Camping in a Spiritual Vortex (Sedona)

Camping gets us in touch with our primitive self, connecting our present being to primordial ancestors of aeons ago. We lie under a vast array of stars, hyper-aware of surrounding energy. The words in our mind become less cluttered, and we are left with more feeling and intuition than we are with complicated thought.

Camp in Sedona, and you add an extra spiritual element to the equation.

Sedona is known for its mystical vortices, locations with a concentration of etheric energy. Psychics, occultists, and artists are all drawn to the Arizona town, and there is no shortage of overpriced crystal shops.

But what makes Sedona especially inspiring are views like these:

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Where to Camp in Sedona (with a tent)

You may either:

  • Select a developed campground such as Manzanita.
  • Go off the beaten path to the dispersed camping sites (Send us a message on Facebook to learn more).
  • Backpack West Fort trail and set up your tent 3+ miles in.

If You’re Looking For a Tent

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Pictured above is our Embark 2-person dome tent (click this link to get it for only $60).  We’ve used this tent over and over and over again. It’s a great one to have for casual camping and for a quick set up. It has 5 stars on Amazon, probably because of its durability and reliability.

Also check out our previous article, It Takes One Tent to Rule Them All for a review of three different tents (including the Embark).

Free Prayer Flags

Into the Mystic

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It doesn’t take much to have a spiritually uplifting time. A few candles, incense, and a meditation bowl may be all you need. The most important factor, of course, is your state of mind. Here are a few techniques to try:

  1. With your eyes closed and while you’re sitting, scan your body. You may actually imagine a light from a computerized scanner passing up and down your body. As the light passes each section of your limbs, abdomen, chest, head, etc., bring your awareness fully to each of those sections. Changing your point of consciousness is incredibly grounding, and take time to do so carefully.
  2. Recite a prayer. One great one is the Peace Prayer of St. Francis. It reads as follows:

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace; 

Where there is hatred let me sow love;

Where there is injury, pardon;

Where there is doubt, faith;

Where there is despair, hope;

Where there is darkness, light;

and where there is sadness, joy.

       3. Practice this Loving Kindness Meditation from Sylvia Boorstein.

A Final Note

Be sure to check out Huckaby Trail. This is one of our favorites. It’s a moderate hike, about 2.5 miles in (and then 2.5 miles out). It has a rich diversity that makes Sedona so great; fantastic views of red rock formations, the creekside forest, towering ocotillos, an abundance of prickly pear cacti, snakes, lizards, blue jays, quails.

Here is a shot taken on the trail:

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Dogs are welcome, though be sure to pack lots of extra water! A hydration bladder will help in this endeavor. Click here for one that rocks and is inexpensive.

Many blessings from #HMPYG and from Django, our most handsomest mascot.

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#HMPYG is Donating $ to Spread Transcendental Meditation

Our Donation to Spread Transcendental Meditation

In our latest philanthropic ventures, we decided to make a significant donation to the David Lynch Foundation (DLF). Usually #HMPYG donates 10-15% of monthly site commissions to various nonprofits (WWF, GoFundMe campaigns, Kiva, to name a few). This month, 100% of commissions are going straight to DLF.

To be totally honest, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to support this at first. At times, Transcendental Meditation comes off as a gimmicky profiting scheme. Classes are hundreds of dollars (depending on your income). It’s a registered trademark, and there have been legal actions against people using the name.

The Beatles song, “Sexy Sadie,” is rumored to be about Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, the founder of Transcendental Meditation “technique.” In one of the verses, Lennon purportedly speaks out against some of what was going on:

We gave her everything we owned just to sit at her table
Just a smile would lighten everything
Sexy Sadie she’s the latest and the greatest of them all

According to journalist Bill Harry, “Sexy Sadie” was originally going to be titled “Maharishi.”

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Why We Are Getting Behind This

So why are we donating funds to the David Lynch Foundation? It actually has to do with the points above. We feel that meditation should be a technique available to all, without cost. The David Lynch Foundation is working to provide no-cost meditation training to schools, prisons, people who have endured trauma, hospitals, clinics. Meditation is a powerful tool that rewires the brain, and is effective for a variety of conditions.

I use music therapy with youth that have been abused/neglected/separated from their families. I use meditation techniques often because it is one of the proven ways to activate the prefrontal cortex (structure near the front of the brain). This leads to less impulsivity, more regulated emotions, regulated physiological functions, and less stress. This is because there is a neural pathway that goes from the prefrontal cortex back to the basic parts of the brain, managing various emotional and addictive behaviors.

