It’s no secret that yoga, spiritual mindfulness, and all sorts of New Age philosophies have permeated deep into the fabric of the Western world with books like Eat, Pray, Love all the rage. If you're more interested in where the traditions started away from the trendy "Namaste-ers," however, a trip back to the land where zen Buddhism were born may be in order.
India is a huge and wonderful country with a rich culture and even richer food. It’s also packed with spiritual centers that can provide you a way to rebalance the pressures of daily life. Many monasteries are tucked away in mountain gorges, or hidden in deep jungles where the only sounds are nature's calls. There are many such places in India, but here are a few of the best to tap into that inner zen.
Osho Meditation Resort - Pune
One look at the Osho Meditation Resort and you'll immediately see it's different from any other "resort." A sprawling 40-acre “campus” located in Pune, the property features immaculate gardens, seminar and meditation auditoriums, and giant meditation pyramids which would be equally at home on the set of 2001: A Space Odyssey.
Their website proclaims it's "a place where the mind, body and soul can play harmoniously together rather than pulling in different directions," and as such they offer tons of programs and events from active meditation and meditative dancing to speakers and guided yoga for all levels. Osho is an institution teaching the practice of mindfulness and stress-free living in traditional — and sometimes unorthodox — ways.
Ashiyana Yoga and Spa Village - Goa
For those not wanting a place as sleek and modern as the Osha Retreat, Ashiyana might be more your speed. Located on the banks of the Mandrem River, Ashiyana offers a luxe getaway focused on the “Ancient Wisdom for Joyful Living” — the idea that, through relaxation, we can experience the depth of our being and, therefore, view the outer world as a place of peace and tranquility.
A popular offering is the Detox and Rejuvenation retreat. These workshops begin with individual consultations before beginning to detoxify your body from any ailments: booze, drugs, noise, stress, etc. By the time you finish, you’re ready to go back into the world with a profound sense of well-being.
Tushita Meditation Center - Himachal Pradesh
The Tushita Meditation Center is located in the high Himalayan foothills, above the town of McLeod Ganj, where the current Dalai Lama made his exiled home — so you know this place has zen in the air.
Less focused on stress relief and spa time, they function more as true monastery school, education and implementing the teachings of Buddha. They offer introductory courses in philosophy and meditation, as well as intermediate courses and group retreats that are approachable for anyone with an interest in Eastern religion.
Blue Mango Spiritual Retreat - Spiti
Blue Mango Spiritual Retreat is nestled in the Himalayan mountains at 12,500 feet, making it the highest spiritual retreat in the world. Known as the "Last Shangri-La," the entire area is isolated from the rest of the world for eight months of the year, which means you can focus solely on your journey of self-discovery without any distraction from the outside world.
The retreat lasts 11 days, with a different itinerary each day to rejuvenate the mind, body, and soul through yoga, various therapies, and meditation. By the end of the retreat, it’s likely you won’t want to go back down the mountain.