10 Myths Busted: What Really Happens At A Meditation Retreat
By Gordon McGregor
Thinking of heading off for a week on a yoga or meditation retreat? I’ve heard some funny stories over the years I’ve spent running retreats and workshops at the Chopra Center: reasons why people didn’t sign up, stories they’ve heard from friends, preconceived ideas of what really happens when they take a week off from their life to retreat …
Here’s a list of myths I’d like to crack open—to calm any nerves on what it really looks like to be on a retreat, and to share how silly our minds can sometimes be when we begin to imagine something that we don’t yet know about. Without further adieu, here are the top 10 myths about going on yoga and meditation retreats, and what I have to say in response to them.
Everyone Sits on Straw Mats and Wears Crystals
The number one rule in meditation is to be comfortable, so whether comfort to you is on a chair, a cushion, a mat, or the floor, it really doesn't matter. It’s all up to you.
You Must Be in Touch with Your Deepest Desires
If you knew your deepest desires, you probably wouldn't come to a meditation retreat in the first place. So if you’re thinking about going and you don’t know what those are … you’re in the right place.
There is no finish line in the practice of meditation, it’s always an ongoing practice, and our desires change over time. Everyone HAS a deepest desire, meditation is a tool that can help us get in touch with what that is, and retreats are a great way to kick-start your journey to discovery.
You can just come to a retreat to learn how to meditate for the health benefits; you can come to learn how to find balance and reduce stress; or you can come to just relax and find your Zen. But whatever your intention or level may be … remember that wherever you are is exactly right, because you were called to show up.
You Must Chant
The foundation of Primordial Sound Meditation is a silent mantra-based meditation, no chanting required. The sounds are all in your mind, so no one can hear. However, we encourage people to learn both their inner and outer voices so if you’d like to chant or sing … you are welcome to.
You Must Wear Yoga Clothes
People coming to a retreat should be casual and comfortable, but there’s absolutely no need to run out to Lululemon to buy a new wardrobe … unless of course you want to. Your definition of casual, and any expression of you is welcome.
You Must Be Vegan
A vegan diet is too strict for many lifestyles. Balanced, clean, colorful, and delicious is the way to go no matter what kind of diet you follow.
At the Chopra Center yoga, meditation, and health retreats, we serve vegetarian, Ayurvedic-based meals to introduce the benefits of experiencing the six tastes and seven colors of eating in every meal. This takes form in Mediterranean, Indian, Thai, and California cuisine. We strive for fresh, healthy, and delicious.
I Must Give Up Coffee, Sex, Alcohol, Chocolate, and Anything Fun
Meditation is meant to be an experience to add to your life, not to take anything away. As you practice, it may inform healthy choices and changes, but I’ve never known anyone to give up chocolate after a meditation retreat.
I Already Need to Know How to Meditate to Attend
50% of our guests are new meditators when they arrive at a retreat, and everyone learns the basic foundations of meditations with our Master Educators. Whether you’ve never meditated before, you are a crisis meditator, or you’ve had a practice for years … this practice is ideal for all of you. Meditation retreats are the ideal first step … and since there is no destination in meditation, it’s also the ideal next step.
I Won’t Be Allowed to Laugh
Laughing is a requirement, meditation is an option.
Everyone Finds Romance
Yoga and meditation retreats tend to attract open-minded individuals seeking new experiences, but personal growth and development are the goal, not romance.
At Chopra Center retreats, you will likely find that you are more open, and it may be easier to meet people. You may arrive not knowing anyone, but you’re guaranteed to leave having made some new friends that you hopefully continue knowing for a lifetime.
We realize that our signature yoga and meditation retreat has a thought-provoking title. With a name like Seduction of Spirit, you might think you’ll be encouraged to push yourself outside of your comfort zone and boundaries, but that doesn’t happen. What you will do is make some beautiful, like-minded connections … and we have had some happy couples come from our retreats. So, you never know.
I Must Continue with a Strict Regimen After the Retreat
You may be scared of what you’re asked to do following your experience at a retreat. At the Chopra Center, we honor everyone’s free will to bring what you learned on the retreat home with you in any way that feels right.
Our teachings ask you to consider meditating twice a day as a foundation to receive the maximum benefits of the practice. But we recognize everyone will discover what works best works for them based on their needs and lifestyles. You will be encouraged to explore what a post-retreat practice looks like for you.
I Must Change
If nothing else, we encourage you to change your underwear. In all seriousness, we know change is inevitable whether you do it at our event or at the grocery store near your house.
If you’re seeking change, meditation retreats are an amazing container to embrace it. One of the principal questions we always ask is: “What do you want?” And sometimes the answer doesn't involve something you currently have. If you find a change you want to bring to your life at a retreat, you will be grateful for whatever you learn and discover. But remember: you’re in charge.