Meditation, as defined by The National Institute of Health (NIH), is a practice that helps us achieve calmness, physical relaxation, psychological balance, and overall well-being. There exist Numerous meditation techniques, such as breath awareness, vipassana body scan, and metta-loving-kindness meditation.
If you’ve been practicing meditation, you might want to consider attending a meditation retreat so you might be curious about what it’s like, what you’re supposed to do, and the advantages it provides.
It’s essential to remember that not all meditation or retreats are alike. Therefore, it’s worth exploring different options to find the retreat that suits you best.
We have conducted research on some of the best meditation retreats in the U. S, so you can choose the one that will help you enhance your meditation practice.
Let’s explore a few of the best meditation retreats in the U.S. that you can consider:
Here are some great meditation retreat options to consider:
- For beginners who are new to meditation, The Art of Living Retreat Center is a top choice.
- If you’re a serious practitioner seeking a deep meditation experience, the Introduction to Vipassana Meditation retreat is highly recommended.
- The Esalen Institute offers a unique and diverse meditation experience, making it a great option for those looking for something different.
- Spirit Rock is the ideal retreat for individuals interested in loving-kindness meditation.
- If you’re in need of rest and relaxation, the Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health is the perfect destination.
- The Mount Madonna Center is known for its combination of yoga and meditation, making it an excellent choice for those interested in both practices.
- For individuals with a focus on social consciousness, the Upaya Institute and Zen Center is a great fit.
- If you’re specifically interested in Mahayana retreats, the Kadampa Meditation Center is highly recommended.
- Zen enthusiasts will find the Zen Mountain Monastery to be an excellent retreat option.
- For those who prefer online retreats, the Insight Meditation Society offers a top-notch virtual experience.
- Lastly, the Shambhala Mountain Center deserves an honorable mention for its outstanding meditation retreats.
In summary, whether you’re a beginner, a serious practitioner, or have specific preferences, there are various meditation retreats available to cater to your needs.
What is a meditation retreat?
Meditation retreats in the U.S. give you the chance to delve deeper into your meditation or learn how to start practicing.
If you’re new to meditation, a retreat allows you to fully immerse yourself in the practice, learn from fellow meditators, and have open discussions about any concerns or questions you may have.
For those already committed to meditation, a retreat helps strengthen your practice, connect with a supportive community, and further integrate meditation into your daily life.
The duration of meditation retreats in the U.S. can vary, ranging from a single day to two weeks, or even a month or longer, There are numerous options available based on your preferences, schedule and desired outcomes.
How we choose the best meditation retreats in the U.S.
When it comes to selecting the ideal meditation retreats, there are several factors to consider. Firstly, it’s important to assess your personal goals and preferences. Next, conduct thorough research on various retreat options. Once you have a list of potential retreats, it’s time to compare and contrast their features. Additionally, seek recommendations and read reviews from others who have attended these retreats.
We researched and choose the following retreats based on the following factors:
- Organization reputation: We considered how well-regarded the organizations are.
- Suitability for beginners to advanced meditators: We looked at whether the retreats are suitable for people at all levels of meditation experience.
- Retreat offerings: We examined the types of activities and programs offered at each retreat.
- Accommodation options: We considered the different choices for where participants can stay during the retreat.
- Facility amenities: We evaluated the amenities and facilities available at the retreat centers.
- Cost: We took into account the prices of the retreats.
- Reviews: We considered the feedback and opinions of previous participants.
- Pricing guide: We categorized the retreats into price ranges, ranging from affordable ($) to more expensive ($$$$).
- $ = under $200
- $$ = $201–$500
- $$$ = $501–$1,000
- $$$$ = over $1,000
Our picks for the best meditation retreats in the U.S.
Many meditation retreats usually concentrate on a specific form of meditation. Here are some of the most well-liked types of meditation retreats and the top retreats you can find in the United States.
- Location: Boone, North Carolina
- Best for: For people who are new to meditation and want to grasp its fundamentals, as well as learn how to integrate it into their everyday routines.
- Duration of the retreat: Monthly occurrence from Friday to Sunday.
