Though you can — and research says you should — meditate at home, spending several days at a meditation retreat can help you really dial into your practice. Meditation on its own is a de-stresser, but combine it with a gorgeous natural setting and there’s no way your worries will survive. Here are eight meditation retreats to help you clear your monkey mind.
The Location: Santa Cruz, California
The Lowdown: You can’t go wrong with a destination that names itself after the number of minutes in day. The brand-new retreat, which features weekend and five-day immersion programs, challenges guests to be mindful every waking minute. That’s truly not too tall an order when you consider that you’ll be spending your time among the redwoods.
The Location: Barre, Massachusetts
The Lowdown: You’ll follow a structured schedule that typically starts at 5:30 a.m. and ends at 10 p.m., with the day being spent in silent practice, alternating between sitting and walking meditations. You can also listen to daily instruction and talks about the Buddha’s teachings. Just leave those digital devices behind, as you’re encouraged to disengage completely during your stay. Retreats range from a weekend to three months.
The Location: Red Feather Lakes, Colorado
The Lowdown: Whether you have a weekend or a week, Shambhala offers numerous retreats throughout the year at its location in a 600-acre valley high in the Colorado Rockies. Here, you’ll also find the Great Stupa of Dharmakaya, a 108-foot piece of Buddhist architecture dedicated to world peace, which you can visit daily.
The Location: Phuket, Thailand
The Lowdown: The center typically offers a four-day retreat every month, although you can certainly stay longer. On the middle two days, you’ll enjoy an excursion to some of the beautiful locations on Phuket Island and have three daily periods for meditation practice. There’s also yoga and, perhaps the biggest bonus, vegetarian Thai food at every meal.
The Location: Lefkada, Greece
The Lowdown: If you’re a solo traveler, this retreat is for you. Accommodations, all of which are on the beach, so you hear the water as you sleep, are for single occupancy. During the weeklong experience (although you can extend to two weeks), you’ll do five guided meditations, walk through the cypress trees and olive groves to learn how to incorporate mindfulness practices into your life, have three sessions of morning mindfulness movement, take a trip to a waterfall for meditation, and enjoy evenings out in area towns with the other guests.
The Location: Whistler, British Columbia
The Lowdown: This resort ski town in the Canadian Rockies is the perfect spot to reset not only your mind but also your body. Fairmont Chateau Whistler occupies prime real estate — it’s ski-in, ski-out during the winter — at the foot of the mountains, giving you direct access to the great outdoors. Meditation retreats, which are often combined with other activities, take place several times a year for varying lengths of time (even just a few days if that’s all you can commit).
The Location: Dingle, Ireland
The Lowdown: Mindfulness meditation is the name of the game here, where you can sign up for weekend-long or longer retreats, many of which are spent in silence. Yet you’ll not only be doing seated meditation but also walking meditation in the center’s garden, even along the nearby shore. You’ll also get the opportunity to practice mindfulness meditation in daily activities, as Kalyana asks each of its guests to complete at least 45 minutes a day of tasks like gardening, cleaning, or peeling vegetables.
The Location: Assisi, Italy
The Lowdown: Since 1985, meditation enthusiasts have been going to Simple Peace Hermitage in the ancient hilltop city of Assisi. Retreats last six days and include two daily guided meditations, daily yoga or sacred movement rituals in nature, four guided meditative pilgrimages to sacred sites, and plenty of free time.