I’m lying on a plush couch with hand painted pillows inside the Restival Global dining tent. Community tables are covered in amethyst, rose quartz, and candles. It’s free time now, and Hannah – the elixir mixologist and founder of Clevr Blends is behind the bar chatting to guests as she creates magically blended superfood beverages that include some ingredients I had to look up. Dash of ashwaghanda? Don’t mind if I do.
The Arizona desert wind is warm on my face, as I breathe in the vast scenery and thank everyone who helped me along my journey to arrive here so I could gaze at the gleaming red cliffs of the Navajo Sacred Mountains – also known as the Grand Canyon’s Painted Desert. Not so far in the distance is the Roden Crater, large-scale artwork created within a volcanic cinder cone by light and space which represents the culmination of the artist James Turrell’s lifelong research in the field of human visual and psychological perception.
The sun starts to slowly set on the line of eco-lux tipis and safari tents – my new home for the week. The setting is living art – which you are part of when you paint shipping containers with Navajo artists. I have just had a Thai massage and crystal energy healing work. My muscles and chakras relaxed and aligned, I decide to walk to my tipi and take a nap. I am supposed to be “rest-ivaling” after all.
Wellness tourism has spiked due to more people taking responsibility for their health in reaction to diseases such as obesity, depression, and the failure of conventional medicine to help chronic conditions. A retreat comprises health, hospitality, beauty, medicine, and fitness. We go to get away from the mad rush of daily life, quiet the mind from the daily routine, and find inner peace.
Restival sets itself apart from the typical wellness retreat doctrine. At Restival, the health and wellness side continues each day with nutritional food, spa treatments, spiritual and mental guidance – but when the sun goes down there is an option for a cheeky glass of wine and a creative performance.
Restival fuses the best of festivals and retreats with uniquely curated intimate wellness travel experiences and indigenous cultures. It is a transformational retreat that offers you the opportunity to reconnect with yourself, nature, and other humans. Restival’s ethos is based on four precise pillars which you will embrace upon arrival.
CONNECTING WITH NATURE
Connecting to nature is easy to do in the desert. Cows graze peacefully in the distance, coyotes become your alarm clock, tiny lizards sprint from the brush – suddenly you feel at harmony in the ecosystem. You wake with the sun, watch it fall over the desert horizon, and follow its lead as you wind down and gaze up at a million bright burning stars.
CO-CREATING WITH INDIGENOUS PEOPLE
Spending time with the Navajo put so many things in perspective for me. Native Americans have tried to co-exist with the European conquistadors and their progeny (You and Me) although it has been a long and brutally painful road for them. And sadly still 2017 American corporations are using capitalistic motivators to carelessly pollute their land, water, and air. We have seen this on mainstream media at the North Dakota pipeline – which sadly the struggles are not publicized anymore. Another major threat the Navajo Nation is dealing with is uranium mining. See bottom for more details.
When will we learn to stop paving paradise to put up a parking lot? Imagine if China conquered The States and we had to all learn Chinese and adopt communism or be slaughtered – kidnapped – converted. The only way you truly learn empathy is by putting yourself in another’s shoes. Restival allows this integration and participation with Navajo speakers, artists, storytellers, peacemakers, sweat lodge, horse whispers, musicians, and healers.
With the assistance of healers from all over the world, I journey into myself. The Spa offers a wide range of treatments and therapies with reputable and knowledgeable healers. The menu includes: Career and Life Planning with Anne Loyd, Craniosacral Therapy and Sound Healing from Rachel Johnson, Traditional Bodywork with Jeneda Benally, Readings by Psychic Astrologer Jennifer Stone, Thai Massage with Jennifer Haydu, Life Force Healing with Leslie Finkel, Acupuncture with Sena Kimbrell, Bodywork with Karin Pine, and Flotation tank therapy and a traditional Najavo sweat lodge.
UNPLUGGING FROM THE MODERN WORLD FOR A FEW DAYS
Day one you may peak at your phone once or twice – we are part cyborg now holding onto this device for dear life. Buy the end of the week you have gained your independence from the phone and you are more “tuned in” than ever. A digital detox should be practiced more often. I felt relieved. No emails could find me – no Facebook notifications pinging me – No President’s tweeting- just the sounds of real birds chirping.
Restival has tackled the mission to help indigenous wisdom stay alive through education with the desire to create a forum for Non-Native and Native People to come together in peace and Harmony, a creation of a space for people to reconnect with themselves, nature and others. The week you spend at Restival will demonstrate that there is an antidote to modern living and the fast-paced world.
Restival produces eco-luxury events, meaning comfort with the least possible ecological impact, respecting and preserving the natural environment, never uprooting plants, limiting usage of plastics, and leaving no trace. The site is truly off the grid and runs entirely on solar power, and water is transported from a local well.
How to schedule your bliss? Just ask Michael Banks the spa manager. Upon arrival – welcome elixir in hand, he will go through your week, scheduling each appointment.
Afterwards, you head to your tipi where you receive a welcome pack and the schedule of each day’s content. Then enjoy sunset Kundalini Yoga with Amar Atma and a Gong Bath from Rachel Johnson. Dinner will impress, catered by the delicious food pioneers Mamma Moon Organics, nutritious vegan and gluten-free options are available.
After dinner, the opening ceremony commences and the bar offers wine to toast.
I wake up to coyotes howling right before sunrise and make my way to the temple where Andres Rodriguez, a Vedic Meditation teacher who is offering a free service to the Restival guests, is hosting a series of sound immersions inspired by the sun.
