There’s no need to go all the way to an exotic ashram in India a la Eat, Pray, Love to have an all-exclusive, life-changing meditation retreat that’ll reconnect you in mind, body, and soul. For stressed-out city dwellers, there are incredible getaways in and around the fifty states that are tailored to help you decompress and reenergize yourself with the natural world without hopping on an exhausting intercontinental plane ride.
Leave all the tech, mess, and chaos of home behind to escape to an oasis of relaxation, adventure, and awe-inspiring views. From the Berkshires to Big Sur and all in between, those in search of simplicity, balance, and spiritual renewal can head on down to these seven short meditation retreats that can be taken during any U.S. vacation. Sojourn into utter serenity and deep, calming peace. Ommm.
Visit These 7 Meditation Centers On Your Vacation
1. The Chopra Center – Carlsbad, California
It’s a safe haven of non-judgment where travelers can reconnect with their unconditioned selves. Learn to cope with physical, emotional, and health-related states of imbalance by incorporating the timeless wisdom of meditation, Ayurveda, and conscious communication into daily practice at this Carlsbad resort just 30 miles north of San Diego and 90 minutes south of Los Angeles. You’ll no doubt enhance the health and wellbeing of body, mind, and spirit with the center’s integrative approach, as well as with the help of numerous on-site visionaries, scientists, pioneers, physicians, and industry experts who seek to educate and inspire guests from around the globe.
Make sure to try out one of the most popular programs—the weekly Perfect Health healing immersion, which the only wellness program in the world that combines a renowned medical staff, the time-honored panchakarma detoxification process, and daily foundational teachings in meditation, yoga, and Ayurveda.
2. Green Gulch Farm Zen Center – Muir Beach, California
Tucked away in a eucalyptus-filled valley just a few miles inland from Northern California's scenic Muir Beach, this Zen center slash farm -- an outpost of the San Francisco Zen Center -- follows a traditional Japanese Soto Zen tradition by allowing visitors to trek up a winding Shoreline Highway for classes, organic farming apprenticeships, and both short-term and long-term retreats that’ll have you breathing in Pacific Ocean breezes on an 115-acre property that boasts several meditation and seminar spaces (one of them a spacious yurt!) and its own working organic farm and garden that produces superb vegetarian fare.
Practice the traditional seated, silent variety of Japanese meditation known as zazen and attend some tea ceremonies before retiring over in one of the seventeen streamlined single rooms in the Japanese-style Lindisfarne Guest House. There's even a private cabin, Hope Cottage, which is set on a beautiful hillside a 25-minute uphill walk from the rest of the property for those seeking further peace and quiet—as well as a new private guest room at Still Water Hall.
3. Insight Meditation Society – Barre, Massachusetts
Founded in order to spread the idea of metta ("loving and kindness") as well as vipassana ("insight") meditation, this world renowned mediation society has evolved into one of the most active mindfulness communities in the United States. Choose from everything from short two-day getaways to three-month structured retreats where you can honor the condition of "Noble Silence" requested of all guests in order to facilitate deepened awareness and a peaceful all-around environment.
The 200-acre rural and wooded property surrounds a grand old mansion in central Massachusetts and includes a main "campus" along with a separate Forest Refuge a few miles deeper into the countryside for those who opt to stay more long-term. Get in one with Indian Buddhist traditions by combining seated and walking meditation in absolute silence. You’ll also get to dwell in one of almost eighty sparely furnished single and small double guest rooms that’ll further allow you to get back to the bare bones of simplicity and the good life.
4. Shambhala Mountain Center – Red Feather Lakes, Colorado
This northern Colorado center is nestled in a valley of meadows and pine forests, offering peace seekers of all sorts with an array of yoga and meditation programs via “authentic lineage teachers” who mesh together a wide variety of mind- and body-healing disciplines to instruct with. The Center is also home to The Great Stupa, a monument to peace, numerous hiking trails and botanical gardens to stroll around, as well as optional massage therapy and healthy meal options to help you disconnect to reconnect.
