Do you ever feel like you need to get away? Take in new sights? Think new thoughts and get outside your day-to-day reality? Taking a tiny trip to a place of peace and possibility can provide such a valuable opening for newness to come in. Some of my favorite traveling destinations are sanctuaries and retreats.
In a retreat, time seems to expand. I’ve spent long, languorous days wandering among eucalyptus groves, watching deer chew grass on a labyrinth, and standing high on a mountain watching the silver sea below at twilight. Retreats are usually tucked away in remote and beautiful places. Unlike hotels and motels, there are no car doors slamming, no pricey add-ons, no blaring televisions, simply people seeking peace and time away from their ordinary world.
Retreats can be wonderfully cost-effective and you don’t need to be a member of any particular group. Fresh, healthy meals are usually included, often prepared by an on-site chef, with vegetables pulled straight from the garden and warm, freshly baked bread left by monks. The costs usually vary from $30 to $95 per night, including all meals. One of my favorite retreats is Immaculate Heart in Santa Barbara, high on a knoll above the Pacific Ocean. A little pathway tucked away leads to San Ysidro Ranch where the Kennedys (Jack and Jackie) spent their honeymoon.
I’ve had many insights from time spent in peace and contemplation. In Big Sur’s New Camoldoli, I learned the value of simplicity and how it can free your life for new creativity and gifts of the heart. After time away at a sanctuary, I always return with a feeling of ‘ah,’ recognizing greater possibilities for living with more mindfulness and more creativity.
There are guidebooks listing a wide variety of places for every type of getaway. Check it out. Sanctuaries, A Guide to Lodgings in Monasteries, Abbeys, and Retreats Wherever you’re heading, there’s probably a sanctuary, just waiting for you.