As an advocate for mindful practices, Cassandra Bodzak is a firm believer that meditation can happen anywhere. But given the serene Pacific setting found in Malibu Beach Inn’s blissful backyard, she also believes that some places are easier than others.
“Looking at the water and hearing the waves crashing, you feel like you’re floating above the ocean,” Bodzak says. “It’s the best cofacilitator you could ever ask for.”
Bringing with her over nine years of meditation expertise, the thought leader, TV personality, and author of Eat with Intention has recently teamed up with Malibu Beach Inn to offer a one-of-a-kind “Meditasting” journey, which combines the pleasures of an upscale tasting experience with the age-old practice of appreciating the present.
“We have all these beautiful things in our lives where we get to enjoy nice wine or champagne or food, but oftentimes we’re so rushed through it that we don’t get present to fully soak up and feel the richness in that moment,” she explains.
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The concept of Meditasting, then, is to not only allow yourself a calming meditative session by the sea, but to also think about wine and champagne tasting in a whole new light by embarking on a full sensory experience. Intended for visitors and locals alike, the expert-guided odyssey provides a fun and mindful way to kick off a memorable trip to Malibu or celebrate an evening out with friends.
“It sets this really intentional, grounded, connected, light tone for groups,” Bodzak says. “It’s something that helps them relax, indulge, and utilize the beautiful atmosphere here even more.”
Though every experience is unique, a typical hour-long Meditasting session begins with three glasses of Henriot champagnes and a brief introduction from Malibu Beach Inn’s sommelier. After an introduction of her own, Bodzak invites participants to close their eyes and breathe deeply to the sounds of the crashing surf. After centering in to the moment, feeling gratitude for their immediate surroundings, and releasing everything that’s going on in their lives, the tasting commences with the sense of smell.
Participants smell the glasses one by one in order to evoke a sense of the champagnes’ unique notes and personalities, while simultaneously allowing any associated memories to surface. Bodzak then instructs them to open their eyes slightly to take in the sights and colors of each glass.
“I really encourage them to be silly with this stuff,” says Bodzak, whose goal is to release the pressure, intimidation, and pretentiousness that can traditionally be associated with wine tastings. “We get rid of all of that with Meditasting. It allows you to go on your own magical journey with the wine or the champagne. If the taste reminds them of apple sauce, or the smell reminds them of a fake jewelry ring they had when they were 17, that’s perfect. I want them to have fun with it and break outside of the box.”
Next, the group advances into the sound phase of the experience as Bodzak directs them to raise each glass to their ear, close their eyes, and listen to the sounds that each one makes.
“The spoiler alert is that champagne sounds like the ocean,” she laughs. “But the beautiful thing about that is they all sound different in their own way. So you also get to hear the difference in the tone.”
Bodzak then guides members of the group to feel each champagne by holding it in their mouths, acknowledging the heaviness on their tongues and perceiving the effervescence, all while encouraging them to formulate their own conclusions and individual preferences. Logically, taste comes next, and with it, the evocation of any associated images and memories.
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Last, but certainly not least, comes reverence, the step where Bodzak likes to attune participants into the honor of each drink by examining and appreciating the process by which it was created.
“We look at the terroir, the sun, and all the people who went into making this champagne — who cared for it, who looked after the drink, and who [has] been such an integral part of every process, which has been a family tradition for years and years and years,” she says. “And then we take a sip with that in mind and hold that space.”
With everyone immersed in a state of bubbly Zen, Bodzak closes the experience by encouraging them to share their own opinions.
“It’s such a unique way of connecting with the wine and the champagne on such a deep and personal level, that the wine you taste, you’ll never forget it,” she says. “You can take the manner of presence, mindfulness, and enjoyment that we’ve done here with the champagne and bring it to all the different ways to live your life, whether it’s eating, or drinking, or simply watching the sunset. And I think that just makes people happier.”