Whatever you’re looking to get out of your wellness retreat, you’ll find it at Miraval.
Guest blog by aSweatLife
As our stuffed-to-the-gills Lexus GX smoothly rolled up to the Miraval Berkshires welcome center, the overwhelming sentiment was surprisingly not “get me out of this car.” After all, we’d had a remarkably comfortable two-day road trip from Chicago, especially given that we were five adults and all their luggage (and camera equipment) traveling in one vehicle.
Instead, we were all quietly wondering to ourselves what the heck we’d experience over the next few days. It’s one thing to look at the Miraval Berkshires website and see the seemingly endless amount of activities, programs, and spa treatments. It’s another to show up and realize that you could, truly, make your own adventure of anything you wanted.
How “life in balance” comes to life
The Miraval experience boasts “endless possibilities for wellness,” and between the five of us, we put that claim to the test. Restorative yoga, QiGong, Power Cycle, Nature’s Apothecary, Craft Your Own Malas… and these were only the activities we did in the first 24 hours or so.
Overwhelmed just reading all that? Honestly, we were too, as we pored over the daily schedule, trying to choose our preferred programs. One helpful hint: browse the Journeys with Intention section of the website, where you can pinpoint a specific focus for your trip and view the suggested activities that are aligned with that purpose. Or, once you’re at the property, meet with one of their Miraval Advisors to help create a schedule tailored to you.
Luckily, the Miraval team was on hand to guide us through some of their signature moments: the Equine Experience, Journey Into the Labyrinth, the Challenge Course, and their custom-built Lexus Drive Experience. In that one, our Lexus GX served us our conduit to adventure, transporting us from a challenging rock climbing course to a beautiful October Mountain hike, ending in a golden hour kayak on a lake that provided totally different views from our hometown Lake Michigan.
At first glance, these activities might seem like they were picked for four totally different people. But, as we discovered, they all integrated into a cohesive narrative that revealed itself over the course of our stay. Or, put another way… they all balanced each other out.
“Self-care can get cast in an indulgent light,” notes Christiana. “but one of the things I learned was that self-care comes in a myriad of activities, whether that’s spending time with a rescued animal, taking a mindful stroll, having meals without our phones, or taking a wild leap. It’s an activity that recharges us and regenerates us for what’s next.”
While every activity was filled with intention, the Challenge Course was a clear highlight on our team. The custom-designed course featured 20 elevated platforms and a variety of obstacles connecting them (think balance beams and rope swings). Although we were securely clipped in (and back-up clipped in), there’s still an element of fear any time you’re flying around 50 feet in the air.
But with great challenge comes great rewards, and everyone on our team felt bonded and accomplished afterwards.
“That activity came at the right time, when we’d all been pushed a bit out of our everyday comfort zones/thinking,” remembers Christiana. “I talked myself out of doing it the night before, and my body was literally abuzz as we suited up. I believe I said as much on the walk over, but Emily (our guide) said to me, “If you just make it to this platform, that’s still a win.” and with that affirmation, I was off and onto the course.”
Bringing Miraval Mode back to real life
You may have seen this in our recent newsletter, but on the property, Miraval encourages you to enter “Miraval Mode.” With mindfulness as a core Miraval principle, we were encouraged to leave our phones in (adorable) sleeping bags and abide by the tech-free zones throughout the resort. Without the ball-and-chains of our phones, we were empowered to live in the present moment and be aware of the unique intersection of mind, body, and spirit throughout Miraval.
Our group of five each found unique ways to bring Miraval Mode back to our real lives. Kelly, for example, now takes a beat to stop and smell the roses, as homage to the Mindful Nature Walk she took during the trip. For Ryan, the no-phone rule was especially conducive to making connections with others or practicing mindfulness at meals.
“I liked our dinner convos because we weren’t able to immediately look something up, so it opened things up for more discussion and spitballing of ideas,” he says. “Now, even when I’m eating by myself I’ll sit next to the window or put on music, instead of watching something on a screen.”
Jeana, meanwhile, is working on setting tech boundaries, one bath at a time.
“Three words: tech free baths,” she emphasizes. “It’s harder in real life to say, ‘I’m away with my team right now’ and just not respond for a week, but I can take a bath and not respond until the morning. And that’s almost as good.”
The journey is just beginning
While we’ve left Miraval Berkshires in the rearview for now, we’ve all had time to reflect on our takeaways from the trip. For example, the theme of trust kept coming up for Jeana in a variety of activities.
“In regular life, I’ve been working on believing or acting like things are going to work out throughout the pandemic, but it’s hard to fight that seed of doubt when it creeps in,” she confides. “What I discovered about myself through experience after experience was that doubt is an offshoot of trying to be in control – and trusting that things will work out feels a lot better than worrying that they might not.”
For Kelly and me, we felt the power of our team’s strong bonds. I noticed it most during the challenge course. For each new obstacle, I’d feel nervous to take that first step—but after seeing another team member successfully complete it, I’d feel empowered and confident to take the leaps of faith.
And as Kelly noted, “Whether you take on the journey with Miraval by yourself or with others, there is a strong sense of connection to yourself, to nature, to spirituality and to others.”
With two more trips on the docket (more on that to come), we’re excited to have the chance to choose a different intention and experience the wellness possibilities within each unique Miraval property.
Photos by Christina Basso