"You probably think you're mentally on top of your game," says Jack Kornfield, a 68-year-old former Buddhist monk who now advises the U.S. Marines on mental training. "But email, cellphones, TV, your job, your family – all these things are messing with your neural circuitry and hindering your potential." Members of the Marine Corps aren't the only acolytes lining up behind gurus like Kornfield. Meditation retreats have become mainstream destinations as devoted to cleansing the mind as they are to perfecting the body, all amid high-end spa settings. In addition to unplugging and de-cluttering your brain, these seven retreats – from Big Sur's cliffside hot springs to a Hawaiian silent sanctuary to boardroom-boosting mental exercises in the Berkshires – round out their spiritual curricula with adventure activities like hiking, skiing, and kayaking. "To be a really strong person, you have to make time for inner development," Kornfield says. "You have to work out the mind as hard as you work out the body. That doesn't happen on its own."
Hidden in a remote Oregon forest two and a half hours southeast of Portland, Breitenbush is for those who don't like being told what to do in group classes – it lets you design your own experience around its 20 miles of trails, natural hot springs, and meditation workshops. With ancient fir trees and single-room pine cabins, Breitenbush is a low-key getaway in truly rural country (the nearest city, Salem, is approximately 65 miles away). Go for early-morning jogs and then read a book amid the solitude and natural silence of its 154-acre site, spread out across the Willamette National Forest of the Oregon Cascades. If you feel adventurous, try the 4,528-foot guided ascent to Devil's Peak or a meditative workshop like the monthly Inipi Ceremony, an hours-long traditional Lakota sweat-lodge ritual, in which participants sit among hot stones in a blanket-covered sapling dome while sharing life stories. But the main draw is the 101-degree hot springs themselves, a natural wonder. Glassy, secluded, and surrounded by wild vegetation, they attracted Pacific Northwest Indian tribes for centuries – a wintertime soak beneath a snowy sky is worth the trip alone. [From $56 a night for a dormitory-style room; breitenbush.com]