Miraval Art in desert

Breaking barriers….climbing walls at Miraval Spa

Posted on Posted in Spa, Travel, Tucson
Art and the desert as one
Art and the desert as one

I was scheduled to leave Miraval around 11:30/noon for my flight to Chicago.  A lot can be done before noon at Miraval and I was ready to do it.  My day would start with a morning hike on the grounds out in the desert.  We would have two guides, one in front and one in back as we walked.  In the April weather, we were told the snakes and other desert creatures would not be that bad. Great! I forgot about snakes and, of course, was super attentive to my feet during the hike, trying to look up and breathe in the environment before my flight back to the cold concrete of the city.

While hiking out away from the resort through the cactus, everyone talked about their visit, what brought them to Miraval and talked about life in general.  All of the guests on the hike were encouraging of everyone along the way – this was a nice feeling to be surrounded by positive thoughts where everyone was on the same page (in the real world, my fellow hikers were business owners, CEOs, Silicon Valley executives, doctors, nurses, professionals, etc. but on the hike we were just Mike, Tom, Jane, Sue, etc.) enjoying nature and working on our issues along the way. There would be a few climbs up and down on our hike, testing me slightly before returning to the resort.

The Rock Wall at Miraval
The Rock Wall at Miraval

Climbing has always been something that has held me back for two reasons – one, I am afraid of falling and getting hurt, the other has always been my weight.  All of my life, I’ve been the big girl, fat girl or if you are old enough to remember, the husky girl (Sears actually had a husky department, you will only remember it if you had to shop there) with size 11 feet. Living in the city, I never learned to climb a tree, was horrible at climbing fences and just avoided climbing if I could.  A few years ago, I did an Alaskan glacier hike during my cruise which definitely freaked me out, when with our crampons on our feet, we had to rappel down the ice on rope that looked no thicker than my shoe laces. Those ropes were definitely tested back then. A few years ago, before Miraval, I lost weight and have been taking baby steps to do everything I thought I couldn’t do, climbing was still on the list.

To conquer this, I had the climbing rock wall on my Miraval “must do” list.  I would go on the hike in the morning, come back to breakfast and go to the wall to attempt to get over both the fear and the negative self talk that plagued me for years and prove that the only thing holding me back was me – not the excuse of the weight anymore.

It always helps when the instructor is a cute, rugged, outdoorsy guy because no girl wants to make a fool of herself in front of him – no matter what age, we all care about that.  There would be six of us on the wall that day and the wall was huge!  Everyone (but me) had done this before.  We were shown all of the safety procedures, given our helmets and paired off.  After watching my partner go up the wall with relative ease and encouragement from our instructor, it seemed something I figured I could do halfway which would be a great accomplishment (baby steps).

Starting my climb
Starting my climb

On my turn, I started looking at the puzzle ahead, trying to figure out the best hand/foot movement so that I wasn’t stuck in a bad Twister pose.  While I didn’t go up the wall as quick as everyone else, I slowly moved my (big!) feet to the rock that looked best and tried to get the best grip on the rocks (some which rotated – what fun!).  Getting stuck at one point, the instructor told me to go back down and choose again.  I was more than halfway up and excited to see above the trees with the thought that I might make it to the top.  Funny that i didn’t think of falling as my mind was focused on finishing the puzzle. With a few more moves (lucky that I am tall so it was two moves), I made it to the top and was able to look all around the desert.  I wanted a bell to ring to commemorate the conquering of my fears, the pushing past my self-imposed limits, to banish the negative self talk – there was no bell – I yelled down “there needs to be a bell!”.  Everyone below laughed.

Where is the bell?
Where is the bell?

So happy to be at the top, I realized that I now needed to trust my partner to help me down.  All of a sudden I thought of my weight and how little my partner weighed (you can’t fully banish negative self talk in only three days! it is an ongoing process)- I had thoughts of me flying down and her flying up in a cartoon style – funny onscreen but I didn’t want to recreate that in real life.  Lucky for me, the instructor helped her bring me down slowly and easily – i walked down the wall as instructed (much easier without ice crampons on) and was happy to be on the ground.

Second climb up the wall
Second climb up the wall

Once on the ground, we moved to another side of the wall and each climbed again.  With the initial climb done, i took to the wall and made it up this route a bit quicker with little help from the instructor.   With the view at the top, I was thrilled that I had made the decision to buy this package on the flash sale and focus on activities only.  I was happy for a few days at Miraval as the start of more changes and clarity in my life.

Me & the Rock Wall Guide
Me & the Rock Wall Guide

Running back to the main building to pick up my boxed lunch and put as many cookies (don’t judge, I earned them!) as I could in my bag, I met my driver to go to the airport.  On the drive,  I relaxed as I watched the colors of the desert go by, reflecting on a fantastic day of accomplishment. I came to Miraval Spa to break through personal barriers and fears that continue to hold me back from enjoying a full life, climbing the rock wall was a good start.

 

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