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What's Up with Mindfulness Retreats? What You Need to Know

In an earlier blog I had asked the question Can You Handle 5-Minutes of Solitude, which was an off-shoot of another blog that asked Can You Handle 24 Hours of Solitude? What’s this all pointing to?

In writing the Mindfulness and Psychotherapy Blog I’d be remiss if I didn’t take the opportunity to explore the real power and potential that a retreat experience offers.

Mindfulness retreats are experiences that are offered all over the country and all over the world that people from all walks of life participate in. Some of these retreats are offered in silence where individual’s are simply guided in a variety of meditation practices throughout the day (including mindful eating), while others may not be in silence.

For example, I lead both kinds of retreats with the one coming up near Santa Monica, Ca on Saturday November 21st being a mixed retreat focused on emotional resiliency during difficult times. In this retreat participants will be silent part of the time to give a very different experience of being able to go a bit into these practices. While the other part of the day will include doing practices and then processing giving people the opportunity to connect and deepen understanding and insights around what arose.

People lead such retreats all over the country. In Southern California, InsightLA also offers a variety of different retreats. Two other popular centers are Spirit Rock in Northern California and Insight Meditation Society on the East Coast.

Another retreat center that offers donation-based silent retreats is the Goenka Centers all around the world. Most retreats offer a sliding scale so you can afford to come.

Note: Judgments and thoughts often automatically arise in the mind when thinking of a retreat such as “I don’t have time for retreats” or “I don’t deserve this time”, or recently one person brought up the thought “retreats are only for the wealthy.” Often times these thoughts are quite automatic, stemming from some resistance. I would encourage you to explore these thoughts and maybe the resistance that’s there.

One thing we know is that there’s a difference between thoughts and facts. An interpretation sometimes comes up quite automatically as a reaction and at times we can take a pause and take a look at it for validity. Is this thought part of some resistance and if so, what is to be said of Pema Chodron’s quote “When the resistance is gone, the demons are gone.”

It’s a good practice to inquire at times as to where these mental events in the mind are coming from. You might ask, is there something about this I can question or is there another way to see this? Is there fear or shame underlying these thoughts about taking this time out for yourself or maybe right now is truly not the time, but there is some way to plan for it?

One note is that if you are currently suffering from a depressive episode or experiencing any form of hallucinations, then a retreat may be best when this experience has lifted.

If you are interested in deepening your connection to life and appreciate the approach of mindfulness, then taking this time-out maybe be a wonderful gift you can give to yourself.

Please share your thoughts, stories, and questions below. Have you been on a retreat? Do you know recommend any that you’ve been to? Do you have questions? Your interaction below provides a living wisdom for us all to benefit from.

What's Up with Mindfulness Retreats? What You Need to Know

Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D.

Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D. is creator of the six month online program A Course in Mindful Living, author of the book Uncovering Happiness: Overcoming Depression with Mindfulness and Self-Compassion, The Now Effect, co-author of A Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Workbook, Foreword by Jon Kabat-Zinn, author of Mindfulness Meditations for the Anxious Traveler: Quick Exercises to Calm Your Mind, the premier eCourse Basics of Mindfulness Meditation: A 28 Day Program, the Mindful Solutions audio series, and the Mindfulness at Work™ program currently being adopted in multiple multinational corporations. Join The Now Effect Community for free Daily Now Moments and a Weekly Newsletter. Dr. Goldstein is a clinical psychologist in private practice in West Los Angeles.

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APA Reference
Goldstein, E. (2009). What's Up with Mindfulness Retreats? What You Need to Know. Psych Central. Retrieved on January 29, 2020, from


Last updated: 11 Nov 2009
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