Modern life can grind even the best of us down, and so it is little surprise that we seek to escape it whenever vacation time comes around.
Outside the usual sun-bed and Piña Colada destination retreats, however, there is rising popularity for an alternative that aims at resetting both body and mind through mindfulness and meditation in nature.
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While some may travel to distant lands for a silent meditation retreat, other more flexible offerings can be found closer to home across North America, offering transformation based on Eastern principles.
So, put down your phone, pull up your widest harem pants, and follow Mr. Hudson to any one of the best spiritual retreats in the world.
Down to earth yet with all your creature comforts, Song Saa promotes bespoke spa and wellbeing retreats focused on either detoxifying, blessing, or healing over three to five days
Here are the top 10 spiritual awareness and retreat centers in the world;
Table of Contents
1. Vana – Uttarakhand, India
To honor the cultural influence of India within the wellness community, we start our list of top meditation retreats in Uttarakhand where the 21-acre wellness center Vana lies.
Combining Ayurveda, Tibetan healing, yoga, and other holistic therapies, Vana is the definitive retreat aimed at re-centering the self, amidst sleek, modern lodges enclosed by tranquil mango and lychee orchards.
While away the days in the center’s meditation cave, shrine room, or spiritual study library before coming together with other ‘Vanavasis’ (forest dwellers) at sundown for musical performances and locally-sourced, vegan-friendly (if you wish) meals.
2. Isha – McMinnville, Tennessee
From the birthplace of yoga to the certifiable birthplace of country music, we head to Tennessee.
Rural McMinnville is where you’ll find Isha (the Institute of Inner Sciences) a place designed for ultimate wellness, blending organized yoga and meditation programs in serene surroundings.
Isha is centered on a giant golden dome where its founder, Indian yogi and author Jaggi Vasudev, runs ‘Inner Engineering’ programs, dedicated to raising human consciousness and promoting global harmony through the ancient science of yoga.
On the peripheries, meanwhile, guests can enjoy waterfall walking trails and mountain biking to further enhance their chi.
3. Song Saa – Cambodia
Based on a private island in Cambodia, our next Vipassana retreat, Song Saa offers barefoot luxury to a ‘T’.
Down to earth yet with all your creature comforts, Song Saa promotes bespoke spa and wellbeing retreats focused on either detoxifying, blessing, or healing over three to five days.
Hemmed in by jungle, Song Saa brings together meditation, massage, bio-rhythm sessions, and bath rituals, all blessed by their resident Buddhist monks.
4. Sunrise Springs Integrative Wellness Resort – Santa Fe, New Mexico
Fusing both Eastern and Western lifestyles in the sun-soaked US city of Santa Fe, New Mexico, is the Sunrise Springs Integrative Wellness Resort.
Professionally led with an emphasis on medicinal healing thanks to its staff of doctors, nurses, and psychiatrists, Sunrise Springs is a solid choice for those wanting a mental health plan backed by science.
As well as access to medical facilities, guests’ time is balanced with softer healing activities, such as animal interaction and free relaxation in a tranquil setting.
With benefits lasting long after you have departed, Sunrise Springs aims to improve health, relationships, and greater self-awareness through concepts of mindfulness and compassion for others.
A 17th-century monastery turned spiritual healing retreat in the old walled city center, Monastère des Augustines, retains its original features and antique furniture while catering to holistic health
5. Kalani – Hawaii
Stay in the States for Hawaii-based Kalani, the largest retreat center on Hilo with an added emphasis on adventure.
While there are endless opportunities for guests to immerse themselves in yoga, meditation, and Jacuzzi sessions, what’s great about Kalani is its added facilities including a pool, gym, and life skills studios for learning the likes of Lauhala weaving, hula, tai chi, and dance.
You won’t find a phone or television in your room, but the center’s selection of art, preserved heritage, and fine 120-acre jungle backdrop will ensure there’s more than enough to feast your eyes on.
6. Esalen Institute – Big Sur, California
Renowned for its epic natural landscapes and mouth-watering Pinot noir, California provides travelers with the perfect setting for wellness.
The Big Sur’s Esalen Institute is one worthwhile resting spot, located on 120 acres with ocean and mountain views on all sides.
The main lodge at Esalen houses a number of facilities including a dining room, deck, sunroom, and kitchen, with premium private suites and shared rooms available.
Guests can opt to attend various workshops such as tai chi, mindfulness, yoga, meditation, spiritual awareness, and more.
The popular all-inclusive weekend package covers both lodging and activities, with starting rates at $405USD for its basic accommodation.
7. Monastère des Augustines – Quebec, Canada
For a feeling of traveling back in time, get yourself to Quebec, Canada, where Monastère des Augustines awaits. A 17th-century monastery turned spiritual healing retreat in the old walled city center, Monastère des Augustines, retains its original features and antique furniture while now catering to holistic health.
Choose between a self-guided meditation retreat, yoga, or sleep rejuvenation program, or even come as a pilgrim to seek spiritual guidance from the few remaining nuns in residence.
Both friendly and authentic, this ex-monastery offers a twist on the usual wellness offerings, blending culture and history together with ultimate zen.
8. Temenos Retreat Center – McGregor, South Africa
A fusion of ancient Greek healing and South African hospitality is the McGregor-based Temenos Retreat Center, which offers a hefty choice of wellness weeks, in addition to silent retreat and Vipassana meditation retreat options.
Besides the requisite yoga, Temenos brings its guest’s aromatherapy, South African flower essence readings, and a vegetarian menu to die for (the lemon meringue pie especially so!).
The forever-in-bloom grounds at Temenos allow guests to embrace silent reflection in nature with morning walks through the entire reserve before healing sessions with the center’s trained therapists.
9. Ghost Ranch – Abiquiu, New Mexico
Our second New Mexican offering is the mysteriously named Ghost Ranch, based within the dusty sunburnt landscape of Abiquiu overlooking cliffs and canyons.
Formally attended by artist Georgia O’Keefe, Ghost Ranch is a getaway to remember, where guests can join any number of unique retreat programs, including classes dedicated to sacred Tibetan art, women’s leadership, and soulful marriage.
Presbyterian-run, Ghost Ranch has its own worship center, but ultimately the retreat is about letting go of the daily routine and healing the self through relaxation, surrounded by some of the world’s most spectacular desert views.
10. Shakti 360° Leti – India
Returning to India for the zenith of spiritual vacations, we take an overnight train journey from the capital of Delhi to Kathgodam.
Aside from a hub for Himalayan lumberjacks, Kathgodam is also the meeting point for guests seeking Shakti 360° Leti, a perfectly remote spiritual retreat way up in the Himalayas.
From Kathgodam, resort staff travel with guests on an eight-hour car journey followed by a short mountain hike to reach the famed Himalayan lodge elevated at 8,000 feet.
Overlooking the peaks that come between northwest India and Nepal, Shakti 360° Leti is a sustainable sanctuary crafted from stone, wood, and glass offering various wellness packages.
Try the Shakti Kumaon Village Walk Experience, a cultural hiking experience through remote Himalayan villages, past Hindu temples, and local schools, before recuperating in tip-top luxury at the base.
Fill the rest of your days with yoga and guided meditation while filling your belly with fair-trade, locally-grown produce. Namaste indeed.
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