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Meditation Retreats

Author Jennifer    Category Fitness     Tags , , , ,

Meditation retreats are a popular form or component of traditional spiritual retreats, which involve isolation from the everyday stresses of the wider community for the purposes of solitude, contemplation and spiritual relief.  They are organized all over the world and commonly take place at remote locations outside urban centers.


Known to have been in practice over 5,000 years ago, meditation in its many forms is based on a studied individual concentration promoting awareness and realization of the spiritual self. Virtually all organized religions and religious belief systems encourage forms of meditation, but the meditation retreat model is most frequently used by practitioners of Buddhism and Christianity, along with more secular or New Age adjuncts of Hinduism, the first faith to promote and practice meditation.


A popular form of meditation retreat in North America and Europe is the satsang, an all-inclusive retreat involving both community and solitary activity. Individuals taking part in a satsang are assisted in their meditation exercises towards overall goals of enlightenment. The teacher, or leader of the satsang, encourages a silent association with one’s “inner truth” but engages in dialogue with the student where necessary to seek out meditative techniques suitable for the individual.


Though satsang retreats are usually non-sectarian, retreat teachers will vary in their spiritual approaches to meditation. A common model is the advaita (“oneness”) school of the Vedanta branch of Hindu philosophy. Satsang retreats are currently in practice at over 400 locations around the world.


Christian religions have struggled to find adaptable forms of meditation and many now employ the term to indicate a form of deep prayer. In this sense, Christian retreats and youth camps across North America are founded on forms of meditation. Catholic retreats in North America include COR (Christ in Others), a three-day youth retreat, and Cursillo, a similar retreat for adults.


In recent years Cursillo retreats were adopted by Protestant denominations and now include the Methodist Tres Dies and Emmaus Walk, the Lutheran Via De Cristo and the ecumenical Agape. In addition to a divergence in meditative approach, Christian retreats are also unique in their policy that upon completion, attendees are discouraged from discussing details of the retreat to outsiders. This policy may be instituted in the hope that resulting curiosity will increase future enrolment.


Meditation is so pivotal to the Buddhist faith, and so central to an understanding of the faith, that many of its adherents spend a great part of their lives in a state or condition of meditative retreat. This is evident at Buddhist schools in Japan, Korea and other Asian centers where meditation is an indispensable component of the curricula.

As meditation becomes more and more accessible in North America, there are many avenues for the beginner to choose from. Retreats are a natural step in the learning process and can be easily investigated to suit the needs of the individual.