I just had the most calming, memorable, fulfilling week; my mom took me for my birthday to a health resort in Arizona called Miraval. Luckily, my mom and I are on the exact same wave length when it comes to what we like to do, what we like to eat, what we like to drink… we’re the most perfectly suited travel buddies.
So, while a lot of you may not consider getting up at 7AM, taking four exercise classes in a row, eating small (but appropriately) portioned meals and wearing zero make-up for a week straight a vacation, it was exactly what I needed. Remember I told you I loved going to camp? Well, this was the adult version. Everyday we were given a schedule of activities and we kept ourselves busy! We went spinning outdoors, overlooking the beautiful Arizona mountains. We did a boot camp that left me sore two days later. We hopped in the pool for some water aerobics. Even if exercise isn’t for you, there’s the spa which I’m sure we all can agree is a welcome part of any vacation, right? After working so hard, I was rewarded with a facial, a “farm to table” body treatment, and several types of massages. I had a Thai massage like I’ve never had before. This being one performed by a non-Thai male, hanging onto bands tied to the ceiling as he massaged my back with his feet (it sounds weird but it felt amazing–if he wasn’t gay, I would have given him my number). The philosophy behind Miraval is one that if we all lived by, I think we’d all be much happier. This is their vision, as it is written in the most expensive cookbook I’ve ever purchased: “life is more meaningful and enjoyable when one’s physical, emotional, spiritual, social and intellectual components are in balance.” You can do as much or as little as you like at Miraval, but I of course, wanted to do it all. And by doing so, the takeaways I got from this trip were way more than a sore ass and a $40 cookbook. I hope their philosophy is not one I easily forget.
One morning we attended the “Mindful Eating Breakfast.” This breakfast was held with the resort’s registered dietician. She emphasized the importance of being present while eating. This means not checking our emails, texting and shoveling food down our throats without paying much attention to what we put in our mouths. She told us to put down our forks in between bites. I didn’t realize I often did this until she pointed it out: reaching for my coffee, I would wash down my food before I even finished chewing. We then did an exercise in which we ate in silence for five minutes. We were told to pay attention to our food and to think about where everything on our plates came from. The farmers who milled the wheat, picked the berries… I couldn’t really get into this part and I didn’t want to draw up any images of how my chicken sausage originated. However, I did realize how hard it was to eat slowly and not make a peep for five minutes. I avoided making eye contact with my mom so that neither of us would end up giggling and interrupting others’ visions of sweaty workers in the sweltering corn fields. I saw how paying attention to my food made me consume a lot less. I listened to my body, and didn’t hop up for seconds at the buffet, as I normally would have. Eating this way I have to assume can lead to weight loss–and what woman, myself included, doesn’t want to lose five pounds? Now back at home, I plan to institute this mindfulness at meals. At least give it my best shot. Fine, I did eat a snack while writing this article. But I swear, my breakfast was eaten very mindfully.
The resort restricted cell phone usage to only one courtyard and our rooms. I left my cellphone in the room for most of my trip. The constant need to check my emails, texts and calls subsided quicker than I thought it would. I realized how much happier I felt away from my phone, not dealing with emails that cause me anxiety and Facebook and Instagram that often evoke feelings of jealousy. This technology detox was uplifting. I also believe it contributed to the overall friendliness of the Miraval guests. Without our cellphones to stare at before a class started, people were more likely to interact with each other. By the end of the week, it was funny how many “friends” we had. We would wave from one table to the next, as we sat for dinner. We got recommendations from people on what they liked to do at the resort. We connected with other mother/daughter travelers. We laughed with our waitress when she brought me a dessert plate with a chocolate “Happy Anniversary” instead of “Happy Birthday” written on it.
Neither my mother or I are super spiritual, but we thought this would be a good opportunity to open up to it a bit. We took two meditation classes. Both of them I fell asleep almost immediately. However, I still like the idea of it. Taking time to focus your brain and not allowing it to run all over the place is a great stress release. Staying in the moment takes practice. I plan to take the teachings of meditation and apply them even if it’s when my eyes are open–I think my narcoleptic ways will never allow me to fully reach that meditative state.
Along those same lines, we attended a lecture called “Discover Your Soul Mission: Explore the four elements that create the anatomy of the soul.” Do I have a hard time believing our souls go from one body to the next, so when we die, it’s just our physical bodies that are gone? It’s a nice thought but I don’t know if I really believe it. But, what I did connect with was the idea of a soul mission i.e. our purpose here on earth; to find it, we must focus on what brings us joy. When we align what makes us feel joy with our soul, something good happens… I think? Maybe I wasn’t following completely but point being, it’s never a bad thing to figure out what brings us joy and then to actively pursue it! And, when the speaker had us pick up Tarot cards at the end of the lecture was I totally on-board? Well, my card did read “SUCCESS” so I think now would be a good time to believe.
Just like the “Biggest Loser” or any other reality television show, Miraval isn’t my reality. it’s a lot easier to live these philosophies when in an artificial environment. It’s easy to stay thin when all you have on your calendar for the day is exercise. And, it’s much simpler to detach from cellphones when you’re not allowed to have them with you. Yet, back in Los Angeles, I can already feel the anxiety creeping in. It’s time to get back to pursuing my career and yet again, I am not working, worrying about my next job. I returned home and it’s like technology knew that I was talking shit. My DirectTV wasn’t working and I had to call the technician. I had a bill for almost $1,000 on my car, which I could have sworn was something the dealership was covering. My cellphone kept quitting out of all my apps. This afternoon, I made my first recipe from the cookbook–a simple tuna salad for lunch–and when I went to add a touch of salt, the entire container spilled into the bowl of tuna, making my lunch taste like dirty seawater and thus, inedible. Real life is challenging. But I think by recalling my time at Miraval, and practicing some of the principles I learned, I can make my time in the real world all that much better.