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less time and energy we have to expend to place it in some larger context.” We can just simply be. Healthy vacation escapes help us


do just that. We regenerate, reconnect with ourselves and others and re-imag- ine our lives in a more satisfying context.


Personal Growth:


HEALTHY ESCAPES


Unplugged Getaways Rebalance Our Lives by Judith Fertig


W


hen Jeanna Freeman vaca- tioned at Earthshine Moun- tain Lodge, in Lake Toxaway,


North Carolina, she wasn’t sure what to expect. Touted as a “techno-amenity- free property,” it specializes in off-the- grid getaways (EarthshineLodge.com), meaning no in-room TV and a chance to digitally detox. Guests are encouraged to ditch their cell phones and laptops in favor of a zip line adventure through the Smoky Mountains forest canopy and laid back log cabin informality. “Honestly, it was exhilarating


being away from my cell phone,” admits Freeman, an interior designer from Collierville, Tennessee. “I hadn’t felt that good and ‘connected’ in a long time. I didn’t realize how much I needed that.”


Her experience highlights the new


buzzwords and phrases in vacation travel: unplug, reconnect, digital detox and healthy escape. What is it about


18 New Haven / Middlesex


unplugging that seems so refreshing and like an ideal vacation? Nicholas Carr, author of The Shal-


lows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains, explains that, “Using the Internet pushes us to a skimming and scanning form of thinking.” He occa- sionally unplugs to recover his atten- tion span, noting, “A lot of our deepest thoughts only emerge when we’re able to pay attention to one thing.” For memoirist Pico Iyer, author


of The Man Within My Head, “The urgency of slowing down—to find the time and space to think—is nothing new.” What is new is figuring out work- able definitions of stillness and move- ment when we spend a lot of our time physically still, but mentally in motion. A noted travel writer for 20 years,


Iyer likes to stay at monasteries around the world. He concludes, “Wiser souls have always reminded us that the more attention we pay to the moment, the


NaturalNewHaven.com


The Mind MJ Goff was on a magazine writing assignment the first time she visited the Omega Institute, in Rhinebeck, New York (eOmega.org). As a student of New Age theories and a potential yoga teacher, Goff says she welcomed the opportunity to learn more. Once she attended the women’s retreat she was researching, she was hooked. “Every year since, I find myself being drawn to Omega for its promotion of meditation and overall encouragement of ‘staying in the present,’” she says. “All the pro- grams stem from one mission: to keep us on the right path.” Talks by internationally known


speakers such as Joan Borysenko, Eck- hart Tolle, Harville Hendrix and Daniel Amen are complemented by sessions in nurturing creativity, holistic health, and yoga practice. “People smile, but also keep to themselves,” explains Goff. “It’s a place for quieting your mind.” For shorter getaways, Hay House, headquartered in Carlsbad, California, sponsors weekend I Can Do It! semi- nars in various cities (HayHouse.com). Speakers such as Louise Hay, Gregg Braden, Wayne Dyer and Caroline Myss help attendees nudge closer to making milestone transformations, consciousness shifts and progress on their healing journeys. Sometimes, personal growth simply


involves sufficient quiet time to walk, contemplate and reconnect with our muse. “The real meaning of the word ‘retreat’ in the spiritual sense,” says Brother David Steindl-Rast, a Benedic- tine monk, “is stepping back. When one steps back, one gets a better view of the world, others and our deepest self.” Iyer finds solace at New Camal- doli Heritage, a Benedictine commu- nity amidst the rugged terrain of Big Sur, California (Contemplation.com).


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