Refresh body and spirit with nontraditional Arizona spa treatments


Looking for a spa service different than the usual massage, facial, or wrap? These three treatments, available in the Phoenix-Scottsdale area in Arizona, are just that. Each appeals to those willing to consider that the universe offers truths and powers that can be enlisted and drawn upon, if we’re open to it. With me so far? Okay, cue the New Age music, and I’ll tell you more.

The Talking Tree Reading at the Golden Door Spa at The Boulders Resort, in Carefree: During the 60-minute session, shamanic ceremonialist Razel Wolf, of the Twisted Hair Medicine Path, uses a wheel of life and interprets symbols — runes — to provide the self understanding that allows one to begin mapping a future. The reading provides insights designed to “align power and ease” and to “create beauty and power.” Yes, I know, sounds like a bunch of malarkey, but I found the experience quite fascinating and eerily dead-on in many areas of my life. I drew the stones, she explained the meaning, interpreted what it might mean in my life, and how each balanced with previously drawn runes. It was instructive and illuminating, without being invasive. She encouraged me to take notes during the session, and each time I reread them, I find new insights and possibilities.

Vachk, the pond, water-based treatment, at Aji Spa, in the Sheraton Wild Horse Pass Resort, in Chandler: Pima Native American healer Belen Stoneman refers to herself as a Baby Elder. Tribal elders recognized her healing gift when she was a child, and they’ve guided her since, helping her cultivate her innate abilities. Water is of vital importance to the Pima and Maricopa peoples who own this resort, and Stoneman designed the private and quiet watsu pool — the pond — where this treatment takes place. During the 80-minute treatment, Stoneham gently rocked me in the water, using rhythmic movements and light massage techniques. I was bended, and stretched in ways I didn’t think possible; my body relaxed, my mind quieted, and both mind and body floated, suspended in what I can only describe as a womb-like peace. I was left with a complete sense of relaxation and calm combined with an acute sense of mental clarity.

CalmQuest, with former NFL player Damien Vaughn, at the Westin Kierland’s Aji Spa, in Scottsdale: Vaughan credits his professional football career and his successes in life to daily meditation, and he has built a career helping professional athletes and others learn to use the techniques to improve. My two-hour session introduced me to the power of meditation, its scientifically proven benefits, and its stages. We talked about setting goals, the principles of meditation, and the secrets to doing so successfully. Now I’ve tried it before, and I always get bored after a few minutes. Vaughn explained that I had to persevere, that it takes 30 days, with a minimum of 30 minutes twice daily, to rewire the brain. We ended with a guided 30-minute meditation, and I did feel calmer afterwards. I’m determined to master the technique, but I’ve yet to do so.

Photos: Each is courtesy of the host resort
Top: The Boulders Resort; Middle: Pima Native American healer Belen Stoneman, Sheraton Wild Horse Pass; Bottom: Damien Vaughn, Westin Kierland

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