About a month ago I found myself in a situation. And the situation was this – I was burnt out. Capital B, Capital O. Two periods.
In an effort to re-light my fire, I decided I needed to flee the city, and go ‘find myself.’ And what better place to do so, than in a desert in Southern Utah. Obviously.
“Burn out, schmurn out”, you might say. “You’re in Silicon Valley. Being honest, if you’re not burning out I would really question your dedication to life.”
But the struggle, as they say, was real. I was spending long, sad hours in work, dancing the corporate two-step, followed by longer, even sadder, hours in the city, battling it out on the SF dating scene. I was stressed, making poor food choices, skipping exercise classes, plagued by feelings of shame, guilt and self-doubt and crying ugly tears in sushi restaurants (true story).
And then, one day, I snapped. This wasn’t right! Sushi restaurants are for eating and taking pictures of sushi rolls. I needed an intervention, and the only person who was in a position to intervene…was ME! (…although the waiters in the sushi restaurant were perilously close, being honest…).
Decision made, I rather impetuously booked myself into the Red Mountain Resort, in St George, Utah.
Red Mountain Resort is the perfect place for someone looking to take a break from it all, and reconnect with themselves. In fact, I have no doubt that it’s been designed as such. Situated in the small city of St George, the resort looks out onto a vast expanse of red desert and nothing more. Regardless of whether or not it’s the case, you get the distinct impression that you are in the wilderness, far, far away from everything that you’ve left behind.
Every hour of the day is filled with some kind of activity designed to nourish your mind, body or soul. You have daily guided hikes into the nearby State Park, Snow Canyon, exercise classes every hour of the day, biking, canyoneering, paddle-boarding, horse back riding, shelter dog walking. The restaurants serve clean meals only, not a french fry to be found (unless it’s sweet potato). They have an on-site spa, acupuncture, Louise Hay books in the gift shop, and for the more spiritually liberal you have the option of balancing your chakras and healing your soul using crystal bowls.
Being honest, when I first arrived, there was a tiny, skeptical, Irish part of me that was like ‘WTF?!! You want to color my psyche? Create balance in my energy fields?!”
And, know this, I’m like, already into personal development and general hippy shit. Angel cards, meditation, talking about your feelings in the pub – classic Michelle. But this all seemed like a step too far into the self-help realm.
And then, after one little walk into the desert that first day, I capitulated. I capitulated in a major way.
Over the course of seven days I hiked, I rapelled, I bouldered, I kayaked. I journaled, affirmed, mantra’d and balanced. I walked the meditation circle, marveled at the scenery, exchanged life stories, sought meaning and looked for signs of the universe speaking to me.
The result? Cynics (especially Irish cynics)- hold your tongues! But I actually felt like I had a genuinely spiritual, healing experience. After my week, I felt like something imperceptible had shifted in my brain, making room for just a little bit of peace and harmony.
Since coming back, I’ve spoken to a few people about my week. Hesitantly, with trepidation, and fear of slagging (ie making fun of), I started describing my experience. “You know I’ve never been to the desert before, but there was something almost…”, only for them to cut across me and finish my sentence; “Spiritual?!? I felt the same when I was there”. No word of a lie – this happened at least twice.
And it’s true, there’s something spiritual about the desert. When you’re out there, walking through the sandstone, you can’t help but feel overwhelmed by the sense that you’re truly connected to the earth and your surroundings. Now, be it because this is actually the case, or because you’re actively looking for something ‘more’, it doesn’t really matter. Suffice to say, when you get home, and you’re shaking the sand out of your hiking boots, you suddenly realise that you’re feeling just a little bit better about life than you did before.