Sedona Soul Adventures: the personal retreat, part 6 (deep breathing)


Of all the healing modalities I experienced on my Sedona Soul Adventure back in January, the one I REALLY must learn to master is deep breathing.




Because my body naturally wants to heal itself in exactly this fashion. When I surrender and finally allow my body to do what it already knows how to do, which apparently is deep breathe, all seven of my chakras spun like seven pinwheels with enough energy to light up NYC forever.


When that happened, I didn’t know what chakras even were (and I still kind of don’t).


Spirituality has always been something that I understand that I don’t understand and I get that. I am the kind of person who will dive headfirst into personal exploration without fear. Role play? Sure. Group improv? No problem. Hypnosis? Why not. I walked into every session on my Sedona Soul Adventure itinerary with a positive, can-do attitude because I really do want to heal and to grow.


Except this one.


Inner Journey With Breath & Sound.


Something about the title…I don’t know…this is the one session I felt little prickles of anxiety about. I had preconceived fears. FEAR? Who invited you?! What could you possibly be afraid of??? You’ll probably just breathe and listen to music, Rachel, you’re going to be fine, cut it out.


First of all, I just want to stop now and proclaim that Penny Elias is incredible. I love her. I wished we were best friends (recently I made her a BFF bracelet and so that is now a done deal). Penny’s home is beautiful, but it was her healing room that spoke to me. Penny hung grape vines wrapped in white twinkle lights around the room up high at the ceiling. It looks like a fairy wonderland.


deep breathing in Sedona


I guess I was afraid to breathe and, since that sounded dumb, I dove in headfirst (smart, right?).


When we practiced the deep breathing for the first time, it only took me five practice breaths before my hands started tingling in a very familiar way. Instantly, I was in that space of: are you having a PTSD episode? I was worried I might faint, I was worried I might cough uncontrollably and I was mostly worried that I was going to freak out and throw up. This is signifiant for ME because, as I mentioned above, I don’t have fear regarding any of the other million self help exercises I’ve ever tried.


Beautiful Penny laid me down on a long cushion, placed heated pillows under my knees, covered me with a blanket and put on some serious tribal music. Loud. The deep breathing feels weird! Because you have to open your mouth, relax your jaw, inhale so that the air hits the back of your throat in a big gulp and then exhale it out fast; at first I was reminded of what it feels like to be out of breath.


Immediately, my body started to tingle–my neck, my mouth, the top of my head, my stomach, my hands, my arms…


I began to think about how this is exactly how it begins when I get “sick” from PTSD, only I have no fear. It begins with this same sort of body tingle. Maybe I’m not sick, but my fear then makes me sick. Maybe my body has been trying to naturally heal itself all along by beginning to deep breathe and I resisted because I didn’t understand, thus preventing the healing my body requires.


At the same time I had that thought, the tingling sensation in my throat, mouth, heart, stomach and the top of my head changed into a spinning feeling–like little circles of energy spinning really fast, really hot and seriously vibrating. At that moment I knew intuitively:


Those are your chakras.


Open your mouth and speak the truth about what hurt you and you will heal.


You will heal if you breathe like this–tell people. Your body already knew how to do this, remember? Everyone told you to “calm down” and “stop breathing like that” because “you’re going to hyperventilate.”


I can’t stop my body, it’s too powerful.


At this point, my legs started to feel tingly like they were going numb. And I forgave everyone who had ever hurt me. Because I knew that I had agreed to it before I was born. And now that I know that, they can’t hurt me anymore. I began to feel like I am Mother Earth.


My son. In my womb. That’s when my body first tried to deep breathe all on its own. That was a gift from my son. He woke me up. He saved my life. Being a Mother is my most important role. I was going down the wrong path without my son; I was living for others to the extent where there was no room for me. My body rebelled against this and I fought hard against my body but my body beat me, my body won.


I’m supposed to deep breathe to heal my pain. All of my pain. Anything can be healed with deep breathing. My God I would love to show people how to do this, it is the secret universal medicine we all are looking for. I fought it as hard as I could to no avail. Deep breathing is in my DNA.


When you open your eyes after a deep breathing session (lasts anywhere from a half hour to ninety minutes depending on how focused you are), Penny Elias is the first person you want to see. Our conversations are deep, meaningful and oh so powerful. Not to mention, we wrapped the whole thing up with a two hour massage.


This one session totally changed me and that was immediately made clear to me. As always, I drove around after my session starving and confused. I thought that because I was wearing sweat pants, had tear-stained glasses, and essential oils all over my body, face and hair, that I would have to settle for Burger King drive thru for dinner. But, honestly, I had not had a decent meal the entire time I was there and could not take it for one more minute. I blew by the Burger King and found myself driving toward what appeared to be a very fancy restaurant as I tried to tell myself: you can’t go in there looking like this.


Oh but I did.


Maybe I should insert a tiny back story here. At that point, I had a history of bizarre dining experiences that usually look something like: I sit for a long time and no one comes to wait on me, so I actually have to get up and leave. I used to joke that I was Bruce Willis in the Sixth Sense. Dead. Invisible to everyone except Haley Joel Osment, I guess.




Seriously, everyone LOVED me in that restaurant. I’m not kidding, it was outrageous. The hostess, my server a random bus boy–totally smitten with me. Like this make-up-less, pale-face girl was enchanting them, they could not have made it more clear that I was welcome in their fancy expensive restaurant. Praised for my order of the filet and fries, cheered on for eating every single bite, impressed with my dessert order, smile and eye contact like I’ve never seen before. Each staff person had their own unique statement in furtherance of their desire that I come back again, which I am well aware is very normal, but it was not for me. What’s more, I could FEEL their energy was sincere, they really liked me.


I’m different now. The world looks different to me–more accepting of me. It’s real. I feel it.


Afterwards, I FaceTimed my son to say goodnight to him and our conversation was electric. He loves and misses me so much, he is so articulate for 4 years old, he is so affectionate towards me. He loves me. He told me:


“When you see me, I’m going to be AMAZING!!!”




“Because I love you so much.”


And there you have it. He’s so smart. My son saved my life. Before he was even born yet. He showed me how to heal myself, how to love myself as my number one priority. This will undo a generational cycle of self hate. This will be modeled for my son, thus freeing up space for him to do something great without ever having to do dance with feeling unworthy or unloved. What a time suck.


I am made of love. I will never run out of love.


Deep breathing is worth practicing on a weekly basis. I did when I returned from my Sedona Soul Adventure and the most amazing things happened. There is never a deep breathing session that is less than transformative. It’s the best way to download guidance into your consciousness. There are pages and pages in my journal of deep breathing messages and inspiration. Here is a small excerpt:


Deep breathing causes the Writer within you to creatively awaken–deep breathe before writing if you don’t feel creative. Also, copy your ideas from this journal, they are solid gold.


And they seriously are. I got distracted by reading my deep breathing journal for an hour today, crying for joy at the ideas that have come out of my own soul. Wondering if they’ll ever see the light of day. Right now, I’m smiling huge because at least I finally shared this story.




ps: stay tuned for my final Sedona Soul Adventure Session, it’s HUGE.

pps: to catch up on my other Sedona Soul Adventure Sessions, click here:

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

Rachel VanKoughnet makes Ho’oponopono Healing Art


Remember how my New Year’s Resolution for 2016 was to forgive myself?


Well, I had to go on a Sedona Soul Adventure to learn how to do that. There, I learned the best story, told to me by Dr. Sher Wesch, about the Ho’oponopono Prayer.


Forgiveness is a practice.


Once upon a time, about 30 years ago, a miracle took place at the criminal facility for the mentally insane in Hawaii. This facility needed a miracle, too. Staff turnover was frequent due to violent sneak attacks from the inmates. So desperate to hire a new psychologist, the facility agreed to the terms stated by Dr. Hew Len:


He would not meet with any of the inmates.


The facility agreed to this! To hire a doctor to treat the inmates upon the condition that he never have to actually meet the inmates–seriously?!


Yes. This doctor arrived, went to his office, never met with the patients and then…


drumroll please…


The inmates started to get better. Like a lot better. They improved remarkably. Dramatically. The inmates began to change for the better and eventually every single one of them was released from the facility. Free to go home.






Thank you for asking. This is the whole point of my story. The doctor was practicing the Ho’oponopono prayer of forgiveness: Thank you, I love you, I’m sorry, please forgive me.


He was reviewing the files of the inmates. File after file of murder, rape, murder, rape and he was asking HIMSELF: What have I done in my life that I am now being presented with this?


Please forgive me

I’m sorry

Thank you

I love you


Dr. Hew Len forgave himself. He felt his way through all the feelings (horror, disgust, fear, anger, sadness, despair, compassion, hope, remorse, gratitude and love) for healing purposes.


I’m pretty sure this requires empathy.


em·pa·thy /noun
the ability to understand and share the feelings of another.


