Seeking peace at retreat centers, PRESS DEMOCRAT STAFF

Published: Saturday, December 28, 2013


You don’t need to plan a round-the-world itinerary, the way author Elizabeth Gilbert did in her memoir, “Eat, Pray Love,” in order to go on a journey of self-discovery.

With its historic hot springs and spectacular coastline, Northern California provides the perfect environment for personal growth and transformation.

Hidden amid the rolling hills and redwoods, you’ll also find a wide range of retreat centers where you can unwind the body, quiet the mind and boost the spirit.

Here are a few of the centers where you can get a much-needed dose of relaxation and renewal after the stressful winter holidays.

Ratna Ling Retreat Center

(35755 Hauser Bridge Road, Cazadero): You can create your own customized retreat or select a structured experience at this serenely beautiful center located within a redwood forest in Cazadero.

Ratna Ling, founded in Berkeley, is rooted in Nyingma, one of the most ancient lineages of Tibetan Buddhism. It is an intentional community of teachers, students and volunteers who strive to embody and share wisdom, compassion, harmony, caring and appreciation of the natural environment.

Guests at the 110-acre center stay in modern, private cottages for one to four people equipped with comforts like gas fireplaces, jetted tubs, wi-fi and hardwood floors. A short walk away is a lodge where home-cooked vegetarian meals are provided three times a day, buffet style.

Personal retreats are spiritual in nature and can be arranged for a minimum of two nights up to extended stays. Guests create their own structured experience, choosing among a variety of classes offered throughout the day, including Kum Nye (a type of yoga) relaxation, yoga, meditation and transforming stress. Massage services are available.

The center also hosts organized retreats in everything from Ayurvedic holistic medicine and meditation to vegetarian cooking. Coming up on Jan. 10 is a 3-day Post Holiday Detox Yoga Retreat ($520).

For rates and more information: 510-809-4987; for group or personal retreats: 510-809-4995;