I'm sitting next to a garden, where earlier, a bearded man walked me through the raised rows, plucking leaves and flowers directly from the earth for me to sample. Above me, there are white fairy lights, strung between rustic, tented logs; above that, a wide expanse of star-studded Tennessee sky. I'm drinking a glass of Viognier and listening to a master biodynamic winemaker explain the thought process behind the cultivation of the grape. There's a fiddle player, but she's momentarily paused, as enamored with the winemaker's sensual description of soil as the rest of us. A lavender-scented breeze tickles my neck as I pluck another grape-sweet heirloom cherry tomato from my plate. If this is what a wellness retreat is like, I'm all in.
I've long pictured wellness retreats as somewhat grueling exercises, designed to isolate you from the world to focus on your health in a way that seemed moderately effective and less than sustainable. You'd hear about movie stars slipping away to desert havens where they'd drink juice for every meal, go on vigorous 5 a.m. hikes, and partake in colonics to whip their intestines into pristine shape. They reinforced the notion that wellness was a full-time job (a hard assertion to stomach, given that many of us have—and need—other full-time jobs).
In recent years, though, wellness has shifted. Instead of restrictive diets, more and more industry leaders are coming forward and applauding the basic and revolutionary notion of listening to your own, personal body. Self-care as the root of wellness is experiencing an unprecedented moment in the spotlight, with Instagram stars showcasing their flower-filled baths to the likes and lauds of thousands looking for permission to exhale in an increasingly chaotic world.