Forgiveness is a practice.


I carry this story with me. I believe in the healing power of the Ho’oponopono Prayer because I have seen it and felt it for myself, through my artwork. Mixed media acrylics, ink, paper, orchids and the power of my prayer.








You may recognize this artwork from the Meditations included in my grief-healing app, the iHeal because iFeel, but you probably don’t know that people I love with all my heart own the originals that I prayed into for many hours. When it feels like there is nothing you can do, it feels so good to sit down and do this instead.









I got to the point where I had actually lost track of how many pieces of Ho’oponopono Prayer artwork I had gifted away. I began to feel so good. It feels amazing to practice Ho’oponopono. When I go to bed at night and find myself unable to sleep, I say the prayer for each person’s face I have ever seen in my life.


I’m sorry

Please forgive me

Thank you

I love you


One day I got so confident, I made a piece of healing art for the great artist Cher Lyn. As soon as I arrived in Sedona, I wanted so badly to forget all about my plan to give it to her. In fact, when I packed up my car, I almost left it at home–the very piece of art I had prayed for hours and hours to specifically gift to my great friend, I was just going to leave it. But I brought it.


Serendipitously, I was not actually able to give it to Cher Lyn. There was a moment at a restaurant where I felt excited to just drive away, keeping my secret safe with me. Instead, I told everyone at the table:


Listen guys, I have a piece of artwork in my car that I made for Cher Lyn and I’m scared to give it to her.






Go get it.


Ok, I say smiling, I will go get it. My smile is huge as I walk to the car, about to be found out, exposing my Self. Vulnerability is excruciating but I’m such a voyeur, I love it; there is a pleasure within the pain. I handed the piece of artwork over to my friend Mally and she just lights up.


Not only does Mally agree to deliver my art to Cher Lyn, but she also asks me if I want to display some of my art in her studio, Awakenings, for sale. My jaw just drops. The only art at Awakenings Yoga Studio is Cher Lyn’s and they are MASTERPIECES. My art…next to HERS???


I am so grateful. But I also feel like I am going to blow this opportunity. Am I an artist?


I wrestled around with this question for a long time. More like, who am I to call myself an artist?


So I did something huge. I signed up for Cher Lyn’s retreat called “Creating a New Myth” and decided that I would learn how to consider my Self an artist. This would mark my fifth trip to Sedona in just eight months. This also provided me with a deadline to bring my artwork to Mally’s studio for sale.






Ho’oponopono Healing Art in progress


I made 6 to sell and 10 for gifts. The energy of all the prayer that went into these left me feeling pretty high. Ho’oponopono HEALS!!! I have so much gratitude and love for the people in my life and I FEEL for them all; I FEEL for everyone who I have crossed paths with. I am so sorry for the pain, the pain that life lessons and growth inevitably brings to anyone who is alive enough to feel.


Ho’oponopono Heals.



Ho’oponopono healing art by Rachel VanKoughnet


All 6 of these pieces sold in Sedona in less than one week. How can I deny the fact that I am an artist now? There is now a demand and orders to fulfill. I have created a new myth to say the least. You are watching the phoenix rise out of the ashes, transform into a butterfly and explode into a rainbow.









P.S. – If you would like to order an original piece of Ho’oponopono Healing Mixed Media Art, Contact Me Here: 



Sedona Soul Adventures: the personal retreat, part 5

Let’s recap:

Day 1 of Sedona Soul Adventures included 2 sessions that each lasted over 2 hours. I was so emotionally exhausted that I stumbled out of Divyo’s beautiful home to drive on autopilot straight back to the Sky Ranch Lodge, forgetting to eat.

No big deal. Miraculously, there is a restaurant at the end of the “street” behind the hotel. I grabbed a table for one and ate food that did not appeal to me while journaling. I had SO much information to write down. 

Back at the hotel, I FaceTimed my husband and told my son some pretty amazing bed time stories. Afterwards, I journaled for two more hours before falling asleep.

Day 2 of Sedona Soul Adventures also included 2 sessions and my first actually took place in my hotel room. Thank god I sprung for the executive suite.

Shamanic Astrology.

What does that mean?!!!

I don’t know. I was super excited and peed like a million times before she arrived.

Jeannie is so pretty. I loved everything about our experience together. Especially what she said as she walked through the door:

Follow your intuition!

