A meditation retreat provides the tools to know yourself in-depth. Meditation is not a group activity but a solitary one to help you focus on the present moment. There are different meditation practices ranging from spiritual, religious or simply focusing on just an object or thought. These retreat help you explore the innerself by cutting off the distractions of everyday life.
Visiting a meditation retreat helps you learn new techniques of finding relief from everyday stress. These help you become the part of a community of like-minded individuals with similar goals.
Before we dive into the complete knowledge of meditation retreat let us first know the best types of meditation for beginners.
Meditation has been in practice for thousands of years around the world. Millions of individuals around the world stand testimony to the calming effect it has over their mental and physical wellbeing.
With that said, let us check the seven major types of meditation practices which you can do to start the journey towards self knowledge.
If you are new to the concept of meditation then guided meditation is the best option. As the name suggests, it takes place under the tutelage of a trained practitioner. The retreat teachers helps you focus on an object, image, or sound during the sessions.
Vipassana means insight meditation where you learn to see the world as it really is. The practice of Vipassana requires you to sit quitely and witness the world and yourself. The major goal of Vipassana is non-reaction towards experiences that you or others might have.
Mindfulness meditation has its roots in Buddhism and has a significant influence over other practices as Vipassana. You become aware of everything inside and outside of you without any judgment.
Shortly known as Zen meditation, it has its origins in Buddhism and is simple to practice. The main idea is to just sit and observe without any thoughts or discrimination. The two major forms taught at a Zazen retreat are half-lotus and full-lotus sitting position.
Utilizing soothing sounds to calm the mind and help the body relax is the essence of Sound meditation. It helps you move from an aware to a meditative state.
Kundalini Yoga combines deep breathing with specific bodily movements. It helps you develop better physical strength and mental health by reducing anxiety and depression.
A streamlined process of meditation including the three ways to practice. It is an active form of meditation that requires your total surrender and becoming a witness to various thoughts and habits.
Some of the advantages of regular meditation include less anxiety, boosting the immune system, reduction in chronic pain, and weight loss. Meditation not only helps you stay grounded but also improves the overall physical and mental health. Sound sleep and a stress-free life replace the chaos and unnecessary stress.
However, you would need to prepare both body and mind before enrolling into a retreat. Read on below to get in-depth information on what comprises of one.
Meditation practices offer many benefits for the body including reduced production of the stress hormone that is cortisol. It helps the body regulate blood pressure, breathing, and metabolism. The best meditation retreat helps you develop and deepen meditative practices. Different types of retreats include Vipassana, and Transcendental among others. You have the right tools to dive deep into yourselves.
Let us now dive a bit deeper into how you can make visiting a meditation retreat a memorable experience.
Before we move ahead and know what it takes to join a meditation retreat, you should consider the scenario below.
Your usual life includes a lot of chaos and stress from personal and professional front. Everyday it is the same story of getting up in the morning, checking the social media feed and then running off to the workplace. You are never able to get a day of peace and quite during all this hustle.
There is a place for you to gain control over your mind and body.
Firstly, before starting the journey to visiting a meditation retreat you would need to find some time to slowing down the thought process. Allow the nervous system to calm down and sit without any distractions. You will feel discomfort during the initial stages but that is the goal of meditation – to find peace in the chaos.
Secondly, rid yourself off any stimulants including sugar, alcohol, marijuana, or any hard drugs. Decrease their consumption to the point where you don’t need them. Here is when meditation helps you gain control over the need for substances.
Thirdly, now it is time to prepare the body for what is coming next. Make sure to choose the right meditation retreat. Be prepared to feel a little strange as these changes will be way different from the regular routine. Make sure to get closer to nature some weeks before you visit the place. It will help your body dive deeper into meditative practices with the teachers.
The majority of meditation retreat have a mixed syllabus comprising of spiritual teaching classes and practices with clean vegetarian food. It has multiple meditation styles with the starting days providing you guidance over how to start the practice. You would be spending the majority of time in the company of other people but with complete focus on yourself.
If you sign up to visit a silent retreat then be prepared to live and practice in utter silence including the times you are having a meal. The main point is you come to realize how the mind functions. The meditation retreat sessions helps you focus on what matters most apart from keeping you away from the stress of daily life.
A usual day at the retreat starts with multiple sessions of meditation and includes practices as walking, yoga practices, and practices to expand body body and mind.
If you are visiting a meditation retreat for the first time then be clear about the reason for joining one.
For example, if you wish to reduce stress, try visiting a mindfulness-based retreat or if you are searching for one providing a specific mantra then choose one providing Transcendental. You need to find one providing better guidance under the tutelage of experienced teachers for laying down a strong foundation of the meditative practices.
Retreats differ a lot from one another in what they provide. You can choose the right one depending on what you expect to learn. Some of the common meditation retreat you find include;
Now, it is time for us to know how visiting a meditation retreat can help you remain stress-free in the long term.
Practicing meditation helps you stay grounded and take out time amidst all the chaos of daily life. You receive complete support from experienced teachers who have themselves walked the path.
With that said, it is time to know how meditation retreat can help you enjoy a life free of unnecessary stress and tension.
