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9 Top Meditation Retreats

<center>10 Top Meditation Retreats</center>

Courtesy Shambhala Mountain Center/ Steve Ross

Shambhala Mountain Center
Red Feather Lakes, Colorado

The location: The 600 pristine acres of Shambhala spread across a Rocky Mountain valley in the northern part of Colorado. The property includes extensive botanical gardens, a bird sanctuary, several spacious meditation halls, and, most dramatically, the Great Stupa of Dharmakaya, a traditional spired Buddhist shrine.

The practice: Buddhist meditation in a variety of forms. The program offerings at Shambhala range from week-long "Learn to Meditiate" retreats to multi-week intensive study for advanced practitioners; there are also specialized workshops for children, painters, and writers, and those who prefer to combine meditation with activities like canoeing and hiking.

The accommodations: 65 elegant, clean-lined single and double rooms, some of which have shared bathrooms. Single-sex dormitory-style rooms, and in the summer, platform tents with shared bathhouses, are also available.

Be mindful: The staff at Shambhala also leads "Sacred Journeys" several times a year in places like Bhutan, Nepal, Tibet, and Mongolia.

More information: Shambhala Mountain Center

From the article 10 Top Meditation Retreats

<center>10 Top Meditation Retreats</center>

Ken Seet/Corbis

The Middle Way Meditation Retreat
Loei, Thailand

The location: A compound surrounded by rolling green hills and lush tropical forest in northeastern Thailand (adjacent to Phu Ruea National Park, where the woodland-covered mountains are crisscrossed with hiking trails). The property encompasses several indoor and outdoor meditation spaces, waterfall-fed gardens, and an outdoor dining pavilion.

The practice: Dhammakaya meditation, a form of Tibetan Buddhist practice that focuses on the center of the body as both an energy center and a gateway to higher consciousness.

The accommodations: A cluster of spartan but immaculate wooden bungalows, with separate shared bathhouses. Fraternizing between sexes is discouraged, so men's and women's bungalows are in different areas.

Be mindful: Guests are expected to refrain from all destructive behavior while on the retreat, including telling lies and killing any living creature (including mosquitoes).

More information: Middle Way Meditation Retreat

From the article 10 Top Meditation Retreats

<center>10 Top Meditation Retreats</center>

Amit Bhargava/Corbis

Osho Meditation Resort
Pune, India

The location: A slick, modern 40-acre "campus" just outside Mumbai that includes extensive, manicured Zen gardens, a soaring meditation auditorium, seminar spaces set inside a complex of black space-age pyramids, and a few other very unorthodox amenities: tennis courts, a nightclub, and a mini-mall.

The practice: "Active meditations" are the signatures at Osho. Although traditional silent, seated sessions are practiced here, they're interspersed with meditative dancing, whirling, vocalizing, and power-breathing.

The accommodations: The Osho Guesthouse's 60 minimalist-chic double rooms could easily be mistaken for W Hotel accommodations—that is, without the TVs.

Be mindful: All guests at Osho must wear dark red robes during meditation sessions. This has to do with the belief of the resort's founder (also named Osho) that "the color maroon, when worn by many people meditating together, adds to the collective meditative energy."

More information: Osho Meditation Resort

From the article 10 Top Meditation Retreats

<center>10 Top Meditation Retreats</center>

Courtesy of Holy Isle

Holy Isle
Isle of Arran, Scotland

The location: A private, two-mile-long island just off the Isle of Arran, on Scotland's west coast. Meditation retreats take place at the north end of the island (at a modest enclave rather grandly called the Centre for World Peace and Health); walking paths lead along much of the rugged coastline and through the island's hilly, grassy interior.

The practice: Kagyu meditation is practiced here both by serious students of Tibetan Buddhism (the southern end of the island houses a dozen long-term residents, who live in isolated silence) and those who want to learn or deepen the practice. One of the most popular seminars on Holy Isle is "The ABC of Meditation," a beginning retreat led by visiting BBC actor-cum-Buddhist Alistair Appleton.

The accommodations: 65 beds are available at Holy Isle—some in basic single and double private rooms (with private washbasins but shared baths), some in dorm-style rooms. All are monastically furnished with plain bedsteads, dressers, and not much else.

Be mindful: Because of the island's delicate ecosystem (which includes centuries-old species such as Eriskay ponies, Saanen goats, and many indigenous plants), some areas shouldn't be explored on foot.

More information: Holy Isle

From the article 10 Top Meditation Retreats

<center>10 Top Meditation Retreats</center>

Courteney Coolidge

Green Gulch Farm Zen Center
Muir Beach, California

The location: An aromatic eucalyptus-wooded valley north of San Francisco that opens up onto Muir Beach and the Pacific Ocean. The 115-acre property includes several meditation and seminar spaces (one of them a spacious yurt), and a working organic farm and garden, where guests can attend workshops in organic cultivation, beekeeping, and edible plants.

