I was proud of myself. I took control of the vacation planning and went for it. Me. I booked a place to stay for the whole family just a short drive from Sedona, Arizona and the Grand Canyon. It sounded like a welcome retreat on Air BNB… offering a nice suite, vegetarian meals, meditation for my wife, even an animal farm for the kids. It turns out, it didn’t only SOUND like a welcome retreat, it actually WAS a retreat, an ASHRAM as it’s called, a spiritual retreat. Without realizing it, I booked us into a spiritual temple affiliated with the Vedic culture. No hotel. No pool. No TV. And a family now booked who isn’t connected to ancient Indian religion or culture in any way.
What did I do?
Well, in the end, I actually did something pretty amazing. If challenging myself to do 40 new things before I turn 40 is all about getting OUT of my comfort zone, I did it now for sure.
We stayed in a room of the ashram with our own entrance and patio. The room adorned with spiritual artifacts and a greeting of “namaste”. No shoes inside please… cleanliness is close to godliness. So we wore slippers and left our shoes at the door.
They keep strict vegetarian rules, so we prepared meals of pasta and beans and even cereal, oatmeal, or waffles for breakfast. Yes, we prepared meals instead of eating out every day and we ate TOGETHER on the patio as a family… morning and night talking about the days events.
They don’t ban TV watching entirely, but there isn’t a TV in our room. And they ask that any TV you watch be in the spirit of the center… so Game of Thrones was definitely out. We used the iPad and Netflix and made it a thing every night to pick a family movie. We did family movie time. What a novelty. The kids would gather on our bed till they fell asleep or we all did.
The center keeps animals as part of their spiritual journey. While we were there the family had rescued two brand new baby goats, so small they could fit in a little hand bag. The kids got to look after goats, a donkey, a steer, and more.
There was no pool, no room service, no front desk, no concierge, no alcohol allowed, no coffee either. (I still took a morning drive for my coffee). It all took a little getting used to. But just a little. By the end of our time here, we had grown pretty accustomed to our simple meals, our meaningful conversation, our family time.
On our last night here as we traced back through the weeks adventures, I asked our older daughter what she thought of it all. She said she liked it here a lot… that it just felt natural. I think natural is a pretty great way to describe it. And peaceful too.. a world away from cell phones and email and Facebook. Maybe not for everyone but certainly an adventure I won’t soon forget.
check out my other 40 before 40 adventures: