Everyone has a faint idea of what meditation is. You must have tried doing it in your home, but that didn’t last long as your phone kept buzzing or your kid wanted to show you their new favorite rock.
If you always work, never relax, or are very frustrated with your life, then a meditation retreat is an option for you.
How many of us can sit quietly in a place with just our thoughts?
We cannot do it these days. We need constant stimulation that helps make us forget our problems. We need our TV on while sleeping. We take out our phone when our date goes to the bathroom. We watch shows, listen to things while cooking.
Even when we decide to wind down and hold a book, we cannot let go of our phones and social media. Because of all this and the way our lives are today, we should try looking at mental peace, mental health, and nothing will ignite the peace string in your mind other than a meditation retreat.
What Is A Meditation Retreat?
A meditation retreat is a spiritual trip you take for your inner peace.
These retreats can be for a day or even go on for a month. The amount of time you choose to be there is entirely your decision. Nothing is expected of you there.
You just have to take control of your mind and find solace in the peace. A meditation retreat wants you to be there for a purpose.
At the start of the trip, you should have a little purpose, aim in your mind, and during the journey, it is your responsibility to keep getting closer to your purpose.
To get intuned with your mind, you need to meditate, and to meditate, you need a little discipline, but there is nothing a human can’t learn. These retreats are perfect for a beginner or an expert who has done these retreats quite a lot.
The center you choose will guide you at every step, especially if you are a beginner. They create a system that will support the meditator and provide tools to help you reach your goal.
You have to let go of all your electronic devices and bad vibrations at the door. Human beings are complex creatures, but the continuous complexity in our schedule or life can make a person sick mentally and physically.
A mediation retreat clears the mind and relaxes it so that when you go out to the world, you are a new, fresh, clean, and healthy human being. It is precisely like getting a factory reset but for human beings.
What Happens During Meditation Retreat?
No single retreat is similar to another. Every retreat is unique because of its methods and different meditation practices.
Each activity has a significance, and it gets added to the list if the guru feels it is necessary. Following are few everyday activities that you will encounter during any meditation retreat.
Sitting Meditation Session
Sitting meditation is the most basic and vital part of any retreat. There can be more than one sitting session per day.
Usually, meditators sit in the morning and at night before going to bed. These sessions are at least 30 minutes each. You can request to sit on chairs if you cannot sit on the floor.
Walking Meditation Session
These walking sessions are intertwined with sitting meditations. There are various types of walks that a guru might take you on. Rice walk is one such walk where the guru gives you a guided walk as you stroll and meditate in a rice field.
When you opt for a residential retreat, meals are provided. You can talk while you eat, but it is important to eat mindfully. Pausing to appreciate your food and expressing gratitude towards the person who has made it is essential to do.
Fast eating is prohibited. You have to savor each bite, its smell, taste, and then chewing it and swallowing it mindfully. You should sit and observe the energy channeling through you after eating.
These sessions depend on the type of retreat you are attending. Complete silent retreats are silent for the whole time, but even non-silent retreats keep a dedicated time for silent sessions where you stay silent and observe nature. It can be a challenging exercise for people who cannot remain silent, but with time you will learn.
Deep Relaxation Sessions
This activity is everyone’s favorite activity where you need to lie down comfortably on your back while your teacher or guru guides you through a body scan. Sleeping will instantly reduce your tension and will put your body at ease.
Discussion Group Sessions
These sessions are also called Dharma discussions in Buddhism. Your guru will invite you to be a part of a group. The group then sits in a small circle, mostly on the ground, to see each other without any disturbance.
The teacher will talk on a topic related to mindfulness and meditation. There will be discussions, and you will be encouraged to talk about your opinion or view.
One rule that everyone needs to follow is to be respectful when people are talking or sharing their views. If you have to add anything to it, you should raise your hands. The guru will then allow you to speak. Instead of raising hands, some groups can use a bowing method or a talking stick that gets passed to the person who wants to convey.
Mindful Working Sessions
Retreats that are longer include this type of session too. The practitioner gets a chore every day.
The duty isn’t very labor-induced, but the theory behind it is to let people follow mindfulness while being active or working, especially within a group setting. Working and doing chores is a great exercise opportunity to help people as they try to work outside of the retreat.
Duties can differ from cooking to cleaning or gardening to a light dusting. Most people that do these chores do not feel burdened to do them. They feel happy and content doing those chores.
