Mindful at Miraval

Vinit and I had contemplated several places for what would be our anniversary/baby moon trip this year. We wanted to do something special and go to a place where we could not go with kids, taking advantage of our last few child-free months. We also wanted to pick a spot where we weren’t distracted by site seeing or a fast pace but where we could focus on us, each other, our health, and getting grounded and centered.

Vinit in particular leads a very chaotic life with so many things going on and he more than even me needed some down time whether or not he realized it. For me, as a soon-to-be-mother, I really wanted to enter motherhood with a calm mind, a happy heart and a healthy attitude so that I would be able to project all these things onto my child and be the positive source I’ve always wanted to as a mother. Vinit and I have been writing “promises” to our future baby girl and all of these parental demands of ourselves have been things we’ve included in some of my promises to her.

So, we considered a number of places. My heart always wants to go to Europe and Vinit’s first choice was Mexico – obviously these choices violating some guidelines we had set out for this trip. We poked around at some other options and realized those were places we could/would probably want to do with kids so we decided against them, too.

My friend Sanaz had been known to take amazing trips focused around yoga, health, self-exploration, fitness and getting centered and suggested Miraval to us. We were quickly sold on the sound of it, not having an exact idea of what to expect but booked our trip in June and we were set to go! It also helped that Miraval had a summer special at the time we booked which made the cost of going to Miraval half of what it normally would have been (yeay)! So all worked out and seemed great with plans in the making.

Fast forward to September and it was finally time for our trip!

We were greeted at the Tucson airport by the Miraval staff, given canvas tote bags which included a steel water bottle and some introductory information, then hopped in the shuttle and an hour later we arrived at the breath-taking resort. We toured around the campus with a guest services host and took a quick walk-thru through the grounds to get familiar with where the spa, gym, restaurant, activity center, yoga/meditation centers and other class areas were. We were also informed early on that the resort was a cell phone-free resort. Oh man! That almost caused us both instant anxiety right there but it completely made sense why. The reason was they wanted to encourage you to disconnect as best as you could to get the full experience and benefits of Miraval so they had one designated spot for cell phone usage and of course your room was permitted.

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That evening we swam laps outside in the pool, devoured the happy hour with healthy appetizers, met some nice other fellow guests, attended a class on the realities of weight loss and had a wholesome and well balanced dinner!

Our dinner was fantastic! For starters, we had a black bean soup (130 calories) and wood stone pizza. For our entrée we both had the porcini mushroom buck wheat pasta (270 calories) and I ordered a side of garlic mashed potatoes. For dessert I had the dark chocolate taco filled with white chocolate mousse (135 calories) accompanied with berries and Vinit had the Soy ice cream dipped in pecan praline (200 calories). We came back and watched “Cocktail” in our heavenly bed which rivaled the Westin’s Heavenly bed and we were very happy and feeling relaxed already.

We were off to a good start and we had only been there a few hours.

So this is how it works, folks…

In your bag of goodies, you are given a schedule which outlines daily classes from as early as 7am to as late as 7pm. Classes range from anything such as Gratitude Meditation… to Yin & Yang Yoga… to Spinning… to Water Tai Chi… to Ways to Increase your metabolism… to Photography… to Nutritional classes, to Make up application, just to name a few! For most of the classes you just show up but for some of them with limited seating, you have to pre-register.

On the Miraval campus there is a juice bar, a coffee bar which also has an assortment of snacks. There is a daily happy hour in the late afternoon as well so in between meals you will not go hungry – something very important to me these days, ha! The pool areas (I think there were a total of 4-5 pools at the resort) also have food and bar service as well.

You were not obligated to do anything. This experience is whatever you wanted it to be so you could take a full day’s worth of classes from 7am-7pm like Vinit tried to do most of the time, or you could take 4-6 classes a day with some nap and leisure time in the middle like I tried to do, or you could have laid by the pool all day if you wanted to like we saw a few people do. I will say classes were always full so people definitely came to Miraval to gain more tools than anything else. 

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So, in a nutshell, that’s how it works.

**The experiences below are some of the highlights and do not include all of our classes/experiences in its entirety.**

The next morning Vinit woke up early while I slept in and he did the Power Punch and Pile class which had a little bit of ballet in it. He was shocked yet proud of himself for having done the class and actually said it kicked his butt quite a bit. Ballet? Who knew? We later went off to breakfast and I had an egg white omelet with spinach & cheddar (150 calories) along with Muesli with milk, fruit, and nuts, cottage cheese with berries, and grain toast. Vinit had the tofu scramble with corn tortillas (190 calories), oatmeal with berries, nuts and raisins. There was a menu you could order breakfast items off of or you could go to their breakfast buffet which had some great, healthy items there too.

