It’s a strong part of our human nature to seek time and space to nurture our spirit. Going on retreat is a way to clear the decks and allow for the process of unwinding and reconnecting in order to find our way back to our deeper wisdom, internal rhythms and nature itself. Fortunately, there are several places within driving distance that can provide the conditions, guidance and sustenance to help you find a way to “ just be”.
Aryaloka Buddhist Center, Aryaloka.org (Newmarket, NH)
Founded in 1985, Aryaloka offers half day, full day, residential weekend and weeklong retreats in the Buddhist spiritual path. There are also art-related events, rotating 6-week classes, yoga and meditation instruction as well as on-going opportunities for community building.
Be sure to experience: The circular meditation/shrine room on the top floor of the main building
Rolling Ridge Retreat & Conference Center, www.rollingridge.org, (North Andover, MA)
Rolling Ridge is a historical landmark mansion that began serving as a center of hospitality and self-renewal over 65 years ago. Their programs cover spiritual formation, health/wellness, peace/justice and environment/earth-care. Spiritual workshops and programs are across faiths but predominantly Christianity-based.
Be sure to experience: The gardens and grounds as well as the 2 labyrinths near the lake
Wonderwell Mountain Refuge, wonderwellrefuge.org (Springfield, NH)
Built in 1911 as a summer home, Wonderwell was turned into a sanctuary for mindfulness and compassion practice in 2011. An hour’s drive from Manchester, Wonderwell offers silent retreats, classes and events in Buddhist wisdom and practice. Yoga, creative expression, ecological sustainability and family-centered events are also a part of the schedule.
Be sure to experience: The inspirational multi-level meditation space
Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health, Kripalu.org (Stockbridge/Lenox, MA)
Originally a Jesuit seminary nestled in the Berkshires, Kripalu was turned into a retreat and education center over 40 years ago. Its offerings include creative expression, health, fitness and wellness, self-discovery, spiritual practice, yoga and Ayurveda. Its programs are lead by some of the top teachers and practitioners in the world. A sample of upcoming programs include those lead by Caroline Myss, Tara Brach, Stephen Cope, Dan Millman and Joan Borysenko
Be sure to experience: The labyrinth, hiking trails and Journeydance/Let Your Yoga Dance classes offered at noon.
Omega Institute For Holistic Studies, Eomega.org (Rhinebeck, NY)
Started in 1977, Omega is located on 250 acres and runs programs and retreats from May-October with other programs in NYC, CA and Costa Rica. It is a similar model to Kripalu in that it too attracts world-renowned and beloved teachers and has the capacity to provide a deeply immersive experience around health, creative expression, relationships, family, leadership, career and sustainable living, Upcoming workshops will be lead by Elizabeth Gilbert (she’ll also be at Kripalu), Brian Weiss, Don Miguel Ruiz, John Holland and Marianne Williamson.
Be sure to experience: Kayaking on the lake, The Meditation House and time spent amongst the wisdom in the Ram Dass Library
For all retreat centers, accommodations are basic and uncomplicated. The food is deliciously made from scratch and tends to be local, often plant-based and sometimes organic. These conditions help you to go inward to be with your vital nature. The simplicity allows the noise to quiet because it’s the constant commotion and distraction that keeps the inner critical voices chattering. The calm brings your inner wisdom to be known as a feeling of attunment, a remembrance of your truth, your source of fulfillment and what it means to be human in a physical body and an understood mind.