Tibetan Excursion at Home: An Experience at Menla Mountain Retreat


Tibetan Excursion at Home: An Experience at Menla Mountain Retreat

For those who are seeking a transformative and healing experience, how about a Tibet-inspired excursion? Just a short drive from the major metropolitan areas the Northeast US, in the heart of the Catskills Region of New York, lies Menla Mountain Retreat. With a Tibetan perspective on the spa experience, it offers a spiritual twist on relaxation, finding balance, and happiness.

I actually arrived for my weekend stay feeling quite frazzled. You know how it goes – the work stress, the life stress –my world was definitely affected by weeks of intense pressure and work.  I lost touch with myself over a few months as I was swept up in exciting projects and difficult life events. Driving up, I definitely saw how my mind was going on and on about unproductive thoughts. Simply put, I was unhappy.

Upon arrival, I was welcomed by waving flags and mountains reminiscent of Tibet, and a unique attitude inspired by a Buddhist approach to living a balanced life. Although the property itself is not religiously based, its values draw on the tradition to guide visitors toward optimal health and happiness. Just what I needed!

To start, I was welcomed by a nourishing meal and wonderful conversation with staff and fellow visitors. The dining room was filled with the fresh tastes and scents of the property’s own organic produce and unique combinations of artisan crafted dishes. And as the meal came to an end, we progressed toward the next event: a profound Sound Healing session. Our spirits were instantly elevated by sounds of worldly instruments, ranging from unique to strange, designed to take our minds on relaxing journeys. That evening, I already felt a drastic difference in my state of being – impressive.

The next day was all about spa. The 4,000 square-foot Mahasukha Spa features eleven treatment rooms, and a state-of-the-art roster of facilities from the latest in sauna technology to traditional Tibetan and Ayurvedic treatment rooms. It was lovingly envisioned by Nena Thurman (pictured) and designed by the world-famous spa designer Clodagh. Each detail, from hand-painted murals to personally crafted door frames, and elegant plumbing fixtures donated by Mrs. Kohler herself, is inspired by the greater intention behind Menla and Manushka – the support of the Tibet House. As a non-profit organization, the spa serves to provide financial support to the home base of the Tibetan Culture in the US. This greater purpose seems to infuse the atmosphere of the spa with an air of inspiration that uplifts the spirit upon first sight.

Tibetan therapies are the most unique offering of the spa, setting it apart from the crowd. I was fortunate to experience a visit with the Tibetan doctor on staff, who offered a range of services from a general checkup using pressure points to a urinalysis using ancient healing theories. The basis of the healing traditions of Tibet is an age-old holistic approach with influences from traditional Chinese Medicine and Ayurvedic approaches. Replicas of anatomy and pressure point charts dating back to the 16th century served both as decorations and practical references for the doctor who was able to advise me on everything from diet, exercise, meditation and nutrient needs to balance my body’s unique requirements. I was sent home with a set of recommendations to carry out for a month after my visit, to benefit my health.

Massages and facials are a common offering at spas, but here too I was struck by quality and attention to detail in the therapies themselves, as well as the knowledge of the therapists and products used. My massage was actually a unique experience in that I felt it was a physical “intervention” to the mental chatter I had been experiencing. A perfect prep for the meditation practice later lead by Robert Thurman, the spa’s spiritual director and renowned Buddhist author and teacher.

Between the unique Tibetan flavor, the authentic traditional practices and spiritual undercurrent, my overall spa experience offered the true uplifting of spirit. If you might need some of that, I highly recommend taking the short drive. Menla Mountain is located near Phoenicia, NY and open year-long for private getaways, group programs and corporate retreats. For more information, click here.