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Can a spiritual retreat actually change your brain chemistry?


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Turns out the bliss factor of spiritual retreats goes way beyond what’s revealed in those lust-worthy shots of exotic locales on Instagram. According to a recent study, these mindful getaways are actually morphing the chemical systems in your brain—in a good way.

Science Daily reports that the brain scans of participants in a weeklong retreat that focused on silent contemplation, prayer, reflection, and spiritual counseling showed a decrease in dopamine and serotonin transporter bindings. That’s a good thing—in layman’s terms, that means they truly felt more positive emotions and empowerment.

Mindful getaways are actually morphing the chemical systems in your brain—in a good way.

“Since serotonin and dopamine are part of the reward and emotional systems of the brain, it helps us understand why these practices result in powerful, positive emotional experiences,” says Andrew Newberg, M.D., the director of the study. “Our [findings] showed significant changes in dopamine and serotonin transporters after the seven-day retreat.”

While the study was super-small—only 14 people took part—it might be the push you needed to book that end-of-winter getaway. After all, healthy retreats are the new vacation.

These are the buzziest travel destinations rocking the wellness world right now. Once you book that trip, here’s how to pack like a flight attendant.