Every now and then I stumble across a meditation retreat that looks jaw-droppingly stunning. It’ll be set in some beautiful corner of the world, overlooking mountains, lakes, endless fields of flowers…
The digs in some of these places look comfortable, with silk sheets, wifi and aircon.
Now, I could criticise and say meditation is supposed to be an ordeal. You’re supposed to do it in a cave, eating only beans and crickets. You’re supposed to really feel the elements.
You think monks have beds, as opposed to piles of straw or whatever?
But I won’t say any of that.
Partly because that’s not how I meditate.
Partly because you don’t need to suffer to get amazing results.
Mostly because that’s not the point I’m making today.
I’ve never been on a retreat like this, but I imagine if they’re any good, the meditation practice will be simple, basic and boring. Strip away the million-dollar views and the organic, Michelin-star vegan food and it’s the same underneath.
Focus on your breathing.
Become aware of your body.
Release your thoughts.
There’s nothing you can’t do in a dank bus stop, overlooking a pile of soggy newspapers.
Boring meditation, nothing fancy, gets you all the results.
Again, I’m not criticising these retreats. They can be very useful.
But they’re not necessary.
Sure, they can kick-start your meditation practice if you’ve been struggling.
So can many things, like my meditation book.
In fact, it has a few nice advantages:
- While the hassles of travel make great fodder for your practice, you probably have other inconveniences you could use instead,
- Learning meditation in your context – at home, in your schedule – means you’ll stick with it longer,
- You can reread a book and skip chapters you don’t want,
- No distracting luxuries,
- Plus, compared to a meditation-themed holiday, my book is so cheap it’s practically free.
By all means, go on a meditation retreat. I’d like to one day.
But the more prepared you are, the better experience you’ll have.