Radical Rest: 3 Creative Ways to (Finally!) Relax
2. Step into a different world. You can completely disconnect from life's demands at any one of the hundreds of monasteries across the country. Whether you sign up for a Zen retreat or visit a Benedictine order, you're guaranteed a few days of simple living, quiet, and solitude. "We open our doors to anyone," says Benedictine Sister Josie Sanchez, of the Benet Hill Monastery in Colorado Springs (BenetHillMonastery.org). "And if a person can't afford the $50 per night fee for accommodations and food, they can work around the property," she says. (OSB.org/Retreats lists Benedictine retreats in North America and Europe.) Zen monasteries and centers offer retreats that can run $300 to $600 a week; find options around the United States at LivingCompassion.org/Calendar.html.
3. Retrain your brain. If relaxing is seriously difficult for you, you might want to try neurofeedback—using readings of brain energy to teach your mind to unwind. (There are neurofeedback practitioners all over the United States; for a directory, go to EEGInfo.com.) You'll be hooked up to an EEG—a device that measures brain activity through electrodes attached to your scalp. Then, using visual and auditory cues such as a video game, you'll train yourself to regulate your brain to help you slow down. (For example, when your brain waves start making a race car speed up, it means you're learning how to move into a more relaxed state.) "Over time a client learns how to achieve the desired state without the visual feedback," says Martin Batty, who has used the method with success in clinical studies (though he notes that the technique is still being studied and more research is needed to help determine its long-term efficacy).
One company with centers around the world is Brain State Technologies (BrainStateTech.com). "A set of ten sessions could cost $1,200 to $4,000, depending on the level of services and the location," says Lee Gerdes, Brain State's CEO. "But once you've balanced your brain, you'll achieve the same relaxed state you get after taking a vacation, and the effects can last a lifetime."
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