Off of the Grid

Mindfulness at Miraval

**  “Mind*ful*ness, noun
Mindfulness is a state of active, open attention in the present moment. When you’re mindful, you observe your thoughts and feelings without judgement. Mindfulness means living in the moment and awakening to experience.”

**definition of Mindfulness on the inside of the Miraval activity brochure

Today, my husband surprised me by taking me out to Miraval, a world renown spa located on the outskirts of Tucson. He didn’t tell me where we were going, just stated that he had a surprise for me. Since I am notorious for not accepting surprises, it was a pretty big deal that I didn’t hound him with questions, or pepper him with queries about the details of the trip. I tend to treat surprises as logic puzzles to which I will inevitably find the answers if I simply ask the right questions.

But I digress.


It took us some time to get out there. Not a problem. He directed me by using the GPS.  Our son was happily playing with his cars and space shuttle in the back seat and it was a beautiful day. We had fun on the way out laughing about nonsensical things good friends inevitably laugh about when given any uninterrupted time together. When we finally arrived at the gate to Miraval (yes, there is a gate and a gatehouse. Your security is important to them and they take it very seriously. You’ll read more about this later), Daniel directed me to press the “call” button to reach someone inside to buzz us in. I didn’t know what we were doing there so he had to feed me information across the seat.

“Hi, this is “Josh.” (I can’t remember the guys name so have invented one) How can I help you?”

I look at Daniel. “Tell them we are here to pick something up.” he says.

“We are here to pick something up.”

JOSH: “Is it a person or something from the main desk or gift store?”

I look at Daniel. After all, it’s his surprise. “Something from the desk.” he states.

“Something from the desk.”

JOSH: “What is it?”

I look at Daniel – so much for his surprise. I will now find out if we are picking something up from a person staying here, or something from the spa. Other options have not yet entered my mind believe it or not.  “Tell them there should be an envelope at the front desk for us to pick up.” he replies, beginning to get a bit frustrated.

“We are supposed to pick up an envelope at the front desk.”

JOSH: “What is your name?”

“Paula and Daniel R*******”

Silence. . . . JOSH: “O.K. I am opening the gate. Please take the first left and come to the main desk upon entering.”

Why did I lead you through this painful conversation exchange? Because it was a fairly painful conversation exchange. Include awkward, uncomfortable, unwelcoming and unsettling. I’ve had security clearance interviews that weren’t this uncomfortable. We drove up and took the first left to the parking lot to find a Miraval employee waiting for us in the parking lot. Not the sidewalk. Actually standing on the asphalt. Apparently we weren’t to get out of the car or park. We ignored the hint and parked our 10 year old dented Honda in a slot, and Daniel, baby and I gushed out of the car and approached the representative. It was over 90 so gushed is a fairly accurate descriptive. Presumably, the person waiting for us was ‘JOSH’. As a family we were in good spirits. I still didn’t really know what we were there for and was enjoying the experience. Daniel let ‘JOSH’ know we were there to pick up a gift certificate for the day spa.

JOSH: “That won’t be here. You’ll have to go to the Spa and pick it up from there. We’ll have to drive” and he gestures towards one of the many golf cart vehicles used to schlep people from one spot to another. ‘JOSH’ was apparently too busy to drive us to the Spa desk himself so he off-loaded us to another Miraval employee who was actually quite charming, if a bit distracted. All the Miraval employees wear wireless headsets similar to what the secret service uses. While we were being shuttled to the Spa desk to pick up the gift certificate, ‘JOSH’ was constantly updating our driver on his latest instructions. I starting thinking of this silent conversation as the “what-to-do-with-them” conversation or, ‘W.T.F.’

We arrived in front of the Spa after driving through the facility – it’s quite lovely from what we saw. After stopping, Daniel started to get off the cart when our driver related that the little one was not allowed in this part of the spa.

“No problem,” I said with a smile. “We’ll just sit out here in the 90+ degree weather while Daniel runs in and gets the gift certificate.” The way my son was referred to offended me. As did the manner in which we were being handled. I could tell our driver was a bit frustrated by this as well.

Silence as he listened to yet more information from ‘JOSH.’

“Wait! Apparently the gift certificate is at the main desk. We are supposed to come back.”

Having safely avoided contaminating the facility with baby cooties, we were whisked back to the parking lot we’d just left. A drive which took 5 minutes to go down, took 2 minutes to return. Oops! Once again, ‘JOSH’ was waiting for us outside (I guess we weren’t allowed within 10′ of the entrances) with an envelope with my name on it. Nice! We thank ‘JOSH’ and he went back inside.

Now, we’ve had a long drive. Daniel is excited about what he has read about Miraval and thus far, the experience is not what he anticipated. The little guy is needing to stretch his legs and there is a 5 level waterfall and metal wind art to the right of the parking lot. We walked around the fountain, and went to look at the wind art. We did not get in the water, or foul it in any way. We did not approach the wind art but were appreciating it from the parking lot sidewalk. I guess that was not acceptable for out of the presumed main desk area, came a Miraval employee to keep tabs on us. Obviously we were some renegade groupie family that at any moment were going to run amok with camera’s and obnoxious children, defiling the sanctity of the Miraval experience. She stood there staring at us while we walked the periphery of the parking lot sidewalk.

Being the subtle person that I am, I asked if there was something we could help her with. “Oh no” she replied. “I am just waiting for a guest.”

Rrrriiiiiiiiggggggghhhhhhhhttttttt. I should state at this point, said guest never materialized and as soon as we moved towards our car, she went inside.

So . . . . . mindfulness. Daniel and I were trying to enjoy a wonderful thoughtful gift in the moment. We were appreciating the art, and the attention to landscaping and design shown on the grounds. Daniel’s vision of being given a tour of the amenities that I would get to enjoy as a day spa guest never materialized and instead of dwelling on that, he walked with his family as we tried to enjoy the surprise and environment.

“…without judgement.”

Hummmm. That must apply to other guests and prospective guests.

“…living in the moment and awakening to experience.”

Well, unfortunately we were living in the moment – painfully so as we were escorted about like undesirables. We were certainly awakened to the experience. Probably not in the way Miraval hopes though.

I could go on and on with quotes like these from the rest of the first page of the Miraval activity booklet but I think the point is made. So I am left with these choices.

I could NOT go back to Miraval, and allow their unbelievably poor handling of our visit to completely sour my interest in the services they offer; or I can overcome my trepidation’s and go, accepting a gracious and thoughtful gift from my husband and his company in the spirit in which it was intended.

I feel like showing up in our RV, dressed in camo with war paint on, wildly waving a rusted machete, wearing 6 digital cameras around my neck – all with those high speed motors like the paparazzi use.  I want to declare that they can’t know my name as I am in the witness protection program, and when they insist, start singing the national anthem as loudly as I possibly can all while yelling anti-establishment sentiments.  I want to litter their parking lot with flyers from Bob’s Discount BBQ – all you can eat, all day! Or go up to every person I meet inside, take their picture and tell them I am their “#1 fan.”

Okay – so I went a bit crazy there, but this kind of treatment brings it out of me.  Apparently Miraval is all booked up through May and into June, so it’s not something I need to rush into right away. However, looking through the services booklet – there are a lot of interesting things to do. Meditating, yoga, massage, personal development coursework, and more! I’ve never been to a spa – ever. In my life. Although I am a bit intimidated by the experience and how they represented themselves, I know that the grounds and facility are carefully monitored to ensure no-one is disturbed during their stay. Our experience was proof of that. I am not sure what services are offered specifically for the gift certificate I’ve been issued – maybe not all classes are open to me. Who knows! I’ll have to email or call and find out. Heck, if I can apply the gift certificate to purchases in the gift store, maybe I’ll just do some holiday shopping early. My certificate might go toward the purchase of a doily or something.

I’ll keep everyone updated on how the experience goes from here. For now, be mindful. Enjoy the present and walk in Beauty. I’ll update later.


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