- Price: $$$
The Art of Living Retreat Center is one of the best meditation retreats in the U.S. and provides various short-term retreats suitable for both beginners and experienced practitioners. These retreats prioritize self-care and relaxation rather than intense meditation.
The center offers a special Sahaj Samadhi Meditation Retreat that provides expert guidance for those interested in exploring meditation. This retreat is specifically designed to promote a sense of calm, strengthen the immune system, and reduce stress. Sahaj Samadhi, which means “effortless meditation,” is the focus of this retreat, and participants can become skilled in this technique within a few hours.
In addition to that, you can choose from various retreat options at the center. For instance, there is a custom-designed R&R retreat, a silent meditation retreat, and the well-known Happiness Retreat, which specifically aids individuals dealing with depression, anxiety, and seasonal affective disorder (SAD). Furthermore, the center provides Ayurveda wellness retreats, culinary retreats, and Panchakarma, a classical Ayurvedic cleanse.
Participants have the option to select either a private hotel room that includes a bigger bed, refrigerator, and television, or a private retreat room that does not have those additional features. In addition, all rooms provide free Wi-Fi, a private bathroom, and the opportunity to use the gym, steam room, and expansive grounds at the center.
Best for serious practitioners
- Location: throughout the United States and worldwide
- Best for: Serious and dedicated practitioners who are eager to explore in-depth, challenge themselves by stepping beyond their comfort zones, and perceive the world as it truly is.
- Duration of the retreat: Typically 10 days, with reservations usually made 2-3 months ahead.
- Price: free
Vipassana means “seeing things as they really are.” It’s a traditional meditation technique where you observe your thoughts and emotions as they come up without judging, dwelling on them, or pushing them away.
During these meditation retreats, you can fully immerse yourself in practicing Vipassana meditation for 10 days without any cost. This is also one of the famous meditation retreats in the U.S. which provides accommodations, meals, and guidance, thanks to donations from past and present practitioners.
Best eclectic option
- Location: Big Sur, California
- Best for: Beginners and experienced meditators as well as yogis who are interested in various subjects about personal growth, transformation, mindfulness, and psychology can find valuable information here.
- Duration of retreats: Options range from single-day workshops to weeklong retreats.
- Price: $$–$$$$
The Esalen Institute, located in California, is one of the stunning meditation retreats in the U.S. that spans 120 acres and overlooks the mountains and ocean. Visitors can enjoy breathtaking views and take advantage of the revitalizing hot springs.
As stated on the center’s website, over 750,000 people from around the world have visited Esalen seeking inspiration, intellectual freedom, and the chance to explore their inner selves alongside like-minded individuals.
During the 1960s, the Esalen Institute played a significant role in the Human Potential and Counterculture movements. It attracted renowned personalities like Alan Watts, Abraham Maslow, Ansel Adams, Timothy Leary, and B.F. Skinner.
Today, Esalen continues to serve as both an educational center and an intentional community, offering workshops and retreats covering a wide range of topics. These include meditation, spirituality, psychology, permaculture, and ecological sustainability.
At present, Esalen offers a diverse retreat lineup that includes workshops covering various subjects such as grief, dance, music, tai chi, qigong, relationships, writing, and creativity.
When it comes to accommodation, Esalen provides options ranging from sleeping bag spaces to suites. However, even if you opt for the sleeping bag option, a single retreat typically costs a minimum of $400.
Best for loving-kindness meditation
- Location: Woodacre, California
- Best for Individuals who are interested in metta, also known as loving-kindness, meditation, along with various other options.
- Duration of retreat: From 1 day to 2 months
- Price: $$–$$$
Spirit Rock is also entertained as one of the exciting Meditation Retreats in the U.S. that provides a variety of retreats based on the teachings of the Buddha, which are called dharma.
Many of these retreats focus on metta, also known as loving-kindness meditation. This practice helps you become more aware of the present moment and develop compassion for yourself and others. It allows you to bring wisdom, kindness, and connection into your life.
