Engaging in a meaningful relationship with your own mind and training it to perform optimally, yields a multitude of health benefits for the body and soul. A number of spas offer meditation instruction to help you cultivate mindfulness in a variety of settings–from nature walks and floating guided meditation sessions in pools, to moonlight breathing regimens and stillness in a simple, quiet room. According to the International Spa Association’s 2007 Spa Industry Study, nineteen percent of American spas provide body-mind-spirit offerings, and meditation and yoga are the core services at those spas. Sound therapy is also popular. Primordial sound meditation is offered at the Chopra Center at La Costa Resort and Spa in Carlsbad, California. This is just one example of the many programs available that are designed to help you manifest your inner peace. Here are some of the Top Meditation spa and retreat locations.
The Abbey of Gethsemani, Trappist, KY
Founded in 1848 by French monks, America’s oldest Trappist monastery was the home of author and monk Thomas Merton, whose spiritual journey inspired millions. Today, the abbey is a center for renewal and peace, attracting soul searchers both Catholic and non-Catholic. The monks remind us that meditation is not just an Eastern tradition, but important to many religions. Guests come for at least two days and donate whatever they can, walking the tranquil forest trails and observing silence that refreshes the spirit. The monks are famously hospitable. Plus, they make darn good fruitcake. There’s a two-night minimum.
Kripalu Center, Stockbridge, MA
Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health is a nonprofit educational organization dedicated to promoting the art and science of yoga to produce thriving and health in individuals and society.
For more than 30 years, Kripalu (kri-PAH-loo) has been teaching skills for optimal living through experiential education for the whole person: body, mind, and spirit. It is the largest and most established retreat center for yoga, health, and holistic living in North America. Get your asana out of town for more than 700 experiential workshops offered at this blissful Berkshires retreat. Classes on mindfulness meditation, walking meditation and yogic breathing are taught by world-class instructors like Larry Rosenberg and Stephen Cope. Other meditation-oriented programs include music, self-discovery, and conscious eating (pass the peace, please). Kripalu is America’s largest center for holistic living and yoga. Hatha, the center’s signature yoga style, is best known as meditation-in-motion. Bonus: Kripalu boasts one of the world’s best yoga spas. Two-night minimum for Retreat and Renewal Workshops, prices range from $160 to $437.
The Raj, Fairfield, IA
The Raj opened its doors in April 1993 and soon gained a reputation as America’s premier Ayurveda Health Center. It is the only such facility outside of India specifically built to offer traditional Ayurveda rejuvenation treatments. The French country-style facility encompasses 36,000 square feet and is situated on 100 acres of rolling meadows and woodlands in Iowa’s heartland.
During your stay at The Raj, learn meditation with the Transcendental Meditation® (TM) program from Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. According to Ayurveda, the body and mind must be in balance to achieve optimal health. TM is a simple, effortless, natural meditation technique, with profound benefits for your mind and body. Enjoy the deep relaxation, eliminate stress, improve health, increase creativity and intelligence with the Transcendental Meditation® (TM) program at The Raj.
Menla Mountain Retreat, Phoenicia, NY
Dr. Robert Thurman, America’s leading Buddhist scholar, oversees meditation programs for stressed-out New Yorkers at this stirring spiritual oasis in the Catskills. Experts like meditation teacher Sharon Salzberg and Buddhist psychotherapist Mark Epstein offer enlightening programs throughout the year. Take advantage of hiking trails, swimming, gourmet vegetarian cuisine, massages, and sweat lodges in a lush mountain setting. A state-of-the-art spa is set to open by 2009. Special bulletin: While visiting recently, the Dalai Lama sensed the presence of a resident water dragon. Don’t worry: He’s friendly. Programs generally run for two nights and three days with accommodations prices ranging from $195 to $400 (also includes three meals a day.
Breitenbush Hot Springs, Detroit, OR
Fancy a little fire dancing? Perhaps a poetry reading in a cedar yurt? Let the spirit move you on 154 acres of a wildlife sanctuary in the Willamette National Forest of the Oregon Cascades. Breitenbush offers 150 workshops, conferences, and celebrations annually, including meditation, guided hikes, yoga, concerts, dances, and singing. Hike an ancient forest, explore river and mountain trails, walk the labyrinth, relax in natural hot spring pools, and nourish your body with healthy vegetarian cuisine. Score one of the comfy cabins complete with geothermal heat. Rates $51-$110 per person per night.
