Although in many ways life has never been better for those in the western world, ‘first world problems’ are a very real phenomenon. Our senses are bombarded with an inordinate amount of ‘urgent’ messages from advertisers while frantic news headlines desperately vie for our limited attention. Lots of us are overwhelmed, overstretched, and over-stressed. It ain’t easy being alive in 2016!
So with all the intensity of modern living, it’s no wonder that more and more people are turning to the ancient eastern arts of meditation and yoga to find some much needed solace and peace of mind.
Meditation and yoga bring on a state of quiet, present awareness. When we relax in the present moment, a state of rare bliss descends upon us. Freed of the constant over-stimulation of modern living, our mind and body breathes a deep sigh of relief, melting back into its natural, calm and integrated state.
Due to the life-enhancing effects that meditation bestows on those who practice it, lots of people are now making it a part of their daily routine. A meditation practice improves the more that the practitioner practices (try saying quickly!), and so an intensive and deeply-immersive meditation retreat is the perfect way to supercharge your method and experience new levels of depth, richness of presence, and relaxation.
India is a true mecca for many different schools of meditation and yoga. The country is passionate about relaxing in bliss, and for many years has been attracting travelers from all over the world to its myriad meditation retreats.
World-renowned gurus and teachers run retreats and schools all over the country, and visits to these places have enriched the lives of westerners for decades. There is no better place to immerse yourself in the joy of meditation than a genuine, traditional Indian ashram, so without any further ado, here is our list of the seven best meditation retreats in India. Why not put the places that appeal to you most in your BUCKiTDREAM planner and let daydreams of incense-scented calm get you through the next few stressful hours until you can book your trip!
Meditate With the Rich and Famous at Ananda in the Himalayas Ananda translates to “extreme happiness”, and by all accounts that is what you’ll experience during your week relaxing in this resort’s lush surrounds. Situated between the Himalayas, the Ganges and the ancient cities of Haridwar and Rishikesh, Ananda attracts many famous peace of mind-seekers – Oprah, Bill and Melinda Gates and Deepak Chopra (who surely knows a things or two about meditation!) are regular visitors. This is as luxurious and authentic an Ayurvedic wellness destination as you will find. It offers a number of bespoke packages that are beautifully tailored to accommodate their guests’ needs. The length of stay varies according to each particular package.
Ananda is gloriously tranquil and, despite its fame and often salubrious clientele, it has an uncannily humble and peaceful atmosphere. Guests have the chance to try various different types of meditation and authentic yogic practices that will purify, rejuvenate and educate in equal measure.
Relax and Rejuvenate On the Holy Banks of Mother Ganga at Parmarth Niketan, Rishikesh Rishikesh, known as the ‘City of the Divine’ is a spiritual center to which gurus, teachers and pilgrims have flocked for thousands of years. Parmarth Niketan is the largest ashram in Rishikesh. It is a sprawling complex with 1,000 simple and comfortable rooms and acres of lush gardens strewn with beautifully ornate shrines and statues.
This Ashram provides many courses for meditators, with levels ranging from beginner to advanced. It also hosts an annual week-long international yoga festival, which attracts some of the world’s most respected gurus and masters, as well as eager students from all corners of the world. A stay in this ancient ashram will bathe your soul and body in soothing and empowering energy and repair any and all psychic wounds you may be carrying from life in the outside world.
Find Peace In the Heart of Goa At the Ashiyana Yoga Retreat Goa is well known as a wild party destination, but it is also home to one of India’s best yoga retreats. Situated on the pristine and peaceful Mandrem Beach, ‘Ashiyana’ means home in Hindi and while this place is certainly laid-back and homely, it is also quite a bit more luxurious than any place most of us have ever got to call “home”. Yoga is taught amongst the glorious sights and sounds of nature in this ‘heaven on earth’.
Most of the day is spent practicing yoga and meditation, and down time is usually spent relaxing in a hammock by the sea or strolling in nature. At Ashiyana all guests and teachers dine together and they serve great vegetarian food, as well as a cheeky chicken or fish dish (don’t tell the vegans!) a few times a week. This place has a beautiful spa, and accommodation comes in the form of tree houses, eco-lodges and stone houses.
Visit Tushita Meditation Centre, Dharamsala and Brush Up on Your Buddhism Tushita is a center for the study of the Tibetan Mahayana tradition of Buddhism. It sits in the hills above the town McLeod Ganj, Dharamsala in Northern India. McLeod Ganj was a refuge for thousands of displaced Tibetans fleeing Chinese oppression in their homeland, so it radiates with the calm energy of Buddhism and Tibetan culture.
At 2004 ft above sea level, nestled amongst sumptuous Indian nature on Himachal Pradesh, the Tushita Meditation Centre offers a variety of different meditation retreats of differing length and intensity. Here, silence is golden, and the resort aims to avoid all sources of distraction so the meditation experience is not diluted or disrupted, so leave your phones and iPads at reception please! This is a retreat for purists who want the full Buddhist meditation experience, and a week spent here will be an intensely mind-altering experience.
Immerse Yourself in the Yoga Way of Life at the Yoga Institute, Mumbai As the name suggests, the Yoga Institute places a strong emphasis on teaching the philosophies behind yoga. It is an educational centre that runs a wealth of fascinating courses and retreats. They offer great 7-day courses, both residential and non-residential. They also offer yoga teacher-training courses, so if you feel like a full departure from the 9-5 grind, this place can provide you with the necessary skills to become a yoga teacher. This is the ideal place for a richly educational and life-changing retreat.
Explore the Weird and Wonderful World of Osho at the Osho Meditation Resort, Pune Osho was a renowned Indian spiritual teacher whose ideas and concepts have changed the lives of literally millions of people worldwide. This stunning retreat is a blend of traditional ashram and luxury spa. The 28-acre site has state of the art facilities. At the Osho Multiversity, visitors can study the teachings of the great man and gain inner peace while marveling at a truly remarkable architectural structure.
Experience a Traditional Ashram, But in Truly Swish Surrounds, at Shreyas Yoga Retreat, Bangalore If it’s luxury you’re after, look no further than Shreyas Yoga Retreat in Bangalore. It is one of the world’s most opulent yoga retreats. It has an array of classes, a gorgeous spa, and meditation and yoga sessions for students of all levels of ability.
Whichever resort you choose, you can be certain that a meditation retreat in India will be a once-in-a-lifetime experience and the inner tranquility that you take away with you will infuse your whole life with an energy and vibrancy that all those who come into contact with you will notice immediately.
Who knows, you may never leave – many instructors teaching at the great Indian retreats arrived as tourists and were so taken by the lifestyle that they decided to stay!
A meditation retreat is not really the place to be too snap-happy with your mobile device; however, it would be a shame not to get one or two pics to look back on in a few months and remind yourself of how relaxed you once were, and to share on your Facebook, Twitter and Instagram!