4 reasons to try a meditation retreat
The magic of mindfulness is that you can practice it any moment of any day. When walking, you can tune your awareness to each step. When eating, you focus on the sensory pleasures of each bite. Or you can sit in a quiet spot and clear your mind.
But sometimes, our busy lives get in the way. We need a holiday – and the chance to immerse ourselves in our practice.
That’s what a mindfulness meditation retreat offers – an opportunity to learn mindfulness and practice it alone and in a group, so it’s easier to incorporate into life back home.
Here are 4 benefits of mindfulness retreats:
Lower stress and anxiety
This is one of the most reported – and perhaps most valuable – health benefits of mindfulness. Learning to look inward and see ourselves objectively allows us to relax find peace within, rather than looking for happiness from external sources.
In fact, meditation has been proven in numerous studies to reduce anxiety and stress levels significantly.
One such study, published in Health Psychology journal, discovered that mindfulness meditation directly influences and lowers the production of cortisol, the stress hormone.
The study involved 57 adults spending 90 days at a mindfulness meditation retreat. Their cortisol levels were measured before and after the retreat, and a marked difference was reported.
"The more a person reported directing their cognitive resources to immediate sensory experience and the task at hand, the lower their resting cortisol," said University of California Davis Centre for Mind and Brain researcher Tonya Jacobs.
Take time out
Most mindfulness retreats are held in a tranquil setting – Bali, Thailand, or somewhere equally peaceful and refreshing. Why learn mindfulness at home when you could combine it with a holiday in paradise?
So not only will you find peace from your practice, you’ll also unwind in the way only a holiday can provide.
Try new things
Your meditation retreat will likely be held by a meditation teacher, who will lead you in a series of group meditation sessions – and help you practice alone between sessions. There might also be yoga, nutrition, massage, qi gong, tai chi, surfing, and other activities.
It’s your chance to explore new experiences, learn something new, and do it all in a safe space.
Meet likeminded people
Of course, a meditation retreat can be quite intense. You’re spending a lot of time tuning in to your self and tuning out of the world. The trick is to talk less and be mindful more. That being said, it’s still a great chance to meet and mingle with people on a similar journey to you…chances are you will all be firm friends by the end!
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