Why is Sedona such a healing place? How do travelers benefit from nature? What happens to the nervous system when we are in nature? What plants in the area are medicinal? Are there nature excursions that I can participate in?
Sedona’s Magical Landscape
Sedona, Arizona is a magical high desert along the southwestern rim of the Colorado Plateau. Sedona’s landscape embodies secret waterfalls, precious wildflowers, hidden cliff dwellings, delicate cryptogamic soil types, and towering buttes (some reaching up to 1000 feet into the air). The brilliant yellow green lichens, and majestic red rock scenery are a sight to behold. The orange/red color of the rocks is one of the most neuro-stimulating of all colors. There are more than 200 trails covering over 400 miles of terrain in Sedona. The beauty is that many of these trails are rarely traveled thus creating a sense of solitude and an appreciation of the wilderness. So, what happens when travelers allow themselves to venture into the hidden pathways, canyons, washes, nooks and waterways of Sedona?
Neurological Benefits of Nature
Spending time in quiet serene settings in nature has been linked to a whole host of benefits. First and foremost, it reduces stress, improves attention, enhances mood and calms the nervous system. When stress hormones are reduced, blood pressure is lowered and the immune system improves. The mountain air gives our bodies a natural boost. In fact, one study by Gregory Bratman of Stanford University demonstrated that participants who walked in a natural setting showed increased activity in the subgenual prefrontal cortex (an area when deactivated is associated with anxiety and depression). As a result, spending time in nature positively impacts our moods.
Impact of Nature on Mood
Spending time in nature returns us to relaxed state in our parasympathetic nervous system. Unfortunately, we spend too much time in the fight or flight state of our over-stressed daily grind. Walking in nature has been shown to reduce adrenaline and return us to homeostasis. Moreover, some studies have shown that time in nature reduces risk factors for mental illness by improving acute and Chronic stress, allowing for better sleep and a reduction in anxiety. Negative ions in the natural environment balances neurotransmitters and helps reduce headaches and other maladies.
Healing Power of Sedona’s Indigenous Plants
Not only does Sedona offer the scenery, solace and fresh air, but there are many indigenous plants that have healing properties. At the top of the list is the local Cat’s Claw. Cat’s Claw is one of the best anti-viral herbs to boost the immune system and fight infection. It is a natural treatment for arthritis, allergies, diabetes, chronic fatigue and cancer. A second favorite is Prickly Pear which helps to balance blood sugar, the juice soothes the digestive tract, while the pulp inside the pads helps heal wounds such as burns. Next is Mormon Tea which has long been known for its ability to help with colds, kidney problems and urinary tract infections. Another favorite to mention is Agave, not because of its delicious syrup but because Agave has antibiotic, antiviral and fungicidal properties. Last to mention is Jojoba used for pulmonary problems, anti-inflammatory for mucous membranes, also used for colitis, ulcers, hemorrhoids and sore throats.
These are just a few of the many local plants offering medicinal support. It’s interesting to note that 60% of medicines we have today come from native herbs, according to Vaszily, who is the owner and director of the science and environmental education company, The Science Eye.
Nature Has the Ability to Soothe and Heal
So, whether your purpose is to reduce tension in your life, turn off your fight or flight, increase your mood, or explore the native plants, it’s clear that nature is healing. Here is a list of 10 ways to enjoy the outdoors:
1) Go for a hike in nature.
2) Take your bike out for a spin.
3) Put your bare feet right on the Earth.
4) Set aside time to feel the sunshine on your face.
5) Go foraging for mushrooms or local herbs.
6) Watch a sunset.
7) Take a dip in the creek.
8) Collect wildflowers.
9) Visit local, state, or National Parks.
10) Go on a retreat with a guide in nature.
Services to Enhance Your Nature Experience
There are many local companies in Sedona who are available to be your guide while out in Red Rock Country. These guides are invaluable because not only do they provide the history and geological information of the area, but they assist in breaking through emotional and spiritual blockages. Sedona is known for its community of practitioners who specialize in techniques and insights for self-growth and self-help. In contrast to standard mental health therapy, many practitioners offer somatic therapy which is more about body-oriented modalities such as breathwork and meditation.
Self-Care & Personal Growth in Sedona
The best way to reach a balanced lifestyle is with a holistic approach. How are your thoughts? Do you maintain a positive attitude? Do you watch your diet and monitor your hydration levels? Do you live in a victim-mode? Is there resentment in your life? Do you feel stuck or lost? Do you have a sense of purpose? How are your relationships? Do you live in self-blame? Do you feel connected and part of a community? These are just some of the questions that practitioners can help with. The quiet and serene mesas, buttes, nooks and canyons of Sedona are wonderful places to dive into deeper questions for self-growth. Sedona is the perfect place for soul-searching and expansion of consciousness.
Quest for Your Spirit
Since 2007, SpiritQuest Sedona Retreats has assisted visitors to Sedona. Whether it’s adventure you are seeking or bonding with your friends & family, or if you need to go deeper for self-nurturance, SpiritQuest Sedona guides are experienced facilitators of profound experiences in the Vortex energies of Sedona.