5 Relaxing Meditation Retreats to Help You Reflect & Connect
By now you’ve probably heard about the amazing benefits of meditation: it can help increase focus, improve memory, reduce stress, and more. But meditation can also be quite a lonely sport. If you want some calming company, or if you’re just wondering if you’re doing it “right,” you might want to look into meditation retreat.
Whether you’re someone who wants to get into meditation but has struggled to stick with it, or you’re a veteran meditator who’s been yearning to deepen your practice, choosing a program from one of the best meditation retreats around the world might be a great option for you.
What Is a Meditation Retreat?
Meditation retreats allow people to learn and practice meditation in a community setting, free from distractions, technology, and sometimes even free from talking. These kinds of treats give those who want to deepen their meditation practice a concentrated time to focus on meditation, reflection, and introspection under the instruction of teachers who can help you work through questions and problems you might have experienced while meditating solo. You can also learn new techniques and styles of meditation while participating in a retreat.
How Much Do Meditation Retreats Cost?
Meditation retreats can vary greatly depending on the location, type of retreat, length of stay, and access to sliding scale or scholarship opportunities. While retreats used to be disproportionately comprised of wealthier people who could afford to take time off and spend top dollar, there are now many more affordable and inclusive options available.
Where Can I Practice Meditation?
Technically, you can practice meditation anywhere! All you need is a quiet spot. But if you’re looking for an awesome retreat that can help you expand your awareness and personal development with helpful instructors, here are five of the best meditation retreats around the globe:
1. Spirit Rock Meditation Center (Marin, California)
via Spirit Rock Meditation Center
Located on 411 acres of serene oak woodlands in the suburbs of San Francisco, Spirit Rock Meditation Center is a secluded spiritual center dedicated to the practices of Insight Meditation (Vipassana), loving-kindness meditation (metta), and the teachings of the Buddha (Dharma). According to their website, people come to Spirit Rock mainly for one reason: “wanting a more easeful relationship with life.”
With a flexible schedule, Spirit Rock can accommodate those seeking two-hour, drop-in classes, all the way up to a two month or even a year long retreat. They also offer online classes! Prices vary depending on length and type of stay, but they do offer sliding scale and financial assistance for those experiencing financial hardships, for People of Color, young adults, and for those with serious medical conditions.
2. Rolling Meadows (Belfast, Maine)
via Rolling Meadows
Their mission is to utilize the work of meditation, classic yoga asana, yin and restorative yoga, movement meditation, yoga nidra, breathwork, psycho-spiritual processes, writing, and silence to allow for reflection and self-awareness. They believe the silence allows participants to be “free from the distractions of daily life,” giving you the space and time to pause and meet yourself in a deeply introspective way.
Rolling Meadows also offers retreats abroad in Italy, India, Costa Rica, Mexico, and Guatemala.
3. Osho Meditation Resort (Pune, India)
via Osho Meditation Resort
You may have heard of Osho on Netflix’s Wild Wild Country as the leader of the Rajneesh movement. A somewhat unconventional meditation retreat (and man), the Osho Meditation Resort is the late spiritual leader’s center for “the science of inner transformation.”
It includes a spa with a pool, Jacuzzi, gym, tennis courts, a vibrant nightlife, and a “Multiversity,” which offers classes, courses, and programs on esoteric sciences, creative arts, centering and martial arts, Tantra, Zen, Sufism, and Meditative Therapies.
The resort fuses the traditions and spiritual teachings of the past with the modern demands of the world – enjoying earthly pleasures while maintaining a strong spiritual core.
4. Plum Village (Dordogne, France)
via Plum Village
The first monastic community by global spiritual leader, poet, peace activist and Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh, Plum Village has 200 resident monks and nuns practicing in three different “hamlets” (monasteries) across the French countryside.
There are several different retreats to choose from, like the Spring Season and Autumn Seasons retreats, the monastic Winter Retreat, the Health Retreat, the Ecology Retreat on the farm, the Educators Retreat, or a four-week long Summer Retreat. In all of those, Plum Village teaches the practice of mindfulness in both personal and communal activities like preparing meals, cleaning or washing dishes as a way to find meaning and purpose in whatever task at hand.
Their key teaching is that, through mindfulness, “we can learn to live happily in the present moment—the only way to truly develop peace, both in one’s self and in the world.”
5. The Buddhist Retreat Center (KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa)
via The Buddhist Retreat Center
Set in hilly grasslands and overlooking a beautiful valley in the Umkomaas river system, The Buddhist Retreat Center offers some gorgeous scenery to go along with your meditation practices. Here, you can study philosophy, psychology, meditation, and Buddhist culture, as well as participate in group retreats, such as Mindful Writing, Deepening Emotional Intelligence, The Sacred Feminine, and even Pilates-based meditation retreats. You can also sign up for “Doing Your Own Thing: Self-Retreats,” which are unstructured solitary retreats that help you get back in touch with the inner self by walking, reading, listening to talks, journaling, visiting the Zen gardens, and more.