Retreat centers can be found throughout the U.S. More than 1400 places offer spiritual renewal in a wide variety of faiths and traditions.
An estimated one million Americans go on some form of retreat each year. Catholic abbeys, Hindu ashrams, New Age wilderness outposts, Zen monasteries, non-denominational camps, Jewish centers and Protestant retreat houses offer the chance for introspection and rejuvenation, whether visitors come for a day, a week, or a month, for a private retreat or a group workshop.
Retreat centers offer several advantages over conventional vacation destinations. Many are located in scenic locations and charge quite reasonable rates, and most welcome visitors of all faiths. Keep in mind that retreat centers are places for rest and renewal, not simply an inexpensive kind of motel. Many request silence during part of each day, and most offer quite simple accommodations and meals. Because many places are booked far in advance (particularly on weekends), reservations are essential.
The attitude you bring with you on retreat should also be different from that of an ordinary vacation. Pack light. Don’t bring a lot of books or materials that will distract you. Instead prepare to slow down, listen to the silence, and live in the moment. A retreat experience can help you get out of your ordinary routine so that you can experience life in a deeper and more meaningful way.
Lori Erickson is one of America’s top travel writers specializing in spiritual journeys. She’s the author of the Near the Exit: Travels With the Not-So-Grim Reaper and Holy Rover: Journeys in Search of Mystery, Miracles, and God. Her website Spiritual Travels features holy sites around the world.