The meditation center is located on a spacious property spanning 411 acres of oak woodlands in the peaceful hills of West Marin County. It’s far away from the busy lifestyle typically found in California. The retreats encompass a wide array of topics, including workshops on loving-kindness, mindfulness, forgiveness, Vipassana, gratitude, and concentration.
Online retreats are led by experienced teachers from the Spirit Rock teachers collective. These retreats offer meditation guidance, Dharma talks, and regular practice meetings.
Best for R&R
- Location: Stockbridge, Massachusetts
- Best for: Both beginners and experienced meditators and yogis, particularly those who wish to plan their own restful and rejuvenating getaway.
- Duration of retreat: Choose to book by the day and determine your desired length of stay.
- Price: $–$$$
The Retreat and Renewal experience is a carefully planned retreat that offers yoga, meditation, and healing workshops. It aims to help you find your center and explore self-care on a deeper level.
A team of experienced practitioners and instructors will guide you through this retreat, which is known for its flexibility. The center operates every day, and you have the option to purchase a day pass or book an overnight stay.
During the retreat, you will have the opportunity to participate in various workshops, such as yoga, dance, movement, cooking demonstrations, and guided hiking. Additionally, you will be provided with three vegetarian meals each day and have access to a private lakefront and 100 acres of hiking trails and walking paths.
Its also declared as one of the most satisfying meditation retreats in the U.S. where You can choose to stay on-site for an additional cost. The rooms are simple and minimalist, and you can decide between shared or private bathrooms.
Best yoga and meditation combo
- Location: Watsonville, California
- Best for People who are interested in both yoga and meditation, particularly those who are interested in the Aṣhṭānga Yoga tradition.
- Length of retreat: 6 days
- Price: $$
Mount Madonna Center is a community and one of the best meditation retreats in the U.S. that spans 335 acres. It draws inspiration from Baba Hari Dass, a silent monk who arrived in the United States from India in 1971.
Nestled amidst redwoods and grasslands, this retreat center provides various programs that concentrate on yoga postures, breathing techniques, yoga philosophy, and Ayurveda.
Moreover, the center features a Hanuman Temple where individuals can engage in devotional practices and contemplation. It also serves as a venue for yoga teacher training and online classes.
Best for social consciousness
- Location: Santa Fe, New Mexico
- Best for: Experienced meditators who want to enhance their practice.
- Length of retreat: 6 days
- Price: $–$$$ (scholarships available)
The Upaya Institute and Zen Center are one of stunning meditation retreats in the U.S. where people practice meditation and do social work. They believe that meditation and taking action in society are important.
Their goal is to help others in different areas like death and dying, prisons, the environment, and women’s rights. The center has a schedule for daily Zen meditation and often has talked about Buddhist ideas in action.
During their retreats, they teach about Buddhism in action. They talk about things like social justice, caring for the environment, being kind to others, and being with people who are suffering.
Most of their retreats and workshops are offered for free, but if there is a fee, they have scholarships available.
Best Mahayana retreat
- Location: Glen Spey, New York
- Best for: Furthermore, meditators with greater experience seek to enhance their practice.
- Length of retreat: 6 days
- Price: $–$$
Gen Samten Kelsang, a Buddhist monk, teaches and practices meditation at the Kadampa Meditation Center in New York is one of the best meditation retreats in the U.S. He has been involved in meditation for many decades.
At the center, they provide various retreats based on the Mahāyāna tradition of Buddhism, also known as the “great vehicle.” This tradition emphasizes the path toward attaining Buddhahood.
During the retreats, you will receive guidance to deepen your meditation practice. Through reflection and exploration of your own mind, you will discover your inner potential.
The teachings at the center focus on understanding the nature of the mind, the concept of impermanence, and the nature of emptiness.
The center itself has a simple setup with limited amenities, and the costs for attending the retreats are lower compared to other options available.
Best Zen retreat
- Location: Mount Temper, New York
- Best for People who are new to Zen Buddhism and the meditation techniques connected to it.
- Length of retreat: Friday through Sunday
- Price: $$ (financial assistance available)
Zen Mountain Monastery is a real community and one of the top meditation retreats in the U.S. where Zen Buddhist practitioners live. If you’re interested in the Zen Buddhist tradition and the meditation technique called zazen, the Introduction to Zen Training weekend is a great choice.
