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This story was published before Summer 2021, when we launched our new digital experience.

This Is the Buzziest New Trend in Mindfulness

One writer tries manifest coaching, the latest wellness workshop at the spa Mii Amo in Sedona, Arizona.


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“Are you feeling it yet?” my driver, Kevin, a clean-cut fiftysomething in a sharp black suit, inquires as we approach Sedona. “The energy up here is completely different.” The only transformation I can sense is the one before my eyes, as the desert has suddenly exploded into a majestic formation of red mountains rising into the glowing Arizona sky. “See that?” Kevin says, pointing to one of the buttes. “You’re looking at a very powerful energy vortex!”

If Sedona is Disney World for New Agers, with its aura-photography salons and crystal shops, Mii Amo spa is the Shangri-La of self-care. Located next door to its sister property, the family-friendly Enchantment Resort, Mii Amo offers alternative treatments in an intimate setting; it has only 16 guest rooms, and they book up far in advance.

Guests are advised to pack athletic clothes if they plan to hike or work out. Otherwise, everyone floats around in matching robes and beatific expressions. I’ve come here for three days of rest, relaxation, and woo-woo wizardry, including manifest coaching, the spa’s latest wellness workshop.

On some level, I’ve been preparing for this trip for the past decade, ever since a friend returned from the spa and told me about the best massage of her life, a body-exfoliating treatment that culminated in a kindly man lifting her up in his arms “and rocking me like a baby.” More recently, a friend who happened to be at Mii Amo the week before me, predicted, “Your dreams will be weird. Something to do with the energy?”

Mii Amo guests choose from a carefully curated menu of “journeys,” such as Manifesting Peace and Joy, which I’m slated for. Unlike most types of therapy, which can spiral into endless, mysterious detours, manifestation takes a straight-shot approach. A client identifies a single, concrete desire—more money, say, or a better apartment—and a healer helps her attain her dream through a combination of meditation and action. There is an undeniable appeal to this mix of magic and practicality.

Model-actress turned manifestation coach Lacy Phillips regularly holds lectures and speeches at New York City wellness mecca CAP Beauty and has ceased conducting private work, directing aspiring clients to her videos, which are packed with uplift and ’60s art-film chic. Los Angeles–based coach Eve Shpak charges $22,000 for her six-month course.

At $4,500 for three days, Mii Amo’s course is a comparative steal, and with its multidisciplinary focus on everything from vision-board making to massages, the program aligns nicely with my goals. I am not here to manifest a new car or a boyfriend who looks like Timothée Chalamet. My aim is to tame the panic that rears up amid uncertainty and to find steady happiness in my newfound freedom since having been laid off six months ago. Can a frenetic writer morph into a manifester of her destiny in three days?

I can’t think of anywhere better to try than Mii Amo, home to a delightful confluence of loopiness and luxury. Yes, there are past-life regression workshops as well as morning meditations in a grotto smelling of wet earth and burning sage. However, should you not be in the mood, you can also do nothing but lounge by the pool, listening to birdsong and gawking at the surroundings.

The cornerstone of my schedule is a quartet of manifestation workshops with Mona Polacca, a Native American spiritual elder whose lessons focus on the four stages of life—childhood, adolescence, adulthood, and elderhood—each of which coordinates with a direction on the compass. We start with East, or birth, and move clockwise to North, elderhood. Listening to Polacca, it becomes clear that my current predicament is a tiny bump on a long road. “People focus on material things, but they must focus on their own strengths and abilities and knowledge, and apply that to what they’re seeking,” she tells me after the South session, in which she showed us how to greet the sun and make offerings to the earth and water.

My schedule also includes five spa treatments selected by a Mii Amo planner with my “journey” in mind. I’m usually too antsy for meditation, but when a kind woman named Ashiko Rupp leads me into the grotto and talks me through visions of birds, bears, and my octogenarian self, gardening among butterflies and anemones, I am overcome by the sense that everything will turn out okay. That night I have a strange vision, in the form of a dream about floating around my former office in a protective bubble of chewing gum.

The private yoga class, held in my room the following morning, yields a lesson as profound as any. My instructor, Tamara Faust, guides me through a series of poses and talks about maintaining equilibrium. “The body will guide you,” she tells me as she tucks my right hip into triangle pose. “Remember, darkness serves a purpose. It is there to show you something, but you need not succumb to it.”

Twelve hours later I’m still thinking about her words. I share them with Lynette Bazzil, the Reiki master who will administer my final treatment before it’s time to head back to the real world. Bazzil, who looks like a silver-topped Cameron Diaz, assures me that I have nothing to fear. My energy, she declares after a quick body scan, is great.

I climb onto the treatment table and close my eyes, focusing on how sound I feel at the end of three days here. Have I manifested eternal happiness? Or is this sense of bliss about to burst? Catching myself tilting into the familiar grooves of anxiety, I push myself back into the moment. If there’s one thing I’ve picked up here, it’s the power of positivity.

Bazzil works her hands over me and I feel nothing. Incredibly, though, the inside of my knees start tickling and a warm rush courses through my body. When Bazzil finishes, the only muscles I can activate are those in my smile. “Something happened,” I finally manage. She fixes her eyes on me and replies, “I know.” Three-night packages from $4,500, all-inclusive.

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