life altering. I took a chance, cancelled my hiking plans, and decided to attend the Four Day Meditation Retreat.

What did you hope to achieve?

My goals were simple. Due to the chaos in my life, I needed to clear my mind and further enhance my meditation practice. Something was missing in my meditation, and I wasn’t even sure what it was.

Did you find out what was missing in your meditation?

Yes, thanks to Genia! She provided key insights into my practice to help me bring my awareness into focus. She recognized the problem – I needed to be centered. She centered me whenever possible and told me to focus on where my awareness was at the time.

What were your favorite parts of the program?

First of all, my instructor, Genia! She made it work. Couldn’t get enough of her and her teachings! The grounds were amazing – especially the Healing Garden. Also, as a vegan, and particular about what I eat, the food was surprisingly good.  Lastly, ALL of the staff had an incredible energy that emoted throughout my stay.

How did the Four Day Meditation Retreat help you?

It really grounded me. I was going through a difficult time, my life was in disarray, and the four days in Sedona helped me to leave much better off than when I had arrived. On the five-and-a-half hour drive home, all I could think about were all the good things I had experienced over those past few days.

The retreat also helped me to look forward and with no regrets. I’m looking at today and tomorrow now – my philosophy is today’s a great day and tomorrow will be even better. And I smile a lot more!

What is the most important thing you learned about yourself?

I’d never thought I could do something like this – to take the time to think through things and do something just for me, something to help me become a better person. I could never have done this when I was married. For years, I was faced with problems and stress at work, and then problems and stress at home. I finally had to do something for me, and something inside me said, “Try this.”

How are you integrating your new insights into your daily life?

I start every morning with meditation and, what’s more, I look forward to it – it’s a new day, a better day.  Genia gave me direction – to be in the moment by asking myself, “Where is my awareness?” I ask myself this all the time and it’s been very helpful.

How would you sum up your experience at Sedona Mago Retreat?

Very positive – and I can’t wait to return. In fact, when I did yoga at dawn on the grounds, I didn’t realize how dirty my mat got until I got back home.  But I didn’t want to wash the energy of that land away.  I wanted to retain any energy that I’d gained from Mago to be at home with me!

What more would you like to learn and what do you think is the next step on your spiritual path?

Aside from the fact that I still need to focus more, I’d like to learn how to deepen my meditation principles. I also want to learn more about yoga – especially Dahn Yoga.  Right now, though, I need to clear up some things, and it’s rough, but staying grounded is helping me a lot to deal with it.

What other realizations have you had through this retreat?

The best part is I’m not feeling stuck anymore. I feel like there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. I’ve also realized that I have a lot of positive qualities that I didn’t even realize were there.  I’m looking forward to putting my life’s disarray behind me.

Do you have any other observations you’d like to share?

Yes, I definitely plan on coming back. I’d heard a lot of things about Sedona and experiences people have there but, to me, Mago is Sedona Plus. As magnificent a place as Sedona is, Mago is special – and different.

And what’s interesting about my journey there is it wasn’t a good time for me to go when I did. There were many distractions going on, very tough problems to face, but it ended up being a really great experience. The retreat was not only helpful in helping me get through some difficult moments, but also became a life altering experience!

Was there anything at all that you didn’t like about Mago Retreat?

The only thing was that bumpy road. Did they ever grade it? It was horrible and I dreaded having to take it again when I left.  How about a heliport to get people there?

Don’t you think that road could be a metaphor for life, though – that life is a bumpy road sometimes but either we concentrate on every bump or ease gently over them in meditation?

No. It’s a bumpy road. How about a heliport? That would be a lot better.  Really.

Thank you, Don, for sharing this with us. We hope to see you soon!

It’s my pleasure – and I hope so, too!

 

[Trail of October] The Legendary West Fork Trail

Imagine a clear, bubbling creek flowing within a 1,000-foot deep canyon forest of lush ferns, flora, and trees and sculpted, overhanging rock cliffs with walls boasting finely layered red and earth-colored hues framed by a pure blue sky.  Fresh, cool air refreshes your mind, body, and spirit and you feel like a kid again, teetering and hopping over rocks to where the trail continues – until something catches your eye and you can’t shake the feeling that you’ve just spotted Tinkerbelle – or maybe even an elf scurrying behind a tree.  You’re in West Fork, probably the most popular trail in the Coconino National Forest and one of the top hikes in the whole country.

