In the Caribbean, new meditative programs bring mindfulness to the fore.
The Bermuda grass is cool under my bare feet as I sit cross-legged on a leafy embankment near the St. Regis Bahia Beach Resort’s golf course. The warm sun shines through a canopy of trees, from which the high-pitched squawks of Greater Antillean grackles interrupt my attempts at meditation. My concentration broken, I glare up at the interlopers, then squeeze my eyes shut and wait for inner peace to arrive.
“There’s pressure and weight that comes with the idea of meditation,” says Michael Miller, the director of the New York Meditation Center who has partnered with St. Regis’s Puerto Rican outpost to create a new program called Be Here, Be Now. “This is about present-moment awareness and relaxation; you don’t have to feel like a monk on a mountain to do this.”
Relieved—after all, I hardly feel holy so close to the ninth green—I relax and close my eyes again. Under Miller’s instruction, I begin to identify the various sensations in my body—warm shoulders, tingling toes—focusing intently on one after the other. The ebb and flow of these senses, Miller says, allows my body to identify and eliminate stress; the act of acknowledging this process helps to clear my mind.
In acknowledging the benefits of meditation, the St. Regis Bahia Beach Resort is certainly not alone. Programs focusing on the practice are becoming de rigueur in the Caribbean, adding a dose of mindfulness to the typical resort experience. Last year, the British Virgin Islands’ Rosewood Little Dix Bay introduced a variety of meditation offerings through its Sense Spa; in February, St. Barts’ Le Guanahani hosted a three-day program that included meditation sessions led by the wellness guru Dave Romanelli.
At the St. Regis—a 139-room resort set on 483 acres on Puerto Rico’s northeast coast—the Be Here, Be Now program focuses on self-guided practices that can be incorporated into life’s daily pursuits. If not exactly a daily pursuit, a round of golf seems the perfect activity for putting Miller’s methods to the test.
With a morning of mindfulness behind me, I head out to the St. Regis’s Robert Trent Jones Jr.–designed course. It is not long before a poorly hit approach shot on the second hole—requiring a difficult 60-yard recovery out of a fairway bunker—gets my blood boiling. Taking a deep breath, I focus instead on the beauty of the course, appreciating the sun on my skin and listening to the soothing sound of palm fronds swaying in the breeze. Relaxed, I take my stance and swing. The ball sails toward the center of the green, where it lands and rolls to within eight feet of the hole. Inner peace at last.
Le Guanahani, leguanahani.com; Rosewood Little Dix Bay, rosewoodhotels.com; St. Regis Bahia Beach Resort, stregisbahiabeach.com