A Beginner’s Guide to 5 Very Californian 'Alternative Therapies'

Just close your eyes and go with it

By Diane Rommel

A Beginner’s Guide to 5 Very Californian 'Alternative Therapies'
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03 April 2018

You already know if you’re working too much.

What you might not know is what to do about it, beyond trying to sleep more and work less. (Good luck with that.)

Instead of trying to rein in your go-getter tendencies, why not add something new to the mix?

We’ve got five ultra-restorative, paradigm-shifting options, from a weekend of silence in the Sierras to getting “inside the music.”

And by “the music,” we mean Dark Side of the Moon — on 32 speakers.

Try it: A weekend at Esalen

In short: If it’s good enough for Don Draper….

The deal: This famous Big Sur retreat offers a plethora of themed retreat experiences—consider it a chance to jump-start some new thinking. Tim Ferriss fans will be familiar with the work of Brené Brown; her teachings inspire this weekend workshop on approaching difficult situations with creativity and confidence.

Bring: Your copy of Rising Strong

Crunch Factor: 4

Try it: A drop-in qi gong session with Eli Cohen

In short: Energy management through movement and meditation

The deal: Eli Cohen was an architect with a bevy of health issues when, he says, he cured them through his practice of qi gong—a mix of movement, mindfulness, and manipulation of the energetic life force. Trust: It makes more sense in person.

Bring: Twenty bucks for the drop-in fee

Crunch Factor: 2

Try it: Sound Meditation at Grace Cathedral

In short: Relax to the soothing sounds of gongs, harps, and didgeridoos

The deal: No joke—sound meditation changed our lives. We went after hearing a half-dozen stories about spontaneous weeping and midlife transformations; we didn’t get that, but tell you what: If we’re short on sleep, this is as close as we can find to a cure-all—it’s like double-sleep. Follow their Facebook page for the first word on upcoming events.

Bring: A blanket

Crunch Factor: 3

Try it: A guided, silent retreat at Ananda

In short: Zip it for most of a weekend in the Sierra Foothills

The deal: Looking to next-level your meditation practice? Or just empty out that overtaxed brain by relieving yourself of the necessity of conversation for a few days? Try a silent retreat at Ananda, the well-regarded meditation center in Nevada City. Unlike some pricy offerings closer to the City of a Million Billionaires, Ananda tends to attract a pleasingly lower-key crowd.

Bring: Your own car

Crunch Factor: 5

Try it: A sound-immersive experience at Envelop

In short: You need to hear it to believe it

The deal: Envelop is a singular sort of space—as they put it, “a next-generation 3D-sound venue and studio for immersive audiovisual performances.” Now, do yoga there with a specially designed soundtrack, or go for a sound-immersive meditation session, or just listen to Dark Side of the Moon in its original, four-channel glory, played on Envelop’s 32-speaker system.

Bring: High expectations

Crunch Factor: 3

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