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    Retreats Revive Mind, Body, and Spirit

    From taking a spiritual retreat to unplugging at home, escaping from everyday distractions can help restore balance to your life.


    The center offers more than 700 experiential programs. But regardless of the specific program, the results are similar: rest, reflection, and rejuvenation.

    “Our mission is to help people produce more balance in their lives, to feel more alive from the foundation of a yoga practice,” Shamir tells WebMD. “A retreat is a chance for people to get away from everything, to refresh spiritually and physically and re-evaluate their lives. Afterward, they are more relaxed, happy and balanced, and their relationships are better.”

    (How will you find balance in your life this summer? Talk about it on WebMD's Health Cafe board.)

    Communing With Nature

    As we’ve become more stressed, a lucrative industry -- ranging from deluxe spa-based getaways and meditation retreats to yoga vacations and tools for mini at-home breaks -- has sprung up to show us how to slow down and take stock.

    But one of the simplest, most effective, and free ways to revitalize mind and body is to rediscover the great outdoors.

    Spending countless hours in our offices, cars, and houses, many of us have lost touch with nature, and consequently, ourselves. Simply being outside, inspired by the scenery, fosters contemplation and changes perspective. Fresh air, trees, and bird songs are all deeply restorative; no wonder retreat centers are situated in beautiful natural mountain, forest, or ocean settings. But it’s not always possible to get away from it all. Fortunately, most big cities have escapes -- botanical gardens, nature preserves, and parks -- that offer a respite from hectic lives.

    Parks is especially fond of the silent retreats she has taken at Kanuga, an Episcopal retreat center in North Carolina, the Monastery of the Holy Spirit, and Ignatius House Jesuit Retreat Center in Atlanta. She also carves out regular time for mini-nature retreats at Stone Mountain Park and the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area, both in the metro-Atlanta area. The attraction? Reconnecting with nature.

    “Whether I’m strolling the grounds at Kanuga or walking the trails at the Chattahoochee, communing with nature in silence and stillness is restorative. I live amidst this [environment] and it’s just as valid as going somewhere exotic. I give myself over to what’s exotic in my own neighborhood.”

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