Back to nature, Devon
In the Dart Valley near Totnes, the Sharpham Trust meditation center offers mindfulness retreats of varying lengths, including walking and singing breaks, year round. Some are located in the mansion of the property, while others are at the nearby Barn Retreat. To immerse yourself in nature, the Nature Connection Retreat offers accommodation in bell tents in the forest with guided meditation and mindfulness activities where you can search for and enjoy wild food.
Three-night meditation retreats from £ 145 full board. Three night Nature Connection Retreat, July 25th, £ 335 full board, sharphamtrust.org
Meditation and Singing, UK, various
Wild Voice Retreats combine meditation, singing, nature and adventure. The singing includes vocal workshops and outdoor choir sessions – participants don’t have to read music and no one has to sing a solo (phew!). Works range from classic pieces to pop songs, and everyone takes home a live recording. The morning begins with meditation, yoga and tai chi. Outdoor activities include kayaking, guided nature walks, and singing songs around the campfire. There are three locations: a stately home in the Scottish Borders, a castle in Gloucestershire and an estate near Stratford-upon-Avon. The first Wild Voice Festival is taking place in Northamptonshire this year (£ 149, May 31st to June 2nd).
Three days full board £ 399, four days £ 499, next retreat 26-29. April, wildvoiceadventures.com
Peace and Love, Devon
Gaia House near Denbury, one of the largest residential meditation centers in Europe, offers silent retreats in the Buddhist tradition (although all faiths and none are welcome). The group retreats last between two and nine nights – with titles such as “A Path of Peace and Goodness” and “Awaken and Liberate the Heart” – and are led by different teachers. Accommodation is mainly in shared rooms in the beautiful old country house. Three daily vegetarian or vegan meals are included. The grounds and countryside lend themselves to peaceful strolls with views over Dartmoor.
Practice Samadhi (Meditation) Retreat March 2-4 from £ 128 full board plus voluntary donation to teacher gaiahouse.co.uk
Introduction to Meditation, Suffolk
Photo: Dennis Gilbert / View
Leave the outside world behind in a retreat in the brand new Vajrasana Center in the Suffolk countryside east of Bury St. Edmunds. The courses are run by the London Buddhist Center, but you do not have to be a Buddhist to attend. In addition to meditation classes, there are workshops and lectures as well as periods of rest – digital detoxification without cell phones or laptops is recommended. Accommodation is in shared rooms and vegan meals are eaten together. There are also yoga weekends, regulars, and longer retreats.
Two-week weekends run eight times a year, next January 25th: £ 195 full board, round-trip transfers from London, £ 42, lbc.org.uk.
Solo Summer Retreat, Lefkada, Greece
Serenity Retreats, which take place in May, June and September on the Ionian island of Lefkada and are aimed at solo travelers, offer a suitable vacation with time on the beach or pottery in the village alongside meditation. Self-catering apartments (on the one hand) are located directly on the sea. Daily guided meditation, mindful walks through olive groves, and mindful exercise sessions are included – led by down-to-earth Zen meditation teacher Kim Bennett. There are several optional wellbeing courses (such as the Art of Self-Compassion, donation-based), as well as a selection of on-site treatments.
From £ 509 for a week, with accommodation and instruction, meals and flights extra, serenityretreat.co.uk
A place to be, Dordogne, France
The meditation center on the Moulin de Chaves river near the village of Cubjac was once a Zen monastery and is an idyllic place to retreat from the world. The guests stay in the beautiful main house or in prefabricated tents on the premises with beds and bed linen (sometimes camping is also possible). The 2019 program includes a week of mindful yoga and meditation (July 15-20), led by Moulin founders Martin and Gail Aylward, and conducted largely in silence. This year a new yoga hall made from local oak with hemp walls will open.
From € 300 full board in a shared tent or € 325 in a room plus voluntary donation for the lessons, moulindechaves.org
Holy Retreat, Assisi, Italy
The non-profit Simply Peace is located in a family-run hotel in the ancient mountain town of Assisi, Umbria, and offers retreats that combine meditation with daily walks to local holy sites (many in connection with Saint Francis, who was born here). No experience is required to practice heart-centered meditation and one-to-one guidance is provided. In the afternoon you will have plenty of time to explore the city and the surrounding countryside.
Five-night retreat from € 995 half board, assisiretreats.org
Mindful Feasting, Wicklow, Ireland
Sea view from Passaddhi Meditation Center, Ireland. P.
Learn mindful cooking, eating, and walking on a five-day silent meditation retreat at the Bobbio Center on the coast, 45 miles south of Dublin, in County Wicklow. Paola Vais, who trained at the Ballymaloe Cooking School, leads vegan and vegetarian cooking classes. Marjó Oosterhoff, owner of the Passaddhi Retreat Center in County Cork, leads mindful meditation, walking, and eating sessions. There is plenty of time for beach walks and local exploration. No experience needed.
19.-23. June, € 300 for food and accommodation, donation-based instructions, passaddhi.com
Quiet walking, Northern Spain
Dive deep into the forests and mountains of Somiedo Parque Natural in Asturias for a week-long mindfulness and walking retreat led by UK-based therapist and trainer Frankie Sikes. Accommodation is in rustic self-catering apartments in La Pinietsa, a traditional stone farmhouse. The mindful, silent walks are gentle and slow (practiced as a type of meditation), with packed lunches (and phones and cameras left behind). The area is breathtakingly beautiful and there is a free day to explore cities like Oviedo or go on a bear watching excursion.
Seven day retreat £ 650 including transfers, breakfast and some lunches, various dates, Walkinginspirit.co.uk
Tai Chi, Canary Islands
This retreat in the Villa Azul in the north of Fuertaventura combines the ancient movement and meditation arts of meditative Tai Chi and Qigong, which are taught by the founder Paco Borges, with Taoist yoga. The setting overlooking the Atlantic adds to the feeling of peace and some sessions are held on the outside deck. Healthy brunches, smoothies, and four dinners, plus massages and beach transfers are included. It is open all year round and offers retreats every day. It’s flexible too.
From € 665 per week, taichifuerteventura.com