Top 5 Vacation Spots for a Meditation Retreat

Vacations to be truly rejuvenating, doesn’t always to be about going off to exotic lands on going on an adventure. Sometimes, the best vacation you can have is the most laidback—the one that will help you rejuvenate from within. Vacations that are packed with activities can be stressful. Such vacations can ruin the purpose of a holiday, which is to rest and relax.

To truly relax, you can take a different kind of a vacation—one that can quiet your mind and open your heart. I’m talking about going to a meditation retreat. We’ve picked some of the best ones you can consider for your next vacation. Here are our top choices:

Rolling Meadows Retreat, Brooks, Maine

Rolling Meadows offers city slickers that chance to unplug from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Silent retreats are held year-round and are designed to quiet the mind and increase awareness. Guests can join a series of meditation and yoga sessions and free time can be spent for reflection, solitude and in exploring the breathtaking beauty of the land.

Stillpoint Lodge, Halibut Cove, Alaska

With short boat ride or plane trip through the magnificent Kachemak Bay, you’ll find the secluded Stillpoint Lodge located in enchanting village of Halibut Cove. The lodge offers guided meditations, yoga and rejuvenating walking meditations in Alaskan wilderness. The lodge also features a poustinia, a silent meditation space that’s open 24 hours a day. Guests also get to see local wildlife as well as dine on organic meals using local ingredients.

Ala Kukui, Maui, Hawaii

Literally translated as “Path of Enlightenment”, Ala Kukui is ideal for those in search of spiritual renewal and creative awakening. Located in the beautiful land of Hana, Ala Kukui offers stunning views of Haleakala as well as the Pacific Ocean. The center offers different types of retreats including wellness retreats, corporate retreats, family retreats, and even retreats for veterans struggling with PTSD.

Esalen Institute, Big Sur, California

Surrounded by majestic mountains and blue ocean, the Esalen Institute in Big Sur, California offers an amazing location for meditation, yoga, wellness, spiritual renewal and relaxation. The lodge sits on 120 acres of lush property where guests can bathe in hot springs overlooking the ocean, meditate, practice yoga, go hiking, and volunteer in its organic farm.

Feathered Pipe Ranch, Montana

Situated in the heart of the Montana Rockies, the Feather Pipe Ranch is an oasis of peace. Here, guests can go on a personal retreat, reflect, and connect with nature. Accommodation choices include tepees, yurts, and tents as well as deluxe rooms. Guests can join in meditation, yoga and chakra sessions, as well hike in the forest, canoe, and swim in the lake.

A meditation retreat can provide you with an entirely new perspective on life. It can help you de-stress by removing the pressures of daily life. It can also help you rediscover joy and peace and will teach how to sustain it in your life.

How Meditation Can Help You Uncover Your Passion and Purpose

Did you know that having a sense of purpose for your life will make you live longer? In fact, it’s even been proven to reduce your risk of heart disease and Alzheimer’s.

Those who develop a strong sense of purpose usually do so by discovering their passions. Following your passion doesn’t necessarily mean finding the right occupation; it means finding what you love and what you live for.

But how do you discover what your passion and purpose in life is? With so much noise going on out there and in your head, maybe you just need to quiet your mind and soul so that they can tell you what it is.

What you need is to observe your thoughts as they drift through your mind. And the only way to do that is through meditation.

Meditation allows you to refocus your awareness and let go of random thoughts. As your experiences play out in your head, recognize how they make you feel. Meditation has the power to unlock even our deepest memories, things you may have thought were left behind in your childhood. You’ll be surprised by how glimpses of the past can have a profound effect on you today and in this moment.

You can remember the warmth on your face on a sunny day or your laugh as you played with the family dog. Sometimes our purpose in life comes from the recollection of simpler days when we remember the things that made us happiest.

Ask yourself when the last time you laughed uncontrollably was, had a grin on your face you couldn’t wipe off, or had butterflies in your stomach.

Was it the times that you’ve helped others? Or maybe it was when you baked your first pie. Perhaps the last time you felt true happiness was when you traveled alone.

Reflective and mindful meditation allows us to gain a deeper insight or wisdom to a question we bring to mind. Sit comfortably and take slow and increasingly deeper breaths until you are relaxed and calm. Ask yourself the question.

“What is my purpose?”

Insights will surface in your mind. They could be memories, random thoughts, or even dreams you’ve once had. Watch them like a movie. Observe them without judgment while you continue to focus on your question.

The answer won’t always come to you right away. But overtime, you will be able to focus on what the insights are telling you. And soon, you’ll come to recognize exactly what your body, mind, and soul have been trying to communicate to you.

Remember that you have your own path and your own pace when it comes to tapping into your consciousness. Only you can make the mind-body connection.

