Does the Investment in Wellness Retreats Last?

By 10/02/2019Sin categoría

Soon to Be Announced: A 12-Month Study of a Living Whole Immersion Retreat


By Kathryn Hayward, MD, Bill Manahan, MD and Sara Warber, MD

Living Whole is more than just a glimpse of life’s possibilities. It was, and continues to be, a well-defined path.”

Jon Coppelman 

When you look on the internet for wellness retreats, your search is well rewarded. We live in a time of abundant resources for self-care, with many insightful and talented people offering their time and expertise in group settings. How do you select from among the rich and vibrant choices?

Although there are many options, very few have been scientifically studied. We had the good fortune to partner with Sara Warber, MD, of the University of Michigan, who offered to study our Living Whole retreats from the start. It began like this…

December 2014 conversation between Bill Manahan, MD and Sara Warber, MD

Bill Manahan: “Sara, we have recently created a new organization called International Integrators, whose mission is to promote Integrative Health globally. We are going to create our first five-day immersion retreat, called Living Whole, in the Redwood Forest of California.”

Sara Warber: “Really? My research at the University of Michigan is focused on the long-term health benefits of retreats that are in natural settings.”

Sara and her colleagues crafted a study that looked at the short- and long-term effects of the Living Whole multi-modal immersion retreat model. Participants filled out questionnaires one week before the retreat, and then, after the retreat, at intervals of one week, three months and 12 months.

The multi-modal aspect of the retreat includes:

  • Relationship building with self, community and nature
  • Whole food, plant-based nourishment
  • Guided movement
  • Various Mind/Body/Spirit Disciplines
  • Stress Reduction
  • Creativity

For those readers interested in research tools, Sara used validated scales to measure nature connection and biopsychosocial and spiritual wellbeing. In addition, she used a new 16-item holistic health measure and Ritenbaugh’s Self-Assessment of Change (SAC), as well as answers to open-ended questions. Quantitative analysis included paired T-tests comparing each time point to baseline. Qualitative analysis included content exploration of answers to open-ended questions.

In Barcelona on September 13-15, our research was presented at the European Congress of Integrative Medicine. Response from attendees was very enthusiastic!


If you can join us in San Diego October 12-16, we will present at the Academy of Integrative Health and Medicine on October 15.

The next Living Whole immersion retreats are being offered in Massachusetts and in New Zealand:

Living Whole New England 2020

During the three-day Martin Luther King holiday weekend, January 17-20, 2020, Bay Path University in Massachusetts is sponsoring Living Whole New England, which is the first time we have offered an immersion retreat in the US since 2015. It is also our first winter retreat, so we will stay cozy thanks to lovely New England fireplaces. Learn more here.

Living Whole New England is part of the new Integrative Health Certificate Program at Bay Path that we are helping to co-create with Professor Kathryn Wiezbicki-Stevens and colleagues.

Living Whole New Zealand 2020

In February, do you think you will you be craving summer in New Zealand? Do you want to make your Leap Year extra special? We are celebrating Leap Day (February 29, 2020) by Leaping into Living Whole with Living Whole New Zealand, another of our three-day immersion retreats, February 27-March 1, 2020. The Aio Wira Retreat Center near Auckland will be our haven, and nearby Bethells Beach will offer inviting swims, beach movement and relaxation. Learn more here.

If you are in the western Massachusetts area on Tuesday, October 8, 2019, come to Bay Path’s Longmeadow campus to hear Kathryn give a Kaleidoscope Series talk entitled:

Living Whole:

What Unites the Words SILENT AND LISTEN?

Self-Care, Integrative Health and Your Health

Kathryn Hayward, MD co-founded and developed International Integrators because she loves to collaborate with others who share her vision for global Integrative Health. She brings to International Integrators her experience in the practice of conventional medicine as a primary care internist at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, and in the practice of Integrative Health. Kathryn marvels at the power of collective, conscious action on the part of like-minded individuals to manifest change, and loves contributing to that action.


Bill ManahanBill Manahan, MD is regarded as a pioneer in Integrative Medicine in the US, having founded several integrative medicine centers and programs. He is currently Assistant Professor Emeritus with the Department of Family Medicine and Community Health at the University of Minnesota Medical School, is passionate about a whole health approach, and has a special interest in energy healing and spirituality. He is a co-founder of International Integrators, and will be presenting Living Whole research at the AIHM Conference in San Diego in October 2019.


Sara Warber, MD retired as a professor at the University of Michigan Department of Family Medicine in 2016. She remains with the Department as an active emeritus professor. She is the former co-director of the U-M Integrative Medicine program and was a practicing physician at the Integrative Medicine Clinic located within Briarwood Family Medicine. 

In 2000, Dr. Warber became a founding diplomat of the American Board of Holistic Medicine, and, in 2003, expanded her clinical practice to include Holistic Women’s Health and Holistic Herbal Medicine consultations. She is also the co-author of Natural Products from Plants, 2nd Edition and the co-founder of the International Society of Complementary Medicine Research.

In 2014 Dr. Warber won a Fulbright Scholarship to study integrative medicine therapies and environmental values at the University of Exeter in Cornwall, United Kingdom.


One Comment

  • David Thomas says:

    Your blog and ads for the MA & New Zealand retreats arrived. Very well done.