When Jeannie described the mistake she had made in deciding which way to drive through the parking lot, my eyes got HUGE as I exclaimed to her:


“I know,” Jeannie said, “I have been here many times and I knew the way, but I didn’t listen to my intuition and I did exactly what you did so that I could come up here and tell you, Rachel: FOLLOW YOUR INTUITION!”



Thank you.

Jeannie prepared a chart representing what the alignment of planets and stars was at the exact moment of my birth. As she explained the chart to me, I thought to myself: what the hell is she talking about…

shamanic astrology

I am Mother Earth. (If you could read this chart, you would know that).

Furthermore, Jeannie was able to accurately tell me exactly what kind of man I am interested in sexually by looking at this chart. Wow. Hello shamanic astrology…

The most important part of our 3-hour conversation though, was Jeannie’s insistence that my chart was very special; the numbers, the planets and the symbols all repeat.

So what—doesn’t everybody’s chart have the same number going around the circle?

No!!!!  Those numbers around the circle of the chart are usually all different.

Not only is it unique that I have the same number going all the way around my circle, but the number itself is significant: 29. 

I think that’s so neat because my son was born on the 29th of January.

Meanwhile, Jeannie emailed me one week after our session with some research she had done on the 29th degree, a critical degree in astrology, because she wanted me to understand.

I do too because, from what I can gather, I am going to soul graduate. I know it. All I have to do is get it right this time on Earth. How motivating is that?!

Stay tuned for the next Part of this Sedona Soul Adventures series—you do NOT want to miss the next session!

And if there are any other Shamanic Astrologers out there who want to throw in their two cents on what my chart means to them, PLEASE PLEASE DO SO! Though I practice following my intuition, I am still all about that guidance.



ps: if you missed the previous Sedona Soul Adventures blogs, catch up:

Sedona Soul Adventures: the personal retreat, part 1

Sedona Soul Adventures: the personal retreat, part 2

Sedona Soul Adventures: the personal retreat, part 3

Sedona Soul Adventures: the personal retreat, part 4

Sedona Soul Adventures: the personal retreat, part 4



Ok now where were we…


Right, it’s Sedona Soul Adventure day one and I have just finished my first session.


I now have about 45 minutes to eat and get to my second and final session of day one.


What I really want to do is go to sleep. The first session blew my mind too many times for me to even know what to do next. I drove along route 89 totally confused about where I was going or why. I had to start gently talking to myself:


“Ok, Rae, you can eat whatever you want for lunch, I will take care of you, you are fine…”


I pull over at this Deli I have already passed twice and force myself to go inside even though I do not feel like this is the place for me to eat. I order 2 slices of pizza to go even though I have no place to go and I have to pee really bad.


In a fog, I eat the gross pizza in my car in the Deli parking lot and then I get out and walk over to a grocery store so I can go pee. I look at the grocery items on my way out like…maybe I will buy something…but ultimately I keep going because I have no idea what to buy or why.


Back in my car, I journal until it is time to make the short drive to my second session, Family Constellations, whatever that means…





First of all, her name is Divyo and her home is amazing. The views from her huge living room window will make you reconsider your life. Divyo has this fantastic German accent that I felt enhanced our session, as many of my family members are of German descent and this session was supposed to be about my family through the generations…


…or maybe it’s because I spent a semester in college with a German exchange student trying to master a German accent for the musical Cabaret…and the following semester I cast that same German exchange student to play the Therapist in the one-act play I directed, Women and Wallace…hmmmmmm….


There are many brightly colored pillows lining the wall of her healing room. Divyo invites me to sit in one of her matching leather chairs as she steps out of the room. Immediately, I decide to wrap up in her big fuzzy blanket while she is gone. Divyo’s husband brings me a glass of water and I admit, in case he is blind, that I have decided to use the blanket. He approves. Divyo returns and is pleased about the blanket as well.


We begin the 2-hour session with Divyo explaining Hellinger’s Constellation Therapy Model. I can sum that all up by saying: wow, it’s really not about me. It’s not. DNA, man. Trauma transfers genetically, it’s science. The things that bother your parents will both you, too. This is why it is so important to consider your issues before you have children.




First, Divyo asked me to pick out 2 pillows to represent my parents. Next, she had me pick out pillows to represent all of the offspring between my parents, especially the offspring that did not make it. We then repositioned and spoke at length about my family structure and how we all agreed to come here and be a family before we were even born. The struggles are lessons we all agreed in advance to experience to learn together from each other.




The content of this session is private, so I will leave the 5 pages of notes in my journal to myself. The outcome of this session was phenomenal. Clarity, compassion, forgiveness, and best of all, unconditional love.


