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What is a meditation retreat?

Have you ever felt like you just need a break from the day to day grind? If you are like most then you will seek relief in your normal resort style vacation or cruise. There is nothing wrong a little rest and recovery on a sandy beach. However, maybe you are looking for a different kind of “R and R”. Perhaps you want to visit an exotic destination but also find inner peace. If this is you then you might want to consider a meditation retreat. Meditation retreats are extensive vacation style getaways with the added bonus of guided meditation and self-development sessions throughout.

There are many types of meditation retreats. Similarly, most of them involve long meditation sessions with a group. These retreats typically last about a week. Overall, They can be very eye opening experiences. Unlike normal vacations where the theme is to escape your problems, you are encouraged to reflect and confront your problems. Typically, participants report that meditation retreats result in a personal awakening. This leaves them feeling more relaxed than your usual vacation. 

Why go on a meditation retreat?

It goes without saying that meditation retreats are more than just a vacation. In addition to the benefits of taking a vacation, a meditation retreat can have several advantages.

First and foremost, meditation is good for you. More specifically, mindfulness meditation has, among other things, been shown to reduce stress, improve focus, and improve brain health.

So, why not just meditate at home? Further, why pay to go somewhere and meditate with a group for days in a row? One reason is that doing something in a group can help you learn more effectively. For example, think about how much easier it is to study for a test in a group. The key factor is motivation. When you are surrounded by a group of people who are all aiming to achieve the same goal, it is much easier to stay motivated and stick with it.

Another reason why you might choose to go on a meditation retreat is because they are awesome. Seriously, what brave traveler wouldn’t want to go to India and live like a Yogi for a week?

Different kinds of meditation Retreats

Silent retreats

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to stay almost totally silent for 10 days straight? At a silent meditation retreat, you will do just that. Silent retreats can come from many different cultures and religions. The goal of staying silent can be different depending on where you go. For example, at a silent Buddhist meditation retreat, the aim might be to become closer with your inner-self. In contrast, a Christian silent meditation retreat may aim to bring you closer to god. Either way, staying silent for long periods of time tends to have a profound effect. Many participants report feeling more like themselves after a silent retreat. They say that somehow, life goes more smoothly for 3-6 months following the retreat.

Vipassana Retreats

Vipassana is a meditation technique that originated in India thousands of years ago. The word means; to see things as they actually are. Consequently, Vipassana meditation retreats are arguably the most intense type of retreat. If you are looking for a vacation that has a little bit of meditation sprinkled in then this is not the program for you. In short, these retreats will test your will. At a Vipassana retreat you must: wake up early, sit up straight, and relinquish all distractions for 10 hours per day.

Ultimately, the goal is to focus on your breath. Participants report feeling accomplished at the end. Overall, Vipassana meditation can help you to understand the inner-workings of your mind.

Yoga

Some meditation retreats also involve yoga. As a result, these retreats focus on nurturing the connection between your mind and body. Yoga retreats aim to balance your chakras, help you become one with your breathing, and relieving muscle tension. Most yoga retreats also mix in a meditation session or two. Unlike a Vipassana retreat, you won’t be sitting in one spot the entire time. You may even be allowed to meditate lying down. Yoga retreats are also well known for beautiful scenic locations. Check out some of our recommendations below for more information. 

How to pick a meditation retreat

Maybe you are ready to finally take that leap and go on a meditation retreat for yourself. Here are some important things to consider when making your decision.

  • Are you looking for an intense meditation experience or more of a relaxing vacation?
  • Are you wanting to go on your own or are you planning to bring a friend?
    • Keep in mind that some Vipassana meditation retreats split up men and women to reduce distraction.
  • How much time do you have to spend on this retreat?
  • What is your budget?
  • Are you excited by the idea of traveling to an exotic location?
  • Are you someone that enjoys intense physical activity?

