Why Go To A Meditation Retreat?

Firstly what is a meditation retreat and how can it help you? Meditation is the ultimate ‘you time’. When your life is jam packed with a busy itinerary and stress levels are high; here’s a little opportunity to get off the treadmill, make a change and recuperate. Going to a meditation retreat takes us out of the daily grind that wears us down and offers you valuable time that you so badly need.

Relieve your stress

Scientific studies have shown that meditation has huge health benefits that affect your body, blood pressure, breathing, stress levels and metabolism – all of which are significantly important for your well-being. Would you like to be able to control your stress levels? Then a meditation retreat can kick start that process for you. Are you after a long term investment that you reap the benefits of years down the line? Meditation is perfect for you. You do nothing, and you’re rewarded with wide-ranging health benefits. Sounds too easy right?

Imagine what rewards you might accumulate from not just one session of meditation, but a period of time where meditation is your main focus in life. A meditation retreat might be something to consider, especially if life is all too much or feels a bit out of control.

What happens?

Meditation is a way of letting go of your worries and allows you to release yourself from the constant activities, ideas and emotions of the mind and the body. It is a way to clear out the stress, to clean up the emotions and to use your inner space to become calm and refreshed in order to restart your life with a new perspective. There are many different meditation techniques to help you attain this state of being. Deep meditation is the most common type that is used in all techniques, upon arriving in this state there is a sharp boost in the alpha rhythm of the brain; decreasing the breathing rate and oxygen consumption.  Not only that,  but your heart rate also slows down dramatically causing your blood pressure to decline, as well as your levels of lactate (this is associated with stress around the body). Overall you will feel calmer, less stressed and some people can even feel slightly dizzy after their first experience.

It’s hard to grasp the concept of physically removing oneself from ordinary distractions of everyday life because we all lead such busy and hectic lives.Though these retreats may promote different styles of meditation they all aim to send their participants home with the same tools that they have learnt: a foundation of spiritual practice that they can maintain long after they’ve returned to the racket of the outside world.

It is incredibly liberating when you don’t have to talk for a period of time, yes it is a bit freaky but no phones, no TV or newspapers is an idyllic picture for many people. Why not try it? It will take out many of life’s risks – just time for you to find yourself. By allowing yourself the opportunity to tune into your own mind and body for even a tiny moment on a small, but regular basis then in turn we will be rewarded by our bodies being able to function at full capacity. Whether your retreat is part of your annual calendar or even just half a day at a compassion meditation centre when you are feeling particularly stress – whatever works for you!

Where’s best to go?

If you are after a crowd free, serious peace seeking area then look no further, with the added advantage of 78 luxurious hotel rooms, or if you fancy something slightly more individual then why not book a villa with vast window for taking in all the breathtaking mountain views. All equipped with TVs and minibars (unusual for retreat destinations as they are normally cut off from everything) this is the ideal place to get started with your meditation. Located in Uttaranchal, India, the Ananda hotel in the Himalayas is picturesque with scenery from wall to wall. It is a 100 acre states in the foothills, and is set at 3,000 feet and has sweeping views over the Ganges River and nearby temples. You have many facilities here; from indulgent spas to several yoga and meditation pavilions set among acres of natural wildlife, you really are able to totally immerse yourself. At this retreat you will be offered one-to-one guided meditation sessions for those beginners who are unsure of their individual needs, from Buddhist techniques to yogic breathing; from indoors to outdoors the choice really is yours.

However if you fancy something a little more isolated then why not submerge yourself into a two mile long island just off of the Isle of Arran, on Scotland’s west coast, it’s called the Holy Isle for a reason; with walking paths along the scenic rugged coastline and though the islands secluded coves. With 65 beds available, some basic rooms and some more dorm-style rooms, if you are after luxury you won’t find it here, all are monastically furnished with basic amenities. However if this does intrigue you then they regularly practice the art of Kagyu meditation, which is focused on silent breathing and to deepen their understanding of meditation – not ideal for beginners!

Fancy something more refreshing and invigorating, all whilst under a warm sun? Then try Simple Peace, in Assisi, Italy. The ancient Umbrian city overlooks thousands of olive groves and monasteries for ultimate meditation surroundings. The Husband and Wife who run the establishment both found meditation after meeting and completely turned their lives around, giving up their jobs to open up a meditation resort – how inspiring! With ten modest rooms to choose from all oozing with history, each room has its own terrace view over the valley below.

Whether you fancy any of these retreats or prefer to find your own, be prepared to have lots of ‘you’ time cut off from the world completely, some may find this invigorating and some may find this challenging, especially for those who are attached to their iPhones and tablets. Try to find your inner self and really expand your self-growth, I promise you, you won’t regret it.

Karen enjoys having time to relax outside her busy worklife. When she is looking for some quality time to herself she seeks advice from expert teachers in mindfulness courses for a more in depth introduction to the practice and benefits of being mindful. When she’s not managing her two businesses, she loves to spend time outdoors with her grandchildren and taking her 3 dogs for walks.

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