I’m just returning as a guest speaker at Red Mountain Resort near St. George, Utah—a beautiful and magical place meant for restoration, relaxation, health, and fitness. It was my kind of gig. My “job” was to join in daily hikes with the guests, do various talks related to Soul Health, and generally be available as an expert to promote my Soul Health Model whenever possible. I offered to do an optional “Living Through the Soul” meditation to provide yet another way to deepen the guest’s experience, which turned out to be a huge success for those who attended. Although I didn’t really have a lot of free time, I did wonder whether or not this was “work”, especially as I was able to finally relax in a hot tub at the end of the day, gazing at the full moon in the sea of stars above me following my evening presentations.
In my time at Red Mountain, I met some amazing people from all over the country, many of whom I am certain to foster long-term connections. I never tire of people’s stories, and talking to “strangers” always confirms that the human condition can dole out all sorts of combinations and permutations of challenges. Several of the staff also had interesting tales of what brought them there, but most of them had been happily employed for several years—often nearing two decades of Red Mountain bliss (which always says something about a place, if you ask me…). The trail guides (aka, trail angels, as I call them since they offer everything from information about the native surroundings, natural formations, and plant life to providing tissue for a runny nose, a lookout for “bio breaks” beyond the bushes, or bandages for an unfortunately-timed blister) sometimes offered the most colorful stories, both about their own lives but also relating to events that occurred on their watch along the mountains and valleys. Apparently, some guests can provide quite the opportunity to test their skills and limits.
The common theme at a place like that is one of healing and recharging from life—or the human condition as I put it. In my mind, it is the perfect place for a therapist to hang out. I even told one of the staff that I would gladly accept a position as the resident holistic psychologist if it meant waking up to those amazing red sandstone monoliths every day. In the meantime, I plan to create my own retreats and workshops for guests, which was also one of my agendas while there. (For more information, see www.soulhealthtravel.com )
As many of you know, my Soul Health Model addresses the 10 key branches that I have found to be important in balancing our lives. I taught the main concepts of this model the first night I was at Red Mountain, and throughout the weekend several guests approached me to talk further about their “trees”. Many had instantaneous “aha” moments that helped them clarify the next steps in life, and many said they were able to understand how the “storms” of their lives had affected their wellness according to their retrospective look at which branches went limp. It was an extremely affirming few days as I witnessed these lightbulbs go on for folks, and many thanked me for giving them a framework in which to reconfigure their lives.
As a conscious being myself, I couldn’t help but notice my own shifting awareness while there as well. Those who know me would say I’m an extremely focused and disciplined “worker”, always striving to better my life as well as those of others, busy pretty much all the time, and often getting myself in deeper than expected with projects, workload, etc. In other words, I’m not all that different from many people. But in this role as a guest expert at an amazing and well-known health resort nestled gently against the backdrop of magnificent examples of the power of Mother Nature, I found myself feeling more than a little… well, guilty. I didn’t feel like I was working at all! I felt like somehow I was getting away with something—playing hooky and just pretending that I was putting in my time. But the truth was, I was doing what I have coached many people to do for years— to find what one enjoys doing and do it unapologetically. This is how you know you’ve reached optimum health in that particular branch of the tree. I don’t know how many folks I’ve worked with who have accomplished this, but I know it was the conversation about it that gave one bank executive the permission to quit her job (even without another one lined up), only to find an even better opportunity 3 months later. It also gave a young professional who was terribly bored with his work the invitation to pursue his first love—a music career. And it also shifted a young stay-at-home mother to decide to follow her childhood dreams of becoming a physician, even in her mid-thirties. Of course, all of them had some obstacles to clear in the process, but they reached a new level of intellectual-occupational health that balanced out much of the other branches of their tree.
So why was I questioning the value of my work at the health resort? Why didn’t I think I was making enough of a difference educating and coaching others out in the field (literally!) compared to the consciousness I could instill back in my therapy office? How could I count this as serving the world when I was so completely enjoying the process?
The answer is my own Soul Health. When I look at the model, I can see how well-nourished and “fed” my tree was over the weekend. I had 4 days to hike (physical and recreational) amongst incredible works of nature (environmental), enjoy stimulating conversations (intellectual/occupational) with amazing people (social and interpersonal), appreciate what God or Universe (spiritual) had provided as an expense-free (financial) opportunity. (I suppose all I would have needed to round out the tree was a handsome cabana boy to bring me a Desert Rose—aka Prickly Pear nectar—Margarita and join me in the Jacuzzi—but no such luck.)
My best friend’s father used to give me hard time when we were young professionals, asking “Are you working hard or hardly working?” These words kept drifting through my awareness as I floated my way through the weekend. As I was leaving the resort yesterday I was a super chatty happy girl. Not only was I ready for the next adventure, but I was also brimming with a major fix of the west. I really can’t wait to create specialized trips to help transform others’ worlds at Red Mountain, allowing them to sample the sweetness of a place to gain clarity, get some rest, and absorb some truly amazing earth energy.
So, although I go back to “work” tomorrow, I also return with a full appreciation and gratitude of a well-fed soul. Thank you Red Mountain. And thank you, Mother Nature—you rock! (No pun intended… )