Life is like walking on the egg shells with a smile on the face. You cannot back off from the stressful moments and the curve balls thrown at you. Responsibilities, forced choices, and relationships are some of the areas of your life that constantly needs assurance, attention, and admiration. Seems hectic right?
We all live different lives – some people live for themselves and some immolate for the needs of others, but that does not guarantee reduced expectations and problems. What stresses you out and what you do to keep that anxiety at bay? We all know that tripping over problems is not going to pay off well and it is important to stay in the moment. In a nutshell, there is no escape.
We freak out, get anxious, and doubt our patterns, capabilities, character and almost everything in between. But, really, is that the real problem? We are humans and we cannot be perfect all the times? Is there a way out? Can you stop the thoughts and the unnecessary chatter?
Meditation, mindfulness, Dhyana, Samadhi, positive energy flow, call it anything. A way to achieve optimal health and mindfulness at the same time! You know the sequence – inhale, hold, exhale, but are you doing it? It is time to step up your game, be courageous, and step out of your comfort zone. Go find a meditation retreat.
Why Meditation Retreat
Sometimes, you just need a vacation where you can sit down in silence and contemplate life. Don’t you? But, why should you go to a place to meditate? You are not unique or different; many people out there perceive retreats or even meditation as just a tool to temporarily quiet the inner cacophony. Retreats are not perceived as a journey to a higher self, rather a digital nomenclature to present things in a prettier way. How exactly are these retreats different? First thing first, a retreat is a way to take you back in time when life was all about smiling in front of worries and laughing your heart out. This vacation is not just about clicking pictures and eating street food at a far-flung place but a way to disconnect from the monotony, find answers to life’s difficult questions and just clearing the headspace.
It is because of this reason why retreats are planned in a totally different way. These health vacation packages are designed to serve the travelers in the best possible way- physically, mentally and spiritually. Now that’s something unusual. Meditation Retreats extend the concept and boundaries of stereotypical holiday idea by allowing the traveler to stay in solitude, meet new people, get acquainted with new cultures, and collaborate with everyone on a whole new level. Either you will learn the perfect way to meditate, or polish your existing skills. Every day will be a new beginning without worries, daily stress or monotony.
How Can You Find One?
A travel is not always about adventure, hullaballoo, and ascending heights. Sometimes, it’s about going inside, facing your demons, and unraveling the barony of the inner world. This clearly indicates that you have to follow a separate protocol to find a suitable retreat. This is not about finding a website because there is a plethora of these on the internet. What is more special is finding the one that matches your requirement, purpose and soul. Here is how you can find the best meditation retreats:
- Look beyond the vacation notion. Watch out for special packages that offer detox, Yoga sessions, and walks in the nature. There are many vacation packages that happily offer these
- Always choose a retreat booking website that shares a good online reputation, has customer reviews or atleast been awarded with some accreditations or rewards.
- Look for teachers with good professional profile and reputation. Seek to learn under Gurus who come from a deepened traditional background. Do not fall for false marketing banters.
- Always check for customer reviews. Many websites now openly showcase candid customer or traveler experience.
- Be realistic of your fitness levels and physical needs. You do not want to end up signing up for something that frustrates you more than making you happy. For instance, meditation retreats that revolve around Buddhism shall ask you to get up early morning. If that is not your deal, then skip it.
- Do you want solitude or a social experience? Choose a meditation retreat that matches your personality. Do not end up booking something that gives you a headache more than peace.
- Let’s be realistic. Nothing comes for free, not even water. So, make sure you check all the prices enquire about the initial deposits, cancellation fees, and other overhead costs.
What should an Ideal Retreat Center be Like?
Everyone is unique, different, and beautiful in their own ways. What suits you might not suit the person sitting next to you, and this normal. What is an ideal retreat center? How to make sure you chose the best? There is no rule to assure that or a set of protocol to pin down the best one. Well, price and packages are some of the criteria to screen the top ones but choosing that one center that fulfills in every single way- well, it is just like choosing a partner. You will never know what you will get into. However, you can list down some of your own priorities, choices, and lifestyle habits to make sure that you pick up the good one:
- Check for basic amenities. Are you comfortable staying like a Yogi or a millennial new-age traveler? Do you need a couch to sleep or you are comfortable sleeping on the floor? Ask as many questions as you can.
- Check for the food menu. Why? Because, you can be some one who is a picky-eater, vegan, vegetarian, pescatarian or just about anything in between. You have to make sure that you fuel your body the correct way.
- Are you a beach person? Or, do you love wilderness? Choose a retreat center that is stationed in the desired location.
- Are there any social gatherings or spiritual discussions offered as a part of the package? These can be a better way to connect with people, teachers and probably make new friends.
- Can you take up voluntary work? Like serving people food, helping the crew at the center or pitching in for some garden work? If you like to stay at the forefront for good, then this is the right center for you.
Mindfulness: Expectation vs Reality
Heard stories about people who travel across oceans to participate in a meditation retreat and later spend the days meditating in a forest, on a beach or in a cottage? Does it intrigue or intimidate you? Forget about those slender models sitting in a meditative pose on a poster because reality is not always about quirky colors and happy faces.
A meditation retreat shall push your limits to extreme. Sitting in one posture for more than an hour at a random quiet place is not something you would expect but luckily, this is the real deal. People go on a retreat with high expectations, desires and dreams of coming back vibrating in higher energies. Meditation sure does help you relax and go within to unveil the dark sides of your personality but believe it or not, it is not at all a pretty sight.
Here is what you can expect at a Meditation Retreat, so that you do not end up dry as hell:
- You are habitual of sitting in an air-conditioned office environment and taking coffee breaks multiple times a day. Well, bumpy road ahead! Meditation is about giving your all to that very moment, which means no 10-minute breaks in between and no gossip. Sit at one position and find your way to peace.
- There is a chance of you dozing off several times a day or may be during the meditation session. The practice is new to you and it will take up a lot of your energy, even if it is about sitting at one position.Since you are so used to a stressful fast life that a sudden quietness in your surrounding and peace shall irk your soul at first. Just go with the flow.
- Food is one thing that supports your mood, anger and so on. Imagine not getting delicious food at a retreat or something that does not excite the taste buds? However, mindfulness shall teach you to take every bite with a positive vibe and chew it mindfully.
Spiritual Awakening & the Pain
Finding a perfect meditation retreat is not a difficult task, if you have the desire to find one, and the urge to dig one. However, what no one tells you about is the spiritual awakening and the transition you experience during the stay. Even though, this is not a requisite for pinning down a retreat, you still must know this very aspect. You will meet new people at a retreat, talk to them and soak up their pain in the form of energies. All these vibes intertwine with your aura and affect your mind and soul in the most unusual ways. During a meditation retreat, you will be taught to check your inner demons and this is not going to be pretty at all. At the end of the battle, you will be surprised to know about your injured boundaries and self-respect. You will go through a lot of changes spiritually and this is quite painful for many people. So, do not fret over losing those false friends who have been feeding on your energy for long.
A born nomad, Om is always on the lookout for interesting places to visit. It took him 25 years of his life to realize where his true calling lies, but once that was done, there’s been no looking back. Since the last ten years that he is on the go, he has been sharing his travel experiences by writing about them. Currently, he’s blogging at Retreat Kula.