A Desert Journey

The Mii Amo spa in Sedona, Ariz., is famous for packages designed to lead people through a spiritual as well as physical transformation. One writer relinquishes herself to the journey and recounts her days in one of the world's most beautiful destination resorts.

BY Rachel Dowd

January 06 2009 12:00 AM ET

 Mii Amo Watsu x390 (publicity) | Advocate.com

Monday

Wake up at 6 a.m.
and head to Sunrise Yoga thinking I’ll need to step
it up -- it’s been a week since my last
class. But it’s gentle and forgiving, so I let
go of my expectations and self-judgment and just
stretch. Afterward, I head to the Crystal Grotto. I write
the day’s intention (apropos of this
morning’s class, I choose “surrender”)
and drop it into a woven basket before entering the
Grotto. The temperature is cool and the air feels
suddenly crisp. A woman enters and leads a short
meditation before bathing those of us meditating in burning
sage. Off to breakfast outside on the patio -- tofu
scramble with tamari, toast, and coffee -- where I
meet two men who are at the spa with their service
dog, Finney. Water aerobics in the pool behind us seems out
of place somehow. I lose the neck pain that’s
been bothering me for weeks during my cranial
treatment, though I fall asleep through most of it.
After a light lunch, 90 minutes of oils and crystals applied
to each chakra makes up the foundation of the mii amo
spirit massage. As the therapist begins to describe
the essence of each chakra, Technicolor flashes appear
before my closed eyes. No falling asleep in this one! The
flower bath of rose petals and salts is luxurious, though
hardly as illuminating as the mii amo. The thearpist
drops desert larkspur flower essence under my tongue
for “graceful passage” before giving me
Voices of Flowers by Rhonda Pallas Downey so I
can learn how to use flower essences to heal. Dinner with a
new friend, Amy, who tells tales of healing retreats
in Thailand. Tonight on my pillow is a spray for
pillows and linens made from essential oils like ylang
ylang, sweet orange, and lavender.

Tuesday

Start with the
morning with Sunrise Yoga followed by meditation in the
Grotto. Today’s intention: honesty. After a pancake
breakfast I’m off to Tarot Reading, which is
both delightful and depressing. “You need to look
in the periphery for what you seek,” the
reader says to me. “Move the expectations
aside and allow for other possibilities to feed your
hunger.” Is this a translation for
“You’re not going to get what you’re
going for, so change the plan?” The thunderbolt card
bodes well for my career; the dreamer card leads to a
conversation about stress, abundance, and integration.
I pick the conditioning card, which pictures a lion
tethered to a group of lambs. The reader tells me that
the lion has been raised by these lambs and he
doesn’t know how powerful he is until one day
he sees his reflection in a creek. Now he knows, but
he’s chained to the lambs. “I never say
this,” she says slowly. “But I think you need
counseling.” “That’s what my therapist
says,” I answer. But she’s not laughing.
Yikes.

Off to Watsu,
which sounds like something like shiatsu in water. The
therapist is a beautiful silver fox with an accent that
sounds Norwegian. Light rain begins to fall as he
explains that during this treatment “we are
going to be very close. At one point I’ll ask you to
straddle my legs.” How bad can this be? As he
begins moving me around a heated pool -- alternately
stretching and cradling me -- I suddenly realize I’m
back in the womb. It feels like I’m flying.
Suddenly I am nothing but potential. My chakras begin
to illuminate like a light show; pressing the back of
my occipital bones sends a shot of blue light up my neck. As
he spins me in a circle, I see red. Pure joy. As we
finish, he guides me toward the side of the pool. I
stay crouched to keep my shoulders under the water. I
open my eyes slowly, and he’s watching me. Behind him
the red rocks loom, and the sun has begun to peek out
of the clouds. I wish we could start over. I am
transformed. Later that night, Amy says she
hadn’t expected him to be that good-looking.
“A little unnerving,” she says.

Tags: Travel

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