The Donation of Healing: Mahasukha Spa at Menla Mountain Retreat

By Karim Orange / October 21, 2013
Photos courtesy of Jessica Sophia

Photos courtesy of Jessica Sophia

Close your eyes, and imagine being transported to a magical land up in the Catskill Mountains of New York State.

The breathtaking landscapes and fresh mountain air take all stress away the minute you arrive. The natural surroundings completely captivate you, and shut you off from the outside wold (no possible cell phone service anywhere). But who needs cell phones, when you’re nestled into one of the oldest meteorite landing sites in the world? The elements of nature, after the meteor landing, created the magical energy you feel, as well as the beautiful mountains and valleys you see there today. The land also has rivers flowing both east and west (which is perfect feng shui). The Native Americans sited the valley as a sacred healing place, and it was used for ceremonial purposes.

So what is this magical place? It’s the Tibetan-inspired Mahasukha Spa at Menla Mountain Retreat in Phoenicia, New York. The spa is owned and operated by the Tibet House US, but the visionaries behind the project are noted Buddhist teacher and author, Robert Thurman, and his wife Nena. Since the 1970s, the land has been a site for various wellness destinations, but in 2002 it was donated to The Tibet House US with the understanding that it would continue as a healing center. Based on this, the Menla Mountain Retreat was born. Tibet is known as the “Land of Medicine” and Menla is actually Tibetan for “Medicine Buddha.” Menla’s mission is to integrate healing systems that combine the best of Western integrative medicine with elements of Tibetan medicine, Ayurveda, and other holistic traditions. All of these elements combined make it the ideal destination for retreats, conferences, and anyone wishing to heal.

A sample Saturday at the weekend retreat for R&R healing and cleansing would go a little something like this:

7:00am-8:00am- Hatha Yoga
8:00am-9:00am- Breakfast
9:30am- Morning Program: Healing Plants and Essential Oils of the Medicine
Buddha’s Garden
12:00pm-1:30- Lunch
1:00pm-3:00pm- Free time for spa services
3:00pm-4:O0pm- Optimal meditation
4:00pm-5:00pm- Afternoon program: Healing Plants and Essential Oils (part 2)
7:30pm- Evening program: Dharma and Healing in the Kali Yuga
(Schedule subject to change, please visit for more information)

I was blessed during my stay to be seen by a traditional Tibetan doctor who completely opened my eyes about wellness. The spa services on offer–such as massage, and facials–are well worth experiencing, and the Mahasukha Spa has a remarkable history as well. It was designed as a labor of love by world renowned designer Clodagh, who has always been passionate about Tibet.

Clodagh incorporated traditional Tibetan art and colors in her aesthetic for the spa, which hosts 11 treatment rooms, infrared saunas, Tibetan herbal soaking tubs, an Ayurvedic room, and a view of the garden. Located about three hours from New York City, Mahasukha Spa at Menla Mountain Retreat is on its way to becoming a world destination healing location.

The cuisine is vegetarian-based and most of the ingredients are grown on-site in the garden. A weekend feels like a month of relaxation, so it’s really worth the trip. The Dalai Lama himself said its the most peaceful seep he’s ever had in North America. I agree.


Karim Orange

Karim Orange

Karim Orange, aka That Girl Orange, is a two-time Emmy Award nominee for her makeup artistry on The View. One of the most respected pioneers in the sustainable beauty industry. She advocates more choices for real women who presently sacrifice beauty for fear of harmful chemicals. She is an on-air host for About.Com. She is an active urban farmer in New York City and is currently exploring South American beauty, culture and biodynamic farming practices.

Follow her on Instagram @thatgirlorange
Karim Orange

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