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New Year, New You: Get a Fresh Start at Miraval


New Year, New You: Get a Fresh Start at Miraval

Sometimes we get lost over the holidays. Not lost as in “I-can’t-find-my-car-in-the-parking-lot-at-the-mall” (although that can happen, but there’s an app for that, click here), but lost as in unfocused. In the rush of shopping, wrapping, baking, and entertaining, it’s easy to lose sight of our personal goals, to sacrifice our alone time, and to take care of others — but not ourselves.


But now it’s January. The houseguests have gone home, the kids are back in school, and it’s your turn to be the center of your attention. The best way to jump-start your psyche? Go to a spa. Not just any spa, but one that’s a fit with your personality. My pick is Miraval Resort, about an hour outside of Tucson, Arizona. Here, on 400 acres of serene desert landscape, parallel tracks lead guests to the goal of self-discovery.

The Miraval experience helps create a life in balance

“Mindfulness is the core of the Miraval philosophy,” the director told me when I visited. “This is a place to un-plug (literally) and tune in to your authentic voice. To define what you want and notice how you’re blocking yourself from having it.”


During my time at Miraval, the majority of guests were Millennial and Gen X moms, and their path to self-discovery was through physical challenges. They conquered their fears on the ropes course, the climbing wall, a zipline, Out on a Limb, and Quantum Leap. They also hiked, enjoyed prickly pear martinis, and kept the wine steward busy during dinner.


“Why do you come to Miraval so often?” I asked one repeater.


“To get away from my kids,” she said, only half kidding.

At Miraval, traditional adobe casitas are clustered in six villages

Other guests sought answers in classes such as “Soul Journey,” with Tejpal, an intuitive healer and a channeler with more than 20 years of experience in supporting people in making decisions and creating the life they want.


“It’s important to know what brings you joy because when you are feeling joy you are in alignment with your soul,” she told us. “Start paying attention, and when you figure out what brings you joy, do that thing 40 days in a row. If you miss a day, you have to start over. It’s the best way to create happiness.”


I also learned a lot from registered dietitian Angela Onsgard. For instance: soft drinks are poison; eggs and shellfish don’t contribute to heart disease, but sugar does; and Food Matters TV (fmtv.com) is a great resource.


Miraval guests usually book their stay five months in advance and are strongly encouraged to sign up for classes, make spa appointments, and confirm fee-based experiences ahead of time. The schedule varies daily, and it’s often not possible to be added to a popular activity after arrival.

The Resort Oasis Pool is a beautiful place to relax — with or without a prickly pear martini

Another option is to schedule a private session with one of the experts on the Miraval staff. I chose Sheryl Brooks, an RN and a sleep expert. Like many journalists faced with deadlines, I’ve perfected the art of burning the candle at both ends, but Brooks convinced me that sleep has more value than I’d realized. Did you know that sleep enables us to combat chronic inflammation, control our weight, produce anti-oxidants, and preserve brain function?


In addition to a great staff and innovative activities, the infrastructure at Miraval is also conducive to personal growth and mindfulness. Pale stucco casitas are arranged in clusters surrounded by simple desert landscaping. Winding paths connect lodging to an indoor-outdoor restaurant, five pools, tennis courts, a labyrinth, a large fitness center, the Agave Yoga Center, and a wonderful spa.

Some Miraval guests achieve mindfulness through physical challenges and others explore their inner landscape in classes and private sessions, but everyone, it seemed, enjoys the spa. It was hard to choose from the extensive menu of massages, facials, and body treatments. In the end, I chose a deep tissue massage that was done outdoors in a climate-controlled canvas cabaña. Dramatic desert lightning, thunder, and rain made it easy to be present in the moment.

Daily guided hikes at Miraval take place in the Sonoran Desert adjacent to the resort

Likewise, the Agave Center is a popular area for meditation and yoga. I loved the seated sunrise meditation, as well as a “hanging med” session where 12 of us in individual silk hammocks suspended from the ceiling experienced a guided meditation. This cozy cocoon may have looked strange, but it was the perfect environment for complete relaxation, and it just might be the perfect way to recover from getting lost over the holidays. 520.825.4000, www.miravalresorts.com   Elizabeth Hansen

The stunning views and peaceful quiet of the desert inspire mindfulness

Cactus & Exterior: Photography courtesy of ADAMS / HANSEN STOCK PHOTOS     All other photography courtesy of Miraval


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