Vipassana literally means to see things as they really are, and is one of India’s most ancient techniques of meditation. In fact, this meditation technique was at one time taught in India as a universal remedy for most ailments. The technique of Vipassana Meditation is taught at ten-day residential courses across North America and around the world, during which participants learn the basics of the Vipassana method, and practice sufficiently to experience its beneficial results. Amazingly, there are no charges for the courses – not even to cover the cost of food and accommodation. You can opt to offer a donation to support the center you attend, but this is one tradition that has kept the barrier to entry non existent. If you’ve never done a meditation retreat, 10 days may sound too intense but I’ve known lots of people who’ve done it for the first time and loved the experience. Being in a rhythm of silence and stillness for 10 days is said to offer lasting benefits. You do need to commit in advance and be aware of their rules. Click here to learn more.
Set in the natural environment of the beautiful Kootenay Bay region, the fresh air, clean lake, wildflowers, gardens and forests surrounding the Yasodhara Ashram provide a unique setting for spiritual reflection and growth (in fact, a big part of this Ashram’s purpose is to preserve the health of the land).
While the Ashram is rooted in the Karma Yoga tradition, it tends to attract people from all backgrounds, ages, and paths who are looking for meaning and purpose, experiencing life transitions, or seeking healing. They offer a variety of retreat and program options, from guided to self-guided.
Amaya is one of the only places in North America to offer dark room meditation. You can opt for a 24 hour dark room journey or seven day guided dark room retreat. Amaya is a safe, quiet and natural environment for an inner journey. We interviewed Tania Edwards who explains the rich history and healing potential of dark meditation here. Last we checked, Amaya was pausing operations, looking for a new location. Stay tuned.
The Hermitage on Denman Island is a renowned rustic organic farm that offers sanctuary and stillness for spiritual seekers of all backgrounds. While the core values of The Hermitage are rooted in Buddhist Dharma, they welcome teachers from a variety of meditation traditions. Following the tradition of Eastern “forest monasteries” accommodations are small, private meditation huts set among trees, sharing a central wash house. Guests are encouraged to take their cushions to a private spot and meditate in the midst of nature. Scheduled teaching and silent practice retreats are offered during the summer months and occasionally during the winter. To register online for retreats, take a look at the retreat schedule.
Renowned as one of the world’s most beautiful retreat locations, Hollyhock offers a range of spiritual retreats and programs, in addition to their broader programming. If you’re seeking a spiritual retreat, Hollyhock is known for bringing in the world’s top teachers, including people like Mirabai Starr and Angel Kyodo Williams. If you’re seeking solitude, self guided retreats are available, too. We’d recommend the annual meditation and mindfulness retreat with Mara Branscombe, which teaches how to align with the seasons to discover inner sanctuary. Details here.
Run by founders Richard and Gillian, the Sentinel is their answer to this question: What are we collectively capable of achieving and becoming when we explore beyond the boundaries of convention to access a mindful state of peace and compassion? The beautiful purpose of this facility is to support people who seek to expand consciously in this world.
The Sentinel is a gorgeous place for a spiritual retreat. All of their rooms enjoy stunning pristine lake and snow capped mountain views. You can opt to book a few days of self-guided reflection or choose from their list of many packaged retreat options. Some are more wellness focused, and others more spiritual in nature.
Rivendell is a beautiful yet simple, silent retreat facility set at the top of a hill overlooking Bowen Island. A true sanctuary in nature, you might just find a deer beside you when you open your eyes from a deep meditation (like I did!). Based in the Christian faith, and run by volunteers, this centre offers spiritual sanctuary to all, whatever your tradition or journey may be. You can email the staff to ask for availability. When on a self-guided retreat, a volunteer is available each morning to lead you through a guided meditation and offer support; the remainder of the time is yours to explore the Island. You can opt for an even deeper experience of solitude if you choose to book through the Rivendell Hermitage, which offers small huts in the woods with no electricity.
Bodega Ridge provides a very quaint and cosy setting to support your spiritual retreat. Many beautiful teachers choose this location to host their retreats. While not all of these retreats are listed on their site (currently they show a list of yoga retreats), In past years, we’ve seen some great retreats offered at Bodega, including like this Women’s Writing retreat with Cori Howard which offers an opportunity to delve deeper into your truth seeking, and self exploration through writing and community. Cori’s retreats is a great one for those at a crossroads & needing time away from a hectic schedule.
Located on Salt Spring Island, Stowell Lake Farm is a thriving organic farm, retreat centre, and community located on over a hundred acres of mixed forests, fields, rocky outcrops, and rolling hills. This is a place that is known for nourishing both the body and soul. Many retreats are held here with renowned teachers, check their schedule to see what’s coming up.
A beautiful and recently expanded yoga and meditation retreat destination, Nectar is one of BC’s most sought after spots for a weekend getaway. They host a variety of yoga and meditation and spiritual teachers, who lead guided retreats but you can also opt to book a weekend in silence for yourself, or create your own retreat that could include self guided meditation or a yoga class or two. The quiet energy on Bowen Island provides a soul-nourishing location to reconnect to your own inner depths, discover grounding, and connect with nature.