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Essence of the Ozarks

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Some places just call out, beseeching you to return again and again. That’s how I feel about Eureka Springs, making several trips there over the past few years. As such, I am pretty familiar with the area. Then I saw an article in a local visitor guide for a place they said offers an outdoor “Path to Conscious Living.”  From that description alone, I knew we had to check it out.

Located only about 10 minutes from town, the Open-air Meditation Sanctuary (OMS) was designed, the founders say, for Evolutionaries who want a walk in the park. But “a walk in the park” doesn’t begin to describe the ambiance of this beautiful 10-acre wilderness.

OMS is comprised of 14 easily navigable meditation areas connected by a variety of walking trails, each one offering a sacred space for inner contemplation and transformative healing to help lead the visitor toward a greater sense of meaning and purpose in alignment with the Source of Creation and who we came here to be. Together, they encourage a feeling of commitment to self-empowerment and moving along our own unique spiritual and evolutionary paths.

Even though I have been deeply committed to my own spiritual path for many years, which includes daily meditation and journaling, I was a little hesitant when the map and materials I read at the trailhead suggested we allow 1-2 hours to complete the entire 14-part meditation. I wasn’t prepared to spend that much time there, plus teenager 1 and 2 would be antsy within 30 minutes. So I gave them instructions to explore on their own, stay on the trails and no talking. They were out of my sight within two minutes.

But once I reached the second meditation spot, my heart and soul started to embrace what the experience was designed to convey—a sense of oneness, contemplation, higher consciousness, wisdom, and grace. Each spot was completely different from the one before, a box with a laminated prayer, motive, affirmation, intention and /or meditation provided at each one to move you deeper into the experience.

For example, this question: “Do I build my fire (the activities of your life) to warm my brothers and sisters, or do I build it to warm myself?” And this affirmation: “I want to serve the greater good and be on the path of conscious evolution.”And this meditation excerpt: “May the love of the Divine Self pour forth through you.” As I slowly meandered along, the late afternoon sun slowly descending, I was drawn deeper into my soul, connecting with who I am and who I want to become.

Even the wooden outhouse, one of only two structures on the trail, was built with mindfulness of Mother Earth and a greater consciousness, the inside of this lovely structure encompassing a composting toilet, an expansive picture window overlooking the meadow beyond, a small reading stool and reading materials, and a sign-in log chock full of hundreds of names and accolades from folks who have visited from all over the country.

Before I knew it, I had reached the last meditation spot; 1-1/2 hours passing effortlessly but leaving a lasting impression. OMS is a wonderful, non-to-be-missed spiritual experience, and an apt compliment to the enchanting ambiance that Eureka Springs already imparts to the paradise that is the Ozark Mountains.

Note: Open-air Meditation Sanctuary (OMS) is a project of the Center for Soulful Living, a 501© non-profit organization. www.28rites.com

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