Amar Atma is teaching Kundalini Yoga after sunrise meditation. Breakfast is served from 830 to 930am, each day brings about a new innovative delicious meal. From 10 to 11am I have a choice between content, a talk with Anne Loyd about the art of love and relationships in the Hogan (a traditionally designed Navajo house) or a discussion on better eating practices from Mamma Moon, Restival’s resident chef.
After Anne’s inspiring talk I have decided to try my hand at mask making with Sculptor Zarco, opting to go to a peacemaking talk with Navajo statesmen Thomas Walker tomorrow. The days are easy to plan where you can maximize everything you want to see and do, as the schedule was carefully curated.
I enjoy lunch from 1 to 230pm followed by a Navajo afternoon tea. And then I have another hour of workshops available, or spa treatments, then relaxation time.
Each afternoon you have the ability to experience a traditional sweat lodge hosted by a tribe member.
Dinner is served from 7 to 815pm, and each night there is a different performance – which is both educational and exhilarating.
Founder Caroline Jones
The idea of Restival came to her one day while riding the tube to her flat in London, watching people with no signal still trying to use their phones, she thought, what if you combined a retreat with a festival – create a fun event combined with wisdom which is wifi free! Caroline started working in events in 1994, at the Shepherds Bush Empire during the Britpop era. For the last 10 years, she has been running her own events company, Miss Jones & Co. She has created a place where you can connect without feeling awkward and not being labeled. A place where you can be yourself and have a laugh, dance and create. A rest from your daily switched on life, is the core of Restival.
The Navajo interaction is an impactful part of this journey. From traditional songs and stories in the sweat lodge, to painting side by side, mask making, learning horsemanship with Clayson Benally, talks with Navajo statesmen and Navajo NASA astronomer, David Begay, traditional performances, to not-so-traditional performances – each experience was centered around a motivating message to be kind to the earth and be kind to others.
The staff at Restival love their job, and that shines through. Whatever you need help on they are promptly assisting you. There was such an ease throughout each day due to the friendly nature of everyone working for a common goal: to keep guests comfortable, nurtured, and happy.
Another bit that sets Restival apart is the wide range of healers and services at your disposal. From Navajo bodywork, sound healing, massage, astronomers, Vedic meditation, and acupuncture – you will have your week full. You also get to know your healers, chat with them at dinner or over a coffee, and really dive into what is going on in your life.
Elixirs by Clevr Blends
Whatever your diet, you will be satisfied by what you put into your body while at Restival.
Carissa Rose Hayes, or popularly known as Mamma Hayes, is the founder of Mamma Moon Organics.
Her inventive creations and delightful vegan optional menu are just a few reasons why she is one of the most sought-after caterers in the business.
The Guests you interact with play a part in your experience, friendships are easily sprouted here.
Simbarashe Cha, founder of Lord Ashbury Photography gives guests the gift of everlasting memories with his beautiful portraits. You can’t ask for a better present.
Restival came at such an important time for me after losing my best friend a few months ago. The trama created a blockage from all things positive and left me feeling utterly alone yet unable to reach out to people.
My Mom, sister, and soul sister came with me to share in the healing experience of Restival. Spending a week with my family in a tipi has made for some much-needed snuggle time, luckily its cold at night in the desert so they had to snuggle with me. Also knowing there is a medic constantly on site made us all rest easy.
The first few days at Restival you are just beginning to show your vulnerabilities, but with the kind faces surrounding you, treatments, talks, and shared meals under the desert stars – it doesn’t take long for even the hardest outer shells to crack, and light shine through. I had such a strong take away from the experience. I managed to meet new people, ones that I have made plans with upon returning to the city. I have adopted a new meditation practice with a meditation guru who checks in on me via FaceTime. I am able to look through my notes and discuss them with Anne Loyd, a life coach, who just sent me a lovely Rumi poem and checked up on my thought progress after our chat. I have been to many wellness retreats, but no one has ever checked up on me post-retreat.
I painted a mask, a scarf, and a shipping container. My sister and I went on a hike and explored the desert while talking through our psychic readings and made future plans. I watched the sunrise every morning meditating either outside my tipi or in the temple. I feel an energic rejuvenation and a removal from the creative block I was having.
I feel more confident that I am on the right path, and that I will spend more time listening to knowledge within myself. I feel capable of putting down my phone and walking with confidence instead of glued to social media. I give myself time to think without stressing I am not doing something productive. Thinking time is productive. These feelings I have because of this experience are priceless.
By the end of Restival, my journal became a yearbook – signed by campers, staff, Navajo, and healers. I have also been inspired to help the Natives keep their land and water clean and unpossessed by corporations. I have been inspired to take on my endeavors with a more peaceful approach.
With the growing need in today’s world of everything Restival offers, there is a morphing structure taking shape. More Restivals will pop up globally throughout the year, keeping the attendees to intimate numbers. This allows for more experiences, better human connectivity, and more options.
Restival donates a portion of all proceeds to the Star School – founded by Kate and Mark Sorensen.
The Star School is a charter elementary school located 25 miles East of Flagstaff, Arizona. The school serves students from pre-school through grade 8 who live in the Southwest corner of the Navajo Nation and the surrounding rural area. The Star School promotes self-reliance, alternative building methods, and energy sources such as solar and wind power. The school also hosts workshops about sustainable living, food sovereignty, the celebration of Navajo traditions and other cultures, technology, and the arts.
Join in on the fight against Uranium Mining, and register at The Forum to get updates how you can help.
And get 10% off using Promo Code Packed Perfectly
Photo by Simbarashe
Search More Events