Choosing a Meditation Retreat in Canada
If you’re looking for a meditation retreat in Canada, you might be thinking where to start? Here, we offer things to consider if you’re looking for a meditation center or any place to do a meditation retreat in Canada – or elsewhere for that matter.
We’ll start with a summary of our five main points and then expand on the first two in this article and the last three in part two.
1) Your meditation: where are you at?
Firstly, be clear and honest about where you’re at on your meditation journey because this tells you what you’re ready to do. Not all meditation retreats are equal. If you want to do a silent meditation retreat in Canada or elsewhere, how mild or intense an experience do you want? Ask yourself questions such as, until now, what’s the longest you’ve spent alone, in silence? How much support or guidance will you need? Could you possibly be looking for something else, first?
2) Meditation center near me
Secondly, how far are you willing to travel to do a meditation retreat? If you search, “Meditation center near me,” you’ll see the closest meditation centers in your area. Yet think: will you benefit from going further from what you know, stretching your comfort level? A meditation retreat could well be life changing, so go for it! For something so important, it makes sense to think before jumping at the nearest meditation retreat opportunity. If you’re looking for a meditation retreat in Alberta, we are just over the border in BC. It’s also smart to ensure that the center, like our meditation center in BC, suits your purposes. Of course, don’t overthink it and end up losing the momentum.
3) A meditation retreat - or something else?
Thirdly, consider whether you’re truly looking for a meditation retreat. There’s more than one way to advance your meditation practice or spiritual practice. Do you know the other options available to you, other than jumping into a meditation retreat in Canada or anywhere else? Maybe you’re actually ready for meeting some meditation teachers, dharma teachings, or a Sangha (group of spiritual friends) in either a conscious community setting or a group meditation silent meditation retreat. Here at Clear Sky meditation center in BC, Canada, you can find all of these.
4) What does meditation really mean to you?
Fourthly, check in on your spiritual aspiration. Honestly, what does meditation mean to you? Modern mindfulness or breathing practices might be a way to relax, which is far from, say, the aspiration of a monk in a three-year meditation retreat. If you’re mostly looking for an extended rest with some yoga and journaling thrown in, then be clear about that. Or are you looking for a meditation retreat that you know will be hard work, exploring the depths, aiming to sit in formal practice several hours a day? In our cabins, here at Clear Sky Meditation Center in BC, you can do either. We focus on the latter, and yet our cabins are available to anyone who respects the space we provide. If you want a meditation retreat that is more like a sanity break in nature, we still think it’s healthy to be aware of the potential of a traditional meditation retreat, so you know that the person in the other cabin may be spending upwards of 12 hours a day in formal meditation practice and respect the space you share.
5) Setting yourself up for success
Lastly, if you know you’re ready for a meditation retreat experience, manage your expectations depending on how long it will be. Also honor your transitions, entering in and going out of the meditation center and the meditation retreat. If you will only spend three or four nights, then don’t put too much pressure on yourself to go ‘super deep’ in your meditation retreat. For the first two days at the meditation center, you can expect to be catching up on rest. If you’re going to do a week or more, think about your transition in and out of your retreat to make the best of it.
If you book a personal meditation retreat in a cabin here at Clear Sky Meditation Center in BC, Canada, we can help you with that. We suggest, for example, that you eat your first and last meal with us, rather than alone, talking gently – even if you are there to experience a silent meditation retreat. If you’d like some advice ahead of your meditation retreat here in BC, give us a call on 1-250-429-9249. In fact, when you book with us our retreat manager will take time to call and connect with you.
Who knows, maybe you are ready for a two-week meditation retreat in Canada or elsewhere.
If you’re a spiritual seeker ready for a big shift, perhaps you’re ripe for our three-month intensive Karma Yoga program, living and learning in an awakening community.
Choosing a Meditation Retreat in Canada or Elsewhere
1) Where are you at in your meditation journey?
