Sometimes the best way to replenish one’s mental health reserves is to get away from it all for a while – discover new sites and reconnect with the inner you.
To put this notion into motion the Center for Spiritual Living, 575 N. Main St., is sponsoring a one-of-a-kind “Spiritual Journey” to the sky city of Acoma and Canyon de Chelly, with award-winning Native American musician, Randy Granger, whose 2013 release, “Strong Medicine” soared high on New Age charts, is still a regular staple on Sirius Soundscapes and was nominated for Best Native American Album by the Zone Music Reporter. The journey will take place over four days and three nights, Tuesday July 22 through Friday, July 25, 2014.
Included in the trip will be luxury coach travel, accommodations at the Sky City Casino Hotel Resort and the Sacred Canyon Lodge, as well as tours, concerts, drumming circles and plenty of opportunity to slough off the cares and worries of the work-a-day world.
“As I tour around the country as a musician, I meet a lot of people who tell me that they think my music is very spiritual,” Granger said. “They find it very uplifting. When I’m writing my music, I don’t necessarily think in those terms, but I’m glad that people are finding something in it to help them.”
This spiritual connectivity to the world around him is one of the very reasons Granger was first attracted the Center for Spiritual Living, where he is now a regular attendee and performer. He makes it clear, however, that he doesn’t necessarily adhere to any particular religious affiliation. In fact, he sees a very clear delineation between the spiritual world and the religious world.
“I recently heard on NPR that more and more people consider themselves spiritual, rather than religious,” he said. “I think, far too often, the word religion comes with the baggage of judgment. Spirituality is a more personal way of exploring your connection to whatever higher power or source you believe in. There isn’t any judgment involved.”
For Granger, this journey to ancient lands cherished by native peoples is an opportunity not just to make new friends and introduce them to both his music and a simpler way of living, but also to stretch his teaching and meditation muscles. As facilitator of the journey, he will lead meditation exercises in the mornings, to prepare his group for the day ahead, and in the evening, to ease them with relaxation afterwards. All against some of the most spectacular backdrops New Mexico has to offer.
“I think one of the major benefits of learning to meditate is to reduce stress,” he said. “If you look at the top ten causes of illness and death in the United States – heart disease, smoking, obesity, diabetes – you find that they are all linked back to stress. There have been a lot of studies about how meditation can help people with coping skills, pain management and improving sleep without a prescription and without side effects. My hope is that, not only will the people who come with us on this journey learn something about the land we live in and their part in it, but also come away with better coping skills that they can use in their everyday lives.”
Conceived by tour guides Pat and Cindy Breedlove, who have over 25 years experience conducting tours all over the world, this particular trip holds a little more meaning for them.
“We’ve always done pleasure travel,” Cindy Breedlove said. “We have an awesome group of travelers who have been all over the world with us, but this is the first time we’ve had a facilitator like Randy. It just seemed to be a perfect match. We’ve taken groups to a number of southwestern sites and these are just a couple of our favorites. We think his flute and drum music will be amazing 370 feet up on the Acoma mesa and down in Canyon de Chelly. It was made for that.”
Of the many experiences the couple are hoping to share with travelers on this particular journey, one they are most excited about are the group tours.
“We will be doing individual group tours of 4 to 7 to the bottom of Canyon de Chelly as part of the trip,” Breedlove said. “In Acoma, there will be small group tours up to the pueblo on top of the mesa and a three quarter mile walking tour around the top of the mesa. All lodging, programs, concerts, tours at Acoma and camera permits, private tours at Canyon de Chelly and rim tours, are all part of the package.”
Other highlights, according to Breedlove, will be a drum circle led by Granger in the big outdoor amphitheater at the Sky City Casino and Hotel, where the group will be staying, and a concert on the final night at the bottom of Canyon de Chelly.
“These are very special sites and Randy is a very special guide,” she said. “It’s a unique opportunity that is not real costly, but our objective is to have an experience that is very worthwhile for all who are going with us – a real southwestern and natural experience, with special music, through Native American eyes. Opportunities like this just don’t come along very often and, in the end, it’s for a really good cause.”
In fact, this particular journey is something they put together in order to better serve the community they live in. Current members of the Center for Spiritual Living, the Breedloves would like to raise enough money to provide the building with some much needed renovation.
“They could use a larger kitchen,” Breedlove said. “And a little TLC in other areas.”
Though he has only recently become acquainted with the Breedloves, Granger was attracted to their philosophy and entrepreneurial spirit, leading, he believes, to a meaningful and hopefully long-lasting connection.
“What I’ve learned about the Breedloves is, no matter where they live, everywhere they go, they jump in with both feet and get involved trying to make change for good in their community, they connect with as many people as possible,” he said. “They’re just really great at networking and meeting people. And they’re really lovely people themselves. I feel very honored to have been invited into their circle.”
As an indicator of the Breedloves’ dedication to this principal, Granger points out that 100 percent of the funds raised will go toward renovations at the Center. Even so, he said, this trip shouldn’t be thought of as strictly a church function.
“We’ve been reaching out to anybody with an open mind, because we feel they would benefit most from a trip like this,” he said. “This journey is really for anybody with a willingness to experience something different, to unwind and to reconnect.”
With only 47 seats to fill, at a cost of only $450 per person, chances are good this trip will sell out fast. For more information or to book passage for the Spiritual Journey, call Cindy Breedlove at 202-0885, before July 15.
A shorter version of this article originally appeared in the Health & Well Being section of the June 27, 2014 issue of the Las Cruces Bulletin. All rights reserved.