10 meditation and mindfulness retreats in the UK
P.Perhaps more than ever, people are discovering the benefits of meditation and mindfulness for mental health. Chart-topping apps like Headspace and Calm are at the top of a multi-million dollar industry, while online courses in meditation and yoga have grown in popularity during last year’s global lockdowns. There is nothing better than immersing yourself in a residential retreat, however, and whether you want to immerse yourself in the millennia-old wisdom of Buddhist teaching or prefer a strictly secular approach, there are a number of options available to you.
Although the schedules change regularly in line with the changing restrictions surrounding Covid-19, the retreats listed here plan to resume in-person classes in 2021. Heightened security measures are taken, such as z and smaller group sizes. Many of these companies are offering new online courses in addition to their regular schedule so that you can attend from home.
18th century Sharpham House estate
Capability Brown’s exquisitely manicured gardens provide a suitably relaxing setting for meditation retreats at Sharpham House, an elegant 18th-century estate in rural Devon. If you are a complete newbie or want to revive a long-neglected meditation practice, a one-day mindfulness course is a good place to start; other shorter events include foraging and wild medicine in the rich forests of the property. For a more comprehensive wellness retreat, five-day residential courses are offered that combine courses of mindful movement, creative writing, guided meditation, and forest walks into a holistic retreat that rejuvenates the body and mind.
Ashprington, Devon. Day courses from £ 45 per person
The joie de vivre
Zest Life offers three-day retreats on the rustic Plas Cadnant property in east Anglesey, with the daily routine split between meditation, yoga, massage, and guided country walks. Luxurious accommodations can be found in the property’s historic coach house, while the vegetarian food without sugar and dairy products is wholesome and invigorating. The in-house river offers opportunities for a refreshing swim, after which the fireplace in the living room is even more inviting.
Plas Cadnant, Anglesey, Wales. Three day courses from £ 425 per person
Rivendell Retreat Center
If you are interested in learning more about the Buddhist origins of mindfulness meditation, a retreat at the Rivendell Center in Sussex might be for you. The center is run by the Buddhist community Triratna, which emphasizes that the retreats are open to people of all faiths and none; a good place to start is with a weekend introduction to meditation that focuses on breathing exercises and emotional positivity. For those who are comfortable with long sitting meditation sessions and quiet retreat times, one-week advanced courses are offered. Rivendell is idyllically situated in a Victorian rectory amid the rolling hills and woods of the Sussex Weald; To get away from it all, you can also stay in a detached wooden chalet in the garden, where vegan food is delivered straight to your door.
High Hurstwood, East Sussex. Weekend courses from £ 195 per person
Aruna Ratanagiri Monastery
Are you ready to really take your meditation practice to the next level? A truly immersive three month retreat in the Northumberland wilderness awaits guests at the Aruna Ratanagiri Monastery Winter Retreat. The monastery is run by monks and nuns of the Thai forest tradition of Buddhism and follows a tough daily routine: With days from 5 a.m. with morning prayers and housework and silence from 9 p.m. every night, this is not for the weekend practitioner. However, the serenity and beauty of the Northumberland countryside, with the peaceful Bolam Lake Country Park and Whalton Manor Gardens nearby, are very conducive to meditation practice – especially when adorned with the frost and snow of winter. If you want to get to know monastery life but don’t want to commit to the full three months, it is possible to book a night outside the winter retreat season.
Harnham, Northumberland. Monastery runs on donations; Contact them to arrange one-day visits or three month retreats
Dorset fitness retreat
(British Tourist Office)
Wellness traditions of all kinds, ancient or modern, religious or secular, know that “body and mind” are a false dichotomy. Physical and mental fitness are inextricably linked, and both are the focus of the Dorset Fitness Retreat, which combines yoga and meditation with punishing bootcamp courses. After five days of homemade organic groceries, HIIT classes, paddle boarding off the Jurassic Coast, and relaxing yoga sessions, you’ll feel reborn. Home for the week is the charming Old Rectory, an elegant mansion dating back to 1730, while the surrounding village of Symondsbury has a long history as a place of healing – in the Middle Ages, people came here to bathe in the spring, said to have medicinal properties
Symondsbury, Dorset. Five day retreats from £ 634 per person.
Dhanakosa Buddhist Retreat Center
British landscapes are not much more transcendent than those of the Scottish Highlands, and the shimmering lakes and mighty mountains of Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park make a stunning backdrop for wellness excursions at the Dhanakosa Buddhist Retreat Center. The programs here are eclectic, with courses that combine tai chi, poetry, meditation, and photography and unite multiple disciplines to promise the perfect tonic for the mind, body, and spirit. Your surroundings here are medicine enough, however: your room in the whitewashed farmhouse overlooks the mirror-smooth surface of Loch Vail, and the surrounding wooded hills offer endless opportunities for relaxing strolls.
Balquhidder, Scotland. Recommended donations start at £ 280 for a weekend course
Maenllwyd Retreat Center
To really get away from it all, there is hardly a better place than the Maenllwyd Retreat Center, tucked away in a remote valley in Powys, Mid Wales. Without electricity and telephone reception and spartan accommodation in a draughty wooden farm that is heated with a paraffin stove, this is not for beginners. However, it is a fantastic place to immerse yourself in long periods of intense meditation, with your fellow practitioners and a few passing sheep being the only other souls in sight. The center is run by the Western Chan Fellowship, a lay Buddhist organization, and healthy vegetarian food is served by a Zen Buddhist chef.
Powys, Wales. Price on request
Splash around with Thera-Sea. through the Cornish countryside
Too often, the rhythms of modern life lead us to neglect our connection with nature, with devastating consequences for our mental health. If you’re interested in a wellness retreat but the mention of religion makes you run for the mountains, Thera-Seas exhilarating escapes in the Cornish countryside might be for you. If you live in a rustic cottage, shepherd’s hut, or tree house on the banks of the Fal River, start with workshops and activities that will help you reprogram your relationship with sleep, wellbeing, and nature. Surfing, wild swimming, foraging, and bushcraft classes in the forest are some of the highlights, while workshops focus on mindfulness, relaxation, and yoga.
Cornwall. From £ 315 per person for a two night course
Vajraloka Retreat Center
The established Buddhist-run Vajraloka Retreat Center touts with the tempting promise to help “get rid of your electronic devices.” Retreats are not for absolute beginners, but the recommended minimum experience is only six months of meditation, so this is a great place to take your practice to the next level. On an average day, you might get up at 6 a.m., pack about nine hours of meditation and class before the day is over – but there is always time for a relaxing walking meditation in the rolling hills of the Denbighshire countryside. For ultimate relaxation and seclusion, opt for a secluded retreat in the Castell – a rustic but comfortable stone house away from the main complex, where you can concentrate on your practice completely free of distractions.
Denbighshire, North Wales. From £ 315 per person for a week long retreat
The tree relaxation retreat
The windswept moorlands and soporific forest valleys of the North York Moors form the backdrop at The Tree, an award-winning retreat that renounces any teaching tradition or religious practice in order to offer an all-encompassing, holistic approach to relaxation. Your day could start with an early morning yoga session before heading to lunch with your mindfulness meditation class. After a relaxing vegetarian meal, you might find yourself strolling through the moors followed by a hot stone massage, aromatherapy or qigong exercise. Accommodation is in modern, comfortable rooms either in the main building or in a renovated chapel, and – you will find with relief – cell phones do not work here.
Rosedale East, Yorkshire. Weekends from £ 265 per person