How To Get to West Fork Trail

 From Flagstaff: About 17.5 miles south on Oak Creek Canyon. The “Call of the Canyon” trailhead entrance will be on your right between mileposts 385 and 384.

  • From Sedona: Starting from the roundabout at the “Y” intersection of State Route 89A and State Route 179, go north for about 9.5 miles on 89A toward Flagstaff; the “Call of the Canyon” trailhead entrance will be on your left.

 Things You Should Know 

  • Difficulty: easy, mostly flat terrain along the creek, becoming moderate level around the 2-1/2 mile point.
  • The first 3 miles of the trail, you will be rock and log hopping at 13 creek crossings (and 13 on the way back since this isn’t a loop).
  • After 3 miles, the trail is not maintained and it’s bushwhacking time for hard-core adventurers; in cooler months, hypothermia is an issue because you have to swim to get to the next leg.
  • Elevation: minimal – from about 100 to 200 feet.
  • Hiking time: at 3.2 miles, about 2-3 hours round trip.
  • Hours & fees:  locked gates open at 8 a.m.  Until host arrives at 9 a.m., use self-pay system: $9.00 per vehicle or $2.00 per person walk-in fee.  Closes at 9 p.m. in summer and at dusk in winter.
  • Uses: hiking, dispersed camping about 6 miles from trailhead. Tread lightly on the land and leave it as you found it.
  • Dogs allowed but only on a leash.
  • Restrictions: no mechanized vehicles.
  • Facilities: restrooms and picnic tables only at the trailhead area. No water available.

 Special Tips

  • Take snacks or lunch, and plenty of water, and remember to always pack it out.
  • You’ll never forgive yourself if you don’t bring your camera.
  • If possible, wear shoes or sandals that grip on slippery surfaces.
  • Cover up for poison ivy and oak and bugs along the way.
  • A walking stick will help you navigate creek crossings; or look in back of the small building next to the parking area, where fellow hikers sometimes leave one behind.
  • It’s always cooler here, so except on the hottest days, take a light jacket or extra layer.
  • Fall colors are usually at their peak in mid to late October. 
  • You can park on 89A, though it is difficult to find a spot on the narrow highway, if walk-in fees ($2 p.p.) are cheaper than the $9.00 vehicle fee.

 Geology, Flora, and Fauna

  • Flora: Abundant diversity that includes a carpet of ferns, lupine, horsetail, colorful wildflowers, and ivy along the banks of the creek, intermingled with pine, fir, sycamore, maple, cottonwood, and oak trees.
  • Geology: Originally occupying the western edge of the massive Pangaea continent, these rock walls date as far back as 280 million years ago. They consist of mostly Coconino sandstone, which is predominantly reddish-orange and multi-layered with varied hues that include creamy or earthy tints to create a beautiful kaleidoscope of colors. Much higher up are layers of white Kaibab limestone. Sandstone easily erodes and nature’s hand has sculpted these walls and cliffs into beautiful curves and shapes and many short, tunneled passages.
  • Fauna:  In deeper points of the creek, there are sometimes trout and other fish.  Bird sightings may include the black-chinned sparrow and bridled titmouse to peregrine falcons, hummingbirds, tanagers, towhees, vireos, hawks, and other species.  If you’re camping overnight deep into the canyon, take precautions for bears and other creatures interested in your food.

Take a Break and Meditate

The gurgling creek, the cool, invigorating air, and the overwhelming presence of nature make West Fork a perfect place for meditation. However, due to its popularity, it’s best to come here in the early morning and during a weekday or off-season.  If you venture away from the creek, take care to tread lightly.

History

Pioneers found this area to be perfect for apple and fruit orchards in the 1880s.  After it was sold to the Mayhews in 1925, the area housed a completely self-sufficient hunting and fishing lodge for the rich and famous until 1968, including presidents and movie stars – even Walt Disney!  After the Forest Service bought it, there was an unfortunate fire that burned most of it down. Today, you can see the remains of the lodge and even the old chicken coops.

One of the guests, Zane Grey, wrote Call of the Canyon here at the Mayhew Lodge in the 1920s. Later, it was made into a movie that was shot in Sedona.

Options

There is another 11 miles to the end of West Fork Trail that requires wading, occasional swimming, appropriate supplies, and lots of bushwhacking.  For more information, visit Forest Service website or call 928-203-2900.