Meditation retreats may be calming, but finding one can be stressful. However, a young programmer and meditation enthusiast is trying to make it easier for people to find the right retreat with a new searchable database launched on Wednesday May 29th.
RetreatBase currently allows users to search 750+ retreats in 150 centers, making it easier for users to find programs that suit their schedules, budgets, and traditions. While similar services already existed for yoga retreats, creator Alan Ni said that there is no centralized resource for silent meditation retreats.
26-year-old Ni started working on the website shortly after leaving his position as product manager at Google. He first published the idea on the / Meditation subreddit, where it received an enthusiastic response. He returned to Reddit later that year with a beta and said he encountered gratitude from meditators who had not previously found a retreat that worked for them.
“Part of my motivation is hearing from some people who. . . were able to find a retreat center that they would not have found otherwise, ”said Ni tricycle. “I think it’s super enjoyable.”
Currently, users can browse the website to find a retreat and contact information for the center. Later in June, Ni plans to launch a program that will allow meditators to contact registered hosts directly and book retreats – like Airbnb for contemplative practice. He’s also creating a waiting list tool and other features to make it easier for hosts to organize retreats and find them more easily.
However, not everyone will be able to host a retreat through the website, Ni said. He selected the current list of centers to make sure they met his standards after crowdsourcing a larger list on Reddit and hiring a freelancer to help him search existing databases (ex tricycleDharma Directory).
“Quality control is very important to me as a lot of people will be first time retreaters on our platform, so it definitely won’t be completely open,” said Ni. “In all of the retreats we have curated, we have put a certain amount of care into them. And for each of the hosts presented, if I were not already familiar with the retreat center, I would ask in the meditation community about people who have already had experiences. “
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Ni, who moved to San Francisco after graduating from Duke University, said he would add retreats outside of the United States to the list.
While hoping to turn RetreatBase into a profitable business, the project is currently self-funded, and Ni said he will focus on completing the website before committing to any particular business model.
Ni became interested in meditation when trying to manage his stress on Google. His job was to coordinate with various departments, including engineers, designers and developers, to advance a particular product. After working there for about a year and a half, Ni made his first quiet retreat; He spent ten days at the Dhamma Mahavana California Vipassana Center in North Fork, which offers free retreats in the tradition of Buddhist teacher SN Goenka.
“This retreat has been a life-changing experience,” said Ni. “In the technical area, and especially in the product management area, a lot of emails and meetings are required. Sometimes it is really difficult to unplug the power cord. . . Being able to sit still for ten days was a game change. “
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Ni wanted to make sure other people could have this experience.
“I was very lucky to have enough vacation days to do a ten-day retreat that was also free,” he said. “But I think a lot of people who want to do retreats are much more constrained by financial factors and the time and distance to the retreat center they can find. Ultimately, this project aims to make the retreats more accessible to everyone and hopefully help. “
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