10 Best Meditation Retreats In Northern California

meditation retreat in northern california

Adventures can be physical, social, or psychological. Meditation retreats offer all these and more. They make for an ideal environment to detach from your thoughts and push the boundaries of your mind and body. These retreats place you in a cocoon, a bubble away from all distractions. They aid you in listening to and tuning in to your body and mind. Signing up for meditation retreats can help you develop a sense of hope and clarity that might not be possible in the course of daily life. Qualified instructors at a reputed meditation retreat can help you enhance your meditation skills and move on to new techniques. Check out this list of 10 best meditation retreats in Northern California to begin your journey of self-exploration.

1. Ananda Meditation Retreat

Editor's Note: Photo taken from the establishment's official social account

Posted by Ananda Meditation Retreat on Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Sure, you can go to a glamping spot or isolate yourself in a tiny house to seek peace within, but retreats provide a much better environment for breakthroughs. Ananda Meditation Retreat sits tucked into lush gardens and the forest at the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains. Its short- and long-term programs offer you the opportunity to discover your own inner, higher self. Silent retreats and meditation programs exclusively for women are some of their offerings. These are held in the lap of nature under the guidance of experienced yoga practitioners. Accommodation options range from simple studios to cozy cabins overlooking the distant Sierra peaks, letting you choose your seclusion experience. Meditate in the serene gardens or at the domed temple. You could also meditate on the warm sands or rocks along the Yuba River.

Ananda Meditation Retreat

Price: from 150 USD

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2. Anubhuti Meditation and Retreat Center

Editor's Note: Photo taken from the establishment's official social account

Posted by Anubhuti Retreat Center on Thursday, July 30, 2020

Founded by Brahma Kumaris World Spiritual Organization, Anubhuti Retreat Center sits perched on a hill near San Francisco Bay. Set amid a vast expanse of protected open space, water, and wildlife preserve, it offers practical meditation methods and practices. These assist in understanding one’s inner strengths and values. The courses are aimed at enhancing self-respect and tolerance. All programs are facilitated by experienced Raja Yoga practitioners. Accommodations are provided on a sharing basis with private baths. Most rooms come with spectacular views of the garden, pond, Novato Creek, Bay, and the rolling hills of Marin County.

Anubhuti Meditation and Retreat Center

Price: Free (also accepts voluntary donations)

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3. Silent Stay Meditation & Retreat Center

Editor's Note: Photo taken from the establishment's official social account

Silent Stay Meditation & Retreat Center is set on a private, gated estate in Vacaville. It sits on a hill overlooking Pleasant Valley and Lake Berryessa. This silent retreat houses guests at private/shared rooms with mountain or garden views. Its tailored programs offer a blend of traditions with a generous schedule allowing guests to enrich their lives with walks, yoga, swimming, and quiet contemplation. Their silent retreats range in duration from two days to nine days. This facility also offers something known as Heartfulness meditation that is a three-step process. While at the retreat you get to cook your own meals in a functional kitchen. Bond with fellow guests through daily meditation sessions that can also be blended with therapeutic massages.

Silent Stay Meditation & Retreat Center

Price: from 175 USD

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4. Vajrapani Institute

Editor's Note: Photo taken from the establishment's official social account

So much to celebrate during this year's Saka Dawa, the installation of our prayer wheel roof was completed today!

Posted by Vajrapani Institute on Wednesday, May 26, 2021

Located near Boulder Creek, California, Vajrapani Institute sits within the Santa Cruz Mountains, bordering Castle Rock State Park. Founded on principles of Gelug Buddhist Traditions, it offers a bouquet of programs ranging in duration from few days to weeks. These come in a choice of group and private settings to benefit beginners and trained meditators alike. Customized programs for families and young adults are also available. It is a boon for groups of 21 and more. With handpicked teachers, it is open to all community members and offers meditative tools along with nutritional vegetarian meals.

Vajrapani Institute

Price: from 68 USD

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5. The Expanding Light Retreat

Editor's Note: Photo taken from the establishment's official social account

Posted by The Expanding Light Retreat on Thursday, July 11, 2019

Located along the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, Expanding Light Retreat is a part of Ananda Village. It combines Ananda Yoga (a variant of Hatha Yoga) with meditative practices for deeper spiritual realization and self-awareness. Options of indoor and outdoor accommodations and specially crafted vegetarian meals are an added bonus. Healing and massage therapies are available here along with meditation sessions. The Karma Yoga program is of particular interest to many. Options of spiritual counseling, private/group yoga or yoga therapy, and private retreat, makes this an apt place to tune in to your chakras, heal your soul, and find the divinity within.

