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Yoga and Meditation Retreats

Derived from the Latin word ‘meditatio’ and verb ‘meditari’, it means “to think, contemplate, devise, ponder”. Meditation also refers to the seventh of the limbs of yoga in Patanjali’s yoga sutras, this step is called dhyana in Sanskrit. Meditation refers to a mental and spiritual state

Looking for a great silent meditation or vipassana retreat but not sure where to start or how to choose? First, you need to know the fundamentals including what principles make a silent meditation retreat an authentic experience and then you should know what to expect. It is generally encouraged that anyone participating in a silent meditation retreat have pre-existing meditation experience. Take a look below for the best tips on vipassana retreats, the must-know details and some of our highly recommended locations for a silent retreat experience.

Yoga and Meditation Retreats

The Best Vipassana Meditation Retreats Around the World

What is Vipassana Meditation? How is it different from other types of meditation?

There are two types of meditation according to the ancient Theravada Pali texts. One in which clear awareness of the present moment is cultivated and another style in which the meditator is focused on one singular item, such as awareness of breath, for an extended period of time without becoming distracted, culminating in a deeper sense of calm or tranquility while enhancing a person’s capacity for concentration.

 

The first style of mediation, during which the practitioner is slowly building more profound awareness of the present moment and dropping illusory concepts that stand in their way of liberation, is normally practiced during a vipassana meditation retreat. It is considered the oldest meditation practice in existence, a teaching shared through a lesson given by Buddha himself.

What is a Silent Meditation Retreat?

A silent meditation retreat, also sometimes called a Vipassana or Insight Meditation retreat, typically lasts 10 days. During the 10 days of Vipassana Retreats or Silent Meditation Retreats, all participants agree to sit in daylong silent meditation normally beginning at 4am and abide by the following requirements:

 

  • No Killing
  • No Stealing
  • No Lying
  • No Sexual Misconduct
  • No Intoxicants
  • No Writing
  • No Talking
  • No Eye Contact
  • No Communicating

The Best Silent & Vipassana Retreats In Asia

Dhamma Sīmanta in Lamphun, Chiang Mai, Thailand

Dhamma Sīmanta in Lamphun, Thailand is a meditation retreat in the Chiang Mai region of Thailand. This vipassana retreat center in Thailand is the sixth of its kind to be established in the vipassana meditation tradition led by S.N. Goenka and his assistants. If you are looking for a reliable and traditional vipassana retreat in Chiang Mai, this multilingual institution of meditation is a great option, offering 10 day courses for newcomers and pre-existing students along with 20 day courses for pupils who have shown great dedication to their tradition. Click here to apply for your next 10 day meditation retreat in Thailand.

Bali Silent Retreat

The Bali Silent Retreat center is located only an hour and a half Northwest from Ubud. Situated on protected land with mountain views, this property offers a serene atmosphere for reflection and relaxation, including a labyrinth for walking meditations, a crying bench for emotional release in private, medicine herb and vegetable gardens plus so much more. Local hot springs are in walking distance and you can check their daily yoga & meditation schedule here. With a diversity of other activities and workshops available in addition to their daily schedule, this silent retreat center in Bali is guaranteed to be an inspiring experience. (Note: This property is not considered a vipassana center. It is a yoga and silent meditation retreat center.)

Looking for a Meditation Retreat in Nepal?

So was the author of this article on Independent. She found a vipassana retreat in Nepal through the same tradition listed in the Thailand section above; this one named Dhamma Shringa. Suzanne Fisher writes about her experience in a 10 Day Buddhist Vipassana Retreat in Nepal, describing her personal insights and hurdles with humour, culminating in a very well balanced story from a newcomer’s point of view. Towards the middle of her article, she explains how her “original goal of enlightenment had been exchanged for making it to lunch” on the first day.

Needless to say, meditation retreats can be very challenging for beginners, however if you already have some experience, you will at least have a better idea of what to expect. Nepal is a wonderful, ancient, culturally & spiritually rich epicenter for meditation in South Asia – one which is definitely considered a top destination for meditation retreats in Asia.

Great Meditation Retreats in the United Kingdom

The Holy Isle: Buddhist Meditation Retreats in Scotland

Treat yourself to some time away in the Scottish Isles during the summer season, meditating with some of the world’s most accomplished teachers at the Center for World Peace and Health on the northside of Holy Isle, Scotland, United Kingdom. Although their offerings are not exclusively silent meditations or vipassana, the project does abide by Five Golden Rules and is run by a Tibetan Buddhist Master, Lama Yeshe Losal Rinpoche.

Silent Meditation at Satipanya in England

The Insight Meditation taught at Satipanya is based in a Burmese tradition which was developed after World War II. The focus of these silent meditation retreats in England is on development of “Metta,” or goodwill, inclusive of the following characteristics: love, compassion, sympathetic joy and equanimity, all taught to develop without limitation. The vipassana retreat offerings at Satipanya include longer and shorter stays; to learn more or book, click here!

The Best Silent & Vipassana Retreats In The United States

A Great Insight Retreat for Beginners in New York

Looking for an introduction to silent, insight meditation retreats but not sure where to start? Well, if you live in or near New York, you might want to check out this Insight Meditation Workshop for beginners, offered by the Omega Institute. This three day retreat hosts multiple workshops on Vipassana which are perfect for beginners or professionals who would like to learn to support their clients with insight meditation techniques. The facilitator, Matthew Daniell, has over 20 years experience with meditation and yoga and the daily open classes available on the retreat center grounds provide a diversity of options the enjoy your free time.

Esalen Institute Meditation Retreat in California

Esalen Retreat center is known worldwide to provide a range of opportunities for cultivating spiritual and personal insight from traditional master classes & teachers to cutting edge workshops by facilitators from around the world. Esalen Institute hosts silent meditation retreats regularly in addition to yoga & meditation retreats, introduction workshops to mindfulness meditation and much more. Plus there is always the option of staying without attending a workshop to focus on your personal development on your own terms. Have a look at all they have to offer on their website here and enjoy!

Sustainability, Kindness and Diversity at Shambala Retreat Center in Colorado

Considering an exceptional silent meditation experience in Colorado? Shambala Mountain Center is hosts an open house concept blended with yoga and meditation classes plus all kinds of mindfulness and meditation workshop experiences one could ponder. Shambala Mountain Retreat serves as Colorado’s most distinguished retreat center, providing opportunities to explore vipassana with neuroscience (“Neurodharma”) along with space dedicated to explore the concept of suffering as it is defined by the traditional Theraveda Buddhist path. In addition to such workshops and silent meditation retreats in Colorado, Shambala also offers an expansive menu of other workshops to choose from, year round. To learn more, click here.