"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."
Shambhala Mountain Center, Red Feather Lakes, Colorado
Surrounded by the 814,000-acre Roosevelt National Forest in the Rocky Mountains, Shambhala pairs Buddhist meditation techniques with outdoor adventure activities to achieve an unorthodox ideal – high-energy peace. "The idea of meditation is not to become some supernaturally calm person," says Michael Gayner, a martial arts black belt and the center's executive director. "It's about exertion and having the pumped-up energy to reach a place where you're fully engaged and experiencing things more directly." With access to 15 miles of wooded trails, 600 acres for snowshoeing, and top teachers like Lama Tsultrim Allione – one of the first Western Buddhism teachers – guests can choose from more than 100 classes, including Shambhala's signature three-day program, Waking Up to the Wild: Mindful Hiking. The class employs exercise, restorative yoga, and solo hikes to help you focus on the simplicity of your breathing, the sharpness of your senses, and the subtle movements of your body. "It's meditating on your feet," Gayner says. [From $99 a night; shambhalamountain.org]
Credit: Blaine Harrington III / Alamy