The 3 Biggest Ways Meditation Can Benefit Your Mind and Body

There’s no point in doing something if it doesn’t benefit you, right? This is something many people consider when they contemplate starting up meditation. They consider it to just be sitting down and being quiet…not much else is involved with meditation, right?

Wrong. Meditation has never been a holistic hoax, and that still stands. While some things benefits of meditation are very superficial, there are actually a variety of important mental and physical benefits that practitioners of yoga experience when they meditate.

What are those benefits? There are honestly too many to mention in just one blog post. However, there are three big benefits that any meditation skeptic should know about.

  1. Meditation is great for anxiety and soothing the physical soul.

Your nervous system is the gateway to all of your bodily functions. From how you think to how you move, your nervous system is an amazing thing…and meditation can greatly affect how it functions.

Being specific, meditation activates your parasympathetic nervous system. This directly relates to your rest response — or how calm and relaxed you are physically and mentally. While many people associate rest with a mental state, it can also affect how your body functions overall. This relates to your heart rate, blood pressure, immunity, digestion and blood pressure. Meditation also helps to lower your stress hormones through this system as well.

Similarly, meditation can also help you sleep at night. While it obviously relates to your body physically shutting down, meditation also calms your racing mind, making it easier to turn in at the end of the night.

  1. Meditation improves your creativity and productivity.

A clear mind is a mind that comes up with great ideas. When you have a bunch of thoughts racing around your brain, it can be hard to settle on one idea and fully realize it. Meditation helps to clear away these thoughts, making room for your creativity to shine through.

Think about your mind like a cluttered desk. What can you do with a cluttered desk other than clean it or walk away? Meditation is the process of cleaning it, allowing work to actually be done at the desk. This is the perfect illustration for how meditation makes a person more productive. A clear mind is a mind that gets things done.

  1. Meditation makes people happier.

Meditation on principle is something that is calming, and being calm leads to being happier. When someone meditates, they let the weight of the world fall away from them and they experience a small taste of enlightenment. Meditation helps a person to process thoughts, get rid of negativity and clears their mind.

The fact that meditation relieves stress is one of the biggest benefits of meditation, but not just because of this obvious relaxation benefit. A relaxed person with little stress in their life will obviously be happier than someone who has a life filled with stress and little relaxation.

One final benefit of meditation — it’s a great way to take some time out to focus on yourself, no the clutter of everyday stressors and irritants. Take some time out of your day to meditate. You’ll be glad you did.

Yes, Positive Emotions Really Can Transform Your Health

thinkpositive1Have you ever considered the role of positivity in your life? In fact, think about this question for a moment: how positive are you?

If you immediately answered with a “very” or “yeah, I’m positive,” then stop and rethink your answer. Give yourself five minutes. Positive people exude their positivity in everything they do. They may not be eternally smiling, stereotypical balls of sunshine, but they do have a “can do, will do, will succeed” attitude that helps them get through the day.

But is there a purpose behind all of this positivity? It makes sense that being positive can increase your productivity and lift your mood some, that’s for sure. There’s also that other quip that people like to throw around that you should think about: “being more positive is healthy for you!”

Is this actually true though? Is there any direct correlation between being positive and being healthy?

In reality, there have actually been quite a few studies done on the subject. Many scientists and researchers wanted to officially find out how positivity affects a person’s health.

For instance, a 2015 study shows that what you say on Twitter could actually be directly correlated to a person’s heart health.

Based on the data found, users that used more optimistic language presented a lower risk for their mortality in terms of heart disease. This means that users that used words in their tweets like “stronger” and “faith” were healthier than those who used more negative language or who had indiscernible leanings.

Researchers from the University of California at Berkeley conducted a study based on the emotion of awe. Awe, amazement and wonderment are all positive emotions that can positively affect your health, based on the research that discovered the emotions have natural, anti-inflammatory properties.

The Berkeley study involves researches looking at subjects that had recently experienced awe versus those who had not. Those who had experienced awe were found to have lower levels of cytokines, inflammatory markers that may cause autoimmune diseases, depression, Alzheimer’s and heart disease.

One of the study’s authors spoke to news website The Huffington Post about her thoughts on the study and subject.

“Rather than seeing a walk through the park or a trip to the museum as an indulgence, we hope people will view these kind of experiences as important ways to promote a healthy body in addition to a healthy mind…”

Another study conducted on positive emotions was spearheaded by positive psychologist Barbara Frederickson. Her research focused on the effects of loving-kindness meditation (known as LKM) which is a traditional Buddhist practice that combines meditation with compassion and collective love within a group.

She found that the boosted feelings of compassion led to improvement in resting vagal tone. The vagus nerve has to do with a person’s overall physical health as well as their feelings of connection and love.

Frederickson had this to say about her findings:

“In a way, our bodies are designed for love, because the more we love, the more healthy we become.”