After breakfast, I went to the gym to do weights and the treadmill and Vinit attended the Chi Gong class, which he ended up loving. We went for our first spa treatment where I had the mother-to-be massage and Vinit had the deep tissue massage and it was AWESOME!

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Lunch was fantastic, Vinit had a vegetable enchilada and I had a roasted vegetable quinoa, veggie chili, chicken and barley, salad, and we shared a chilled melon soup and stir-fry noodles. For dessert we had berry bars (50 calories). Vinit also went to the juice bar and had an acai berry protein smoothie and some white chocolate macadamia nut cookies.

As much as we were eating, we both noticed because the food was so healthy we were not feeling heavy and tired and both our metabolisms were on high speed.

We attended the Move It class which was supposed to be a cardio class in the pool which was one of my favorite classes. I discovered that water activities were incredibly gentle on my body and bigger tummy and yet I was getting a great work out at the same time. After the class I laid out by the pool and read while Vinit attended a TRX (like cross fit) class. We quickly grabbed snacks at the daily happy hour then went to the Loving Kindness Meditation Class which was pretty outstanding.

In the meditation class we had to silently recite a few phrases with regards to a mentor, a friend or person we knew, a person we were having difficulties with and ourselves. I felt very emotional during this time, to my surprise. I’ve never really held on to hurt feelings before but I realized the last few years that when someone hurts me, I didn’t let go the same way as before. Instead I found myself putting up a wall and losing a lot of compassion for the person along with the ability to forgive as easily as before. During this meditation class, as I recited phrases about having compassion, wanting love, being kind, having an open heart and wanting peace and wellness for people I’ve had difficulties with, it made me realize those walls have been quite unproductive and only kept in negative energy which hadn’t served me well.

These feelings left me with something to think about. It’s not to say you can allow people to take advantage of your heart or kindness but I think you can be careful and still forgive and want good unto others.

As for the person I don’t know… as baby girl kicked me throughout the meditation, well, I could only think of her for those meditation recitings. She was definitely included in this practice on this day.

We went straight to dinner afterwards and I had a pear soup (50 calories), filet mignon with gratin potatoes and green beans (400 calories) and the molten chocolate cake (ordered to-go which was devoured in bed later on in the night, oh and only 200 calories). Vinit had the portabella tostado with garlic and herbs for his starter (200 calories) then moved onto a southmex vegetarian meal including beans, kale, cabbage, tomatoes, and a whole slew of other things with it. For dessert he had the blackberry gelato (75 calories).

We were not starving as you can see. Not by any stretch of the imagination and yet our calories, fat and carbs were pretty reasonable.

We got up earlier the next day and we hit breakfast around 8AM. Vinit wanted to attend the rise and shine yoga and I had a spa treatment at 9am. Vinit ended up loving the yoga class and mentioned wanting to continue the practice after we returned home. We met up afterwards for a breathing and meditation workshop which was wonderful and then I went back to the room to rest while Vinit attended the pilates mat class. It wasn’t even noon yet and we had already done so much! We later had lunch which consisted of the amazing buffet and then off we went to a posture optimization class which was fantastic. Again, the class focused on breathing which we found as a component in most classes here and was fantastic.

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We definitely took it easier the rest of the day and ended up at an activity course around intuition.

The instructor’s name was Tejpal except well… she wasn’t Indian! She was from Paris and after making a career change from the corporate world to life coaching and healing, she was a highly regarded instructor at Miraval. The class was pretty great but what blew us away was the very end of the class. She told us to all pick up a tarot card and she’d pick 3 people from the class to explore further. So we did and I picked “Creativity” and Vinit picked “Knower.” I was barely paying attention at this point, looking forward to dinner, when she selected the first person. She asked the person what her card said and proceeded get specific about the person’s life which well… none of us knew if she was right or wrong as the person didn’t really react to it. Then she picked the second person and told once again was very specific with her saying things like “why do I see horses?” Well apparently the woman rode horses and she continued to give advice to the woman on what our real calling was in life. Then she moved on to the final person. Her card read “sorrow.” She looked at her and said, “Why are you so sad?” And the woman burst into tears and started sobbing and in a quiet voice replied, “I can’t get pregnant.” I immediately choked up wanting to hug this woman right then and there being in my 6th month of pregnancy and feeling so incredibly sad for this poor woman. Tejpal offered some coaching and told her to find ways to use those motherly instincts by suggesting a few things then also advised her to focus on other things. She then said, why do I keep seeing a piano in your life? The woman replied she in fact did have a piano sitting in her house that she never used. Tejpal said, well I think you need to take up playing the piano, it is going to make you happy. She said not to mention you are musically inclined already – you enjoy music with other people. The woman replied she played music professionally with others. Yes.

