Meditation retreats are on the rise, popping up everywhere from Iceland to California. But although some of these are ultra-luxe, “once-in-a-lifetime” experiences, there are now plenty of affordable meditation retreats to choose from too. There’s more competition in the wellness world than ever before, which means there’s also more choice and a whole lot of variety.
What a Meditation Retreat Usually Involves
Everyone has their own definition of affordable. But when you consider everything that a retreat typically includes, and the fact that the good ones are an investment in your health and happiness, you might decide they’re worth it.
Retreats typically include guided meditation sessions, two or three daily vegetarian meals, accommodation, and often some additional activities. Most retreat venues offer shared rooms, or you can pay more and have a room to yourself. But one of the loveliest things about meditation retreats is the opportunity to meet like-minded people. And sharing a room can often be a fast-track to a great friendship when you’re open to it.
Where to Find Affordable Meditation Retreats
One of the best places to find affordable yoga and meditation retreats is the website, Book Yoga Retreats. If you’re looking for a pure meditation retreat, you might be better off looking at its sister site, Book Meditation Retreats. I’ve found that there’s usually an overlap between the two, with some retreats appearing on both booking sites.
Both websites list a seemingly endless number of yoga and meditation retreats around the world – ranging widely in price, location, and quality. India and Thailand have long been associated with affordable yoga and meditation retreats, but there’s also a huge selection of places in Europe and the US. Read through user reviews for places that catch your interest, as these are a good indication of quality.
Escaping on a wellness retreat doesn’t have to involve getting on plane. If you’d prefer to stay closer to home, look for meditation centres in your own country. Also, for anyone who’s new to holistic wellness, don’t feel like you need to jump straight into a seven-day retreat. A one-day mindfulness workshop or a three-day yoga and meditation retreat might be just enough to get you started.
Try a Buddhist Meditation Centre
For affordable meditation retreats, Buddhist meditation centres often offer great options. Dzogchen Beara, on the south-west coast of Ireland, runs themed meditation retreats throughout the year. Their retreats are usually priced at €370 and include daily lunch and dinner. Accommodation isn’t included in Dzogchen Beara’s retreats, but there are a number of B&Bs in the area.
Major cities usually have at least one main Buddhist centre. In England, the Manchester Buddhist Centre runs one-day retreats, evening courses, and free drop-in classes. The Dublin Buddhist Centre also offers a range of courses and one-day workshops. These urban locations mean you could have a city break and a meditation retreat in the same weekend.
Yoga and Meditation Retreats
Yoga breaks often include an element of meditation. If you’re a fan of yoga, or if you’re new to meditation, a retreat that combines them might suit you best. My Yogic Adventure, a company that runs affordable yoga and meditation retreats around the world, incorporates both practices in a balanced way. I participated in one of their retreats in Serbia. It was a week of meditation sessions, combined with long hikes, flowing yoga classes, and outdoor adventures.
For Marija, co-founder of My Yogic Adventure and the leader of our retreat, the aim is to provide affordable meditation retreats. She wants to encourage people to deepen their practice, immerse themselves in nature, and find stillness in simple, but comfortable, surroundings.
During my retreat with My Yogic Adventure, our small group stayed in a beautiful wooden guesthouse in the mountains. Run by a welcoming Serbian couple, the guesthouse felt authentic in every way. We spent sunny afternoons swimming in the small, outdoor pool and in a nearby lake. We took turns relaxing in a hammock under the trees and ate hearty, homemade meals. It was simple but wonderful.
Meditation and Adventure Holidays
The Salty Pelican Hostel in Cascais, Portugal, combines meditation with yoga, surfing, rock-climbing, and SUP. If you’re someone who wants to try meditation, but also stay active, this is the kind of retreat to look out for.
I booked the four-day yoga and meditation package at the Salty Pelican. My retreat included morning yoga sessions overlooking the ocean and afternoon yin yoga sessions. I also added in a surfing lesson and still had plenty of free time to explore Cascais. Salty Pelican retreats are best suited to people who want some flexibility and freedom. There’s a fun and sociable atmosphere and the yoga classes are suitable for beginners.
Choosing Your First Meditation Retreat
Given the huge number of locations, teaching styles, and meditation techniques, choosing a retreat can be overwhelming. It’s probably best to start by deciding where you want to go. If sun and sea is your thing, have a look at popular retreat destinations like Portugal, Spain, and Bali. Or if you’re serious about taking your practice to the next level, there are month-long retreats in India and Thailand.
Some retreats focus on a particular technique. Some focus on chakra meditation, while others are all about Vipassana. But most retreats are open to all levels, from beginners through to advanced, so it’s best to drop your expectations and go in with an open mind.
The Benefits of Wellness Retreats
Whether you choose a pure meditation retreat, a meditation and yoga holiday, or an all-around wellness break, the benefits can be huge. There are all the obvious benefits of meditating regularly – relaxation, stress-reduction, and a less fuzzy brain. But there are other perks too. You might find yourself leaving a retreat with extra energy, confidence, and a bunch of new friends.
A meditation and yoga holiday can also be a great way to ease yourself into the solo travel experience. Most of the people I’ve met on retreats have been on their own. They’ve been excited about taking a break from their real lives and very much open to chatting. And when you’re up at 6.30am together every morning, bleary-eyed and wearing a jumble of comfy clothes, you get close fairly fast.
Taking time out of a backpacking trip to relax is another good reason to do a retreat. A meditation retreat can be a good opportunity to recharge before the next section of a round-the-world trip. A chance to step away from the bars and restaurants and focus on self-care can only be a good thing, even if it’s just for a week.
There are plenty of affordable meditation retreats out there, it’s just a matter of choosing one to suit your interests. One retreat might not change your life. But no matter which one you book, you’ll get something out of it. It could be the confidence boost that comes from pushing out of your comfort zone or the clarity that results from having time and space to be still.
Looking for affordable meditation retreats?
- Lots of meditation and yoga retreats welcome complete beginners, as well as more advanced students.
- Seriously, don’t worry about going solo – you’ll meet other solo travellers.
- There are lots of last-minute meditation and yoga retreat deals on BookMeditationRetreats.com
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