Two people might not be talking about the same thing when they say they’re looking for a meditation retreat in Canada or elsewhere. So, read on and consider what’s below before booking your meditation retreat, whether it’s here at Clear Sky Meditation Center in BC, Canada or at a meditation center near you. Being clear about what you hope to gain in retreat is part of what makes the silent meditation retreat meaningful for each of us.
The people who live here or who engage with our teachers and conscious community long term are what we’d call “serious” seekers and meditators. Yet, we don’t mind when folks who book our meditation cabins choose to do journaling, reading, yoga, or lots of walking. Of course, we expect them to not do things that take away from others’ experience and to be respectful of the space. But you can use our meditation cabins to retreat from urban life for a few days and detox in nature.
We make our meditation cabins available for anyone who wants a meditation retreat experience, whether that involves some gentle contemplation and rest or hours of formal meditation. We provide meals and some structure that allows you to focus on your silent retreat and meditate for as many hours as you choose.
One person called us recently and asked about our meditation cabin prices. Then they said they assumed we have hot tubs and massage as part of our options. Not that we’re against either of these, far from it, yet we don’t offer them here because it is not our focus. If you come here, aside from amazing food, you’ll be enjoying a rustic experience designed to help you focus on a practice or a deep rest experience without seeking distraction or sensorial comfort you can find elsewhere.
At our meditation center in BC, Canada, we provide the space and structure for you to focus on your meditation or other spiritual practice. If you’re looking for a getaway that involves wellness treatments, we respectfully suggest you consider something like a spa or find a nice quiet AirBnb beside a lake, and make use of the local facilities there. We may go do this sometimes, too, and yet our meditation retreat center in Canada is not that.
Meditation Retreat? Levels of Meditative Readiness
If you are indeed ready for a meditation retreat, here’s a quick guide for what you may be ready to do. A silent retreat in Canada at our meditation center here in BC may look quite different from one in Asia. Yet, before comparing centers, we suggest you start by considering yourself and thinking about what you need.
Firstly, you might want to consider where you are at, based on these next three levels of meditative “readiness.”
Level One: A person ready for a 3-4 night meditation retreat with plenty of supportive structure
So, how does one know when they are ready to do a meditation retreat in Canada or anywhere else? This first level emphasizes that someone new to the process may need support. We don’t want to leave too much empty space in your day because in the early stages we’re not ready for that. We generally need a certain level of experience meditating before we do it completely alone, without support or guidance (if that is ever the case). As such, those new to meditation would do well to go to a place that will hold the space and give support as needed for a successful meditation retreat.
You’ll want to look for an established program like that at Clear Sky Center in BC, where the supportive structure, the container in which to carry out a meditation retreat, has been established. You’ll find our system very smooth, and that comes from years of experience of our own and with visiting meditators. The maturity of a program like Clear Sky’s meditation cabin program cannot be overemphasized for personal and emotional safety at this first level. Clear Sky offers a program with daily support so that you feel safe, held, and ready to practice. At this level, we offer a daily check-in and some mindful physical work (karma yoga) to help balance the formal practice.
Level Two: A person ready for a 1-2 week meditation retreat with a group and teacher
After you’ve had an opportunity to experience a brief meditation retreat of a few days, you may feel inspired to do more. In that case, a longer meditation retreat may be for you, with the support of teachers to prime the pump of meditative calm required for insight. Courses with teaching and teachers give us new tools, the how and why of meditation, and they help meditators deepen their practice in a conscious community created for this purpose. Here at Clear Sky Meditation Center in BC, Canada, we get not only structure from our teachers but also ancient and modern wisdom teachings that speak to us at every level.
Level Three: Person ready for a longer or solo meditation retreat
We can offer longer retreats of a month or more in our meditation cabins. If you’re thinking of this, you’ll likely have an established practice of many years. You might enjoy this blog from our founding teacher Catherine Sensei, What You Do While Meditating. Other than that, if you’re in this category you probably know what you’re doing! Connect with us directly or go ahead and book your cabin retreat using the Solo Cabin Retreats page on the menu above.
