Why go on a retreat in nepal?
As the home of the birthplace of Buddha, Nepal has always been synonymous with peace, meditation and spirituality. Whilst Nepalese yoga and Buddhism retreats are nothing new, in recent years their popularity amongst travelers has grown, with more and more foreign visitors taking the opportunity to nourish their minds, bodies and spirits, surrounded by the country’s stunning natural scenery.
Whether you’re an old hand or brand new to this sort of thing, experiencing a retreat in Nepal is a good way to start or deepen your practice.
Here are a few reasons why including a retreat in your itinerary might make your visit to Nepal even more memorable;
1. It’s the perfect way to recharge after trekking
Even if trekking is your primary reason for coming to Nepal, adding on a visit to a retreat afterwards can really elevate your spiritual experience.
Whilst trekking through the mountains is a wonderful way to connect with nature and with yourself, some quiet downtime can help cement any changes and lessons you may have learnt along the way. Not to mention that a little yoga can really help those aching limbs!
It’s best to plan well and in advance, to make sure that you have time to trek and relax. Some retreats can last a few days, whilst others may last a whole month!
2. An authentic experience, away from the crowds
Most yoga and meditation centres are in the countryside surrounded by nature, or are extensions to a Buddhist monastery. They are not part of the usual tourist circuits and often don’t take casual day trippers, so you’ll experience something truly unique and peaceful.
You’ll find some of these retreats listed in the guidebooks, but it’s always worth doing a little research or speaking to an expert, to make sure you find a retreat which offers the experience and atmosphere you’re looking for, as well as fitting into your other plans.
3. Meet like-minded people
Meeting fellow travellers and local people is part of what makes a vacation so special, so why not head to place where everyone shares a common interest?
Whether your fellow retreat residents are complete beginners, or people for whom yoga, meditation, and practicing Buddhism is a way of life, you’ve all come with a similar mind-set. Meanwhile, the local teachers and guides can offer insights formed through many years of practice, and are wonderful people to meet and learn from.
The bonds you can form during your time at a retreat can be valuable and long-lasting.
4. Settle into places surrounded by stunning nature
Most retreats in Nepal are set in rural areas, away from any of the hustle and bustle you’ll find in the cities of tourist hotspots. Spending some quality time surrounded by nature can help you disconnect from your busy life and focus on what really matters to you.
There are a variety of locations for Nepal’s rural retreats, with some set amongst rolling hills, near to lakes and rivers, in the Himalayan foothills, or even further into the mountains, only accessible by trekking. It is in these remote parts of Nepal where you can really find the peace you are looking for.
5. Enjoy a different way of life
Some retreats, especially those in monasteries, have very strict schedules. Waking up early in the morning for the first meditation of the day is pretty much a given, and following a vegetarian diet is also very common. A retreat should be a detox for body and mind. Depending on the retreat you choose, you may have the option of total silence or you’ll be allowed to talk to other people only for part of the day.
Similarly, access to the internet and cell phones is usually prohibited, as a way to completely disconnect from the outside world.
No matter how hard it seems, one thing is for sure: when you come back to the ‘real world’, you’ll see it with very different eyes.
6. Experience life in a Buddhist monastery
Over recent years, Buddhist monasteries in Nepal have begun to welcome more and more international visitors, allowing them to share their teachings and way of life, as well as raising vital income to maintain their beautiful buildings and lands.
If you go on a retreat in a Buddhist monastery, you ‘ll have the chance to talk to the monks, see how they live, and learn about Buddhist teachings directly from them. You’ll also be able to participate in puja ceremonies as the monks play gongs, cymbals, conch-shells trumpets, and large drums. If you’re really lucky, you may even witness their traditional way of debating Buddhist teachings: one monk stands in front of a group of other monks, who ask him questions about the Buddha’s teachings. Then, they switch so each monk has a chance to field questions.
It can be a fascinating and eye-opening experience, and perhaps you’ll learn to apply some of their practices and methods to your own life.
7. Supporting rural communities and monasteries
Tourism is a major source of income in Nepal, and although wonderful efforts are being made to spread the benefits across the country, much of the wealth stays around the traditional tourist hubs.
Nepal retreats are usually situated in rural areas, giving the surrounding communities employment and income which can support their families through the year. After the pandemic and as Nepal continues to recover, this income will be more important than ever.
For monasteries, hosting guests is not only a way to share their culture, but also provides the income to ensure that their buildings are maintained and their way of life can be preserved.
Whatever your reasons for going on a retreat in Nepal, it will certainly be a rewarding and unforgettable addition to your Nepalese adventure.
The team at Travel Nepal can help you plan your time in Nepal so that you can include some me-time at a retreat as part of your experience.
Feel free to get in touch and we’ll be happy to assist!