6 Gorgeous Meditation Retreats That Will Leave You Feeling Like a Million Bucks
You’ve got a billion things on your to-do list, always check your emails as soon as you wake up and can’t remember the last time you just sat down to do nothing. Translation? You need to seriously chill out. Unwind, recharge your batteries and get in touch with your inner zen at one of these tranquil meditation retreats. Go for a weekend, a week or a whole month, and then return to your usual life as a healthier, more balanced version of yourself. Namast-yay.
Shambhala Mountain Center, Red Feather Lakes, Colorado
Located in a serene valley surrounded by the Rockies, this mountain retreat offers over 100 different meditation programs throughout the year for different levels and interests, including courses for women, families and beginners. When you’re not working on quieting your mind or strolling around the beautiful grounds (that include a giant Buddhist shrine), challenge yourself physically with one of the many outdoor activities on offer including kayaking, yoga and hiking. Ahh, so zen.
Rate: From $85 per night (including meals).
Simple Peace, Assisi, Italy
Want a side of history with your meditation retreat? Look no further than this rustic getaway, located in the medieval hilltop town of Assisi—the birthplace of St. Francis, one of Italy’s patron saints. Intimate meditation sessions (there are only five participants per retreat) are combined with guided pilgrimage walks, therapeutic massages and self-exploration activities like journaling. The centuries-old farmhouse is surrounded by olive groves, blue skies and Umbrian countryside, so you’ll be enjoying la dolce vita in no time.
Rate: From $1,150 per week (including meals).
Wat Suan Mokkh, Chaiya, Thailand
Serious about getting in touch with your inner self? Try this ten-day silent retreat where phones and electronics are handed over for safekeeping before you begin. Days are spent listening to talks by Buddhist monks, doing yoga and tai chi, soaking in hot springs and doing chores around the ashram. Living conditions are modest (a straw mat for a bed and a wooden pillow) and so is the meal plan (two vegetarian meals per day), but participants say the experience is life-changing. (And just think about how amazing it will feel to call up your bestie afterwards.)
Rate: From $60 for 10 days (including meals).
Esalen Institute, Big Sur, California
Perched on rugged cliffs south of Monterey, complete with views of the Pacific Ocean and sounds of crashing waves below, this New Age retreat oozes 1960s California boho vibes (Henry Miller and Joan Baez were once guests, among other Beat Generation veterans). The educational institute runs hundreds of workshops and programs each year, dedicated to spiritual enlightenment and fostering change in both yourself and society as a whole. The cottages range from basic (think: bunk beds and shared bathrooms) to luxurious (private deck and outdoor clawfoot tub, anyone?). After the sun sets, grab your swimsuit (or leave it off) and soak up the mineral-rich waters of Esalen’s hot springs.
Rate: From $120 per day (including meals).
Ananda in the Himalayas, Uttaranchal, India
Think signing up for a meditation retreat means roughing it? Not so at this plush estate in the Himalayan foothills that was once home to the Maharaja of Tehri-Garhwal. Here, Ayurvedic spa treatments, personalized meals and views of the Ganges are all on the menu (alongside a selection of intimate meditation workshops, of course). Upon arrival, a doctor will create a tailored program for you that includes healthy dishes and at least three treatments per day. And don’t worry about what to pack—guests are provided with white kurtas (traditional pajamas) and encouraged to wear them throughout their stay. Pure bliss.
Rate: From $850 per day (including meals).
The Buddhist Retreat Centre, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa
Nelson Mandela awarded this rural center National Heritage status for its environmentally-friendly approach to the surrounding valleys, hills and landscape (the center works with indigenous plants and helped save the endangered Blue Swallow). Not just for practicing Buddhists, retreats here can be structured or self-guided, depending on what you’re after. But whatever you choose, you’ll have plenty of opportunity to reflect and get back in touch with Mother Nature while strolling around the ground’s labyrinth, Zen gardens and deer park. Yep, we’re feeling more relaxed just thinking about it.
Rate: From $46 per day (including meals).