Bring the secrets of Miraval into your life.


1. Miraval Spa's Philosophy
Oprah and Gayle joined 60 deserving women—chosen from 50,000 submissions to O, The Oprah Magazine and—at Miraval Life in Balance Resort and Spa in Tucson, Arizona, on the trip of a lifetime. While some of the experience of Miraval is about massages and facials in its world renowned spa, it's not just about that. It's about a mindset and philosophy of balance.

Even if you can't afford a week at Miraval, with some simple steps and exercises you can bring the spirit and intention of the experience into your home. "The spa advice will have a dramatic effect on your life," Oprah says.
Dr. Oz is worried about Shonna's health.


2. The Physical Effects of Sleep Deprivation
When the women have a session with Dr. Oz, they start firing off questions...and you know he had answers!

One woman asks Dr. Oz what the ideal waist size is. "Your belly fat, which is your waist size, should be one-half your height," he says.

Another, who says she recently had an EKG test, asks Dr. Oz what other tests she should be getting. "The best test for women is a stress echo," he says.

Have your own health question? Ask Dr. Oz!

One woman's health particularly worried Dr. Oz. Shonna's hectic day starts at 3:45 a.m. and ends after midnight. She works full-time and goes to school at night, not getting out of class until 10 p.m. Shonna says she gets by on three hours of sleep a night and six cups of coffee a day.

Dr. Oz says there is no way that Shonna can or should keep up her tiring pace. According to Dr. Oz, women need about seven hours of sleep a night—almost twice as long as what Shonna is getting now! Dr. Oz says people who don't get enough sleep are at significantly greater risk of viral illness, heart attacks and strokes. "Folks with mental health problems, 80 percent of the time can't sleep," Dr. Oz says.

One of the biggest problems with not sleeping enough is that you don't dream. "Living your best life, which is what this is all about, is about living the life of your dreams. So if you're not dreaming, how can you live your best life?" he says. "Dreaming really is critical. Every species dreams. In fact, you're better off starving than preventing from sleeping. It's a quick way of inducing psychosis."
Dr. Oz talks to the women about their health.


3. The Health Benefits of Sex
Things started heating up when Dr. Oz told the women about the health benefits of sex. "You want to have [sex] an average two to three times a week, minimum," he says.

While he says that much of the data that shows a relationship between the frequency of sex and life expectancy focus on men, it exists for women, too. "The catch is with men it's about quantity. With females, it's about quality. It's about orgasm," he says. "It just has to be quality sex.

"Here's the real question folks always ask me, 'Should I force myself if I don't feel like it?' And the answer is, 'If it's with someone that you love and care for deeply, the answer is absolutely yes, because sex begets sex.' I mean, when you do it, it creates other changes that makes it easier for you the next time around," Dr. Oz says. "And plus, the easiest way for us to reach that Nirvana, that Zen experience, is to have sex with someone we care for deeply and love. It's that bond that we so crave."
Dr. Oz says most people do not breathe correctly.


4. How to Breathe Properly
One thing the guests at Miraval Spa learn is how to breathe correctly. In fact, Dr. Oz says, most people have been breathing wrong almost their entire lives.

When most people take a deep breath, they inflate their rib cages. "Doesn't work, and here's why," Dr. Oz says. If you inhale with your rib cage, you're not taking in as much air as you could if you inhaled with your diaphragm—a large muscle located beneath your lungs. When you exhale, you should allow your diaphragm muscle to move up to push the air out.

"This is the foundation of every Eastern religion—that you've got to first start with a deep breath. Now, how do you do that? In order for the diaphragm to come down, you've got to make room."

When you're taking true deep breaths, concentrate on a few things:

  • When you breathe in, push your belly out. Don't flare your nostrils or lift your rib cage up.
  • When you breathe out, pull your belly button way in.
  • Remember to relax.
Doing this regularly will increase the supply of nitric oxide in your blood, which relaxes your arteries, lets more oxygen into your blood and stimulates your brain. Correct breathing also moves the lymphatics, which helps clean your blood of waste material.
Quantum Leap at Miraval Spa


5. Quantum Leap Challenge at Miraval Spa
Now that they know how to breathe, the guests are ready to confront their biggest fears—both mentally and physically—on Quantum Leap. This challenge requires them to climb straight up a 35-foot pole with a partner before leaping off!

Sherry hopes that Quantum Leap will help her to stop living in her husband's shadow. "There are a lot of times where I don't, maybe, take a step in a different direction and I follow his lead," she says.

After she reaches the top, Sherry waits for her teammate, Amanda. "I'm doing this as a challenge to myself to not ever let fear paralyze me," Amanda says. "I'm throwing caution to the wind."

With both Sherry and Amanda at the top of the pole, the platform is barely big enough for both of them. Amanda struggles to find her balance enough to stand. Then Sherry asks Amanda, "What do you need me to do for you?" With Sherry's help, Amanda was able to stand—and they conquer the challenge!

