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Overwhelmed by stress and noise? Here are five Zen centers you can drive to in your 2014 Chevrolet Malibu that offer much-needed peace and serenity.

By Alyssa Pinsker


Whether it’s a break from work, family or relationship, taking some space allows us the ability to just pause, as we say in meditation, in the gap in between. Just as you feel in the Chevrolet Malibu, with its cocoon-like interior and available features such as heated seats and rear vision camera, these Zen getaways can make you feel safe, smooth and calm. Here are some of the most cocoon-like escapes in the United States to visit and savor. Double the Zen of your getaway by arriving in your Malibu.

1. Sivananda Ashram Yoga Farm, Woodside, CA
Sivananda Yoga has nine ashrams and 19 centers throughout the world. If you’re not a fan of Northern California, try Kerala, India, or Nassau, Bahamas. One of the oldest and most respected programs with its lineage from India, Sivananda Yoga is not for the sporty type. Clear your mind, realign your values and appreciate the bliss of being alone. But you don’t have to be solo; you can participate in program or share rooms with others and that can result in coming away with lifelong yogi friends.

2. Natural Thermal Hot Springs, Truth or Consequences, NM
This town has some of the most magical and mystical natural thermal springs in the world. New Mexico is a special place. This hot spring is comparable to Switzerland’s restorative waters for its healing properties, but with the laid-back vibe of an American Southwestern small town. Walk around and enjoy the history, and top it off with a delicious Tex-Mex dinner. Savor each bite in eating meditation.

3. Kings Cottage Bed and Breakfast, Ephrata, PA
Book a stay at this beautiful, historic inn--alone. After a bad breakup, I booked a room at this romantic inn. It was just what I needed. A warm hug of crocheted blankets, board games and a canopy bed greeted me. Hanging with Samson, the housedog, while eating the gourmet breakfast, I was anything but lonely. I also had the option of scheduling a spa massage with or without a paraffin dip. The culture of the nearby Amish seeps throughout the home in its simplicity and peace. Zen comes in all forms.

4. Karme Choling Monastery, Shambhala Meditation Center, VT
You don’t have to be Buddhist or even spiritual to step into this monastery. They host introduction to meditation weeks and sessions. They also offer “karma yoga” to reduce your room and board costs. There are Shambhala centers all over the world. This one is in the beautiful farmland of Vermont. Work on the farm, eat fresh food from the land, take meditation classes and breathe fresh country air while creating a safe space inside in meditation (the ultimate sanctuary). Or, you can book a private room, and you don’t have to work at all.

5. Montana Vipassana Retreat Center
Imagine 10 days of silence. Two meals a day, guided by the soothing voice of S.N. Goenka. Scary? Most have described this as bliss. It can even get addictive. This legendary meditation center from India has locations around the world. Dip your toe in with a half-day workshop and lecture. That way, you can ease into the gap.

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Alyssa Pinsker is a writer and driver currently living in New York City who has lived and loved in three continents and 30 countries. She has written features and reviews for The Huffington Post, Time Out New York, New York Magazine, New York Post, New York Daily News and more. She is currently at work on a memoir called Girl Gone Global. Follow her on Twitter @Girl_GoneGlobal.


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