Stress, exhaustion, confusion and even fear gripped me as I boarded a flight to Sedona. 

It had been an overwhelming period of 15 months. I lost my father and my cousin, and went through profound ups and downs in business. I was unsure what my life purpose was at this stage and questioned whether I’d ever fulfill it. Without realizing it, I was starting to break down.

Sedona is a special place to my family. My wife and I fell in love with the Arizona town years ago, got married there, and gave our daughter the middle name Sedona. Being there helps me  “detox” from life’s craziness. After all, it claims to be the “most beautiful place on Earth.” But I had never visited alone. Nor had I done anything like what I was about to do: a three-day self-discovery journey with a company that promises to take your soul on an “adventure.”

I’m not religious, but do consider myself spiritual. I feel that a spiritual world exists, including some sort of “afterlife,” even if I can’t know exactly what it is. That doesn’t mean I believe every claim about the soul or spirit. I have no idea whether Sedona’s famed “vortexes” actually provide some sort of mystical energy.

In a journal, I wrote, “I sit on a flight to Sedona by myself with a willingness and hopefulness this trip will give me the clarity I’m looking for to move into this next stage of my life with optimism and purpose.”

Releasing tears

The next three days certainly were adventurous. During orientation, I chose a stone to connect with and state my “affirmation and purpose” for this journey. Having something to hold helped me concentrate on what I wanted most: to release and unblock whatever was holding me back, and give me clarity moving forward.

I soon discovered that each session was a form of therapy. In “Embracing Your Passion,” a guide helped me try to dig up memories from childhood. I told my younger self that “we” turned out to be a good person, and that everything was going to be OK. I shed a few tears, so I knew it was touching something deep within me. 

A hand analyst read my palms, and talked to me about much more — how life is filled with learning, and I’m getting a double major in the schools of wisdom and love. She discussed the importance of emotional authenticity, particularly for leadership.

A guide took me on a “vision quest” through stunning canyons, and helped me learn about three of the biggest fears people often struggle with in life: abandonment, being unworthy and being unloved.

In “Stepping Into Your Soul’s Purpose,” a guide conducted the Enneagram personality test. I had to rate how strongly I hold certain beliefs, including whether I consider myself to be “enough” and “deserving.” He also hooked me up to a bilateral brain stimulator to allegedly allow for a more free flow of emotions. As that ran, I shared emotional memories. Afterward, I provided higher ratings for those core beliefs.

Insight into the human condition

At one point, a medium supposedly helped me communicate with my father. Nothing she told me made me suddenly believe in ghosts or feel that she had some sort of unique knowledge that only my dead relatives could have provided. But I enjoyed the conversation. I felt that I was opening up to him, and telling him how much I loved him. 

Through all of this, my inner skeptic remained intact. But I realized that I didn’t need the spiritual elements to be literally “true.” All these guides deal with so many people who are struggling, and their insight into how we operate — and how we can improve — is powerful. 

I could feel myself processing and letting go of pain and fears. So it’s no surprise that, in a session called “Inner Journey Breath and Sound,” when I was supposed to engage in loud exhales, my voice began to crack. I moaned as tears streamed down my face. 

The three days flew by. They did change my life, but the experience is not, on its own, transformational. It’s the start of something: a new chapter, in which I live with a new sense of self. 

I came to understand that my purpose for this next chapter of my life is to help others achieve whatever success means to them — whether in sales, business, or other parts of their lives. To use my experience overcoming roadblocks to help people do the same.

I also left with a profound sense of gratitude, knowing how privileged I am to be able to have such an experience.

As I headed back to my world, I felt more clarity, optimism, and purpose — and ready to take on the next stage in my life adventure.