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What is a Meditation Retreat?

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  • Written By: wiseGEEK Writer
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 20 October 2018
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A meditation retreat can be defined in a number of ways, given the variety of these retreats offered to the public. They are typically a time to get away from the workaday world and focus inward using many different meditative practices like yoga or Buddhism. Other spiritual leanings might be offered in a meditative retreat and there are those that focus on Christianity, Judaism and other religions or spiritual beliefs. Some retreats don’t specify a type of religious leaning and simply offer work on the practice of meditation.

Amount of time it takes to go on a meditation retreat can very much depend on programs offered. Some have a specified week or more that people will stay at the retreat location. They typically have things like meals provided, though some retreats offer cabins with refrigerators so people can prepare their own food. Other times people might only stay for a day or two at a nearby retreat location. There are certainly many centers that offer weekend retreats, or even single day events.

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Activities at a meditation retreat may be mandated or strongly encouraged, or people can feel free to sit, think, read and do whatever else they like on the retreat grounds. People heading on individual retreats could have the most flexibility in this respect, but it can vary at each location. For those who want the most privacy or want to pursue activities when they feel like it, finding centers that have more freeform activities and that give the greatest flexibility can be a good idea.

Something else to look for in a meditation retreat is the type of people most welcome there. Certain centers have whole family retreats that allow parents to meditate or participate in quieter activities while children are given more spirited play opportunities during the day. While these retreats might be wonderful for families, participating in individual retreats where peace and quiet is sought may be just a little harder during family weeks at a center. Finding out what other activities are scheduled can help people decide if they will really get the experience they seek.

People may feel nervous about participating in full week or two-week vacation at a meditation retreat if they have never practiced meditation before. For those who feel wary, finding out what alternate activities are available, such as hiking or rafting, might prove reassuring. It’s not suggested, unless a person fully wants total immersion in meditation training, that people commit themselves to very strict practice retreats at first. Learning to meditate while having a chance to take part in other relaxing activities may be better suited for the beginner.

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