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Natural Awakenings Washington DC Metro

Escape to the Mountains to Restore and Reboot

Oct 30, 2015 11:04PM

A Spotlight on Sevenoaks Retreat Center

by Robin Fillmore

Paul Klinger may have the best job in the world. As the director of Sevenoaks Retreat Center in Madison, Virginia, he and his staff of 17 get to host hundreds of people each year to a variety of retreats, workshops and family gatherings on more than 120 acres of breathtaking beauty. Groups as small as 5 and as large as 100 have called Sevenoaks home for a spiritual weekend (or a week) away. Individuals, seeking an escape from the city, can schedule some time there as well.

Sevenoaks is sacred land to so many groups who want to plan their own retreat. There is a lot that separates it from other retreat centers, including the fact that it is a spiritual retreat center which leaves it open to a wide range of groups that will use it for their own purposes. There may be some groups looking for space for a more physical retreat—such as yoga, tai chi or Pilates. Others find the extensive meeting rooms and buildings as the perfect location for retreats that focus on personal growth or awareness, as well as recovery, men’s and women’s groups.

The high level of comfort and excellent food are other hallmarks of Sevenoaks. While many retreat centers have a rustic charm, Sevenoaks has fully equipped rooms for up to 65 guests each night. There is also campground space to expand the center for even greater crowds. Groups are able to purchase meal plans for their retreat and get to enjoy healthy, locally-sourced, home-cooked meals, with chefs able to accommodate all types of diets, allergies and food restrictions. According to Klinger, they know that their guests enjoy the food and accommodations, as more than 70 percent of their bookings are repeat business. So often, a guest will come to the center as part of a retreat and ends up hosting a follow-up event at Sevenoaks.

The retreat center has every feature that guest could want for both time alone in nature and spots for group gatherings. Over the 120 acres, there are 7 miles of hiking trails with mountain views, a pond and access to swimming, wading or tubing on the Rapidan River. The retreat center also offers a meditation sanctuary, a sweat lodge and the place where most evenings are spent, around the firepit.

Sevenoaks has been functioning as a retreat center since 1972 when Donovan and Susan Thesenga established it as a nature sanctuary to support deep spiritual work known as Pathwork. The relationship with this program still exists as the mid-Atlantic Pathwork chapter is still based out of the retreat center and all their events are hosted at Sevenoaks.

In addition to groups booking the center, there is also an offering in February 2016 that is offered by the staff called Mind-Body Reboot. According to Klinger, the intention is “to help people get rebooted with their mind and their body, and be unplugged. We are so tied to our electronic devices—this is a chance to put those away and think about what is really important. A Facebook update is probably something that isn’t vitally important.”

For one weekend, attendees will free themselves from their electronic devices and are asked to reboot mind and body with a fun and revitalizing weekend retreat. Welcomed by the beautiful land, nourished with incredible cuisine, and supported by Sevenoaks warm and friendly staff, attendees will experience activities such as mediation, hiking, painting, drumming, dance class, qigong, group discussions and more.

Klinger and his staff are always eager to share their amazing vistas, warm hospitality and delicious cuisine with folks from the D.C. area and beyond for group or individual retreats. Though only a few hours away from the city, Sevenoaks offers a fresh landscape to explore and restore one’s soul.

For more information about Sevenoaks Retreat Center and the upcoming Mind-Body Reboot, visit


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