You don’t need to travel to far-flung places to meditate but why wouldn’t you? Beautiful locales around the world inspire you to relax, unwind, and really get in tune with your inner self, for spiritual retreats that leave you refreshed with a whole new outlook on your day-to-day.
We picked the brains of a few seasoned practitioners of meditation to uncover their favorite locales for spiritual retreats.
1. The Grand Canyon
Tiffany Cruikshank (L.A.c., MAOM, RYT) founder of Yoga Medicine and author of "Meditate Your Weight" loves to meditate at one of America's natural wonders: the Grand Canyon.
“The massiveness of it and the spaciousness there is really calming for me,” she says.
2. Cabrera, Dominican Republic
Rebecca Weible, founder of Yo Yoga!, loves to meditate at Playa Diamante Beach in Cabrera, Dominican Republic.
“The water is clear, calm and shallow for almost a mile out so you could choose to sit or kneel in the water for your practice," she says. "Petite, gentle waves break right on the shore creating a quiet and soothing soundtrack, perfect for syncing with your breath.”
3. Half Moon Bay Beach, California
Lauren Imparato loves meditating anywhere near the sea, from the front of a sailboat sailing through the Mediterranean to the cliffs at Half Moon Bay Beach, near where she grew up.
“There is a rhythmic nature to the waves and tides that not only mimics the breath, but helps me naturally fall into it,” says the founder of I.AM.YOU., a lifestyle company and yoga studio in Manhattan and author of "RETOX: Healthy Solutions for Real Life."
“Meditation is simply breathing, And the sea reminds me that that's the only thing I really have to remember to do to be healthy and whole."
4. The River Ganges, Rishikesh
India is a popular locale for meditation given the practice's deep cultural importance in the region.
Constantin Bisanz, the founder of ALOHA, a wellness-driven food company, had the opportunity to travel to the origin of the river Ganges above Rishikesh, which is where the Beatles famously delved into the historical and spiritual practices of mediation.
"I was up in the mountains in the Himalayas, overlooking the valley, seeing the River Ganges, and that was kind of, in a sense, a very special place," says Bisanz.
Dr. Lynn Anderson, Naturopathic Doctor and Certified Yoga Therapist, had a completely different but no less rewarding meditation experience in Rishikesh.
“We think of meditation as something that is done sitting still and away from distractions,” she says. “But the true nature of meditation is to be mindful and present. As I took the 16 miles white water rafting expedition down the Ganges I was mindful of the calm water, the turbulent water and the twist and turns of the river bed. Life is like a river. To navigate it you need to be mindful and present.”
5. Monson, Maine
This tiny, 686-person town is Anderson’s other favorite place to meditate.
“My family owned a farm house which boarded a stream that flowed from the nearby mountains," she says. "Down over the steep bank, hidden by the trees I would sit at the side of the brook and listen to the gentle babbling of the water running over the smooth stones. It was the only sound to be heard.
"Here I was at peace with the world and it is here that I would meditate. Surrounded by the colors, sounds and smells of nature the mind relaxes into a state of peaceful reflection.”
Image care of Tomas Castelazo
6. Sedona, AZ
Tracee Dunblazier, spiritual empathy and author of “The Demon Slayer’s Handbook” series, shares that her favorite place to meditate is at Bell Rock, in Sedona, Arizona, a veritable meditation destination particularly given the presence of the McLean Meditation Institute.
“The first time I went, I hiked up about 100 ft to the first plateau,” says Dunblazier. “Once up there, at the very edge facing the beautiful valley and red rocks, I sat in the chair sized cubby hole in the cliff that fits one. I was immersed in the rich smells of dirt, desert sage--and the connection to other dimensions was off the charts. As I meditated an Eagle flew overhead.”
Elisabeth Manning, founder of Fertile Living, also loves to go to Sedona to meditate.
"Meditation is easy and accelerated because of the many vortexes," she notes, citing the region's famous locales where the earth is exceptionally alive with energy. "I love to meditate on Airport Mesa to calm/balance emotions and heighten my awareness."
7. Atalaya, Santa Fe
Kathy Walsh, mindfulness and meditation coach and founder of Joyohboy, loves to meditate while hiking.
