It seemed the mopey American teenagers walking in front of me didn’t realize that being in the Arches, in Southern Utah, could be a once in a life time experience. They were playing video games on their phones. I was walking on a rusty red trail, to one of the great wonders of the World, alongside hundreds of other humans. Complaining old ladies talked behind me, about the sale at their local mall when they returned back to Kansas. I was in a heightened state. I had been planning this month-long, solo road trip for a few months. This was the quest to say Goodbye to my Dad, since I didn’t go to his funeral. I’d wanted to go to his funeral, in fact, I had planned it, organized it, picked the music and sent out the guest list, all besides him on his death bed, but at the last minute, my mother canceled the whole thing. She vetoed every last wish of his. At the time, the rage I had for her took dominance over the grief I had for him, hence the reason for an adventure in the desert. I had to create my own funeral for my Dad, out there in the wild majestic stone forms. I wanted to pray, and cry, and celebrate the man who loved and raised me.
When the screaming child up ahead began to be scolded by her parents in loud Italian, I gave up on the thought of listening to the sounds of nature and pulled my headphones on. It felt like I was the only one having a magical experience in that extremely powerful spot, so I let some drum ’n bass trance music escort me up the paprika stained path, not tourists’ mundane dribble. The two rock-windowed arches grew more magnificent the closer I got.
I took a right at the fork, toward the North Window, and headed up the stairway.
The stone arch was like a portal, or a large doorway into another area. People standing next to it looked tiny. It felt like a cathedral, yet shaped in the silhouette of a bird. Morning sunbeam flares landed on my face as I took it all in. The bass-drum-pulse pushed at my heart rate, as my mind listened for remaining echoes of native people’s ceremonial drum.
Scampering up the rock stairs I entered through the bird-shaped doorway. It was other-worldly, but loud, obnoxious humans were splattered everywhere— clogging the trail, filling the valley, up on the rims— tiny specks moving like ants on the very tip of cliff edges.
‘How would it feel to be alone here?’ I wondered.
There seemed to be an overall ignorance of how sacred the place was. I sat on a rock and closed my eyes. I wanted to just be. My body was buzzing. Pulsating. Awe swelled in me, to the point that tears pushed their way up from my belly, and brought a sprinkling of goosebumps. Sweet-salty tears of gratitude— not everyone gets to see this kind of majestic monument in their lifetime.
Since my dad had died, I’d been extra focused on appreciating the details, I think it is one of the greatest gifts that death does for us, it turns up the volume on the precious. I also experienced my normal extra-sensitive state of seeing auras, empathically feeling people’s moods, and my synthesia sensory cross-overs were more amped than ever. Feeling the vibration of stones, trees, and clouds had profoundly impacted my spirituality, and the ability to taste colors, and hear flowers was always second nature to me, but with the intensity of losing my father, the quantum field felt more present than ever.
The majority of folks focused on just one thing—selfies. They walked- posed, walked- posed, walked- posed, then left. Some of them only stayed under five minutes. They also seemed to have an urge to yell, which most people succumbed to, as if they couldn’t enjoy the beauty of the landscape without filling it up with their own voice.
I watched a large group of young adults from France, with what looked like their teacher or coach. The seventy or so teens huddled on the side of a cliff slope, as their leader let loose huge rage. He was furious at them. I don’t speak French, so I could only guess what he was mad about, maybe some had run off to make-out? Or smoke out? Had he lost a few of them for a while? His volume and grotesque facial expressions, combined with spit flying onto the sand, helped me surmised that he was highly disappointed in the lot of them. They barely paid attention. Even through my headphones, I heard the barked commands bounce off the stone. I turned my music up.
Squinting my hazel eyes smaller, I opened my third eye wider, and scanned the horizon. I was searching for the sign of where to go next. I spotted an energy orb, glowing yellow like a neon sign, pointing me where to go. It was around the rim on the opposite side of where I was sitting.
Happy to leave the screaming coach, I descended into the bowl. Passing obese Americans and clusters of tours from Japan, I spotted a walking stick on the trail, taller than me, with a forked split at the top. I’d been holding my favorite crystal, a Lemurian, which I’ve had for 20-some years, and I just knew this crystal was going to fit perfectly on top of that stick. Wedging the base of the crystal into the wand’s head, its tip pointed toward the sky, I felt the rush of connection with the elders who’ve walked there before. A sense of medicine people and wise ones from many generations. It felt as if I was holding a microphone, or an amplifier for my crown chakra antenna.
Once down into the bowl, the trail lifted up. I climbed the orange-red rock, stepping higher, until I left sand for solid rock. I found the spot, right on the edge of the cliff. Looking back was quite a different perspective; I could see that well over three hundred people were there. I set my wand against a shrub, and breathed deep, I grounded. I planted my feet and stood in starting position.
It was time for Qigong, time for prayers. I began my practice. Qigong hands moved slow. My monkey mind quieted. With my headphones off, I could hear three teenage girls the next cliff over, mocking me, laughing at how weird I was.
I breathed deep, gathered a ball of Earth energy, and bathed myself. I scooped down Sky energy, slowly, as if gathering a cloud, and my mind calmed even more. I felt the warmth from the rock beneath me and heard whispers in the mellow breeze. I felt so peaceful. It was calm. I sank deeper into my breath….in….out….in through the nose…..out through the mouth….in through the nose….then abruptly! Without warning— a wind gust crept up the side of the cliff and Bam! hit me square under the chin. I was stunned by its power. My footing was certainly tested, but I was good, luckily I was rooted on the edge of that cliff, and did not stumble or fall backwards. I began my slow motion moves again when a second burst came, even stronger! I heard it roar up the cliff, and land right on my face. It was fierce— yet purifying. (This time though, I backed away from the edge a bit.) The desert gusts continued to build in strength as I slowly rotated my body, exhaling at a snail’s pace to the right…. holding my ball of chi…. breathing in and rotate calmly to the left. I heard a crow squawking over my shoulder.
I exhaled, turning again, and gently opening my eyes. What I saw— was the strongest punch yet.
The 70 French teens, the bratty crying kids, the mocking teenagers, the old grandmothers from Greece, and Kansas, and Italy were all gone. The place was cleared out. My breath skipped a beat or two.
I was the only one there.
‘Am I dreaming?’ I caught my breath and completed my Qigong with eyes open. I felt rage and bitterness and judgment striped off of me by the wind.
Before the trip, I’d been afraid of the heat, of the harsh climate, of being there in August. But after finding my staff and feeling the wind jabs, I released my doubts. I felt safe and protected. I imagined elders, tribes people there on that cliff many, many moons ago, and saw that crow looking at me straight in the eye from one ledge over. I gave her a nod, took my own selfie, and enjoyed the walk back through the bowl in total solitude.
Qigong doesn’t always have the effect of clearing out a whole crowd simultaneously in a matter of minutes, but… it does have the effect of clearing out static in my brain, and anxiety from my nerves. If I allow myself to be present in my practice, I feel the effect, the clearing, as the day all the tourists vanished.