1. A Place with a Purpose
You might wonder as to what makes these places the best option to experience inner peace and calm. A major benefit of these places is these give the perfect opportunities for your personal growth.
The only thing you need to do at the place is to immerse completely in the surroundings and that helps you relax. You need not worry about scouting for locations for the practice. The only thing to do is register timely and the rest is taken care of by the staff at the retreat.
2. A Place to Relax
During a visit to the meditation retreat your health is the primary matter. You get the chance to get away from all the chaos and stress and take things with ease. The teachers help you bring more positivity into life.
4. Disconnect From Chaos
The retreats often have limited connectivity options to internet and other distractions of the modern world. Moreover, the locations are chosen deliberately to help you stay mentally and physically relaxed during the stay.
5. Deepen Your Practice
Whether you have been into meditative practices for years or are a novice, the retreat provides the best chance to spend some quite time yourself. You might learn new techniques to deepen the existing practices with complete focus on betterment of mind, body, and spirit.
Post-visit you develop a more calm frame of mind with better focus on the present rather than worrying about the past or future.
6. Chance to Get Closer to Nature
Staying away from nature often leads you in an unending spiral of depression and stress. The retreat gives you the chance to connect with the natural surroundings. Natural surroundings as oceans, forest, and mountains provide you a healing effect.
7. Be Part of A Community
The meditation retreat help you form new relationships and friendships with like-minded individuals that last a lifetime. You get to meet people with similar interests and hobbies and also form a support network to reach the goal of good physical and mental health.
8. Complete Rejuvenation of Mind and Body
You would never come back from a vacation feeling all tired. Same is the case with spending a few days at such a retreat as you go back completely fresh. You get to know the inner working of the mind along with learning to control negative thought patterns.
You might feel a bit strange about visiting such a retreat and taking up a week or two to practice yoga poses to relax your mind. However, at the same time, there are some hard truths about what you will experience during this journey.
Given below are the 3 surprising facts about visiting such a retreat.
1. You Will be Alone
During the practice you sit with a group of people but at the same time these practices only affects your wellbeing. The teachers inform you about the policy of no smartphones or any other electronic devices during the practice. The only voice you hear is that of the Guru.
2. Sitting Still is Not That Easy
Perhaps the toughest thing to do at the retreat is to sit in the same position all day. You realize the body is not that used to sitting still and doing this requires focus and practice. The majority of these places start practice as early as 5 AM and go till the night. Some part of your body starts feeling discomfort and pain during the initial days.
3. Meal Time is Different
Despite the physical and mental exhausation you face after a day’s of practice, there is more to come. The mealtimes at the retreat is usually a quite affair as you focus more on enjoying the meal with complete awareness.
Keep in mind that choosing the right meditation retreat as a beginner is not that easy, but by following specific guidelines you can find the best one.
We recommend that you follow the guidelines mentioned below to find the best one suiting your needs.
1. Consider the Location
With retreats opening all around the world, you need to choose between a local and international option. You should sign one near to your home to get an idea about how an actual retreat works.
2. Do Consider the Accommodation Options
Whether the meditation retreat offers a week or a monthly program, you need to consider the accommodation options that can vary from bunk beds to full luxury villas. Remember the lesser the comfort, the more the chances of experiencing an exponential inner growth.
3. Be Clear About What You Want
Prior to booking a room make sure to do some introspection and know what your intentions are. Do you want to work on a crucial issue affecting your life? Are you looking to expand your spiritual practices? Be clear about the reason behind joining a meditation retreat.
4. Consider the Food
Different types of meditation retreat provide a variety of food ranging from plain rice and beans to complete gourmet. You also have the option of vegetarian or vegan food. Make sure to ask about the food in case you have specific food allergies.
5. Know the Retreat Planners
Every retreat has a planner working behind-the-scenes so you should connect with the planners to ensure. You should gather knowledge about their preferred meditative practice, and what they are passionate about.
Now, once you reach the place; it is time you keep in mind specific mistakes to never repeat during a meditation session at the retreat.
Below are the 4 major mistakes to avoid during the session.
Spiritual bypassing is the practice of using spirituality as a tool to distract ourselves from the true feelings which slows down the spiritual growth and interferes with the practice. You need to be completely centered and grounded during the practice by connecting with the emotions.
Meditation works everytime if you are doing it with complete dedication. Keep your mind distracted by telling it you will sit only for a short period of time. However, keep on extending the time slowly and that will have a positive effect on the nervous system as well.You should know the practice offers more relaxation and rest as compared to the 7 to 8 hours of sleep.
There is a reason why we have a teacher in every walk of life. Be it relationship counselors, or your trainer at the gym. They carry advanced knowledge of the field and are likely to recommend you the right method of mastering the various practices.
You might need the assistance of certain props during the practice session but remember the whole point is to become comfortable with who you are as a person. However, you also need to make sure there is no dependency on these props as practicing without them becomes a headhache.
With online videos and tutorials spreading knowledge about meditation you might be tempted to go for the free options. However, you will learn the best by visiting a meditation retreat.