During the weekend, you’ll learn how to do zazen and incorporate it into your daily life. You’ll also learn the basics of Buddhist teachings on wisdom and compassion. The program covers topics like Buddhist art, movement practice, and applying the teachings to your everyday life.
This is a special opportunity to learn at a dedicated Zen monastery and fully experience the Zen way of life. You can ask questions and immerse yourself in the teachings. Additionally, you’ll have the chance to establish a teacher-student relationship through private interviews with teachers.
If you want additional information, make sure to check out the website. https://zmm.org/all-programs/
Best online retreat
- Location: online or Barre, Massachusetts
- Best for There are many options available to cater to different individuals, whether you’re new to something or have already gained expertise in it.
- Length of retreat: various offerings available
- Price: $
The Insight Meditation (IM) Society is currently one of the most well-liked meditation retreats in the U.S. They provide a wide-ranging online program, which includes various types of online retreats.
Both beginners and experienced meditators can benefit from their half-day, full-day, and mini-retreats. IM offers detailed talks and teachings that help expand your meditation practice and enhance your overall understanding of meditation. Best of all, you can conveniently complete many of these sessions from the comfort of your own home.
- Location: Red Feather Lakes, Colorado
- Best for A wide variety of choices ensures that there is something for everyone, regardless of whether you are new to it or have extensive experience.
- Length of retreat: various offerings available
- Price: $–$$$
When talking about the best meditation retreats in the U.S., we can’t forget to mention the Shambhala Mountain Center. In fact, it deserves special recognition because it doesn’t fit neatly into just one category.
This center is located in a stunning 600-acre valley surrounded by beautiful forests, meadows, and mountains. It was founded by the famous Tibetan Buddhist teacher Chögyam Trüngpa Rinpoche in 1971, and it features an impressive example of sacred architecture called the Great Stupa of Dharmakaya.
At the retreats held here, you can explore a wide range of topics, such as traditional meditation guidance, ancient wisdom traditions, practices that promote body awareness, contemplative arts, mindful living, and personal growth.
Regarding accommodations, you have various options to choose from. You can stay in cozy cabins, share quarters with others, or opt for seasonal platform tents. If you prefer more modern comforts, there are also boutique lodge rooms available.
Frequently asked questions about meditation retreats in the U.S.
How do you feel after going on a meditation retreat?
When you attend a meditation retreat, you might feel a renewed sense of enthusiasm for your practice. Additionally, you may experience a strong connection with others and a heightened sense of being present. Being in a space with like-minded individuals who share the same goal can be invigorating and even life-changing.
The retreat provides an opportunity to connect with yourself and the world without the usual distractions of everyday life. This can have a profound impact on your experience.
However, it’s important to remember that meditation is not about escaping from life, but rather about embracing and intimately engaging with it.
Why should you consider going on a meditation retreat?
It can serve as a catalyst for maintaining a consistent meditation routine once you return to your everyday life.
Additionally, apart from the opportunity to connect with like-minded individuals and build a sense of community, a retreat allows you to escape the distractions of your daily life and dedicate specific time to being fully present and engaged at the moment.
How can I begin meditating?
To get started with meditation, there are various methods you can try. Firstly, you could consider taking an online course to learn the fundamentals. Another option is to download a meditation app that not only teaches you the basics but also offers a wide range of online courses.
Is meditation good for your health?
Meditation offers numerous health benefits because it can significantly lower stress and cortisol levels in the body. Stress is responsible for over 70% of known diseases in modern medicine. By reducing the harmful effects of stress, meditation directly reduces anxiety, depression, illnesses, aging, and various detrimental diseases. Additionally, meditation enhances cognitive processes, builds resilience to stress, and promotes positive mental health.
In summary, meditation retreats offer a chance for people at any level of meditation practice to learn, connect with others, and experience a peaceful and mindful environment. Whether you want to delve into meditation and mindfulness further, take a break from your daily routine, or explore the traditions that brought mindfulness to the world, a retreat could be the perfect opportunity for you.