Shambhala Mountain Center, Red Feather Lakes, CO
Since 1970, the stressed and the strained have been recharging in a pristine mountain valley retreat set on 600 acres in northern Colorado. Learn how to meditate, delve into the wisdom teachings of Tibetan Buddhism, stretch beyond your limits in a yoga retreat, or practice mindfulness in one of our contemplative arts programs. And if R&R is what you are seeking, consider one of our relaxing, rejuvenating Retreat & Renewal weekends. Discover this and more at our pristine 600-acre mountain valley meditation retreat center, a sanctuary and training ground for body, mind, and spirit. Dive into Buddhist meditation, practice yoga, and explore your inner universe through contemplative writing. Upcoming programs include “Turning the Mind into an Ally” and “Meditation & Tai Chi.” The center boasts extensive gardens and a 108-foot stupa, or memorial, built to honor founder Chögyam Trungpa. The Great Stupa of Dharmakaya Which Liberates Upon Seeing is open to all visitors. Rates $70 to $210.
Mount Madonna, Santa Cruz, CA
Mount Madonna Center is tucked among 355 acres of redwood forest and grassland in the mountains overlooking Monterey Bay. The Center’s spiritual inspiration is Baba Hari Dass, a silent monk who hasn’t uttered a peep since 1952 and communicates by writing on a small chalkboard. Participate in group events like “Meditation for World Peace” and “Unraveling the Knots of Karma,” then stick around for some solo recharging with swimming, hiking, yoga, meditation sessions, and bodywork at the Kaya Kalpa Wellness Center. Rent hotel-style rooms, cozy cabins, or just pitch a tent. Program rates start at $275; accommodations $36 to $124.
Omega Institute, Rhinebeck, NY
For three decades, this center for healthy living spread across 195 glorious acres in the Hudson Valley has attracted souls in search of inspiration and rejuvenation. Whether you just need a break or want to take a quantum leap into a life-changing experience, you’ll find something among the 325 workshops, conferences, and professional training sessions. This year Omega is offering 15 meditation courses designed for all skill levels. Omegans think the world is big enough for all of us, so programs draw from Buddhism, Hinduism, Judaism, Sufism, Christianity, and Native American traditions. Two-night minimum; rates range from $140 to $1,449.
Ala Kukui, Hana, Maui, HI
Ala Kukui, which means “Pathway of Illumination,” is a center for deep dialogue, creative expression, spiritual restoration, and intercultural exchange. The location is pure magic—a legendary area of Hana known as “the land where the heavens meet the earth.” Visitors enjoy 12 secluded acres tucked between the Pacific Ocean and Haleakala, Maui’s magnificent mountain. The center encourages personal growth through global awareness and appreciation of Native Hawaiian cultural values. Programs include Vipassana meditation, Tibetan sand mandala painting, and a weekly writer’s workshop with local Hana writers of all ages. There’s a three-night minimum.
Green Valley Spa & Weight Loss Clinic, St George, UT
Family-owned since its founding in 1985, Green Valley has become a world-renowned icon of spa luxury and innovation, with the only 4-Diamond accommodations between Las Vegas and Salt Lake City, celebrated spa and wellness programs, and state-of-the-art fitness, tennis and golf facilities, and instruction – all set in a beautiful, sprawling property, against a backdrop of stunning red rock canyons and pristine nature. Green Valley features a Private Labyrinth Walking Meditation. Where a therapist directs a walk along circular paths representing a spiritual journey through various aspects of self to the wisdom center, where resolution occurs and answers appear. Here energetic therapy is provided by an expert therapist. The return walk twists and turns as it moves back through these spaces, bringing a sense of resolution, understanding, and purpose.
The Abode of the Message, New Lebanon, NY
Since 1975, this Sufi retreat nestled in the Taconic-Berkshire Mountains has welcomed visitors to 430 acres of sacred land. The Abode, the former site of a Shaker community, boasts historic Shaker buildings, an organic farm and gardens, abundant wildlife, hermitage huts, campgrounds, hiking trails, and a swimming pond. Get your spirit in the groove with a menu of programs highlighting the world’s great religious traditions, including sacred dancing, spiritual music, and walking meditation. In November, a workshop called “Awakening to the Movement of Love” teaches students how to jump-start personal growth by focusing on the breath, sound, and fluid movement. Rates $40-$70.
Esalen, Big Sur, CA
Esalen. The word itself summons up tantalizing visions of adventure, of unexplored frontiers, of human possibilities yet to be realized. There is the wonder of the place itself, 120 acres of fertile land carved out between mountain and ocean, blessed by a cascading canyon stream and hot mineral springs gushing out of a seaside cliff… Wisdom of metaphysical megastars from Joseph Campbell to Deepak Chopra wafts over this legendary New Age mecca. Set on 27 acres of spectacular Big Sur coast, Esalen offers more than 500 public workshops on a dizzying range subject, including mindfulness, massage, and martial arts. The focus is on personal transformation and salon-style conversations with other seekers. Plus, you can soak in the cliffside natural hot springs for an Out-of-Bathing-Suit Experience. There’s a two-night minimum; rates $320-$1715.
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