I had been thinking about a blog topic on “ what was my most unusual spa treatment/activity”. Initially, I had one thought, and it may be part of a future blog. But in thinking more about my spa experiences, I realized spas, and especially destination spas, are more than spas… With things like life coaching, or things like astrology or psyhics and mediums or tarot or other new age items, spas trips can often be part of a spiritual journey, or one of personal exploration and growth. And in other cases they can be a little on-the-spot therapy.
I wrote in my last blog, “The Zen of Decluttering” about the Throw Out Fifty Things bender I went on. Sometimes my benders can go beyond clothes and books and knick knacks and extend to people. Yes, if a relationship isn’t right, then its time to move on or “throw it out”. My principles are the same for relationships as with other “clutter” — if it doesn’t make me feel good, or add value or aligned with the life I want to lead, it needs to be assessed for how it fits in, and if it doesn’t, it may be time to go.
Suddenly, I was reminded of an exercise at Miraval that I had partaken in. One that never occurred to me in my brainstorm on most unusual spa activity. Why I don’t know, but it all came rushing back. Here I was thinking about “Its Not about the Horse”
Horses are amazing creatures, beautiful, powerful and yet gentle at the same time. Horses have been used in therapy with a variety of individuals, including therapies for those with Autism as well as those with addictions. Etc. At that was really the foundation of Miraval’s program, “It’s Not about The Horse”. It has become one of their signature experiences, and one you won’t find at any spa.
So, of course you know, on my first trip to Miraval it was going to be on the top of my list to try. I did not know what to expect at the start. It was a slower period time of year, so the activity was just me and another woman. There I was with a complete stranger, driving out to the ranch and meeting the guides that would lead us through the activity.
Under a tarp on a December day in the desert, they explained everything we needed to know before leading us to the first exercise. I won’t go in to specifics here, to allow any of those who experience it someday to experience it for yourselves. But things seemed simple enough with the explanation. I got this. I mean it seemed easy enough. And my god, I transform organizations and problem solve and trouble shoot at work every day of my life, I mean – I totally GOT THIS!
But I didn’t. There I was failing. And when we were working through this, and what was to be my watershed moment – literally and figuratively, I couldn’t do it. My fellow participant had this part nailed. I didn’t. And what’s worse, is that I couldn’t even break down and cry, which I think it what I should have been doing, or at the very least needed to do. But I couldn’t and I wouldn’t, especially in front of strangers! And there I was failing at failing!!! And can I just say, failing at failing does not make success! This sucked!! And I paid good money for this and this was part of spa trip where I was supposed to be relaxing…. WTH???
So I tried to keep my composure, hiding behind the horse as I brushed him. And eventually I calmed down and was ready to move on to the next activity. Funny story here as I brushed and brushed the horse, to collect myself, I actually over cleaned the horse and the minute we went to the next activity in the arena, he rolled all around in the dirt. There’s a lesson here, that the horse knows what he needs to take care of himself and will do just so. How many of us can say the same?
But in this next round of activities, I totally hit my stride. I mean I really recovered, and began to feel better. Phew! Why couldn’t we have started with this????
Ah, but not so fast! There are several profound lessons to be learned from this activity. The horse absolutely is a mirror for ourselves and our thoughts and emotions. While I might try and “keep it together” and maybe with some success, hide it from others. I can’t hide it from the horse and worse, I can’t hide it from myself when the horse is mirroring it all back to me. You can run, but you can’t hide.
To this day, that experience remains one of the most profound I have had, and to think it came as a spa trip! After the trip, I gave my team a synopsis, and I hung a post card from Miraval of a horse, and told my employees — if something is ever unclear point to the post card and say, “remember the horse.” I think they thought I was nuts, and I probably was. But none of them ever took me up on it either. Yet over the years, the experience moved to the back of my mind to where I had forgotten all about it.
That is, until the other night, in the midst of my decluttering bender, I got to thinking about relationship issues, and suddenly the horse and all the lessons came rushing back to me. I was reminded of everything and it all of the sudden became the perfect way to begin the discussion that needed to be had.
So when is a spa not a spa? When you go to see a man about horse, or a horse about a man, or worse, (or better still) see a horse mirror yourself back to you. As I said, to this day, it remains one of the most profound experiences I have, one where the life lessons still come back to me even 4 years later.
If you happen to be at Miraval, you need to “Its Not about the Horse” may be of interest. Miraval has added a few more equine experiences that may also be of interest . I haven’t tried these yet, but they will be on my list for my next visit:
- Miraval Equine Experience
- Common Ground: Understanding Barriers to Connection
- An Unforgettable Canvas
- And of course Group Trail Rides
And if you can’t quite get out to Miraval just yet, no worries, like all things at Love to Spa, there is a spa-influenced option for home with the book, “Its Not About the Horse”