The Shambhala philosophy teaches the wakefulness of human goodness-- which, for many, is especially easier within a 600-acre Rocky Mountain retreat where guests can create personal packages or register for programs such as “Running with the Mind of Meditation,” based on the best-selling book by Sakyong Mipham, or nature-based programs with interdisciplinary focuses on astronomy or botany. Stay for a weekend, a week, or even a whole month to self-explore and to focus solely on personal transformation. Lodging even varies from tent platforms to lodge suites with modern amenities, so you be able to get a taste of both natural and luxury living.
Make sure to attend some of the specialized workshops for children, painters, and writers, as well as combination activities that mix canoeing, hiking, and snowshoeing into the practice of active or moving meditation. What’s more is that Shambhala has centers all around the globe including retreats in Kalapa Valley, Vermont, France, and Mexico, so you can getaway no matter where you are.
5. Rolling Meadows Retreat – Brooks, Maine
Contained within a fully restored 1840s New England farmhouse, this countryside retreat sits on 100 acres of land in rural Maine on a high ridge that offers unobstructed views of rolling hills and pastoral landscapes. On site, there are gardens, woods, walking paths, streams, and spring-fed ponds to enjoy, as well as a small but truly elegant farmhouse that can house up to ten people at a time. Along with endless yoga, this quaint getaway also offers a wood-fired sauna and cross-country skiing for the winter months, as well as a more intimate setting than most large-scale retreats.
Get the chance to unplug on a much deeper level along the northeastern U.S. coast, where there are no hassles of small talk or distractions to be aware of. Just slow down, simplify life, and increase self-awareness with a daily schedule of multiple meditation sessions, yoga, and free time for healing and reconnecting.
6. Omega Institute for Holistic Studies – Rhinebeck, New York
One of the largest retreat centers in the Northeast, this institute offers yoga, mindfulness mediation and silent retreats, along with sustainable living programs and a variety of workshops and speakers all within just a short train ride from the Big Apple. Awaken your inner spirit by choosing amongst the six “learning paths” available at the 200-acre Hudson Valley campus, which also provides opportunities for more than three hundred workshops, yoga teacher training classes, and rest and rejuvenation retreats annually.
Both guided and self-practice Vipassana meditation are integrated into classes like Zen archery—there’s even a sacred space called the Sanctuary that’s open for daily group meditation and contemplation hours. Omega’s two- or five-day R&R retreats are ideal for those wanting to just release and unplug without any sort of set schedule. Savor shamanic healing, acupuncture, henna, massages, facials, and chakra portraits—along with never-ending amounts of yoga and stellar farm-to-table mostly vegetarian meals—before taking a long hike outside on one of many wooded and country roads nearby. Be sure to explore the quiet 80-acre Long Pond Lake nearby, which offers kayaking, canoeing, boating, or swimming options in warmer months. And if you’re feeling super adventurous, ask about the local hot-air balloon rides and state parks that are worth checking out.
7. Esalen Institute – Big Sur, California
Another breathtaking beauty right on the California coastline, this Big Sur favorite has welcomed peace-seekers for more than half a century. Guests can incorporate a silent regime into their personal retreat, or sign up for even more intensive mindfulness meditation retreats. The center is really more of an upscale (and expensive) option when compared to traditional West Coast Zen centers like Green Gulch, offering greater amenities and a much more resort-like atmosphere.
You’ll be able to free your inhibitions and raise your self-awareness in pure luxury by exploring all the human possibilities available on Northern California’s spiritual coast. Partake in Buddhist and tantric meditation practices on a scenic 27-acre property that also includes nice ocean views, cliff-side hot springs for bathing in, tons of healing arts, and soul-seeking mindfulness workshops that incorporate a hybrid of interdisciplinary themes, such as yoga, music, stress-reduction, and self-connection. Even legendary guests such as Steve McQueen, Joan Baez, and Henry Miller have been known to head towards this PCH favorite!
This article was written by Pamela Chan.