So in conclusion, the funds will be put to good use. In simple terms, it will make meditation training available to those who need it.

Lastly, I want to thank everyone who has made a purchase through our site.

Continue Your Support!

Consider continuing support by picking up a few pairs of sunglasses for stocking stuffers or just to have. If you haven’t heard, SunglassWarehouse is hooking us up with the code HMPYG20 to get 20% off your purchases site-wide. Click here and then use the code at checkout. All shades are sexy, and all are under $15.

Affordable sunglasses.

I got the Desert aviators, and I’m incredibly happy with this acquisition. The lenses don’t get all scratched up. Seeing through them doesn’t make me feel like I’m on an acid trip. The lenses do pop out if you’re not careful, but pop right back in. All in all, they’re great glasses.

Stay shady, and stay harmonized!

Six Extraordinary Outdoor Photographs

Six extraordinary outdoor photographs, all by five insanely talented photographers.

Before we dive in, here’s a little disclaimer: unless you’ve been studying and practicing for years, you can’t take photos like this. I learned this after I recently bought my Nikon D3100 Digital SLR Camera. And don’t get me wrong, the camera is a fantastic starter instrument. I quickly realized, however, I don’t know what the hell aperture or an f-stop is. Knowledge and practice is crucial. I have a newfound respect for photographers, because it really is an art.

Here are the masterworks of the pros, in no particular order:

Elias Butler | Flagstaff, Arizona

Lightning strike the North Rim of the Grand Canyon and Eli Butler is there to capture this brilliance. This isn’t his only photo to feature strikes of lightning, it’s a recurring subject of his work. Not only is it amazing that he has the timing to snap these shots, it’s also admirable because monsoon season in Arizona is relatively short. This leaves a small window to get incredible photos like this one.



#Note from Steve@HMPYG: try using the discount code SANDMAN >>>

I believe that the code is good until 7/30/2017


Sarah Alvarez | Vancouver, Washington

Mount Rainier can make the soul beckon for Washington State with its beauty and elegance. A snow-capped glory in a pool of stars, this scene tantalizes the eye with nocturnal wonder.

Raul and Sarah Alvarez were previously featured in our Nine Stunning #NaturePorn Photos article. Their portrayal of natural settings is masterful. If you’d like to take shots like this, buy yourself a Nikon D750 and study for a really, really long time.

Elias Butler | Flagstaff, Arizona

I was going to limit this feature to only pure, natural landscapes, but I’m a sucker for petroglyphs. The primitive markings are mysterious, delightfully archaic, and are representative of Southwestern native culture. Even in areas where they are preserved and featured in a touristic manner, you still experience a sense of ancient discovery that resonates within. The span of time, the larger Colossus of eternity, they dwarf you, and you’re left a lone leaf in the infinitesimal cosmos.



Frank N. Hornyak | Reddick, Florida

Bears in Florida? The Sunshine State isn’t just all gators and pelicans.

Frank ran into this furry beauty serendipitously. Like the professional photographer he is, he was fully prepared for the sighting. Frank Hornyak’s subjects are usually beautiful hummingbirds, but this deviation is a great addition.

Frank was previously featured in this #HMPYG article.

Lina Stock (Divergent Travelers) | Duluth, Minnesota

These ice formations seem unreal. This was shot in Alaska, a destination that should be on everyone’s bucket list. The expansive ice plains, towering glaciers, and abundance of interesting wildlife make way for an incredible trip.

I remember being told a brief story about a lady on a cruise ship. The ship’s destination was Alaska, somewhere this woman had never been. The ship set sail for six days, and all was relatively tranquil. Upon its arrival, the woman stepped out on deck to look upon the beauty of Alaska. She was so deeply affected, so overwhelmed, she jumped ship and plunged to her death.

So here’s my suggestion: Please do visit Alaska. Please don’t forget to take your medication with you.

 Follow Divergent Travelers on Instagram!



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 #TravelTip from Steve@HMPYG: Rental cars are cheapest in Vegas, L.A., San Diego, Miami, Tampa, and Philly.


Jessie Richards (#MuttCalledScout) | Alberta, Canada

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We always appreciate a photogenic dog. Scout is a majestic pooch with eye-catching features, from his gray face to rich coat. He’s a traveling mutt who is seen here enjoying the scent of fresh pine in Alberta. He has many more photos that can be mused over on his Instagram.

 

Thanks for reading! Come check out #HMPYG’s Pinterest page and follow!

HMPYG.com is Helping a Farmer in Cambodia With a Loan

We’re always looking for opportunities to help the world in some way. Tem, a Cambodian woman/leader/farmer has asked for help financing a tractor for her farm.