The practice: Japanese Zen Buddhist meditation, of the traditional seated, silent variety, known as zazen. Those seeking intensive practice stay and work in the community for months at a time; others can choose shorter-term stays, where they participate in daily meditation sessions, seminars, and tea ceremonies.

The accommodations: 16 basic, streamlined single rooms with shared baths are available, most of them in the Japanese-style Lindisfarne Guest House with its skylit central atrium. There's also a single private cabin, Hope Cottage, set on a beautiful hillside a 25-minute uphill walk from the rest of the property.

Be mindful: Since Green Gulch is primarily a residential facility for serious zazen students, there isn't a lot of instruction at Green Gulch. Guests who already have a fairly developed meditation practice will feel most comfortable here.

More information: Green Gulch Farm Zen Center

From the article 10 Top Meditation Retreats

<center>10 Top Meditation Retreats</center>

Courtesy of Simple Peace

Simple Peace
Assisi, Italy

The location: The ancient Umbrian city of Assisi—the birthplace of Saint Francis—which blankets Mount Subasio and overlooks acres of olive groves. Many meditation sessions are held in the Assisi East-West Center, a serene vaulted space near the Cathedral of San Ruffino (a former 12th-century courthouse that Simple Peace founders Ruth and Bruce Davis renovated in 2000). Other meditation sessions take place in nearby monasteries, and outdoors in the surrounding countryside.

The practice: The Davises (who are husband and wife) bring together precepts of Western and Eastern spirituality in their retreats. Bruce, a scholar in the teachings of St. Francis, leads weeklong, largely silent meditation retreats both in Assisi and in the Rieti Valley (two hours south), where the saint first discovered his calling. Ruth, a longtime student in Eastern meditation-in-motion practices, enriches the silent sessions with guided Tai Chi and "sacred movement" rituals.

The accommodations: Ten modest bedrooms in a renovated historic Assisi monastery are available for retreat participants. Each room has a private bathroom, and all share a verdant garden and a terrace with a view over the valley below. Winding stone pathways/alleyways lead from the front gate through the backstreets of Assisi.

Be mindful: Participants of all religious faiths are welcomed at these retreats; Jews, Hindus, and Sufis (among others) have long been a part of Simple Peace's interfaith "contemplative community."

More information: Simple Peace

From the article 10 Top Meditation Retreats

<center>10 Top Meditation Retreats</center>

Courtesy of Insight Meditation Society

Insight Meditation Society
Barre, Massachusetts

The location: The IMS's 200-acre property—some of it rural, most of it wooded—surrounds a grand old mansion in central Massachusetts. The main "campus" includes dining and lodging facilities; there's also a separate Forest Refuge, set a few miles deeper into the countryside, for long-term retreats.

The practice: The Indian Buddhist traditions of vipassana (insight) and metta (loving kindness) form the backbone of daily life at IMS retreats; in practice, this involves a combination of seated and walking meditation—all of it in silence.

The accommodations: At the main retreat center, 79 sparely furnished single and small double rooms are available to guests. Rooms all have twin beds, chairs, pillows and blankets (lodgers bring their own sheets and towels), and thermostats for temperature control. Shared dorm-style bathrooms are on each floor; men and women do not share rooms and are usually assigned to separate floors.

Be mindful of: Since silent meditation can lead to heightened sensory awareness, the use of perfume, incense, scented products (and, of course, tobacco) is strongly discouraged.

More information: Insight Meditation Society

From the article 10 Top Meditation Retreats

<center>10 Top Meditation Retreats</center>

Jose Fuste Raga/Corbis

Rolling Meadows Meditation Retreats
Tulum, Mexico

The location: While its home base occupies a rural spread on the coast of central Maine, Rolling Meadows runs meditation retreats several times a year in Tulum, a stunning spot on Mexico's Yucatán peninsula where ancient Mayan ruins overlook the Caribbean Sea. The retreats take place at Retiro Maya, a rustic beachside camp with a palapa-roofed meditation center, a restaurant, and thatched cabanas.

The practice: Participants in the weeklong retreats follow a daily schedule that incorporates both yoga (a synthesis of hatha, Iyengar, and Desikachar viniyoga practices) and guided vipassana meditation.

The accommodations: The 13 thatch-roofed cabanas at Retiro Maya have private baths, tiled floors, king-size beds with mosquito nets, and doors that open wide to the sand and sea just outside. But this is a place for meditation, not indulgences: there's no electricity.

Be mindful: If you simply can't do without a ceiling fan or a light to read by before bed, Retiro Maya's restaurant keeps its generator going until 11 pm each night.

More information: Rolling Meadows Meditation Retreats

From the article 10 Top Meditation Retreats

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