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Bring the Spa Home: Challenge Yourself with Miraval

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Dreaming of a summer escape at the spa? Even if you can’t afford that five-star resort, you can recreate the spa experience at home…and not just with a DIY facial. We’re talking about complete relaxation as well as personal growth. One tool to check out is Miraval Arizona Resort & Spa’s new Mindful Living Miraval, a month-by-month guide to help you more fully celebrate each moment of your life.

Today, we’re looking forward to the month of July, where you can learn from expert Neil McLeod how to challenge yourself at Miraval and at home.  Want more?  Don’t miss this week’s contest  where you can take home your own copy of Mindful Living Miraval.

“The power of challenge is that it takes you beyond your day-to-day norm,” says Neil McLeod, head of the Outdoor Adventure Program at Miraval. For Miraval guests, this can mean leaping from a plate-sized disk 25 feet in the air, working their way across a desert tightrope, or climbing an oversized ladder with rungs five feet apart. Almost anyone would admit that these activities go beyond the day-to-day norm, but Neil, who worked as a river-rafting guide and with Outward Bound before coming to Miraval, expands his definition of challenge to include “anything that gets you out of your personal comfort zone. For some people the Equine Experience is a challenge. For others it might be something like the Spirit Flight, or even taking a fitness class like Zen Boot Camp that’s going to throw you into a completely different kind of workout than you’d get back home.”

A Typical Challenge Experience

“Our challenge program at Miraval is well known, so some people choose the resort specifically for the challenges,” says Neil. “Maybe they’re in a ripe time in life to face their fears, and they sign up for them all. Or maybe they’re return guests who did Quantum Leap last year, and this year they want to try something else, like Out on a Limb or the Desert Sky Zip Line, because it’s new.”

But just as many decide to do it on a whim. As the hour for the challenge nears, nerves may begin to kick in. “Different people are afraid of different things,” says Neil. “Almost everyone has some fear of heights, so that’s a dominant one, but there can also be more subtle, hidden fears. Maybe they’re afraid of opening up to other people, or they’re afraid of looking foolish in front of strangers. They start thinking, What if I fail? or if they’re doing it with someone they know—a friend or spouse or relative—they may become concerned that if they don’t perform well they’ll be letting that person down.”

Fears of falling, failing, or looking foolish are present in almost everyone, but Neil believes there’s another powerful fear that underlies them all: a fear of losing control. “Many of our guests are high-achieving people,” he says, “who are used to being in charge of their own destinies and calling the shots. A challenge activity where you have to depend on others or on equipment that’s being handled by others, brings their trust issues to the forefront.”

When the task is complete and the participants are all back on the ground and unstrapped from their safety gear, the team leads them in a debriefing where they talk about their experiences. Where else in their lives have they felt similar emotions—such as being stuck, reluctant to rely on someone else, uncertain of what the next step should be, or afraid to let go? “Challenge without reflection is just an adrenaline rush,” says Neil. “It’s fun, but it fades.” That’s why it’s important to pause for a moment just after the experience, before your conscious, cautious mind has kicked back in, and think about what the challenge has shown you about yourself and how you might apply these realizations to your daily life back home.