So you’re thinking about signing up for a meditation retreat, go girl! We’re here to help you make the most of that time—and experience—with our best tips for how to choose a meditation retreat.
A meditation retreat can be one of the most rewarding and ground-breaking experiences along your wellness journey. A meditation retreat can help you learn more about meditation, can help you commit to a meditation practice as well as connect you to a like-minded and supportive community.
But not all meditation is the same and neither should a meditation retreat be the same. Before deciding on which meditation retreat to choose, you’ll want to make sure your expectations align with what your chosen meditation retreat offers.
Keep reading to find out how to choose a meditation retreat for the best possible experience.
How to choose a meditation retreat: setting expectations
A meditation retreat is an opportunity to learn techniques to begin practicing meditation or become more serious with your current practice.
Going on a retreat allows you to distance yourself from the ups, downs and stressors that you face on a daily basis. A meditation retreat provides a tranquil, supportive and spiritual environment in which you can step away, learn something new and deepen your meditation practice.
A meditation retreat is not a one-size-fits-all and it’s a good idea to do your due diligence—figure out your priorities to see whether the retreat is even a good fit.
Ask yourself these questions:
- What are you looking to get out of a meditation retreat?
- Do you want a more spiritual retreat or are you interested in mindfulness?
- What other activities can you participate in?
- How much time away can you afford?
Most of all, go into a meditation retreat with an open mind.
How to choose a meditation retreat: location
Most meditation retreats are and should be hosted in a quiet and relaxing environment where attendees can focus on their meditation practice.
But, in today’s busy world it’s not uncommon to find some weekend retreats, especially on the edge of busy cities or deep in the countryside. And that’s ok if you are time-deficient and simply want to get your feet wet.
Questions to consider:
- Where do you envision sitting in quiet contemplation?
- Is the location conducive to your meditation needs?
- How much travel are you ok with to and fro the retreat?
- Are you ok with a location near a busy highway or city?
- Is there a lot of nature around?
How to choose a meditation retreat: accommodation
Where to stay during your meditation retreat often gets overlooked when it comes to booking a retreat.
You’ll normally find private accommodation and/or shared, dormitory-style accommodation (the more budget-conscious alternative).
Bathrooms are another story. It’s not always a given that there is access to a private bathroom. If you’re someone who prefers private accommodation with an en-suite bathroom, you’ll need to make sure that this option is available, otherwise it might come as an unexpected shock upon arrival.
It’s also worth noting that standards vary from place to place and country to country. Make sure accommodation standards at your chosen meditation retreat suit your own.
How to choose a meditation retreat: food
We all have different dietary requirements so it’s particularly important to find out about the food being offered and whether it suits your needs.
Most retreats will serve vegetarian or vegan food—but if you follow a particular diet such as keto, paleo, plant-based—double check that the retreat kitchen can cater to your dietary requirements.
Same goes with allergies. If you are gluten-intolerant, for example, make sure that the retreat organizers are aware and can provide alternatives.
You can bring in your own food or supplements (unless stated on the retreat terms). Personally, I always bring my own probiotics, supplements and superfoods which I add to juices and my morning coffee. This helps my body to keep up with its usual routine.
How to choose a meditation retreat: style & practice
Much like a yoga retreat, a meditation retreat varies by practice and style. You’ll want to read up on this and choose a meditation retreat that best fits your meditation goal.
Different types of meditation retreats include:
- Mindfulness meditation retreat
- Meditation and yoga retreat
- Buddhist approach to meditation retreat
- Beginners meditation retreat
- Silent meditation retreat
You’ll really want to choose the right retreat for you. Say you’ve been practicing mindfulness and you want to continue with this style, perhaps an intensive Vipassana retreat is not for you.
How to choose a meditation retreat: scheduling
Many retreats set strict schedules to make sure practitioners get as much as possible from said retreat. A schedule slots in time for meditation sessions, meals, talks, walks, yoga and other activities plus free time.
In general, you are expected to follow the schedule and show up at a particular session on time. Not everyone likes to work around schedules, especially on retreats that are supposed to take you away from “real life.” If this is you, remember to check whether there is a schedule and how flexible it is. The last thing you’d want is to feel trapped.
What do you look for when choosing a meditation retreat? Which one will you book?
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