Nine Great Meditation Retreats to Find Your Inner Zen

garden at Simple Peace meditation retreat in Assisi, Italy
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Andrea Angelucci

Oases around the world that turn the journey inward.

Simple Peace, Assisi, Italy

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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: Four 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, living room with a fireplace, and a terrace with a view over the valley below. Winding stone pathways 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

garden at Simple Peace meditation retreat in Assisi, Italy

Nine Great Meditation Retreats to Find Your Inner Zen

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: Four 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, living room with a fireplace, and a terrace with a view over the valley below. Winding stone pathways 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

Andrea Angelucci
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