We Went for Relaxation, We Got Spiritual Bootcamp

I’ve been wrestling with how to write about Amanoi and have come to the conclusion that there is no right way to write about it so whatever comes out will have to do.

I have never experienced anything like an Aman resort. I don’t want to go into detail about the resort itself, both because I don’t think it’s necessary here and because I don’t want to ruin the experience for anyone else, so I’ll just say that it was the kind of place I thought only existed in hearsay, that I would never experience in my lifetime, and I feel very fortunate to have been there. It was another level.

Amanoi was somewhere we went for ultimate relaxation in a remote, beautiful setting. Perched on a hill with no other buildings nearby, it was peacefully removed from the bustle of civilization. Within minutes from our little apartment (bungalow? residence? pavilion?) we could be at the Cliff Pool with an unobstructed view of green mountains cascading into ocean, or we could be at the Beach Pool with just a private strip of sand separating us from the water’s edge (both infinity pools, btw). Even bad weather didn’t ruin the serenity; our private residence felt like it was alone, and being able to order anything (aka cocktails) right to our door helped us find no reason to leave for an afternoon.

What we sought at the Amanoi was an escape for a few days to recharge, which is why what I got out of the Amanoi was entirely unexpected.

It started innocently enough: yoga at 8 am on the pavilion hovering over the lily pond. I didn’t know I could enjoy Ashtanga Yoga, the kind that focuses on breathing and stretching, moving slowly in order to center yourself, but I did. I went to 8 am yoga every morning we were there and would like to keep it going in the future. Then Meredith signed up for 7 am meditation one day and invited me to join. I’ve meditated a few times in the past and always found I had a curiosity for it so I happily went with her. That’s when everything shifted.

Our 50 minute meditation session with the Spa Manager reached both of us in ways that are hard to describe. My experience was not what I expected it to be but had a definite effect on me, which took a little while to realize and evolved as the day went on. It prompted me, with some encouragement from Mer, to speak to our meditation leader – who I have taken to calling “the Yogi” – later that evening. Our conversation was important for me in this trip and in life. He knew things about me that he had no reason to know, and reaffirmed things that I didn’t know needed reaffirming. After our conversation I sat in the bath for a while – I don’t remember the last time I took a long bubble bath – trying to process what just happened. I needed some me time.

What came out of this encounter was hard to understand. On the one hand I felt empowered, gifted an insight into myself that I wouldn’t have readily come to at that time. On the other hand I felt a little turned upside down. Did that really happen? Was I really that affected by the Yogi?

Leaving the Amanoi felt strange. It was like an alternative universe, one that turned my normal one upside down. It led to a lot of self-reflection, a lot of emotional ups and downs, and necessitated some time to myself before I could move forward. I got that in the next few days and was able to move past the slight bewilderment I was experiencing in the days immediately following.

Now I can say that I am still curious about meditation, having kept it up since then. I am in a very spiritual part of the world that has always intrigued me. It is not coincidental that all of this happened here; if anything I should have seen something like this coming. So as I continue my Southeast Asia portion I am curious to see what happens with this side of me. Will I keep going in this meditating inner-self-discovery direction? Considering that I just tried to type “or realize that it was a temporary experience and go back to my closed-off life” and deleted and retyped and redeleted it a few times, I think I probably will continue. At least for now.

This is why the Amanoi was not what I expected it to be, but also why it was an important stop for me in this journey. I realize this could be a kind of out there post for some people, but if anyone wants to talk to me about it I welcome it. This journey has become a spiritual one as well as a physical one, around the world and the self.

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