Michael G. Tompkins is Chief Executive Officer of Miraval Resort and Spa. Tompkins’ responsibilities are the oversight of all general resort operations to creating Miraval programming, to managing the overall growth and development of the brand. Most recently, Tompkins served as Miraval’s President and General Manager.
A fifteen year veteran of the luxury hospitality industry, Tompkins began his career at Miraval in 2007. During his time with the resort and spa, Tompkins has been instrumental in leading key projects including the newly built Miraval Life in Balance Spa with Clarins, the creation of the Andrew Weil, M.D. Integrated Wellness Center, and completing the development of The Villas at Miraval, one of the fastest selling luxury lifestyle real estate projects in the country.
We are kick-starting an exciting new year with Michael as we discuss how to create a mindful new year featuring hot topics from Miraval’s latest book — “Mindful Living.” This is going to be a year long series to learn how you can achieve a truly mindful life and how you can qualify to attend the premiere of the “Mindfulness Mastermind”, only at Miraval.
Dr. Cathy Greenberg: What I have noticed over the last 3 or 4 years working with wonderful leaders, including people like Michael Tompkins who we are going to hear from in a minute, that there is a spirit of life satisfaction, increasing mindfulness and leveraging your skills and talents to the point where happiness and the whole optimism and positive outlook is elevated. It raises your consciousness and as a result you do become more fearless in the application of your skills and talents. So doing well by doing good becomes a way of living which I call fearless = freedom.
We will talk more about that because we are going to be kicking off our mindfulness mastermind at Miraval this year.
Michael Tompkins: When people say to me, “why is Miraval so special?”; what I have found is whether it is an employee to employee experience or a guest to employee experience or a guest to guest experience, and certainly this is not only in our vacation goers but also in the businesses that come here to Miraval, is that everyone is sort of looking for that sense of connection – a community. They are looking for somewhere they fit in and they have similar stressers and similar successes. Being able to bounce off other people who are of the same mindset or want to be of the same mindset, is critical to us performing to the best of our abilities.
Dr. Relly Nader: This idea on mindful living at the resort, what is it and can you give us an idea of how that came about?
Michael Tompkins: It came about around 18 years ago now when Miraval first started and that was through the teachings of Jon Kabat Zinn at the time who was really a mindfulness pioneer. His principles were to live in the moment, to live in the now. Miraval through breath work, yoga and meditation, decided that we would try to expand on that. We now have about 380 different programs that we offer on a daily basis that we can put up on our schedule, speak to the principles of mindfulness and living in the moment.
What we find is that when people have the opportunity to live in the moment they make the best decisions that they can. The unfortunate thing is we are so overwhelmed by the electronics in the world and the over-scheduling of both ourselves and our children and things like that, we rarely get the opportunity to stop and “be”. This is a great place for that.
Dr. Relly Nadler: It’s so fabulous to hear that. Cathy and I have been working with the mindfulness concept and some of the new research that I have just seen is that we are interrupted every 3 minutes, especially at work. Given these 380 different programs that you have it is just phenomenal for people to get back in touch with themselves and back in touch with the here and now.
Michael Tompkins: It is and I think another thing that I recently discovered in a lot of articles that are being written in magazines like Fast Company and Entrepreneur, is about unplugging and how a lot of the major corporate leaders are literally leaving their phones and laptops at home and going on these sabbaticals for sometimes upward of 30 days to disconnect and recharge so that creativity is there.
One of the things that happened to me was that I had a recent knee injury, which is better now, but unfortunately at the time I was on a scooter. Being on a scooter and having to navigate through crowds of people, it was very obvious to me how we have become a society that is more mindless than mindful. I was shocked at how many people almost ran into me because they were constantly looking down at their iPhones. I think that we have sort of become Twitterers and texters and the emailers to an extent that it is stagnating who we are as individuals so we are actually losing a sense of community unless it’s electronic. I think that the principles of mindfulness and bringing you back within your body and in a space that can honor the five senses that we have is critical in being able to be a great leader.
Dr. Cathy Greenberg: When you talk about the Miraval Resort as a life and balance model and then you think about this mindful living experience; how do you try to help everyone apply this philosophy and perhaps what is the cornerstone, where do you begin to give people an opportunity to come to where you want them to get to? For example, you just talked about people being so disconnected from humanity they are almost bumping into each other. We all have to share the space together and then there is the whole idea of people trying to become more disconnected from technology by taking these sabbaticals. Given the extreme of unconsciousness to total consciousness it is hard for people to get started. People always say to me, “how do I begin?” Maybe you could start there and help our listeners apply some of this philosophy and talk a little bit about where you help people begin—how do they start?
Michael Tompkins: This is a perfect segue especially with coming into the new year in a time when people usually make resolutions. I’m not a big fan of resolutions, although I am a big proponent of making change particularly as it revolves around lifestyle if it’s a choice.
What’s happened is the habits that we have become rote, therefore we are less aware. So our awareness of our behavioral patterns are not obvious to us in general and certainly the people we love, when they tell us. then we take offense to that, or people that we work with. So, quite honestly, there is some ego involved there. The programming that we have at Miraval is experiential in that it becomes an opportunity for self discovery through the experience that you do and the programming here. You are actually discovering your behaviors along the way and then it is up to you to decide whether you want to make changes that could impact your life in a positive way.
For us at Miraval, we say, try to do 5% per month. One of the things that people often do when it’s around New Years, is they want to start; they are going to exercise, they are going to eat right, they are going to stop drinking coffee, they aren’t going to eat sugar, or whatever it might be. They try to do too many things at once and we all do that. If you realize that lasting lifestyle change is a process that needs to take place and to develop a healthy habit takes about 3 weeks. If you make a 5% change you are more likely to continue that model. Then you can add another 5% in the following month which is what mindful living is about.
Learn more about what mindful living is and how to practice it starting in 2014. Get tips and tools to tune-up your performance by listening to the complete recording above, without commercials.
Here’s to Mindful Living in 2014!