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If you are looking for the best meditation retreats in California, you can find many options to choose from, according to your preferences. Your personal tastes, choices, and specific needs will highly impact your meditation retreat.
It can be like going for a more scheduled and structured retreat with guides, or some might prefer a more self-guided experience. Most of these retreats are based in the countryside, away from the distractions of the cities and roaring roads, which will help you in a more focused journey of connecting with yourself.
California, better known as Maple Country, has varied and diversifying landscapes along with a serene environment. It has some of the best meditation retreats that offer you a break from your busy daily schedule. These retreats will serve as a peaceful escape, along with helping you find yourself and inner calm.
You should remember that your retreat has these things:
- Guidance from qualified professionals
- Have the course that you need
- Self-sufficient with all basic needs
1. 5 Best Meditation Retreats in California
This article has compiled the best five meditation retreats in California, each with something unique to offer and a distinctive atmosphere. These retreats provide a peaceful escape and serve as sanctuaries for those seeking self-discovery and inner calm. Book your space now if you are keen to explore the aesthetic of one such mediation retreat.
1.1. Esalen Institute
The Esalen Institute is located along the pleasing Big Sur coastline with a beautiful view of the water. The institute has been an icon for spiritual exploration and personal transformation since 1962. People who connect spirituality with the beach and waves will love the location of this place.
Usually, this institute offers 2 to 3 group retreats yearly, but it remains open for most of the year. Their group retreats are known as “A Time to Reflect,” which is either a weekend program or a full-week experience.
The week-long experience requires you to serve others voluntarily while staying at the retreat. The price depends on the length and type of stay that you choose.
1.2. What it Offers?
It offers hot springs and a cliffside that overlooks the past Pacific Ocean, enhancing your meditative journey. Many traditional healing art classes are also offered regularly, including yoga, qigong, dance, singing, 12-step recovery work, and many others.
This institute is also known for its massage artists, and they should be reserved when you are planning your retreat. You must make a reservation first to visit here, and no other tours or self-guided visits are offered.
After your reservations, you will be provided with a schedule, and the classes will be given on a first-come, first-served basis. A visit to this retreat center uniquely makes you learn better about yourself.
2.1. Ananda Meditation Retreat, “The Expanding Light”
Ananda runs this retreat space, which is overheaded by experienced yogis. It is one of the largest retreats, offering a wide variety of activities and opportunities that other retreats might not provide for privacy and isolation. Not only is this a silent meditation retreat, but it also has various other options so that the visitor can use the perfect retreat to fit in.
Personal retreats are also offered for around 3 to 6 days once a month. The expenses are based on the level of accommodation you choose. An extra amount will be charged for meals as they are not included in the price.
Meals are all vegetarian and prepared by designated chefs who are assisted by Seva volunteers. The ingredients are mostly grown on their property or otherwise locally sourced. They have a variety of accommodations, including private RVs, tent sites, cabins, shared cabins, and large shared rooms, from which you can choose according to your comfort.
Group retreats take place less often and are a 3 to 10-day program. Rates, again, depend on the retreat type and activities you choose. As per its name, group retreats offer more group activities to help the freshers struggling with silent meditation by interacting with others during their service work, such as hiking, yoga sessions, and guided meditation. Meals are included in some of these programs.
2.2. What it Offers?
Expanding Light offers miles of trails where you can hike, whether it’s about going through a mountain or staying in the lowlands of the Sierra, as per your abilities and desires. There are many cozy little places to sit and spend some quality time reading, journaling, meditating, or just thinking.
3.1. Green Gulch Farm
Present in the north of San Francisco, Green Gulch Farm, also known as Green Dragon Temple, is a Buddhist temple and a retreat space. This space offers a great selection of activities that are not usually offered at other silent retreats. It ranges from cooking to farming, physical classes, zen meditation, and dharma practice. The ambiance of this property is maintained in the typical Japanese zen style.
Three different styles of stay are available, as follows:
- Japanese-style guest house
- Main house
- Guest house in a deep forest
Silent retreats are usually booked almost a year in advance. They take place 3-6 times a year. Personal retreats are available according to the client’s schedule.
Their scheduled silent retreat is mostly a weekend program, and the entire centre participates in it. Some of the events celebrated here are joyful and not as boring as the typical day that individual retreats might miss.
3.2. What it Offers?
For those people who are looking for a lengthy and more mesmerizing stay, you can come here as Zen students for a week longer if you want. The prices per night are much cheaper, but volunteering at work is required.
In the course of your stay as a student, you can learn about sustainable Zen farming, meditation, physical exercise, and sutras. Working here requires you to be punctual and on time. And for those who wish to stay here as students, you must complete an application form showing your previous studies.
4.1. Silent Stay Retreat Center
The Silent Stay Retreat Center stays open throughout the year, and reservations are to be made in advance because only six guest rooms are available on the site. Prices vary greatly depending on the type of room and whether you choose to share your room with other guests or not.
The silence day is highly flexible because of its availability and scheduling options. It is available every week throughout the year, and all the meals, walks, and workshops are included in this.
They have workshops that include grief management, cooking, yoga, meditation, healing, and occasional massages. They also have counselling sessions where you don’t have to follow the typical conversation. The guides here are highly encouraging, and they recommend journaling your day daily and participating in guided meditation.
4.2. What it Offers?
Those looking for a fusion of traditional and Western accommodations and practices will enjoy this retreat. The rooms here are whitewashed; they have warm notes of handmade stuff, colourful pillows, and vintage cozy rocking chairs by balconies. They are decorated with a rustic blend of comfortable settings suitable for most people’s needs.
Vegetarian eating is encouraged, but it is not necessarily important. The visitors here share a large kitchen, spaces, and supplies. The cleaning is done using the essential oils in areas around the kitchen and the retreat. It’s a plus point for those who are concerned about physical detoxification during the course of their stay.
5.1. Big Bear Retreat Center
Located 2.5 hours away from Los Angeles, this protected area of almost 1000 acres feels like home. Big Bear Retreat Center helps people in their process of recovery and healing.
They have a strong belief in the power of supportive communities and kindness, and their spacious land holds you for nourishment and rest for your internal and external peace.
5.2. What it Offers?
The stay here will be perfectly inclined and calming. Rooms follow a basic and minimalistic interior that one can enjoy alone or even when shared with others, and the food served in this retreat is made with ingredients that will nourish your body.
The campus has hiking trails spread across the area that connect with the national forest. The trail is a mile long, starting from the town to Big Bear Lake. The cost of attending this retreat will vary depending on the needs.
Thus, the beautiful meditation retreats in California provide you with a long list of experiences, whether it’s about the cliffs of Big Sur or the redwood forests of Watsonville.
Each retreat has its own uniqueness for every individual who is starting their journey of self-discovery and inner peace. While considering booking the most suitable meditation retreat for yourself, consider where you currently rely on your meditation practice, what you are looking for, and which retreat will best allow you to grow and move onward. So here are our recommendations, and we hope you consider them for starting your meditational journey.