Where can I go to reset my body and brain?
October 30, 2022 7:18 PM   Subscribe

It's been, by all accounts, a tremendously difficult year for me. Lots of endings and some new beginnings, too. I want to kick off 2023 with a self care solo vacation, get away from stressors, and possibly learn some new ways to approach life's challenges.

Some kind of all inclusive retreat. I want massages/bodywork and some kind of hot tub/hot springs/etc. type experience. I would love to make art of some kind. I want to learn something. No special dietary needs, but I don't want to have to think about choosing specific meals or anything like that. I would love to spend some time in nature. I want to focus on myself and work through the impact of some tough times. I want to feel safe and taken care of both physically and emotionally, so I can set this up and have a week where I don't have to worry about anything other than sorting out my own feelings and thoughts and doing exactly what I want to do because I wanted to do it.

Me and me alone, for once in my life. I am queer and plus sized and pretty introverted. Nonbinary/agender but present sort of generically just slightly femme of center by default. White. Just sneaking up on 40.

Jan-March 2023, ideally.

How long?
~5 days

I haven't traveled much outside of the US but have a valid passport. I'm based in Pittsburgh and would prefer to go somewhere sunny (warm optional).

How much?
I'm unsure but let's say I'm willing to spend up to let's say 3k USD all in.

What I don't want?
No woo/crystals/crunchy/appropriative stuff. No western religion and preferably no religion at all. I don't want to be forced to socialize.

Bonus points?
For beautiful scenery
For animals
For anything trauma-oriented/focused
For explicitly queer friendly spaces

Does this unicorn exist? How close can I get? Thanks for your help!
posted by miratime to Travel & Transportation (8 answers total) 53 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Esalen in Big Sur?
posted by gillianr at 9:17 PM on October 30, 2022 [6 favorites]

Best answer: I was going to say Esalen too. It’s a dreamy place, although there’s been a lot of changes lately. The springs are incredible, and the massages are amazing.
posted by pando11 at 9:30 PM on October 30, 2022 [1 favorite]

I just spent part of a day at Ten Thousand Waves in Santa Fe, and I literally can’t remember the last time I’ve ever felt so relaxed. It ticks your boxes for bodywork, hot springs, beautiful setting, and sunny weather. They don’t offer specific workshops or classes, but it’s a quiet environment that I imagine would be conducive to making art—I spent a little while doing simple knitting with my feet in a warm bath, and that felt very meditative.

If self-reflection hits your “learning something” requirement, they offer some packages that include bodywork, lodging, time in both private and communal baths, breakfast in room, two dinners at the amazing on-site restaurant, and a medically-guided ketamine experience. Even if the ketamine doesn’t appeal to you, I’d still look into going there and piecing other treatments together.
posted by ActionPopulated at 10:35 PM on October 30, 2022 [9 favorites]

nthing esalen, have a look at their list of workshops and see what appeals to you. the workshops are pretry self-contained so donr be too off-put about stiff going on concurrently that doesn't match what you are looking for. It might sound like more socializing than you want, but the people it tends to attract are the kind & gentle sort i think, and you can definitely go eat off by yourself during communal mealtimes if that's what you want. also most of the accommodations are shared, so you might have a roomate in a different workshop.

adding Miraval Sedona to the list. there's other Miraval locations, but i liked Sedona. they have a menu of stuff you can do, i think you choose a few things a day and all your meals are healthy ans prepared for you, you can chat w ppl or not. activities are wide ranging from massage and spa stuff to more woo thinga like past life regression, but you're in a tranquil place w space to yourself.

i think of 10,000 waves as more of a daytrip than a retreat type place as it's pretty small, but i guess id you're staying onsite you could do a self organized retreat and get massages every day. the attached Japanese restaurant is very good.
posted by wowenthusiast at 7:19 AM on October 31, 2022

On the East Coast, Kripalu might suit your needs.
posted by jshttnbm at 7:26 AM on October 31, 2022 [1 favorite]

The Pahoa area of Hawaii has a lot of retreat centers. This one looks promising: https://www.hawaiiansanctuary.com/

This area is pretty crunchy and very queer-friendly. If you want to learn about permaculture and birdwatch in between hot tubbing and fitness, I think this would be cool.
posted by lizard music at 9:20 AM on October 31, 2022 [1 favorite]

Yes, if you can wrap your head around winter in New England, this is Kripalu. Winter is as great as summer, in different ways. Sun is the only thing you won't be able to count on, but it might be marvelously sunny, too.

You can attend a program, which has set classes and activities over the course of a few days, or you can do R&R, which is just the basics: accommodations, food, and all the yoga classes you want to attend, plus a la carte on treatments or consultations (anything from reading your aura to individualized attention on your yoga form). There tends to be a class each day open to all, and sometimes it's art based, but more often movement based. I've never attended a program, but I've never felt like they leaked into my experiences in a noticeable way. Like you, I'm very much an introvert who likes to go and be healthy and alone. There will almost certainly be a daily morning or evening hike or other outdoor meditation, and an evening reflection. You can join or not join those as you please. There happens to be a program Trauma, Memory and the Restoration of One's Self in January with Bessel van der Kolk, who wrote oft-rec'd MeFi fav, The Body Keeps the Score.

They intentionally revamped from single-gender male and female hot tubs to an all-gender tub (rectangular, tiled, indoors), as well as a cold plunge pool. Double check if those are re-opened due to Covid. Because they're indoors I believe they've been more closed than open over the last few years. Massages and other nice ways to treat your body have all be excellent when I've splurged.

The food!-- the food is excellent! It's buffet style set in a large open caf, but there's always an option for a silent meal by choosing a different room. It's probably the healthiest I've ever eaten. There's always something comforting, yummy, and easy.

Kripalu leans inclusive. Whenever there I feel in harmony with a range of genders, sizes, outlooks, personalities, and philosophies. The one recommendation I have if you don't want to socialize is to absolutely spring for a solo room. Otherwise you'll be a room with at least one or possibly 7 other people in bunk beds.
posted by cocoagirl at 11:33 AM on October 31, 2022 [2 favorites]

My first thought was -- as cocoagirl recommended -- Kripalu. I had a wonderful healing experience there.

But then I got to the part where you said : "No woo/crystals/crunchy/appropriative stuff. No western religion and preferably no religion at all."

If you mean this, then skip Kripalu. There is often lot of woo and sometimes some very appropriative stuff in the programming (not that you have to attend the programming, but it's around).
posted by quiet wanderer at 1:13 PM on October 31, 2022 [1 favorite]

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