Meditation Retreats - Are They Worth It?
Beware, A Meditation Retreat Can Change Your Life! In this article Meditation Retreats - Are They Worth It? we will cover what is a meditation retreat, what to expect at a meditation retreat, what are the benefits of a meditation retreat, 7 types of meditation retreats you can try, and how to choose the best meditation retreat for you.
“Nowhere can man find a quiet or more untroubled retreat that in his own soul” - Marcus Aurelius
Sometimes, despite our greatest intentions, we find that our meditation routines and mindfulness practices get placed on the back burner while we are immersed in life. Sometimes they disappear completely. One amazing way to get back to the quiet centre of our inner being is to attend a meditation retreat. Usually located in a natural setting, far from the noise and chaos of a busy town or city, retreats are becoming more and more available than ever before. They range from very affordable and rustic to expensive and luxurious. They can last from one or two days, up to a month or more.
What Is A Meditation Retreat?
A Meditation Retreat is a getaway to a protected space for people who want to quiet their minds and prioritize meditation. A participant can be a beginner or a long-time meditator. These retreats are sacred, safe environments where one can relax, explore their inner world, and take a break from the demands of everyday life. During these retreats, a group of people, often total strangers, will gather to receive teachings on meditation and practice meditation together. The mood at a Meditation Retreat is quiet and peaceful. Retreats are guided by one or more teachers who are trained in a specific style of meditation and feel motivated to help others deepen their practice. The facilitator assists by answering questions and helping people navigate challenges if they come up.
What To Expect At A Meditation Retreat?
Meditation retreats typically offer meals that support a healthy mind and body. Vegetarian, vegan, or “clean-eating” menus are usually offered to participants to help create mental clarity and ease in the physical body for meditation.
Uninterrupted Time For You
You will have plenty of time with...you! Without a busy schedule, sudden interruptions, and non-stop phone notifications, you will have dedicated time to spend with yourself.
Connection With Like-Minded People
Meditation retreats gather like-minded people who are looking for a wellness atmosphere. Participants will have different backgrounds and personality types, but they are all there to meditate and centre themselves. Mutual respect forms as people get comfortable together, and participants often feel very empowered being part of the retreat group.
A meditation retreat facilitator will offer new methods, tips and insights for both new and experienced meditators. Attendees can gain a fresh perspective from the workshops and talks given by the teachers.
The retreat setting allows the body time to recuperate and relax. Even if there are periods of activity or movement, they won't be too strenuous or exhausting. Expect to spend a good deal of time in tranquillity and rest.
Insights and Realisations
In the stillness of the retreat environment, our awareness can pick up on new understandings. Although our inner being has many messages for us, it is easy for these to get blocked out by the noise of daily life. Our true self wants to help us make sense of difficult things and spark new ideas for us, and meditation retreats can allow that inner voice to take centre stage.
What Are The Benefits Of A Meditation Retreat?
If we find ourselves overworked, stuck in a routine of poor food choices, or overwhelmed with looping negative thoughts, we can feel far away from our sense of interior stillness. Sudden life changes, financial struggles, and relationship troubles can easily tip us into the monkey mind where we feel scattered and in need of extra support. Meditation retreats are amazing opportunities to take a time out and go inward where we can find acceptance for things that we can't change, and or discover solutions for our problems. Sometimes we just need a little time away to get back to our best selves once again.
6 Types Of Meditation Retreats You Can Try
1) Zen Meditation Retreats
Rooted in Buddhism, Zen Meditation Retreats involve observing and then letting go of thoughts during meditation sessions. Zen is practised sitting on a meditation cushion in Lotus Position. Instructors help participants with good posture: straight spine, open shoulders, and soft belly. One goal of this style of meditation is to bring the practice of “observing thoughts” into everyday day life.
2) Silent Meditation Retreats
These retreats start with a “meet and greet” and an orientation talk. Silence begins at a designated time, and continues throughout the retreat. The silence ends at a specific time near the end of the retreat, and often a sharing time takes place where participants can speak about their experiences during the period of silence. Depending on the retreat, there might be scheduled group walks, yoga, art, or other activities that are held in silence.
3) Vipassana Meditation Retreats
Vipassana, which means “to see things the way they really are”, is a specific style of meditation that is believed to have been developed by the Buddha. These retreats are guided by a leader who offers various teachings and instructions to help practitioners make the most of their retreat. Often lasting 10 days, a Vipassana Meditation Retreat follows strict disciplines such as abstaining from physical contact, speaking, reading, writing, and music. The schedule involves 10 hours of meditation per day, partly alone and partly with the group. Benefits of Vipassana Meditation Retreats include quieting the mind, experiencing inner peace, and staying present.
4) Yoga and Meditation Retreats
Yoga and Meditation Retreats focus on both Yoga and Meditation. There will be at least one Yoga asana class each day and at least one group meditation session. Sometimes Pranayama sessions and other wellness workshops are scheduled throughout the retreat.
5) Dark Room Meditation Retreats
For Dark Room Meditation Retreats, the participant receives an orientation upon arrival. After that, the duration of the retreat is spent in a dark bedroom with access to a bathroom. All windows are fully blacked out, and meals are passed through the door throughout the retreat with care to not allow in any light. Most of the time is spent either meditating or sleeping. Sensory deprivation offered at Dark Retreats can bring one into deep meditations and support great shifts in consciousness. Attendees generally have some meditation experience before going on this type of retreat.
6) Fasting Meditation Retreats
At a Fasting Meditation Retreat, the focus is on abstaining from food for the duration of the retreat. These retreats may also involve a digital detox. It could be water-fasting only, or the program may allow coffee, herbal tea, or juices. Fasting is a way to bring oneself to greater self-awareness and focus. Some people find that fasting without a dedicated setting can be very challenging, and the support of the retreat environment allows for a stronger follow-through. Fasting can quiet the busy mind's voice, or if not, can make one more aware of when that voice gets going.
How To Choose The Best Meditation Retreat For You?
What is your budget? Will there be transportation costs to consider? If it is out of your price range, do they offer a payment plan?
Are you planning to stay close to home, or will you take a trip? For distant travel, think ahead about flights, local weather, currency exchange, documentation, and what else you might want to do while at your destination before or after the retreat.
Who is the teacher? What style of meditation do they teach, and what training have they taken? Are they able to provide you with reviews from previous students?
What Is Included
Be sure the retreat can support any extra needs you might have. Some considerations could be the availability of a private bedroom, Wi-Fi access, air conditioning, dietary needs, airport pickup/dropoff, and pre/post-retreat support.
Is the Program a Good Fit for You?
What does the schedule look like? Some retreats offer a lot of free personal time, while others have an abundance of workshops and activities, so be sure your energy level is a good match.
Beware, A Meditation Retreat Can Change Your Life! A Meditation Retreat can be a massive turning point toward positive change. Get ready to feel empowered and able to shift into a life that can be magnificent! Be prepared to leave the retreat feeling like the person you used to know yourself to be: invigorated, balanced and energized. Giving yourself this time just might start you on a path that you haven't even dared to dream about.
Loved Meditation Retreats - Are They Worth It?
This blog post was brought to you by Amanda Wideman
Amanda Wideman is a yoga instructor, a traveller, and a humanitarian whose goal is to find and share peace through art and volunteerism. She currently lives in Zanzibar, Tanzania.