Using the painfully slow internet we currently have in Puerto Penasco, Mexico, we were able to send a modest loan out to Tem and her team. This was made possible with the fantastic work being done by Kiva, a nonprofit aiding women around the world with capital. In addition to Tem’s loan, HMPYG has made a donation to Kiva to help support operating costs.

According to Kiva, Tem is a rice farmer from the Mondulkiri province. She has three children to provide for, and must do extra work outside the farm to make ends meet. She needs a tractor to plow rice and increase crop yield.

Tem’s campaign may helped be supported through this link.

On an entirely different note, if you live in the Southwest and haven’t visited Rocky Point, Mexico, what are you waiting for?

Follow #HMPYG on Facebook and Twitter to stay up to date with Tem’s campaign!

On Being a Therapist

  A 21 year old man screams, shouting that no one will ever understand the hurt he feels from being conceived from rape. He’s been a targeted murder victim over five times. His voice is starting to strain from over three hours of yelling.

  I stand to the side, interjecting that we should take another walk. He’s standing over his girlfriend, continuing to yell as she lays on the couch ignoring him.

  This is how our session began, and it will end with him walking off in the distance. I’m not sure whether he’ll find a place to stay, go back home later and make amends, or kill himself somehow. Such is the experience of a therapist. No matter what I see, however, what I feel will never amount to the lifetime of excruciating experiences people like him endure.

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Casual weeping/reflections/Threnody for the victims of hiroshima/Ultimate beauty

  Two of the greatest things you can do is help others and live temporarily in the wilderness. As I sit in the backseat of a Jeep, I think about the pines we’ll soon be sleeping under. My wife points out that a song playing on the radio is about domestic violence. My mind returns to the ugliness of the day prior, where clumps of hair laid on the floor because of escalated emotion and ferocity. I start to weep, a single tear leaking from my eye. My wife wipes it, thinking it’s eye irritation. I point out yucca plants along the road to shift my flow of thought. 

  As a therapist, I have to make sure I write down these experiences. I have to watch my drinking, making sure my imbibing isn’t the way I’m coping. As a lover of spicy bourbons and smoky mezcal, this can be tricky. I have to meditate, I have to exercise, I have to set limits, and I have to continue actively finding the beauty in life. 

  Being around the harsh realities of the world, you begin to really understand cacophonous music. Take this piece for example, titled for the victims of Hiroshima:

A lot of people hate this piece. I find catharsis in it. We need art like this to feel understood. The squeals and disharmony are a direct reflection of pain. Pain that’s like a pummeled eagle with mangled wings.

  I love being a therapist. I would never have made so many intimate connections otherwise. Intimate connections that are like flowery blooms on a desert cactus. The therapeutic relationship is a basis for organic growth, and ultimately beauty. Whether it’s a song I worked on with a client, watching them get excited for the first time in weeks, or simultaneously admiring a rap video, I smile, and they smile. Whatever pain that precedes us, there is opportunity for healing ahead.

Desert Ecological Experiment or Tourist Trap? (Arcosanti)

The I-17 in Arizona connects Phoenix to three notable cities: Flagstaff, Prescott, and Sedona. These three destinations are each incredible in their own right. You experience majestic views of red rock, peaceful pine forests, and hundreds of hiking trails.
On the way North, you pass by an unnoticeable exit, Arcosanti Rd. This leads to Arcosanti itself, an experimental desert community developed by the brains of Paolo Soleri. Soleri was an Italian architect who came to Arizona to study with the famed architect, Frank Lloyd Wright. ASU architecture professor, Jeffrey Cook, describes Soleri as a visionary:

“He was part of a flock of utopian dreamers who designed mega-structure cities in the 1960s, but he had more of a social and ecological agenda than the others.”

The goal of Arcosanti is to “actively pursue lean alternatives to urban sprawl based on Paolo Soleri’s theory of compact city design, Arcology (architecture + ecology).” (arcosanti.org)

If you read Soleri’s writings, however, you are left with a sense of confusion and bewilderment. It sounds like he’s trying to say something grandiose, but I’m not really sure the relevance. Here’s an excerpt of one of his writings:

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Visiting Arcosanti, one gets the feeling that its goal is to sell expensive bells. The walls are lined with them, and they each have a price tag.

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Strange bronze castings are up for sale, too.

