For the Love of Zen, Take a Vacation

People cashing in those vacation days are at an all-time low, according to Project: Time Off’s The State of American Vacation study. As more people tread the dangerous territory of being defined as work martyrs—those who can’t balance work and personal lives—mental health and personal relationships are suffering.

Which means it’s time to actually take that vacation and not have them count toward the whopping 662 million vacation days not used in 2016.

The solution? Turn off the phone and Wi-Fi. Head out on a true getaway and find some inner Zen at these nearby(ish) spots.

Robin Stancliff

Miraval Resort’s Naga Thai massage

The Miraval Resort ( near Tuscon, Arizona, gives visitors a chance to get groovy and tap into themselves thanks to myriad wellness programs. For the new age/alternative healing folk, Miraval offers a Full Moon program that includes nighttime yoga, stargazing with astrologists and a healing workshop that teaches guests how to use crystals to absorb the full moon’s energies. Check out a meditation with crystal bowls, holistic massages that tap into Native American spirituality and Peruvian shamanistic studies, or services that include acupuncture and craniosacral therapy. For a transformational experience (and a total breath of ahhh before heading back to work), try the Samadi Healing Ceremony, which combines drumming, Reiki and reflexology.

Looking for even more peace? Head to Tassajara Zen Mountain Center (, located 25 miles southeast of Big Sur, California. Only accessible by 4 x 4s—don’t worry, they’ll scoop you up in nearby Jamesburg—the oldest monastery in the U.S. opens its doors in the summer months to guests looking to disconnect. Here, there’s limited connectivity and power (read: LED lighting in the rooms, no TVs, no Wi-Fi and—gasp—no cellphone reception). Heavy on the idea of simply being present, Tassajara offers programs throughout the summer season with tracks in Body and Mind, Engaging Earth, Spiritual Practice, Mindful Living and Creative Expression. The all-inclusive property also welcomes people who are there to enjoy the location without participating in courses and want to take in the hikes, hot springs, massages and a stocked library.

Guests here are diverse, according to Rita Cummings, vice president of San Francisco Zen Center. “We’re seeing more and more young people who literally want to come to completely unplug because it is hard for them to do that,” she says. “To be able to put work aside and have time for reflection and to be in nature is really important and part of the experience here.”

Finally, there is The Chopra Center ( at the Omni La Costa Resort and Spa in Carlsbad, California. Founded by Deepak Chopra and David Simon, the center regularly features one-day to one-week programs focusing on mind-body healing and retreats, along with complimentary daily yoga, meditation and Ayurveda classes. The goal for guests checking into this coastal spot is to allow for healing from physical pain to discover emotional freedom and become more empowered, all while becoming more spiritual. Or at least more tuned in to themselves.