Sometimes a trip can not only bring you to a new place and offer new experiences, but also help you identify a different way to live life. That’s what happened to me in September 2015 when I went to Travaasa Austin, an experiential resort and spa.
First a little background – I’ve spent the past decade caregiving for elderly parents who have been in declining health while also working on my graduate degree. Things came to a head in fall 2014 when my father was hospitalized for about 60 days while I was trying to complete my dissertation on a tight timeline. By the time January 2015 rolled around, I was literally burned out physically, mentally, emotionally, creatively and spiritually.
Thankfully, one of my graduation presents was a gift card for a two-night stay at Travaasa. Because of my father’s health issues, I delayed my trip for much of 2015 but finally decided I needed to go before the gift card expired. I’m glad I did! I had somewhat rejuvenated during those nine months and could mindfully take in the experience (as opposed to just staying in bed the whole time, which I would have done in January).
Here’s what I learned from my short vacation:
There are always new experiences to try. One of the great things about Travaasa is the opportunity to pick from the many class offering. The resort categorizes their classes into adventure (such as bike tours, hatchet throwing, hiking, climbing wall, geocaching and zipline), fitness (such as mechanical bull riding, foam roller, bosu, Pilates and yoga), culture (such as wine tasting, two-step dancing, farm tour and belly dancing), wellness (such as meditation, tai chi, yoga stretch and life coaching) and culinary (such as mastering chocolate, juicing and homemade pasta). While archery and hatchet throwing did sound fun, I opted for experiences that I wanted to incorporate into my daily life. For instance, as I wrote in an earlier post, two Travaasa classes helped me experience the benefits of meditation. I also took a guided hike and a farm tour. I tried a kettlebell class, did tai chi and learned to use a foam roller. Upon returning home, I’ve started a regular meditation practice and am a regular at a Qigong class. I also started growing some vegetables in containers and look forward to further developing a green thumb.
Savor downtime. At one point, I looked at the schedule of classes I had created for myself and said, “Self, why do you want to be an over-achiever during these days? This is your vacation. Give yourself some down time.” I then headed to my room, grabbed a book and sat quietly on the porch that overlooked the Austin hill country.
Put down the smartphone. I always took my meals outdoors on the restaurant’s patio. It was such a glorious setting that I put down my smartphone and tuned into my senses. I found myself savoring the breeze and the sun, the bird calls, the sunsets and the flavors of the foods on my plate. I had been ignoring all of these wonderful sensory experiences in my daily life. I also found that I had more satisfying conversations with other solo travelers who I met at the resort.
Celebrate meals. The healthy menu — which changes regularly – is based on local food, much of it grown on Travaasa’s property. You regularly have choices of inspired dishes featuring beef, chicken, fish and game at dinner and equally amazing options at breakfast and lunch. However, I was surprised to realize that my favorite meal from my entire stay at the resort was a vegetable trio that included a beet cake, a sweet potato cake and a parsnip cake with corresponding sauces. Who knew that eating those vegetables could be so yummy?
Live graciously. I also appreciated the sense of graciousness and well-being that permeated the resort. Everyone – the front desk staff, the guy who drove me an to my room, the spa staff, the farmers, the maintenance staff and the instructors – had a warm and welcoming approach that encouraged you to not only enjoy your stay but to feel truly pampered and healthy. Everyone walked the grounds (except for an occasional golf cart) and bottles of water and inviting areas to sit and relax were available everywhere. I also noticed Travaasa’s appreciation for and interest in being in harmony with nature.
I left Travaasa with a desire to return for another stay and also the realization that I would like to create my own home as a mini-Travaasa. I want to live daily in a peaceful and caring sanctuary where the outside world falls away and nature is embraced. I haven’t totally made my home into that type of sanctuary, but thanks to Travaasa’s inspiration, I’m well on my way.