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There's a pretty decent chance that I won't be coming home to a large, cheerful staff waiting to unblock my chakras and release my pent-up chi. Nor will there be a chef preparing insanely delicious low-calorie desserts. So the question is this: How much bubble wrap must I be encased in to maintain this newfound tranquillity?

After one month back in the big city, I believe I have the answer: All the bubble wrap and mango tea in the world won't make the chi flow after I receive a few jolts of the same stress that caused me to flee in the first place. But if Miraval has taught me anything, it's that I have the power to help myself feel better, and if I can't completely eradicate stress, I can at least get to a place where missing a green light doesn't make me homicidal. I toss my Chinese take-out menus (hailed as one of the largest collections in North America) and invest in a copy of Conscious Cuisine: A Harmony of Flavors for a Life in Balance, by Cary Neff, Miraval's brilliant executive chef. I cook and freeze on Saturdays and come home to healthy meals all week long. I promise to treat myself to one massage a month and an occasional facial to boot. I return to the little things that used to make me happy, like swimming and walks in Central Park. I learn to unplug my phone for 20 minutes or so every night and curl up with a good book. I buy the new Tom Waits CD and play it in place of the latest in reality television. I meet old friends for Sunday brunch. I swear never to let a year go by without building in some sort of vacation. And every now and then—after a particularly harrowing day—I settle into a warm, relaxing (four-minute) bubble bath.

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