Next, I head to my private 1,000-square-foot spa hale for a treatment. The bright, airy massage room opens to a private garden with a plunge pool, hot tub and outdoor shower. Inside, a deep soaker tub stands ready for bathing, and an infrared sauna and steam shower round out the bathroom.
I am here for a thermal body-mapping and massage treatment. I lie down on the table and the therapist uses an infrared device to scan both sides of my body from head to toe. Issues such as muscular irregularities and inflammation present as red on the resulting scan, which in my case are my chronically tight hip flexors. My therapist will dedicate a solid portion of my 90-minute treatment exclusively to that area.
An hour and a half later, I feel looser and more relaxed than I have in months — hips included. I have 15 more minutes to chill out and enjoy my personal hale, so I avail myself of the hot tub, steam shower and infrared sauna for five minutes apiece.
The sun is setting as I leave, so I decide to check out the Onsen Garden, a series of 10 private hot-water soaking pools surrounded by dense foliage and cascading waterfalls. I wander in the twilight until I find the most remote pool, strip down to my swimsuit, and carefully sink into the hot water. Nirvana.
The next morning, I join a forest-bathing class. This practice is reputed to connect you to the energy of nature and your surroundings, and a bevy of research links it to lowered blood pressure, reduced stress and increased immunity. As I walk barefoot along a leaf-littered path that circumvents an enormous banyan tree, I become lighter and happier with each step.
But all good things must come to an end, and before I head down to the dock and ferry back to reality, I meet with Silvey once more to reflect on my experience.
“What did you learn this weekend?” he asks.
I consider this a moment, then answer: “I learned that it’s okay to have ‘me’ time and that my mood improves dramatically with some peace, quiet and self-care. I learned that I can still ride a horse, that task-focused breathing is a great substitute for meditation, and that, if given the opportunity, I will definitely return to Sensei in the future.”