You may be surprised to find that meditation retreats exist in cities all over the U.S., and across the globe! Here are some of the top eight most calming places you should consider visiting if you're looking to rejuvenate yourself.
1. Spirit Rock, California
Only an hour outside San Fransico, this spiritual land allows you to relax and focus on renewal in the rolling hills of rural California. Spirit Rock was once home to Native Americans, who used the area to perform spiritual rituals. The retreat lets you enjoy the stillness of nature so that you can take a load your mind and body. The retreat offers packages that range from day-long visits all the way up to months at a time. "Some come for healing, either the healing of the heart or the healing of the body. Some come because they are in life transition and need to listen deeply to what is the next thing that is asked of them or how to deal with some great change," says founding teacher Jack Kornfeld.
2. Shambhala Mountain Center, Colorado
Shambhala Mountain Center is in the breathtaking Colorado mountains. This 600-acre retreat allows guests to personalize their packages. If you like, you can sign up for a few of their programs such as "Introduction to Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction" or "The Path of Simply Being." Shambhala Mountain Center also offers nature-based programs with an interdisciplinary focus on astronomy. You can stay for a day or two, a week, or a month. While there, you will enjoy modern amenities, hiking trails, and crisp mountain air to refresh you on your journey of mindfulness.
3. Rolling Meadows, Maine
Rolling Meadows is a silent retreat in the rippling, pristine hills of coastal Maine. Rolling Meadows offers spiritually transformative programs for those who are serious about expanding their consciousness and self-awareness. The retreat programs offer small group (only 11 participants at a time) meditation, breath work and yoga, movement meditation, psycho-spiritual processes, writing, silence, and the experience of nature.
4. Ananda In The Himalayas, India
Ananda in the Himalayas is a 100-acre meditation spa retreat, tucked into the Himalayan foothills and the temple villages of Haridwar and Rishikesh. The retreat welcomes anyone looking for comfort and tranquility, as well as serious meditation practitioners. The meditation sessions are one-on-one and are personally tailored to your needs. The sessions may include yoga breathing techniques or Buddhist teachings and can last anywhere from an hour to a whole afternoon. Guests can enjoy yoga pavilions throughout the gardens, a 21,000-square-foot spa, tea lounge, lavish rooms with balconies overlooking breathtaking mountain views, and even an antique billiard room.
5. Ala Kukui, Hawaii
Ala Kukui, translated as "Pathway of Illumination", is nestled among hills and fruit trees on 12 acres in Maui. The refuge has a beautiful view of both the Pacific Ocean and the Haleakala volcano. The retreat was inspired by the events of September 11, and offers a residential retreat for war veterans, specializing in healing extreme cases of PTSD and other forms of grief and sadness that soldiers sometimes carry with them. Programs available range from hula (spiritual, intellectual and physical connection), to writing and yoga. Ala Kukui allows guests of all ages to grieve, grow, and get better in a beautiful, serene environment.
6. Kripalu, Massachusetts
Kripalu retreat is mainly a yoga center. If you're looking for a woodsy New England experience, then this getaway in the Berkshires may just be for you! This yoga-centered retreat offers their signature yoga teacher training focusing on personal expression, as well as other programs like meditation, creative expression, health and fitness, self-discovery, and Ayurvedic Healing (restoring inner balance). You can also enjoy a facial and a couples massage!
7. Assisi Retreat Home & Heritage, Italy
The Assisi meditation retreat is perched high in the peaceful hilltop town of Assisi, Italy. You'll feel a deep connection with the peaceful presence and sacredness of this ancient city, the home and burial site of Saint Francis. Quiet meditation walks through sacred sites will bring peace to your heart. The goal of this retreat is to rest, relax, read and visit holy places as you please. Explore the city and find hidden gardens, olive trees, and ancient side streets. Surround yourself with a community of like-minded people seeking inner peace and happiness.
8. Esalen Institute, California
The Esalen Institute was inspired by visions of adventure into uncharted areas of self-expression. The sound of the sea echoes through the institute, located on 120 acres of land between the mountains and the sea. The Esalen Institute strives to serve the world by providing you with the tools to understand your sense of purpose in the world, ultimately cultivating cultural change.
While some may think that mediation is just a "trend," there is something to be said about an ancient practice that many feel has the power to heal your mind, body, and soul. Get back to your roots and kick-start your journey to mindfulness by visiting one of these fantastic retreats. Your peace of mind will thank you.