wellness travel
Helen Hatzis
Helen Hatzis
December 2, 2016 ·  7 min read

The Best Meditation Retreats For Beginners and Pros to Rest And Recharge

If you could do one thing, for just ten minutes a day, that would increase your happiness while improving your mental health long-term, would you try it? Millions of people worldwide are already saying yes to the well-studied benefits of meditation.

The World’s 12 Best Meditation Retreats For All Levels

Following the rise in popularity of this ancient form of mental relaxation, resorts are popping up around the world, focusing on teaching mindfulness through the simple act of meditation.

Aimed at everyone from serious meditators looking for guidance, to beginners wondering where to start, these resorts blend traditional meditation classes with a broad range of activities that stimulate the body and mind.

Whether you’re traveling alone, honeymooning with your partner, or making memories with a group of friends, these resorts promise to leave you revitalized, while giving you the skills to lead a more balanced life.

1. Omega Institute for Holistic Studies

Rhinebeck, New York


Courtesy of Riley Kaminer via Flickr

For anyone in the New York area, serenity is only a train ride away. The Omega institute, resting on their 200-acre Hudson Valley property, uses classes like Zen archery and moving meditations to teach their students mindfulness, along with more traditional Vipassana meditation techniques.

Omega also offers a sanctuary for daily group meditations, as well as nature walks around the refreshing property. This NY paradise is focused on sustainability for the mind and body, meaning your 3 mostly vegetarian daily meals will be prepared farm-to-table fresh.

2. The Raj Ayurveda Health Spa

Fairfield, Iowa


Courtesy of The Raj

This Iowa health spa aims to reawaken the body’s natural healing abilities, restoring balance to the lives of their guests by showing them how every aspect of their lives are interconnected. Ayurveda, a 6,000 year old Indian system of preventative health care, focuses on yoga, meditation, nutrition, massage, and herbs that help balance your body and mind.

Meals served here are vegetarian and low fat, and designed to work with the program to heal the body and clear out toxins.

The Raj is also teaches Transcendental Meditation, so you can sign up for one of their TM retreats and learn the practice from a trained instructor.

3. The Esalen Institute

Big Sur, California


Courtesy of the Esalen Institute

Set yourself free on California’s spiritual northern coast. The Esalen Institute has been drawing visitors to their ocean side retreat for years, with writers like Henry Miller, Hunter S. Thompson, and actor Steve McQueen appearing on the guest list.

The meditation workshops offer programs in musical mindfulness, healing arts, and relaxing sessions in a cliff-side hot spring, where clothing is optional. Ocean kayaking, surfing, nature hikes, and runs along the coast all help this retreat live up to its California name.

4. Stillpoint Lodge

Halibut Cove, Alaska


Courtesy of Still Point Lodge

Become immersed in the crisp, clean air of the Alaskan coast. Let hills of stoic pines surround you while you take a break from the daily grind. Fill your days kayaking past glaciers and watching majestic whales rise up from the sea, or with daily yoga and meditation classes.

This retreat isn’t short on fresh food. They offer a variety of locally caught fish to go with the vegetables grown in their organic garden. Head to the rope labyrinth for some walking meditation, before coming home to a freshly-caught meal. If you happen to be a night owl, their silent meditation space is open 24 hours.

5. Miraval Resort and Spa

Tucson, Arizona


Courtesy of Miraval Resort

This resort in Arizona is an oasis of healing. Miraval’s retreat is designed to encourage you to live in the moment through their culinary, art, photography, and of course, meditation classes. It’s the ideal place to explore and discover yourself while you explore the surrounding desert.

Try out their rock climbing, trail running, and even yoga running excursions.

The seasonal menu adds to their holistic healing experience, with an ever changing selection of organic dishes. Find freshness at every meal whether you’re vegan or omnivore, and sample honey harvested from Miraval’s very own on-site hives.

6. The Middle Way Meditation Retreat

Loei, Thailand


Courtesy of the Middle Way Retreat

Higher consciousness is the goal at this forest retreat in Northern Thailand, and Dhammakay meditation is the vehicle.

The Middle Way sees the center of your body as a gateway to inner peace and enlightenment. The motto of this non-profit retreat is, “balancing your life, brightening your mind.” Their practice, taught through meditation classes and a non-violent philosophy, aims to help visitors find peace within the chaos of their lives.

7. Ala Kukui

Maui, Hawaii


Courtesy of Ala Kukui

Let the Hawaiian sun restore your exhausted cells, while Pacific waves lap the shore with a relaxing rhythm. Ala Kakui stands for “pathway of illumination,” and that might be just what you find at this island resort.

Courses in writing, yoga, and organic gardening aim to restore depleted energy and help guests to find peace through contact with nature. Ala Kukui’s healing campus is known for effectively helping war veterans recover from PTSD, and to find inner peace.

8. Holy Isle

Isle of Arran, Scotland


Courtesy of The Holy Isle

Rugged coastlines surround this 2-mile private island retreat off the coast of west Scotland. A delicate ecosystem of rare species awaits you on the next step of your personal journey. This retreat is a favorite among serious students of Tibetan Buddhism, but they welcome anyone looking to improve their practice.

Classes are held in the Centre for World Peace and Health at the north end of the island classes are held, while an area on the southern tip hosts a handful of long-term visitors living in seclusion.

Humble but comfortable accommodations help maintain a focus on the island’s unique environment, and on deepening your meditation practice.

9. Harmony Dawn Retreat

Ontario, Canada

Maple trees and bubbling streams surround you at this Ontario retreat. Harmony Dawn wants to help you break from life’s limiting patterns and gain a deeper understanding of self and the world. Discover silence and appreciation through nature walks, dharma talks, and revitalizing Qigong exercises.

Learn how to make organic meals that will nourish you from the inside out, while the beautiful Canadian wildlife heals you from the outside in. Visit in the spring to take advantage of detoxing weekends and interpretive dance.

10. Simple Peace

Assisi, Italy


Courtesy of Shutterstock

A hospitable team of Italian husband and wife run the week-long meditation retreat at Simple Peace.

Renovated from a historic monastery, Bruce and Ruth’s estate now invites people of all faiths to connect with inner peace and stillness. The center overlooks acres of olive groves and rolling hills, a gentle landscape that adds to the calming effects of their mostly silent meditations.

11. Shambhala Mountain Center

Red Feather Lakes, Colorado

Cell phones don’t work at the Shambala Mountain Center, which is your first sign that this 600-acre Rocky Mountain retreat is the place to unplug and unwind. Guests can design their own personal retreat from a selection of programs and activities including botany, astronomy, and guided meditations.

Sleeping arrangements are as diverse as the schedule, with everything from lodge suites featuring all the luxuries, to rugged tent platforms where you can be immersed in the Colorado wilderness. Vegans and meat-eaters will both be well accommodated here.

12. Standard Spa

Miami, Florida


Courtesy of Standard Hotels

Miami is known for sunny beaches and night clubs that go till sunrise, but Standard Spa is a retreat that shows the city’s gentler side. Garden fire-pit meditations, healing through chakras, and crystal sonic-sound baths are the highlights of this Floridian getaway.

The Standard Spa takes a holistic approach to well-being, focusing on nutrition, fitness, and even a bit of life coaching. Their hydro-therapy program includes an arctic plunge pool, and an algae-infused mud lounge. Mediterranean cuisine is on the menu, with a fresh selection of raw and organic foods to choose from.

Image Sources: