Just breathe: On being alone and surrounded by dogs and flies in Sedona

Just breathe: On being alone and surrounded by dogs and flies in Sedona

I really did not want to think about yoga while I was on my birthday vacation trip to Sedona. But, the thing I didn't want to think about was the first thing that came to mind when I found myself alone in the Red Rocks surrounded by dogs and flies.

On my first day at the resort, I took myself exploring in the trails. I took a crazy turn somewhere and ended up on Deadman's Trail. I couldn't remember if the sign at the front entrance said if this was an easy trail or not, so I just kept going. I didn't see any dead bodies, so it must be cool.

After about 20 minutes of walking, I came to a spot that looked like a nice place to stop and take it all in. I had been traveling all morning and going, going, going for the last couple weeks (maybe my entire life)-- at what point was I going to just stop and be?

I sat down on the rocks and all I could hear was the wind and birds. No one was coming along the trail behind me, so I truly felt all alone. The sun was hot and it was just me and nature. I sat and listened to what stillness sounds like and tried to stop myself from thinking about how I shouldn't be thinking.

Then I heard the buzzing.

One fly and then two.

I'd shoo them away, but they'd come right back. One was extremely persistent and kept landing and crawling on me. I'd shoo, she'd land. We went on like this for a couple of minutes. Clearly, my approach was not working. Then I remembered something I read, or maybe heard in yoga class. To be fully present is to not be influenced by any outside factors. Be still. If you feel an itch, don't scratch. Don't move.

So, when the flies came back, I sat very still. I let them buzz around me and land on me as they pleased. I just breathed. Then I imagined, what if these flies were my parents? What if this persistent fly was my mother, trying to talk to me and hug me? Does she deserve to be swat at?

I surprised myself. I don't like things crawling on me, but I was able to bear it for a little while. I talked to the flies in my mind for a bit. Then --ish got real.

A big, black dog came running up the path (I know "big" is subjective, but anything bigger than a cat is big to me). He stopped and stood off to the side, just looking around. Moments later, a second, nearly identical dog came running up the path. Dog #2 decided to walk up on me. Now, I don't have a dog phobia, but it's a little scary to be that close to two strange dogs in the middle of nowhere on a trail called Deadman's.

I can feel my heart rate elevating and the whole time I'm thinking, "Be calm. Breathe. Change your energy waves because dogs can smell fear." I've got my eyes closed doing deep breathing when Dog #2 decides he wants to sniff me. I slowly reach my hand out to pet the top of his head and pray that whosever dogs these are hurry the hell up.

Finally, two women on bikes come hurling up the path. The dogs run ahead again. I thought the women would at least give me a head nod or say something like, "Sorry our big, scary dogs surrounded you; they're friendly!," but no such luck. They rolled on and I made my way back down the trail.


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