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January 4, 1997

Weather: Tucson
City Guides and Maps: Arizona

(CNN) -- So, 1997 is underway and your New Year's resolutions are scribbled on a piece of paper somewhere. The holidays flew by and you're back on the rat wheel. Maybe it's time to make some time for yourself and start the new year off right.

A host of resorts nationwide offer unique, in-depth programs to alleviate the stress and intensity of daily life. The Miraval Resort in Catalina, Arizona, near Tucson, is one that has mastered the luxurious art of relaxation.

On a typical Sunday morning near Miraval, the sun has just begun to cross the valley and chase away the chill of night. A handful of hikers make their way through the Arizona Desert as part of the resort's "Mindfulness Program."

Breaking into the silence, the leader reminds his followers the goal here is not to work up a sweat, but to allow the light and peace that fill the valley to touch them. The program manager encourages them to "be as receptive as possible to everything that is around us."

This eye-opening "mindfulness" concept is the foundation upon which everything is built at Miraval. The desert-oasis resort strives to invoke a different perspective and way of thinking in the minds of its guests.

Many visitors come here to take a break from the demands of highly-stressful careers. And, because they are accustomed to completing tasks, these would-be vacationers see relaxation as a travel agenda item: Something they have to rush and get done.

"We find many people in this country are on the roller coaster to success, and what they have sacrificed sometimes to be on that roller coaster is balance in their lives," said Program Director Syd Teague. "For a lot of people, it means they've let all the stressors in their environment overwhelm them and their lives are out of balance. Miraval is all about putting balance back (in)."

The people who run Miraval say theirs is the world's first luxury resort to address this peculiar human need. And, many guests say a visit here is the most therapeutic thing they've ever done.

A stay is structured so guests can do as little, or as much, as they please. Many activities are quiet and thoughtful, and emphasize living in the moment. Sandpainting, under the guidance of an artist-in-residence, encourages introspection and lets vacationers exercise their oft-neglected creative sides.

For less contemplative souls, there's a bungee-jump type experience, called "Quantum Leap." And like much else at Miraval, it has a purpose: The leap is designed to help one overcome self-imposed obstacles, to meet fear head on and stare it down.

Of course, self-discovery is a lot easier in posh surroundings. Miraval has 106 casita-style rooms and suites. All meals are included and, suffice to say, are not your typical "light fare." At just over $1,000 per person for 3 nights to $3,300 for seven nights, Miraval is definitely on the high end of Tucson's resort offerings.

With prices like this, a camping trip in the desert or a getaway to a monastery may prove more relaxing to some. But if you can afford it, Miraval's careful indulgence of the soul may seem a comparative bargain.

Weather: Tucson
City Guides and Maps: Arizona

Related story:

  • Three-Part Special: Finding the Unusual in Arizona - October 14, 1996

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  • Resort to Fitness: Miraval Resort

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