I AM Transcendence
Celebrating Our Colleagues
Get to know Miraval Arizona’s Spa Therapist, Lolita Leal, and learn how she uses her wisdom learned from Native cultures to see beyond what is visible and to help guests move beyond conventional limitations and live a better life.
Tell us about your journey at Miraval Resorts.
I joined Miraval Arizona in 1997—when the resort was just two years old—as the PBX (Public Broadcast Exchange) operator. So, my first position involved literally connecting people. Later, while in massage school, I worked as a bellperson, driver, and transportation coordinator for a brief time. I stopped working at Miraval towards the end of massage school, then was rehired in 1999, and have been in the spa doing massage ever since. I have continued learning to keep creating new and fresh ideas for the spa.
What do you enjoy most about being a Miraval Resorts colleague?
I enjoy my work family the most. It’s a community that’s dear to me. We have such a deep camaraderie and understanding of each other. Things happen in cycles at a place like this, and it’s always good to check in with each other and find the curious synchronicities that happen with our team. When we returned from the COVID-19 lockdowns, we faced the practical concerns and constraints (masks, gloves, rearranged spaces) of reopening during uncertain times with the feeling that we aren’t alone. We might not all be in the same boat, but we are in the same water, sharing the randomness of the situation and the sense of our changing society with each other. It was so good to return and be with a crew again.
What brought you to Miraval Resorts & what keeps you here?
I knew I wanted to help people and have manifested that through my work at Miraval. That’s what keeps me here. I love when people tell me I made a difference for them. Our clientele is open to energy work and spirituality. I had a client who came to me whose son had recently passed away. While working with her, I saw a young man in my mind’s eye and described him as he appeared to me—from his physical description to the television shows he watched. But more than that, his humor came through and spoke to her through me. The mediumship was strong. She felt a warm envelopment at the exact moment that he had asked me to hug her, and it was an amazing moment of passing between the two worlds, to witness this and become a bridge for these two beings on opposite ends of consciousness. It’s beautiful to let people know that love endures and continues to flow through their grief.
What have you learned from your time at Miraval Arizona?
I’ve learned many things. But one of the more important lessons has been to honor where people are and meet them there. There’s a subtle distinction between taking someone outside their comfort zone and making them uncomfortable. I use my intuition to take them to that threshold but not push them beyond what feels natural. Miraval Resorts supports me so much and honors my gifts, and it feels like a mutual exchange of respect and support.
What is the best part of your day?
The best part of my day is waking up to my completely blessed life. I have two kids, a loving husband, and so much joy. I am an empath and highly affected by the group energy around me, so I feel very fortunate to be surrounded at home and work by such a positive life force.
How does Miraval Arizona help you create a work-life balance?
I always find help when my demanding parenting/school schedule needs to be changed. My time is respected. When my schedule became unrealistic in its demands, we changed it so I could work one more day a week but shorter days. I feel so much happier and lighter since we did that. This is a place that understands it’s not going to be good for anyone if colleagues are burned out and tired. Having a flexible employer makes it easier to be a flexible employee. There are always creative solutions to problems when we meet in the middle.
What is your Miraval “i am” word, and why did you choose it?
My word is transcendence, which comes from the Latin prefix trans, meaning “beyond,” and the word scandare, meaning “to climb.” When you achieve transcendence, you have gone beyond ordinary limitations. The word often describes a spiritual or religious state or a condition of moving beyond physical needs and realities.
In my work, I go beyond most people’s limitations. I communicate with loved ones who have passed away and walk with my guests—or, as I call them, the non-paying clients in the room. I also go beyond the normal limits of perception. I can intuitively tell people about concerns or conditions they haven’t verbally articulated. I do it all in an effort to show people that there is a whole hidden reality—one in which they are not alone. The first step is to rise above the perceived limits, transcending and shaking off the restraints.
Is there a story you would like to share that people at work might not know about you?
I’m such an open book, and I’ve been here so long I feel like everyone knows everything about me!
Would you like to share something about your ancestry, family, culture, or background?
I was born in Santa Fe, New Mexico. On my mom’s side, I am Navajo and Apache, and DNA testing has revealed I also have some Inuit lineage. My dad is from Mexico, and my DNA lights up in regions near Cancun. When I went there to visit the pyramids and temples—before knowing this—I felt so drawn there. Historically, there has been a lot of shame and suppression surrounding Native cultures in this country. In my parents’ generation, expressing your beliefs and culture was much harder.
When I was little, I got really sick, and my dad took me to what we call a curandera (Spanish for healer). She practiced folk medicine and placed a chicken egg all over my body while praying, explaining that there is life and power inside the shell that would remove the attacking energy out of my body and contain it. So, she transferred the energy that was making me sick, put it in a bowl under my bed, and came back later to pull out the yoke. It was an initiation moment from my youth that guided me along a path that eventually brought me to what I do today. I have been able to reclaim—through my own work—some of those things that my mother’s generation had so much shame and blame around and bring them into the light. I use them as a gift for other people. It’s all part of the Miraval Resorts’ message of giving and receiving.
CELEBRATING OUR COLLEAGUE’S “I AM” SERIES
Stay tuned and keep checking back in this space for an ongoing celebration of our Miraval Resorts colleagues. We are excited to shine a light on our colleagues’ “i am” statements in the upcoming months as we share the stories of their unique talents, passions, and personalities. Learn more about how their word informs and balances their work and personal journeys.