I love my Dad. I love my Mom. I love each and every one of my siblings. I feel and speak this truth from my heart every day. I love my family of origin at all times. Like a tree, the branches tend to grow away from each other, but family will always share roots.




In conclusion, I am grateful for my life journey. I am excited to be growing in this direction:






PS: Stay tuned for more of my Sedona Soul Adventure!! Click here to read part one, click here to read part 2 and click here to read part 3. Ok now you are all caught up!

Sedona Soul Adventures: the personal retreat, part 2



Ok now where was I?


Did I tell you the part where I made a 5-hour drive without stopping once, not even for a bathroom break? That is so me…


I felt like SUCH a grown up when I checked into my hotel all by myself! Who does that?! All you women who are independent, throw your hands up at me!


Sedona Vortex


For my 3-day Sedona Soul Adventure, I chose to stay at the Sky Ranch Lodge due to its proximity to a vortex.


What the hell is a vortex?


A Vortex is a place in nature where the earth is exceptionally alive with energy. The term Vortex in Sedona refers to a place where the earth energy swirls and draws to it’s center everything that surrounds it like a tornado. At these magical sites, trees often exhibit this swirling or twisting of their trunks due the powerful vortex energy at the core of a Sedona Vortex. – to read more, click here.


Well, when I drove into Sedona on January 17th, the sun was going down and by the time I got to my hotel, it was dark. I didn’t notice any invisible energy vortex. I was hungry and had to pee real bad.


I was also missing my family.


How could I just leave them to go be by myself? What was I supposed to even do right now all by myself? I called my angel guide and left her a voicemail to let her know I had successfully arrived. I Face-Timed my husband, who very quickly lost all access to the phone when our almost-4-year-old brought me into his tent.


Inside that tent I told my beautiful child stories that made him belly laugh. Stories about all the mischief he and our cat get into while my husband and I are asleep. Stories heavy with burp and fart jokes. A lot of slipping on banana peels and cold water squirting in your face scenarios.


This is significant because it’s the last night I ever tell these kinds of stories. My storytelling changes after tonight into something much more inspiring. Though, burp and fart jokes are still fair game.


On January 18th, I woke up in my hotel in Sedona way before the alarm clock, unable to sleep. Just…awake. Ready. I lay and wait for the alarm to go off anyways. I even get up and reset the alarm simply because I don’t know what to do with myself just yet.


I have to force myself to get out of the bed. The bed I haven’t been able to sleep in for hours. As I get ready I play some strategic music for myself to get pumped up.


Grace Kelly by Mika:


“Getting angry doesn’t solve anything”

How can I help it
How can I help it
How can I help what you think?
Hello my baby
Hello my baby
Putting my life on the brink
Why don’t you like me
Why don’t you like me
Why don’t you like yourself?


Warning by Incubus:


What’s so wrong with being happy?
Kudos to those who see through sickness, yeah
Over and over
And over and over
She woke in the morning
She knew that her life had passed her by
And she called out a warning
“Don’t ever let life pass you by”


So now I am overwhelmed by the healing power of music, instead of by the fear and anxiety looping through my head. I put on my jeans, tuck my shirt into a belt and slip into my cowboy boots with the peacock feathers. I put on the necklace my friend just gave me with the butterfly wings pressed inside.


As I leave my hotel room for orientation, I am fully determined to never let life pass me by.


When I arrived at the Sedona Soul Adventure offices for orientation I was a bit early. I decide to draft an email for PTO and suddenly realize I was now going to be late!


Sedona Vortex


I get out of the car and sprint up the steps.


The Sedona Soul Adventure office is beautiful.


My angel guide hugs me and is obviously super excited for me. After we go over my itinerary and all logistics, the owner came in and I got to tell her how moved I was by her story. I love meeting other lawyers who don’t practice law, but instead do something really spiritual with their lives.


I tell my angel guide a very random story about how, while searching for lodging for this trip, I found a woman with a really cool website who I really really really feel compelled to meet. My angel guide smiled huge and told me: that’s my sister.


Overall, I feel ready to begin.


My angel guide asks me to set an intention for my retreat and to light a candle. I say to myself over and over again: please God, let me know my purpose. I know you just told me 2 nights ago and, instead of write it down, I fell asleep and forgot. I’m so sorry! Please give it back! I want to know my purpose.


My angel guide says: you’re vibrating!!!


I know I am. I can feel it. I am ready.




P.S. Did you miss Part 1 of the Sedona Soul Adventures story? Click here.