“When I go on a hike I often find a space that has an energy to it that feels heightened," she says. "I will sit on the earth and allow the vibration to flow through my body. Specifically, I love the hike called Atalaya in Santa Fe. Half way up the trail turns and faces the mountain. I often meditate there."
8. Kemi, Finland
Debbie Vyskocil, President of Curative Via & CV Performance Institute, ventures away from the typical beaches and mountains to a unique spot in Finland.
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“Meditating in Kemi, Finland in the Arctic Circle was my absolute favorite," she says. "The clear, cool air made for the most amazing and kinesthetic breathing meditation. The crystal blue sky set against the pure white snow was an almost entrancing visual to let your eyes soft focus on. The warmth of the sun was penetrating since the air was so clean.”
Image care of TravelingOtter
9. Easter Island
One of Kelsey Patel's best meditation experiences was at Easter Island.
"The island is known for it’s Moai," explains the meditation coach and owner of Pure Barre Beverly Hills, "But the actual magic of being on this tiny island, where there are more horses than humans, with the Rapa Nui people who almost became extinct due to civil conflict and wars on their own island and then sitting in front of these statues, which represent the actual human beings who populated the land at one point and were leaders of their particular village or tribe and feeling the energy of the land... it feels like you’re a tiny dot on the entire planet, which the island somewhat is, and I felt so much aliveness because the island is so far from anything, yet so palpable with life and energy."
Image care of FLJuJitsu
It's not surprising that Hawaii is so popular for so many of our meditation enthusiasts: it has a unique energy that draws many to its shores.
Bisanz loves Maui, which he calls a "place that's kind of special for me, with a special energy." It's no wonder he used a Hawaiian word as the name for his company.
Patel loves Hawaii as well, "particularly mama Maui as they call her," she says. "There's so much incredible energy on the island."
Image care of Chensiyuan
11. Machu Picchu, Peru
The historical city of Machu Picchu -- the lost city of the Inca -- is a major draw for psychic Linda Lauren.
“It is a very spiritual, sacred place with a special energy that draws you to awareness and silence," she says. "There are hot springs bubbling up from the caverns at it’s core, with waterfalls offering a cleansing experience. If you have a honed intuition, or already meditate regularly, expect to experience visions and feelings on the more intense side.”
12. The Sanctuary Belintash, Bulgaria
Yet another ancient locale with an enormous amount of history, this sanctuary in Bulgaria is one of Lauren's favorite places to meditate.
"This ancient sanctuary is a huge rock and part of one of the three point formation of European energy zones,” notes Lauren. “The area creates a strong vibrational pull that visitors insist enhances the likelihood of anything paranormal. Visions, spirits, and physical sensations accompany your visit, and it would be fascinating to keep a journal on what your senses experience.”
Image care of Mstyslav Chernov
13. Mykonos, Greece
There's no place like home, especially when home is Greece. Dr. Theodoros Kousouli D.C., C.H.t. always makes sure to spend some time meditating in Mykonos when he returns to his homeland.
"Every time I go there I can feel the ancients calling to me, the crystal clear waters inviting me," he says. "Whether it is the break of morning or when the sun sets , by far my favorite place to meditate. My soul vibrates and feels as if it is singing- I feel most connected there."
Image care of Flickr: Byron Hetrick
14. Redwood Forest
It's not only one of the natural wonders of the world -- the Redwood Forest is also a great place for meditation, at least as far as meditation enthusiast and writer Erin Michaela Sweeney is concerned.
"One of my favorite meditation spots in recent months has been the Wellstone Center in the Redwoods, where I was an emerging writer in residency in August," she says. "Situated four miles above the Santa Cruz boardwalk in the morning fog of Soquel, California, the WCR is a retreat where I practiced my meditation and my craft for two weeks. The peaceful environment allowed me to explore my creativity both with meditating and with writing."
Image care of GnomeFilliere
15. The Alps
The beautiful mountains spanning French, Italian, Swiss, and Austrian borders are one of Bisanz's favorite places in the world to meditate.
"Growing up in the Austrian Alps -- my family lives outside of Salzburg in the mountains -- I like to be there, to find some peace there."
Of course, you don't have to travel far to meditate -- there are lots of meditation techniques that you can use to meditate right at home. But when given the choice, wouldn't you love to have a fantastic view?
Have we missed any of your favorite meditation spots? Share them with us via Twitter @organicauthorit!