It’s been a year since I’ve done any international travel. I’m feeling good, the summer in Phoenix is already unbearable, and I thought it’s time to go on a little trip. My criteria were, a non-stop flight of not more than a three-hours, one customs line, and a place where we had friends.

I knew just the place and the friends. I met Fernando Ortiz Monasterio at an isolated beach bar in Baja California 13 years ago. He is a mechanical engineer who had worked many years with the Huichol Indians, an isolated Native tribe who live deep in the canyons of central Mexico’s Sierra Madre Mountains.

When he found out that I was a psychiatrist who worked with Native Americans, he told me this extraordinary story. For the last decade, hundreds of Huichol children living in boarding schools had become possessed as the result of witchcraft. A sorcerer had cast a spell turning sweet, docile children (some as young as 6) into aggressive, violent animals.

Traditional healers and psychiatrists made attempts at treatment but were unsuccessful. Fernando asked me if I have ever seen such a problem among Native American tribes. I had, and then he asked me if I thought I could be helpful. It took a year to make it happen but from that serendipitous sunset in Baja, emerged what has been the most profound healing that I have ever participated in. A team of 3 Mexican and 3 American professionals created a healing ceremony that eliminated the symptoms within a year. (If you’re interested in reading the whole story follow this link or read it in my book Kindling Spirit: Healing from Within).

The last time we saw each other I could still climb out of canyons, so I told Fernando that although I was fully mobile I was moving a bit more slowly. He lives in Mexico City at an altitude of 7,200 feet. I asked my cardiologist whom I respect (and who gets me) and she said… live your life but pay attention to what your body is telling you.

I’ve never been really good at listening to what my body tells me, when I hurt I will myself to overcome it. But now my body talks in ways I cannot ignore. And although I’ve been in high places and adapted but with my current limitations, I was pumping hard and breathing heavily.

Fernando was an unending source of loving support, he picked us daily and explored the endless wonder of the city. I climbed less and rested more and learned again; and to live each day to the fullest; to allow myself to be taken care of and saying thank you more, rather than doing more.

On the last day I’m reading on the balcony overlooking the lake at Valle de Bravo and next door the music is rocking; my feet breathe in the rhythm, and I get up to slow dance to the music.

it doesn’t matter how fast or slow you move, if you can dance you can heal.