TAKE A BREAK
Wellness vacations help you leave stress behind
By Lesley Sauls
Copley News Service
Are you good with numbers? You might not have considered this one: By the time you reach retirement age, you could easily have been at work for 80,000 hours.
This seems like a pretty good reason to heal your soul and quiet your mind with a wellness vacation. There are many ways to achieve this objective - it is just a matter of how you perceive calm, bliss and relaxation.
East meets West at the Chopra Center for Wellbeing in Carlsbad, Calif., where ancient and modern come together in daily meditation, yoga, education and massage to release tension and allow guests to reconvene with a healthy inner spirit.
Drs. Deepak Chopra and David Simon opened the center in 1996 as a place where people can learn how to balance their stresses and strengths, and return to life completely capable of maintaining their renewed stability.
"What we teach at the center is Ayurveda, which is a 5,000-year tradition of healing from India that focuses on the relationship between mind and body," explains Erika DeSimone of the Chopra Center. "We teach something called inner pharmacy. (Your wellness) is already in your body or as close as your kitchen."
Special multiple-day programs run at the center throughout the year and target the needs of any visitor in search of serenity. The most popular one, Perfect Health, runs almost constantly and is just the thing for a person who is handling any kind of adjustment.
Says DeSimone, "Our guests range in age from their 40s through their 70s, and a common thread that runs through them all is that they are going through some kind of change in life. It could be menopause, divorce, the death of a loved one or retirement, but they are all experiencing change."
At the center, every guest is carefully evaluated and the spa tailors each treatment to fit specific needs. Warm, scented oils, soothing background sounds and a serene environment enhance massages, steam therapy, herbal wraps and other treatments to purify the weary soul.
The Chopra Center for Wellbeing is located at the La Costa Resort and Spa. For more information, visit www.chopra.com or call (888) 736-6895.
PEACE THROUGH EXPLORATION
For some people, the best way to find inner peace and a sense of rejuvenation after great change is to forgo the internal search and instead follow their wanderlust and explore the planet.
Elder Hostel has organized tours for the mature traveler since 1975. With more than 8,000 trips per year in as many as 90 countries, the focus of this nonprofit company is on cost-efficient travel with an emphasis on education and cultural experiences to feed the hungry mind. Feel the hot sand on your feet as you walk among the pyramids, take in the view of Athens from the Acropolis, breathe exceptionally clean air in Australia or watch the light change in Giverny.
Accommodations and most meals are included in the reasonable cost of each Elder Hostel experience and some programs are arranged to include another traveler from a different generation. If you find your bliss in seeing the world through the eyes of your child or grandchild, you can take them along to share your passion for travel and education.
Retired elementary school teacher Shirley Olson, who lives in Minneapolis, is a veteran globe-trotter. She especially enjoys the Elder Hostel programs because they provide an opportunity for her to interact with her grandchildren in a way they will always remember.
"I think it's probably the neatest thing to take a grandchild to swim right with the whales," says Olson of the intergenerational programs. "They are so well planned, and yet they still provide free time to do things, too. It's the best way to relax and just enjoy a vacation."
For more information, visit www.elderhostel.com or call (800) 454-5768.
If your budget doesn't allow for spa-style introspection or international travel, don't think you must rule out a wellness vacation experience. You can create an oasis of calm and serenity for your rejuvenation right in your own home.
The real draw of leaving town is that the phone, mail, to-do lists and chores are left behind. So, unplug your phone, stop your mail, get the house in shape and turn off the buzz in your head. Pick a week that will be your vacation week and make a concerted effort to have things clean and organized before it arrives. It might be just the incentive you need to find the bottom of the pile on your desk.
In her Simple Living Web site newsletter (www.simpleliving.com), Janet Luhr suggests, "Pretend you really are going away and that you have a housesitter coming to care for your house while you are away. Imagine that you don't want to have this housesitter see all of your mess, so you need to get busy cleaning it up before your 'departure' date."
When the date of your virtual departure arrives, that's it. Light gently scented candles, play soft music, prepare a bubble bath and sip your favorite wine, knowing that the world is on hold until you choose to plug back into it. Read, relax and transport yourself to a place where you are the king and inner peace is the goal. You made your nest just as you like it, now really enjoy living in the space you created. Perhaps this is the ultimate vacation destination, and you might find that when your virtual return date arrives you keep a candle burning, soft music playing and a sense of serenity with you indefinitely.
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