"Did you hear her say that? 'What can I do to help you?' That's what it's all about," Oprah says.

"This whole trip has just freed me of a lot of things that I've been holding onto that I didn't realize I've held onto," Sherry says. "Not only embracing my fears but releasing things inside of me that I didn't know were holding me back. And it's just been such an awesome experience."
Laura likes the Mindfulness Breakfast activity.


6. Mindful Eating Skills
Besides breathing, another key to Miraval's philosophy is the concept of mindfulness. What does that mean? "It's all about awareness," Dr. Oz says. "A lot of us see the world in black and white. Mindfulness means you see it in Technicolor, you appreciate subtleties. A butterfly coming by, the way the food feels in your mouth, things that you don't often think about. But as you begin to realize they're out there, you recognize that 1 percent of reality is what's important to us. And you can focus on that."

One of the guests, Laura, says the Mindfulness Breakfast activity has made a huge impact on her life.

Watch the Mindfulness Breakfast exercise.

Using the mindful eating skills, Laura says she's already lost 10 pounds!
Dr. Oz's steps to increasing mindfulness


7. Practicing Mindfulness
Dr. Oz says you can bring mindfulness and better health into your own life with five important changes.

  • "Make the big decisions at the supermarket, not at home." This will help you keep the bad foods out of your home and bring the good foods in.
  • Make your breakfast at home and don't eat fast food for breakfast. Not only will it be healthier, but it's a great time to be with your family.
  • No trans fats. "Preserved foods aren't eaten by the insects," Dr. Oz says. "You shouldn't be eating them."
  • Make exercise an important part of your day. "You've got to imbed it into your life," he says.
  • Forgive someone. "It's about gratitude. Take that big step." Dr. Oz says. "When you hate somebody, it hurts you more than them."
Martha Beck


8. Life Coach Martha Beck Helps Women at Miraval
While Dr. Oz gives the guests advice on their physical health, O, The Oprah Magazine life coach Martha Beck helps them understand the emotional factors that could be holding them back. "I did see transformations this week, and the biggest transformation is that these women are givers," Martha says. "They give. They give. They give. They're not so great at taking. And I keep telling them, 'This is God's way of telling you. How much evidence do you need that you deserve to take?'"

Martha's advice had a major impact on Erin, whose newborn son died when he was only 8 days old, just three months before her trip to Miraval. "All you want is a healthy baby, and when that doesn't happen, it shakes all of your beliefs about everything. It shakes your belief in God. It shakes your belief in yourself," Erin says. "I think that in my struggle to survive, I began really to be hard on myself. I gave myself very little room to feel what I felt and to experience the full gravity of my loss."
Erin learns the importance of self-compassion.


9. Martha Beck Teaches Erin About Self-Compassion
With Martha's help, Erin changes the way she thinks about her son's death. "His soul was inside my body for a reason, to bless me and to teach me something," Erin says. "And if all I carry away the rest of my life is I associate his memory and his life with the greatest pain I ever suffered, I think that that's doing him a great injustice, and he wouldn't want that for me."

Martha teaches Erin the difference between falling into self-pity and showing sympathy to oneself. "The idea of having self-compassion was something that I had not thought of, and that really struck me really hard that I have lost compassion for myself, and I desperately want to and need to get it back," Erin says.

To understand how to feel self-compassion, Martha suggests a visualization exercise. "Imagine a time when you're caring for a child or an elderly parent or a dear friend who's ill or heartbroken, who is just not doing well, and you put them to bed at night, you let them rest," Martha says. "And you go in, and you watch your children sleep, just hoping they'll heal, right? And when you feel all the compassion you can, imagine that the person rolls over in bed, and it's you."

Martha says this exercise can help you direct all the empathy and concern you would feel for another person toward yourself. "If you can stay [in that moment], the possibilities for your life are endless. That's where it all starts," Martha says.
Wendy feels guilty that her children witnessed her abuse.


10. Overcoming Guilt
Wendy, another guest, tells Martha she escaped an abusive marriage, but she still holds onto feelings of guilt for what her kids went through. "My children saw—especially my oldest son—he saw my husband constantly beating me. He saw my husband burn me with a cigarette," she says. "I have two beautiful boys who have probably seen more than their share of what they needed to see, and it's just kind of difficult looking at them every day."

Wendy says she stayed in the relationship for so long because she thought it was the best thing for her children. "For so long, I felt something had to be wrong with me, like I'm attracting it," she says. "And I look at my oldest son—who is remarkable, I couldn't be more blessed—and I see the unforgiveness in his eyes, and it kills me because I know as his mother I want to protect him."
Martha explains how children mimic the way their parents treat themselves.