The Expanding Light Retreat

Price: from 75 USD

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6. Ratna Ling Retreat Center

Editor's Note: Photo taken from the establishment's official social account

Tucked into the coastal forests of redwood, pine, and oak, Ratna Ling Retreat Center can be found in Cazadero, California, overlooking the rolling hills of Sonoma County. Its suite-styled cottages with spectacular views are in addition to the privacy afforded while you embark on a journey inwards. Guided by Tibetan Buddhist traditions it offers tailored programs including personal retreat, yoga and meditation, healing, and spirituality. Cycle or hike in the scenic settings of the retreat or Salt Point State Park. Schedule an appointment at their wellness center for therapeutic bodyworks. A balanced vegetarian meal is served as you commune with nature and yourself.

Ratna Ling Retreat Center

Price: from 239 USD

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7. Northern California Vipassana Center, Dhamma Manda

Editor's Note: Photo taken from the establishment's official social account

Posted by Dhamma Manda on Monday, January 20, 2020

Dhamma Manda is situated in the Cobb Mountain area of Lake County, California. Nestled among pine, fir, and oak trees, it provides a setting for Vipassana meditation as taught by S N Goenka. Vipassana is a process of self-purification by self-observation. Its popular program, a ten-day residential Vipassana is open for new or returning students. There are also programs for children/adolescents and special short-term or long-term programs or service periods for returning students. A normal day in Vipassana Retreat entails noble silence and ten hours of meditation interspersed with resting, breaks, and a videotaped discourse by Goenka. Registration begins three months prior to the course start date and involves a waiting period. Essentially, a silent retreat for rigorous mental tuning, it’s governed by a Code of Discipline and is offered on a voluntary donation basis.

Northern California Vipassana Center, Dhamma Manda

Price: Free (also accepts voluntary donations)

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8. Spirit Rock Meditation Center

Spirit Rock simplicity
Source: Photo by Flickr user Seán A. O'Hara used under CC BY 2.0

Among the oak woodlands of West Marin, San Francisco, sits Spirit Rock Meditation Center. Combining Buddha Dharma, Vipassana, and Metta (loving-kindness meditation), participants here are encouraged to renew and liberate the self. Conducive to both beginners and experienced students, it offers a multitude of programs ranging from two-hour sessions to those hosted for months and even years. The simple accommodations here include single and double rooms, shared bathroom facilities, and delicious vegetarian meals. Imbibing meditative practices whilst being seated, walking, eating, or working, an hour of dharma talk and practice meetings with instructors are all part of the routine here. Specialized programs for families, women, and students are also offered.

Spirit Rock Meditation Center

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9. Insight Retreat Center

Editor's Note: Photo taken from the establishment's official social account

Posted by Insight Retreat Center on Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Set near Santa Cruz, California, Insight Retreat Center focuses on Vipassana meditation following Buddha’s teachings on liberation. Enrollment is based on a lottery system and involves waiting periods. Run solely on voluntary donations, this retreat provides private rooms and serves balanced and mostly organic vegetarian meals free of cost. Participants with health necessities can bring pre-cooked canned meat and fish. Its flexible set of residential programs - weekends, weeks-longs or study retreats, or volunteer programs offer ample choice. A daily schedule here involves sitting or walking meditation, instructions, dharma talks, work meditation, and discussion with teachers while observing silence.

Insight Retreat Center

Price: Free

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10. Nyingma Institute Buddhist Center

Editor's Note: Photo taken from the establishment's official social account

Looking for a unique place to stay aside from vacation rentals? Nyingma Institute is located at the foothills of Highland and Hearst, a block from UC Berkeley. With offers of the day-long, weekend, and long retreats, it provides a tranquil environment and supportive community to discover the path of inner freedom. You can opt for furnished rooms with beautiful views of the Bay or Golden Gate Bridge, with a shared kitchen and bathroom. You can strengthen your mind and soul with seated or walking meditation programs, reflections, chanting, and relaxation techniques following Nyingma Tibetan traditions. Vegetarian meals nourish your health. Relax in the Himalaya-themed garden or partake in daily discourses.

Nyingma Institute Buddhist Center

Price: from 150 USD

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Embark on a journey inwards

Source: Pixabay

Northern California is no stranger to nature and places where you can rest awhile and have the outdoors all to yourself, including fishing lodges and Airstream rentals. If you wish to take some time off from your busy life, why not go to a retreat to recenter yourself? Meditation is an extension of life, a challenging exercise through which perspective flourishes and humanity grows. Meditation retreats help you rejuvenate and rediscover your inner self.

Disclosure: Trip101 selects the listings in our articles independently. Some of the listings in this article contain affiliate links.

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Chandana is a versatile writer with nearly two decades of experience in media, spanning clients across the globe. An avid traveler, she enjoys experiencing every new place to the fullest. Having...Read more

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