The writer attended a 9-day sacred sound healing course in Colorado, USA. Some names have been altered. This is part 1 of a series of 3.
A day flying across continents and hundreds of miles later, I find myself deep in the bowels of America. Not quite Middle America, but close enough. Flying into Colorado was a sobering sight. Apart from the stunning Rocky Mountains, the rest of the landscape was depressingly flat from above: dry farmed land dominated the view as far as the eye could see.
From Denver airport, a two-hour shuttle bus ride would bring me to the Sunrise Ranch, a spiritual and wellness retreat centre run by The Emissaries of Divine Light. If the name sounds odd, it’s because it is. I was about to attend a sound healing intensive conducted by an authority on the subject who channelled Shamael: the angel of sacred sound. Over nine days and amid vocal toning, chanting, singing bowls, tuning forks and harmonic overtones, I was to look forward to raising my vibrational energy and experience personal transformation and spiritual immersion though the power of sound.
Along the way, our driver was candid yet somewhat bitter as she shared that some US$6.2 million was earned in a mere two months after the state legalised marijuana. But nobody knows where the money went. We drove by plots and plots of houses with $700,000 mortgages and hardly a front yard to call it a home. Husbands were working two, even three jobs at a $4 per hour wage to make ends meet. Houses were built and then laid abandoned. Debt had become the new means of slavery.
Throughout the journey, D, who sat with us on the bus, chatted excitedly with a gleam in her eyes about angels, guides, Pachamama and Mother Gaia. She had saved 6 months just to be with us on this trip. She introduced herself to us as a sound healer. I struggled to keep my skeptical mind neatly under wraps, and nodded in enthusiasm as we talked more about Kuan Yin, Jesus and finding your own path towards God.
We arrived at the ranch, and clues from a cultish past began to piece together like a jigsaw in my mind’s eye. I had done my research, or perhaps, overdone it to a fault. Colourful offbeat characters from a David Lynch movie loitered around or presented themselves to me and I was suspicious of each and every one. Rooms could not be locked. Toilets were communal. Our room booking was messed up — deliberately or not? At every step, I was scanning for signs of an errant past: what happens when a mountain community is left to its own devices. I was convinced of a certain degree of brainwashing ahead.
“I have to stay vigilant, grounded and focused. I must not be turned,” my mind warned, no, begged me as my poor beating heart paced with increasing anxiety.
“Don’t drink the KoolAid,” my American friend Micah later jested online. O-kay.
“We need to rent a car,” I stressed in urgent tones to my sole companion. It would afford us mobility should we ever need escape, and the chances of that happening were looking higher by the minute.
We dialled a yellow taxi to the nearest township of Loveland and what came to our rescue but a singing cowboy. We were lucky he said, when he pulled up 20 minutes later. A taxi here would usually take 45 minutes on average to arrive.
It was depressing. Almost as a sign of the certain doom ahead, all three car rental companies led us to dead ends: no insurance; out of cars; closed. We treated ourselves to a somewhat comforting Thai dinner feast found via Yelp, lashed out our fears and frustrations over a bottle of Prosecco, then headed back to the ranch. Tired, but not yet surrendering in spirit or will.
I left the light on as I curled up in foetus position that night in an upsetting smog of unfamiliar smells and sounds. It was not even Day One.
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