11. Martha Beck Explains How Children Learn from What They See
Martha explains to Wendy that if she wants her son's forgiveness, she must first forgive herself. "Our children model what we do to ourselves, not what we do to them. So if you see unforgiveness in his eyes, it's because you're not forgiving yourself," Martha says. "Your only job is to learn to love yourself. The children, that's all they're waiting for you to do."

According to Martha, a mother who lives her life well is going to have happier children. "Let me tell you my favorite story from a psychiatrist who spent 20 years dealing with neurotic patients. They'd always say, 'I know my mother loved me, but...,' and then they'd go into the problems," she says. "One day she met a really, really healthy man, and she thought, 'Gee, I wonder what a normal person's mother is like?' She never heard that. ... She thought he would say, 'My mother loved me perfectly. She made no mistakes at all.' Instead, he said something she had never heard before from a patient. He said, 'My mother loved life.'"

Martha says parents who neglect to love themselves raise kids who don't show themselves self-love, either. "They don't treat themselves the way you treat them. They treat themselves the way you treat you," she says.

"When she said that in order for me to live my best life, that's going to show him, that was incredible for me, because I never looked at it that way," Wendy says.
Wyatt Webb leads the Equine Experience.


12. The Equine Experience
One emotionally revealing activity at Miraval is the Equine Experience. With the help of best-selling author and psychotherapist Wyatt Webb, the women get to interact with horses on an emotional level. The goal is to get the horse to lift its leg so they can clean its hoof—but it is harder than it sounds. The horse senses how a person is feeling, and will only raise its leg when it feels comfortable.

"I created this almost 15 years ago, and it's based on the premise of how we do one thing is pretty much how we do everything," Wyatt says. "You will end up treating these horses how you've learned to treat people."

The first time Oprah tried the Equine Experience on a previous trip, she says she had some trouble getting the horse to cooperate at first. "[I thought], 'I know how to talk to people. I'm assertive. I'm calm. I know how to get things done. This horse should be lifting its leg,'" Oprah says. "Then you're embarrassed that you weren't able to do it, because I thought I was going to be able to walk in there and be my assertive self and do it."

Eventually, Oprah succeeded after she realized horses don't care what you have to say—it's all about how you feel. "Horses are like living lie detectors," says Martha Beck, who works with horses often. "If you're not really authentic with yourself, a horse is afraid of you and they can tell your heart rate, your adrenaline rate—all of those go up when you're not being completely authentic."
Amy and Jennifer


13. Equine-Assisted Therapy at the Equine Experience
Jennifer and Amy hope that the Equine Experience will help them move past tragedies and begin to live better lives. Jennifer's husband of four months, Cody, was riding in a Humvee in Iraq when he was killed by an explosive device. "I feel like I'm just not normal anymore, like no one can even relate," she says.

Amy says she defended herself with a kitchen knife when she was attacked in December 2005. "A man came into my house and sexually assaulted me, and I turned it around and I stabbed him," she says.

As Amy and Jennifer each try to complete the task, they become frustrated when all four hoofs remain firmly on the ground. Amy says she approached the horse with confidence, but it soon melted away. "[I thought], 'I can do this. I mean, come on. I'm strong and independent,'" she says. "But when I got up there right next to the horse, my heart just instantly started racing, and I didn't know where that was coming from."

Watch as Amy and Jennifer complete the Equine Experience.

"We realized that the horse could feel that we were really scared and upset and angry, and that was how we portrayed [ourselves] to other people, too," Jennifer says.

Finally, once they release their pain and fear, the horse becomes more agreeable. "I think it was Amy that helped me out a lot, because I knew that she was hurting just as bad as I am," Jennifer says. "And when we both did it, the horse did what we needed it to do."
Oprah says goodbye to the women.


14. Oprah, Gayle and the Women Say Goodbye
At the end of their life-changing week together, Oprah, Gayle and all the women gather for a farewell champagne toast—and a big surprise for Oprah. "One of your loves are the girls in South Africa," says Diedre, one of the guests. "And so we would like to offer ourselves as mentors to those girls in South Africa on a one-on-one basis with a commitment of at least a letter every month to those girls to encourage them and to [let them] know that they are loved."

"When you love my children, when you do something good for my children, it's the loveliest gift you could ever possibly give," Oprah says.

Before saying goodbye, Oprah tells the women what the trip has meant to her. "This week has been so joyful for me also, because I don't spend a lot of time with people I don't know, but I feel that you all are my sisters," she says. "I call you my warrior women. You are what the world needs, and I know this—you will leave this place and continue to give your heart to yourself. Every moment of joy and peace and contentment and recognition that you felt here, that's who you are. That's who you really are. You are the love space in the heart of God, so take that with you and rock on!"

As she leaves the resort, Oprah receives an e-mail from Dr. Oz summing up his thoughts on the experience. "I went to Miraval believing that I would be helping 60 women who had troubled lives," he wrote. "I left realizing that I had met 60 shamans who had been steeled in the fires of hell and represent healers all over America."


Next Story