Even experienced meditation students in silent meditation retreat take advantage of the ability to check in with their teacher during the day. While in silent retreat in BC or anywhere else, also choose a place where there is an opportunity to check in, while still remaining silent, via a notepad. At Clear Sky, for example, silent retreat participants can check in with the retreat manager aware of your silent retreat aims. What’s more, there will always be a “space holder” on site who will address any needs that arise daily. We provide this for your needs, not your wants or distraction.
Also, the time doing Karma Yoga–or meditation in action–allows people in silent meditation retreat to experience wholesome activity in their day as part of their retreat. Your karma yoga time offers simple tasks that benefit others and shows you how to bring mindfulness into daily activities once you are out of meditation retreat. It also builds one’s generosity muscles, an important part of the path in many wisdom traditions. Generosity is something Clear Sky meditation Centre holds as important to teach retreatants coming to our meditation center in British Columbia from Canada and the rest of the world. The Clear Sky sangha lives on various continents and may come from as far away as Australia to do a silent meditation retreat in British Columbia, Canada in conscious community with us.
Sidebar: Why we add Karma Yoga to our meditation retreats
Karma yoga means meditation in action. So we use it to talk about the work we do here, always with the intentions of mindfulness, attention to detail, and awareness of our inner state while we do it.
Sometimes, people have overestimated their readiness to be alone in a cabin with no structure or guidance. At Clear Sky, we’ve seen that sometimes people found us because they were simply searching for private, silent meditation retreats in British Columbia. Yet, when they got here they found out they were not ready to be alone for a day or more with their own thoughts. Their limited meditation experience did not prepare them. Sometimes they realized this, and sometimes they blamed us, instead. That’s why we set up a system for giving people in meditation retreat here some kind of daily activity. They do it alone and silently so that it is not a distraction. We also set up structures that provide daily support of your retreat, such as a check-in with one of the residents and a notebook you can use to communicate even though you are in silent retreat. If you have questions about doing karma yoga as part of your meditation retreat with us, reach out by phone or email.
2) Logistics of Your Meditation Retreat - How far are you willing to travel?
Even though here at Clear Sky Meditation Center we can pick up people at the nearby airport in Cranbrook, if you’re planning on a three-night retreat but live far away, it may make sense to find somewhere nearer home. When you search “meditation retreat near me”, don’t forget to consider all the points on this page, too.
Clear Sky Meditation Center is in BC, in the western part of Canada. We’re close to the US border. If you’re thinking of a silent meditation retreat in Alberta, it’s an easy drive from Calgary to Clear Sky–about four hours one way. Many people joining us here for a quality meditation retreat in BC drive from as far away as Edmonton, Alberta.
Yet, if you live in eastern Canada or the United States, consider our meditation center here in BC if you want to do longer meditation retreats. Doing a meditation retreat in the right place, is more likely worth the time and expense of traveling. The meditation center you choose should match your level of aspiration and all your needs, whether you are new to meditation retreats in Canada or not.
Let’s face it. Doing a meditation retreat is an amazing opportunity that many do not choose or get to choose. Traveling farther from home also makes it more like a journey, somewhat like the hero’s journey, the journey of one who embarks on an endeavor to overcome life’s challenges or achieve something in one’s life.
To be sure, planning ahead for a silent retreat is important to have a positive experience. For example, take into account the journey and transition time when you’re booking time off work. Our experience tells us that ideally, you do not plan to return from a retreat and then go to work right away, perhaps not even the next day.
Taking time after a silent retreat to integrate back into the twenty-first century pace of life is important.
If you do book a flight from farther away as some U.S. residents have, you’ll be able to note the wish to be picked up at the airport when registering for your silent meditation retreat in British Columbia.
We’ll pick up the last three points in more detail in part two of this blog.
When it’s ready we’ll share the link here.