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Tours also come with a price tag. They’re advertised in pamphlets distributed to lodges across the region. Two-week seminars are held at Arcosanti for $1,075. Granted, you also get dormitory accommodation and food, but it’s hard to imagine someone not benefiting financially. In fact, president Jeff Stein was compensated over $60,000 in 2015. Not bad when you combine that with other writing and public speaking gigs, having travel expenses paid, and having your home paid for (he lives at Arcosanti).

Nevertheless, the development is intriguing. One wonders how much waste we could control if ecology was a top priority in architecture. We’re constantly producing garbage, wasting resources, using toxic chemicals, and practicing poor ecological habits in our homes. It’s truly admirable when anyone tries to tackle these issues. Yet there is still only one Arcosanti in the midst of millions of conventional homes across America.

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The Must-See Destination in Phoenix, AZ

This August is going to mark my sixth year living in Phoenix/Tempe. When I moved, I was a Long Island transplant, not really sure how long I’d spend here. With a beautiful wife now at my side and lifelong liberation from raking leaves/shoveling snow, it’s looking like forever I’ll stay. In this article, I’ll share with you the one location that captured my soul and kept me living here.

Recently, as I was getting ready for a camping/fishing trip up to Bartlett Lake (80 minutes from Phoenix), I was stopped by an out-of-towner. He was here for the NCAA Final Championship, taking place in our great city. His question was simple: where should I go?

I dropped my kayak in the truck bed and thought about this for a moment. What defines the Arizona experience? What can’t you miss if you come here only one time?

The obvious answer is the Grand Canyon. But if you’re limited to just the Phoenix area, there’s one destination not known to many tourists. Even people who live here take it for granted. It’s not some hip Mexican restaurant. It’s not the Musical Instrument Museum (even though that’s cool as s#*t). It’s the grandest and most pleasant sight you can find within the 50-mile radius.

The McDowell Mountain Regional Park

Local Phoenicians may disagree with this. Don’t listen to them. The McDowell Mountain range was the experience that made me fall in love with this area. Though technically located in Scottsdale, it’s considered part of the greater Phoenix area. It’s home to a wealth of various hiking trails and networks. If you like crowded and cramped trails, you’re better off heading to Camelback mountain. But if you want to experience beauty and freedom, head to the McDowells.

The Hohokam gathered here over 500 years ago. Now the surrounding area is a magnet for the wealthy and affluent. The trails vary from easy to wheezingly difficult. When at a high elevation, you have your choice of two sublime views. Look to the west, and you can see the entirety of Phoenix, bustling and buzzing like a giant electric circuit. Look to the east, and you witness the vast empty stretches of desert that extends for miles and miles. Look in either of these directions, and you might undergo a mystical transformation that I myself have been through.

…every time I took a drive, I was drawn into the scene of the setting sun illuminating eastward mountains. I later learned that these were the McDowell Mountains.

I was never much of a hiker back in NY. How could I be? I lived on the south shore, where the most strenuous walks were on the sands of the beaches. But in general, I wasn’t even that physically active. I had a few gym stints, took one fitness class, and probably kept up a routine for eight weeks at best. It didn’t look like this would change in Arizona, where one of my first destinations was In-N-Out Burger. But every time I took a drive, I was drawn into the scene of the setting sun illuminating eastward mountains. I later learned that these were the McDowell Mountains. I did some research, grabbed a backpack, and drove out to roads I had never seen before. It was 5 a.m. and the world was quiet. I stepped out of my car, and had no idea where I was going. I took a wrong turn and my hike seemed to be done after .4 miles. Determined to reach greater heights, I turned around and ventured deeper into territory unknown to my cognizance. I spent the next few hours in awe, my body numb to the agony I was putting it through. Fast forward, and I spent the next few years going from trail to trail, park to park, mountain to mountain. I got to be immersed in the glory of love with my wife in Havasupai. I spent countless hours in solitude bonding with my dog on slabs of rock. My life was transformed, and it started with the majestic McDowell Mountains. I know this all sounds like subjective biased nostalgia. Maybe it is, but you’d have to find out for yourself.

For your convenience, I’ve narrowed down three trails with varying characteristics…

For popularity and interactive exhibits, check out GATEWAY TRAIL

For silent contemplation surrounded by beauty, check out LOST DOG WASH/QUARTZ TRAIL

For challenging your hiking fitness and endurance, check out TOM’S THUMB TRAIL

  Hopefully that college basketball fan was able to go out and find these trails. Maybe he got too drunk at the game and went back to Ohio in regret. I’ll never know, but at least the Tar Heels came out on top. In any case, if you find yourself in Phoenix, make it out there for your own sake. Your heart and your mind will thank you.

…here it is, the gorgeous behemoth herself…

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