At this point I was scared. While she in no way claimed herself to be a psychic, I could not believe how she provided specifics the way she did and so told Vinit we needed a private session. I chose the card “creativity” which is a pretty obvious one for me and I didn’t need the validation of a person like Tejpal to confirm my creative tendencies. I was just curious to know what she thought and what else she had to say about my life.

We booked a private session with Tejpal for the next day and I could barely sleep all night, curious to know what she was going to tell us.

The next day I had a spa treatment, took a dance class and did some more meditation while Vinit had a schedule of his own.

That afternoon our appointment finally came and the first thing Tejpal told Vinit and I was that this was our appointment so what questions did we have for her. I immediately jumped in and said, well, I picked the card “creativity” yesterday and I just wanted to know what you thought of that. She said, yes – you are in a field that you need to stay in because it is a good career for you, but you need to do more dancing. You’re a dancer. You in fact, can help other people by teaching them through dance. Have you taught dance before? I said yes. She said, dance more. You need to be dancing more. It’s your thing, it’s just who you are.

Then she moved on to Vinit.

Vinit told her he was looking for some career advice and she expressed in so many words that his ideal group or company is one which is small. That’s where he’s going to make the most impact. She went on further and said being an ant in a large organization is not going to be a place where his strengths will be recognized and that he’s going to do bigger things being part of something smaller. Vinit talked about kouply and the work he’s done there to which she had some really insightful opinions on. Then she moved in a different direction with Vinit. She said, you are very kind. In fact you’re too kind and your heart is unique. You need to put up boundaries otherwise you are going to have people walk all over you. She said your heart is big. She said learn to say no. She repeated this to him a few times, “Saying no to others means you’re saying yes to yourself.” So, create some boundaries. I affirmed what she said about Vinit was pretty correct as he has got to be the nicest guy I know and have ever met. I can honestly say this with 100% truthfulness.

Then she came back to me. She said, now you are innovative. You love solving problems. In fact you might invent something that can help others or make things easier for people in a particular area. She said; use your support system around you because you have several ideas. Use people around you to bounce your ideas off of and Vinit can help you by being critical of your ideas. He can ask all the tough questions and challenge you to see how well your ideas can hold up.

But she reassured me, I was an inventor, an innovator.

She touched on me getting anxious about things at times and even went further as to where I learned that which I won’t go into details but felt she was pretty accurate. Then she went back to Vinit. She told him his passion is in helping others. So she asked him the question, “alright – you have 20 million dollars. What would you want to do with your life?” Vinit responded without hesitation, “help others” and she said, exactly. She told Vinit that she felt strongly about him getting involved in causes relating to the medical field and research which would help people and Vinit said he was already and actively doing this a little bit. She told him truthfully, she felt with his heart and his goodness, she felt strongly about his ability to impact others and society in such a positive way. She actually recommended classes for him that she herself took in becoming a healing professional. I was very impressed that someone with her abilities saw the same qualities she possessed in my husband. I was flattered.

I’m giving the highlights of our session here but some other life coaching advice was given which we found extremely inspiring and motivating.

After we pondered the session with Tejpal afterwards together, we then attended a photography workshop which taught us how to use our camera (finally!) and oh what a difference a few basics can make! Late that evening, I attended a skincare basics course and found it very useful and realized I need to be using sunscreen every day which I do not. After the course, we went to dinner and had some delicious, healthy food: I started out with the lavender salad (45 calories), wood fire pizza and for my entrée I had the veggie strudel (how many entrees do you know have 180 calories??) and for dessert I had the vanilla bean flan (130 calories). Vinit had the same except a lentil soup for his starter instead and the mint ice-cream chocolate cake roll. We were stuffed as pigs as usual.

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It was a good day. An awakening and insightful day.

