Historic hot springs rich in mood-lifting lithium and magnesium are at the heart of a secluded desert destination that has been drawing seekers for centuries. Castle Hot Springs, established in 1896, is about an hour and a world away from Phoenix. Believed to be the first Arizona wellness resort, the hot springs here have a long history of healing, dating back to the times of the Yavapai, the “people of the sun,” who knew the waters to be sacred. Today, 200,000 gallons of clear, pure water pours out of the fissures in the rock every day.
People come here for a variety of reasons. The soothing waters, of course—there are three hot spring pools, with temperatures varying from 86 to 106 degrees Fahrenheit—but also for the immense and comforting quiet, the lush desert landscape, the palate-opening farm-to-table food, and a number of seriously adventurous outdoor offerings. It’s a great place to be alone whether or not you’re on retreat.
But if you do desire to experience a retreat, there’s a new Zen wellness program, created by Colleen Inman. She is the author of a number of books, including Zen Yoga: Theory, Postures & Remedies, and is Castle Hot Springs’ extremely knowledgeable wellness guide. The primary focus of the retreat, she says, is on helping you attain closer harmony with the natural flow state of your body, vitality, and mind. The program requires a three-night minimum stay, but Inman advises a stay of five to seven nights, explaining that, in this way, you may genuinely settle into a new pattern and dislodge previous, less beneficial ways of being.
So, what exactly does Zen wellness mean? “Although Zen usually connects to Chan Buddhism, the usage of Zen here applies more to an artful approach to the moment,” shares Inman, who goes on to explain that Zen wellness is the approach of tuning into the moment’s tranquility by remaining in a state of nonattachment, nonresistance, and nonjudgment through means such as yoga, qigong, meditation, tai chi, and martial systems. “Zen wellness is the unification of the three symbolic balloons of body, mind, and vitality by devoting the mind and actions to the Tao or divine.”
Included in the Zen wellness program: all meals and gratuities; unlimited access to the hot springs; a number of resort activities; and a massage credit to apply to your choice of massage. The program also includes four hours of one-on-one coaching. Coaching offerings include Vedic mantras, sound sessions, and personal elemental constitution readings. (Once you book your retreat, the wellness team will reach out to you to help you create your custom itinerary.)
The realistic hope here is that guests walk away with customized protocols to incorporate into their lifestyle as well as specific techniques to find center and balance. Inman gives this advice for those seeking a retreat: “Consider the mindset of retiring each year instead of waiting until later seasons of life to take the time to refresh yourself. Take the time annually or seasonally, if possible, to make sure you include yourself in your portfolio. A new society of the last one hundred years encourages working without end, while nature promotes annual hibernation or lull activity. Take the cue to plug back into the replenishment found in retreating.”
Once you're home, consider how to hang on to the positive effects of your retreat.