Below are some of the best meditation retreats available. We compiled this list based on overall reviews, end results, accommodations, and which ones just sounded plain awesome! Please consider the list of questions above when deciding which is the best meditation retreat for your tastes. 

Top 5 meditation retreats

Sri Lanka Meditation Retreat

Yovada 3 Day Relaxing Luxury Yoga Retreat

Our first recommendation is an adventure to the mountainous region of Kandy, Sri Lanka. You have the option of staying in a private room or the Mud House.

This retreat package includes two yoga sessions that take from Hatha and Vinyasa Yoga. All yoga experience levels are welcome. The food is strictly vegan. The cost of this retreat covers accommodations, yoga mats, all meals, the waterfall tour, and yoga classes.

Your teachers are Janaka Tennekoon and Yumi Jayasinghe. This retreat definitely leans more toward a vacation than an intensive meditation retreat. Nonetheless, we recommend staying in Kandy for longer than 3 days to explore Sri Lanka. Yovada offer a large variety of retreats. If this particular one does not work for you, check out the link for others. 

Greek Meditation Retreat Photo by Ryan Spencer on Unsplash
Photo by Ryan Spencer on Unsplash

16 Days Vipassana Meditation Retreat in Palairos, Greece

This Vipassana meditation retreat is a happy mix of meditation training and a unique travel destination; Greece. You are invited to take part in a 16 day mindfulness retreat in Palairos, Greece. Palairos is a small beach town near the Ionian Sea. Once class has ended you are free to explore all the charms it has to offer.

Here you will practice walking and sitting meditation under meditation expert, Martin Pack. Participants say that Martin is a very attentive teacher who devotes time to each of his students. 2 vegetarian meals daily and full accommodations are included in the package price. Check out the link to find more information about accommodation details and the aim of the course. 

Meditation retreat in France

5 and 6 Days, Mindfulness, Meditation and Counselling Retreats in France

Named Le Sentier Tranquille, meaning The Quiet Path, this centre hosts visitors for an all-inclusive stay on the edge of the ancient forests of Ariège in the foothills of the Pyrenees mountains.  Guests stay in comfortable accommodation with excellent facilities in a very tranquil location – you can walk the trails of the surrounding mountain range guided by Simon who combines the experience of nature with teaching on mindfulness, meditation and relationship.  Simon and Janet Cole make a point of giving individual care to each guest with wholesome French-style food and good wine, alongside the opportunity for counselling and a spiritually uplifting stay.  And don’t miss their “Music of the Mountains Meditation Retreat” for a really different experience.

 Photo by Daniel Lienert on Unsplash
Photo by Daniel Lienert on Unsplash

4 Days Peaceful Meditation Retreat in Siem Reap, Cambodia

This 4 day meditation retreat is taught by Krishna Raja who has been a meditation instructor for over 20 years. Reviews say that Krishna teaches you lessons about incorporating yoga and mindfulness into everyday life. These stick with you long after you leave the retreat. This course takes influence from yoga and Buddhist meditation.

 Photo by Mathew Schwartz on Unsplash
Photo by Mathew Schwartz on Unsplash

5 Days Removing Ego and Meditation Retreat in Koh Phangan, Thailand

This Meditation retreat in Thailand is a newer addition to the retreat space. However, it is quickly gaining traction for its good reviews. The meditation courses are an optional part of your stay. This retreat is situated in the tropical forests of Koh Phangan. You are welcome to have a peaceful relaxing stay and just enjoy the accommodations but participants recommend the meditation sessions. Sasha, the instructor is said to leave you feeling an uninterrupted connection with your emotions.

Conclusion

A meditation retreat can be a great way to get away and connect with yourself. Deciding on a meditation retreat can be difficult. The best retreat for you will depend on where you want to go, your budget, what type of experience you are after, along with many other factors. I hope this article helped you to narrow down your decision. Keep in mind that the websites behind each of the links include a variety of other options. Please leave a comment below if you have ever been on a meditation retreat.

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