Vinit woke up early to do a Miraval challenge where he had to walk across a log 35 feet up in the air. The purpose of this challenge was to have people face their fears head on with this experience, though not in the literal sense of course since not everyone is afraid of heights. Some people cried, some people were confident then cried later, but everyone he said, reacted to the experience a little bit differently in trying to simply “let go.” He really enjoyed this and wished he had done other challenges offered daily but next time.

Meanwhile, I enjoyed some solo cabana dining for breakfast and had a bowl of muesli, a spinach omelet and toast. We met up after breakfast and went to the gym to work out for an hour then Vinit attended the Extreme Core class while I lounged in the spa’s quiet room and read magazines in their oversized comfy chairs. The spa was gorgeous and the quiet room was serene and peaceful. I read an article that it was a 6-year project in the making to remodel the spa by a NYC designer and captured the right elements of mindfulness, consistent with the Miraval experience completely. After an hour or so of lounging, I went back into the women’s locker room at the spa which was divine to say the least, and took a shower and got ready.

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Vinit and I met up for lunch and we had veggie quesadillas and dried fruit and nut couscous, then he grabbed a smoothie and I grabbed a mocha from the juice bar and left in the shuttle for the Tucson airport.

Sad. Heart broken.

This vacation was a very different vacation than either of us had experienced before and it felt amazing. I’m not sure if I’m going to do justice to how this experience made me feel but I guess to sum it up, here were are a few of those thoughts and feelings:

· Breathing. I have never given breath/breathing any thought and learned how much of a difference something as simple as the proper breathing techniques can make in terms of focus, clarity and feeling balanced.

· Meditation. Although I never really questioned the benefits of meditation I have not explored it and tried it either. I can definitely say this experience taught me how to create my own personal meditation practice and I plan to continue it.

· Fitness. I’ve been out of shape for so long. I haven’t been overweight, so I’ve been able to convince myself that working out can take the back seat until I do become a little hefty, however, after going through this experience where you are mindful about what you put into your body, how you treat your body, how you love your body, fitness is one of the key components that are essential for self-care and vitality in staying healthy and happy. I was reminded that with fitness, the benefits are far more than just physical.

· Food. A bit like fitness, I’ve not watched what I’ve put into my body in recent years as closely because I figured as long as I wasn’t fat, why restrict myself? After being at Miraval for even just a day I started thinking about the things I had fed my body at times and was well…I was a little bit mortified. At Miraval, mindful eating meant staying away from bad oils and fats, sugary, starchy foods contributing to my lack of energy I have had over the past several years. When you fuel your body with good food, it’s amazing to see how differently your body works and operates. I’m pregnant, too! I saw a huge difference in energy levels and honestly, even happiness.

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What an amazing detox!

Miraval is all about being mindful about how we treat ourselves and then provided us with tools to use after we left so that we could apply these practices in the real world. People of all walks of life come to Miraval for different reasons whether it was to emotionally cleanse, or spiritually rejuvenate, or for us, to detox and work harder at leading healthier lifestyles. This retreat was worth every second, every moment, every BREATH, and every penny.

We will be going back. In fact, of all the guests we were of the minority who were there for the 1st time. Many were on their 6th, 8th, 10th visit. There’s no question about it this was only the beginning of a journey for us in many ways and we agreed this is something we’d love to continue to do here on out for that periodic rejuvenation we found extremely beneficial personally.

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I have to say, my husband is the cutest and such a good sport. Vinit was adorable in being excited to try new things whether it included ballet or having to do the challenges without me for obvious reasons, but he loved every moment of it and probably benefited from this even more than I did (as I had some physical limitations). While we were there, there were other men, in fact we got to know a retired professional NFL player very well who was there with his wife for the first time celebrating their own anniversary, often times you found some of the men in the gym or at the pool. By the way, this new friend of ours did many of the classes Vinit did which was super cute, as he was a pretty manly big dude. It was great!

So that was our trip! It was so full of zen, happiness and peace.

Cheers to being mindful in all ways that you can be. I look forward to returning to this heavenly place again one day and am full of gratitude for having the most amazing experience I was able to have there.

This was the perfect baby moon I could have asked for and I feel incredibly refreshed and rejuvenated.

-Tanya

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One Response to Mindful at Miraval

  1. Jeannine says:

    I have always wanted to go to Miraval! Sounds amazing, thanks for sharing you experiences.

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