satsang feature
Photo credit, Satsang House
By Lauren Wong

“If we don’t stop and be still, we just get trapped in this paradigm of looking for happiness out there somewhere,” Maggie Kelly, Spiritual Counselor, Meditation and Life Coach, says. “We bought into this idea that if I own that car, or that pair of Gucci shoes, or I have my three car garage and PHD behind my name, then I’ll be happy… We do all that and maybe we’ve even got a million dollars in the bank yet we’re still not happy and we don’t know why. It’s literally because happiness doesn’t reside out there, happiness is in you, it’s right there in your chair but we keep looking for it outside of ourselves and that’s what keeps us stuck.” 

Kelly went on her own spiritual journey of finding happiness from within, which eventually led to the opening of Satsang House. In 2016, she opened up the San Diego location offering weekly courses and counseling, and in January of 2022, the Sedona location opened up with retreats.

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Photo credit, Satsang House

Typically four days, each retreat has their own theme and costs around $1399. That fee includes your room stay (among the 5 bedroom, 5 bath home), food, daily guided meditation, yoga, workshops, and the evening events. During your free time you can enjoy the saltwater pool or add on something from their long list of amenities. From Massage Therapy to Astrology Readings, Chakra Balancing, Reiki, Lucia No3 Light Therapy, and more, there’s something for everyone. Another option is to hike some of Sedona’s nearby trails.

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Photo credit, Satsang House

It’s all about taking the time to unplug and tend to your mind, body, and spirit. No cell phones or laptops are allowed to force you to stay fully present in the moment. A month prior to your retreat, you’ll receive an email asking you to minimize your caffeine and alcohol consumption, to consider giving up smoking, and online shopping for things you don’t need, etc. 

Kelly explains that those are just things we do as human beings to distract ourselves from actually being with ourselves. “We hope that they’re ready for this short little four day retreat that takes them out of their habitual patterns and behavior. That it’ll give them another option, as opposed to filling that void over and over again,” Kelly says. 

The next upcoming retreat takes place Nov. 10 – 14 with a focus on embracing uncertainty.

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Maggie Kelly, Photo credit, Satsang House

Despite her teachings, she sees herself as the same as me and you, walking along the same path. “I’m no better than you, I’m no different than you. It’s just that maybe I’ve read a few more books, been to a few more retreats, and have listened to a lot of reputable and outstanding spiritual leaders throughout the world. That’s all,” Kelly says. “I still have the same trauma and anxieties and worries and triggers that you do. My meditation looks like yours and I’ve been meditating twice a day, everyday for the past 14 years. I still get tripped up and my mind still wanders and that’s not a failure, that’s just part of the practice.” 

It all started when, in a time of desperation, she picked up a book that had been sitting on her bookshelf since she was in her 20s in college. That book was The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success, by Deepak Chopra. So much was going on in her life at the time. Her youngest was born with Cystic Fibrosis. “It threw me for a loop. It was like one of those old cast iron skillets; I felt like I got hit over the head with it,” Kelly says.

“I just kind of panicked. I didn’t know how to do it. It didn’t fit those pictures of what I thought my future was going to look like, what my family was going to look like, my son was going to look like. All of it… I just became so on edge, and so anxious and so depressed. I would just be almost hyperventilating through my life. That’s how it felt,” Kelly says, “I just realized that somethings gotta give, and it clearly can’t be from out there. It had to be from me.”

It turns out that Deepak actually had a wellbeing center only 20 minutes away from her. After attending plenty of his retreats and teachings, in 2016 she took his certification course to become a meditation instructor. The next day, Satsang in San Diego was underway. 

The Sedona location was initiated during the pandemic. After only having been there once, during a meditation she came out just thinking, “Sedona.” It just came to her, as if she was being called there, so that was the next step.

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Photo credit, Satsang House

“The things that I’m creating at Satsang House in Sedona are so intimate and make for such a safe container, it allows the participants to really be vulnerable and to share some stuff that they may never have shared before,” Kelly says, “I want them to walk away feeling is that nothing is permanent.”

“However they felt coming in, doesn’t mean that they’re going to leave feeling that way. No matter what kinds of traumas and difficulties they’ve experienced in their lives, it’s not permanent, and the pain of that is not permanent, and that there’s plenty of opportunity to reinvent the conversations that are running around in our heads,” Kelly says. “We don’t need to be buying into our internal dialog all the time. I completely believe that living inside of your head is one of the most dangerous neighborhoods you can be in… meditation is the key.”

Meditation can be hard. At times it can feel impossible to sit still as thoughts swarm your head. Personally, I tell myself meditating isn’t for me because my thoughts just feel too overpowering, but that’s what it’s all about. About simply noticing. Noticing when your mind starts to wander and guiding it back to your practice. You, sitting and practicing meditation whether it’s at a Satsang retreat, or in your bedroom, helps you train your mind to notice when you get distracted. It helps us when we’re out in the world be more intune with our triggers. So, instead of reacting, you simply respond.

As much as we wish it would be, the path to healing and enlightenment isn’t going to be linear. There’s going to be ups and downs, but that’s all part of it. “Being able to let go of that idea that it’s somehow going to be a linear journey is really freeing, even though it’s kind of scary too,” Kelly says, “because all of the sudden you have this wide open space in front of you and you have no idea what to make of it. And, knowing that you’re not in charge.. That can be pretty frightening.”

She explains that there isn’t a final destination you’re reaching for. “There is no end to this process, your lifetime is your journey of awakening… Without all the craziness and ups and downs of life, we would never get to enlightenment. It wouldn’t be possible.”

In acknowledging that your path isn’t going to be linear, you gain some acceptance that today could have been an awful day, but that doesn’t change what tomorrow could bring. “Your life is like a wave, some days it’s really choppy and other days it’s like that sweet little gentle water falling on the rocks at the edge,” Kelly says. “That’s just life and the chaos that your life has in it, but that’s also where the learning and the growth comes in.” 

All of that is why it’s so important to separate, and notice your thought patterns. Your days during the retreat will begin with meditation. Afterwards, you’ll have a small breakfast, practice yoga, have another meal, partake in workshops, other amenities, and more meditation. A bunch of local, independent contractors share their talents with the group, from chefs, to people coming in to lead a drum circle or sound bath.

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Photo credit, Satsang House

“I’m not there to give you answers,” Kelly says. “I’m there to ask a bunch of questions so that you ask yourselves the same questions. If you’re really listening, especially in meditation, your intuitive self is going to tell you what you need to know. You just have to be still and listen because the answer is right there inside you. We just don’t trust ourselves for the most part.”

The Satsang House provides us that opportunity to give ourselves what we truly deserve. It allows us, for a few days, to forget everything else and put all our energy and focus into finding and listening to what will bring happiness. What will make you a better person walking out of here? How do you want to present yourself in your day to day life and with all the people you interact with?

“It’s the internal dialogue, the ‘I’m not worthy, I’m not good enough, I don’t have enough money, I don’t live in the right place.’ All that stuff we say to ourselves is what keeps us stuck and if we’re not looking at that then it’ll never change,” Kelly says. “What does it cost you not to shift? What is it that’s keeping you stuck? It’s only you.”

For more information, or to book your spot in an upcoming retreat, visit Satsang House’s website.