What Are Some Types Of Meditation Practices?
To understand the retreats process, you also need to understand the type of meditation practices available in different retreat centers.
Once you find the right fit, you can try searching for that type of meditation retreat program. The primary and fundamental meditation decision is to choose between guided and unguided meditation.
A teacher or guru will guide you through the meditation process in a guided meditation. The teacher is experienced and knows what they are doing.
The teacher then walks you through the meditation process and teaches you about the mind and how it functions. In unguided meditation, which is also called silent meditation, you meditate without explaining the process to you.
People who are not novices usually try unguided meditation as they already know the process. After the initial selection, there are few types of meditation practices that you can choose.
Types of meditation practices are as follows:
In mindfulness meditation, you have to pay attention to your thoughts as they pass through your mind. There is no need to be judgemental or suppressing your thoughts.
You simply observe and take notes of the patterns. This meditation practice combines concentration and awareness—a good start for people who don’t have a teacher to guide them.
This type of mediation uses a repetitive sound while meditating to focus on one thing. It can be any phrase, word, or sound.
‘Aum’ is one such popular word. It is excellent for people who cannot focus on breath, so a word lets them concentrate easily.
Transcendental meditation is slowly becoming popular. There are even numerous scientific studies that have taken a look into this type of meditation.
It is more customizable and personal than mantra meditation. It uses a word or mantra that might be specific for each practitioner. This practice is suitable for people who are serious about their meditation practice.
This meditation can be a little challenging as it pushes you to find insight into reality’s true nature. You do that via contemplation of several areas that humans feel – suffering, emptiness, impermanence, unsatisfactory nature, and so on.
This mediation tells you to focus on the practice even if your body or mind is in pain, as it is just a passing moment from where you will feel enlightened.
In yoga meditation, you use your body to attain peace of mind. Your body becomes healthy and fit along with your mind.
It is an outstanding practice if you want to cope with everyday stress and issues. Shavasana, known as the corpse or relaxation pose, is essential in yoga meditation to relieve tension.
Sound Bath Meditation
Sound bath meditation uses gongs, bowls, and other metal instruments to create soothing sounds and vibrations that will help your mind come to a relaxed state.
Benefits Of Attending Meditation Retreat
- You get to explore exotic places with an entirely new purpose for you.
- You don’t have to worry about bookings or reservations or where and what to eat. Once you are in the retreat, you just focus on yourself.
- You will get time to spend and focus on yourself, which doesn’t happen when you are busy working in your everyday life.
- You will learn how to meditate and take care of your mind. You will learn to keep your mind in control. Your thoughts and consciousness will be in your hand.
- A much-needed digital detox. Staying away from technology is challenging, but such retreats can make it possible to remove yourself from the digital world for a few days.
- You will gain a different perspective on your life. People who are riddled with life’s big decisions get a clearer picture after a retreat. You will be filled with positive aspirations, and your aura will be clean.
- Any meditation retreat that you decide to go will be very close to nature. You will get to experience nature in its rawest and pure form.
- There are chances of blossoming new friendships as there are most likely to be like-minded people.
- You will come home feeling refreshed and relaxed, like a new person ready to win at life.
Some of The Best Meditation Retreats Worldwide:
Insight Meditation Society
This society is located in Barre, Massachusetts. They offer weekend retreats to retreats that can go on for years. Insight is a place to visit if you want to try everything or learn everything related to meditation.
Green Gulch Farm Zen Center
This center is located in Muir Beach, California. A good and easily accessible retreat center if you want to deepen your meditation practice. They include a seven-day sesshin (Collect heart and mind) in which you can meditate, eat and work in silence.
Kadampa Meditation Center
Kadampa meditation center is located in the Catskills mountains in New York. This place is just two hours outside New York.
As it is so near to the city one can easily visit this place for a weekend getaway. If you are looking for practices for months, then consider booking in advance.
This place is pretty budget-friendly if you want to take a Sunday meditation workshop. It only costs around $25. You have an option to add on lunch just for $5. It is an excellent deal considering the topics that they cover.
As there are many traveling restrictions, these meditation centers have started online sessions that you can take sitting at your home.
Online classes are an excellent chance to see if you like meditation as the charges are pretty low compared to the stays. They even have several courses with a different price range.
That’s it for this article, but we hope you enjoyed reading and learning about the meditation retreat. If you are curious, take out a pen, paper and start researching a meditation center that you wish to visit.