Life is chaotic at the best of times but once December hits, the holiday flurry amplifies the chaos. And so, when I received an invite to experience the new meditation program at the St. Regis Bahia Beach resort, I didn’t think twice: Yes. The trip was scheduled for January. A new year, why not try for a new (and more Zen-like) me?
Meditation is one of those things that has intrigued me for a while. I’m not one for the Zen life: too impatient for yoga, too hungry for juice cleanses, too Italian not to drink lots of wine. Yet when a few like-minded friends have cited meditation as the practice that keeps them focused and sane, why wouldn’t I try it? When the calendar date rolled around, I headed to Puerto Rico to see how a hotel company known for its nightly champagne sabring and Jean-Georges restaurants would add a meditation program to its offerings.
Michael Miller, founder of the New York and London Meditation Centres, has created the Be Here, Be Now program for this St. Regis property. “Meditation is not about lifestyle changes, but choices,” states Miller when I joke about moving to India to meditate with the monks. Miller specializes in Vedic meditation, which is an effortless procedure practised for 20 minutes in the morning and again in the early evening. He says, “The important thing is fitting it into your life like brushing your teeth.”
I sit and close my eyes for my first meditation experience. “Lead your mind to a quiet state,” instructs Miller. A good five minutes pass, during which time my mind wanders. I feel like I am failing. I open my eyes and look around. What is he doing that I am not? That voice in my head: “Am I doing this right? I’m not doing this right. Concentrate. Focus the mind. Stop thinking. Don’t think. Oh no, that’s another thought.”
“Don’t fight your thoughts,” says Miller. “Allow the activity of thinking to become increasingly quiet and settled. Thinking is a part of meditation. The mind is designed to move, and trying to stop it, trying to shut it down is such a losing battle, and that’s where people strain and get frustrated.” This process, he tells me, continues until the mind transcends the finest impulse and experiences its quietest, most settled state while alertness is fully maintained. At the same time, the body gains a very deep rest.
By the second attempt, I am beginning to get it and to truly appreciate where I am and my surroundings. Meditating doesn’t mean I’m forcing or engineering some peaceful mindset; I’m doing an exercise, engaging in a process, and interested in what that process delivers later. “You can’t learn meditation from an app, much like you don’t learn how to ride a bike from a book—it will inform you, but it doesn’t teach you,” says Miller. The Be Here, Be Now program isn’t a heavy dose of instruction intended to take over your vacation. It’s a small commitment on the front end, perhaps sparking the desired change.
I am still trying to find that tranquility in me that no one else can touch. I keep telling myself: Rome wasn’t built in a day.
Read the full story on St. Regis Bahia Beach’s Be Here, Be Now program.