Bali is one of the world’s most sought-after destinations for meditation retreats due to it’s exotic surroundings, incredible local culture, unique architecture, and establishment of venues that cater to an open minded and spiritual crowd. Situated in the heart of the Indonesian archipelago, Bali boasts stunning natural scenery, rich culture, a spiritual heritage, and a thriving yoga and meditation community – a Bali meditation retreat can be a life-changing experience.
So, whether you’re a beginner or an experienced meditator, there’s something for everyone in Bali.
In this ultimate guide to meditation in Bali, we’ll explore everything you need to know about planning a spiritual retreat to the island, from the very basics of meditation to how you can find the best meditation retreat in Bali.
We’ve also included a list of our favorite Bali spiritual retreats that can help you make the most of your stay.
So, let’s get started!
The word meditation comes from the Latin word “meditatum,” which means “to think, contemplate, devise, or plan.” As a practice, it has been around for centuries and can be traced back to as early as 5000 BCE.
It is a way of training the mind to focus and be more aware of the present moment. And although there are many different types and forms of meditation, they all share the same primary goal: to help you live in the present moment and be more aware of your thoughts and feelings.
There are many reasons why people meditate. However, one of the most common reasons is to reduce stress and to relax.
Studies have shown that people who meditate regularly often have lower circulating levels of cortisol (the body’s primary “stress hormone”) than those who don’t.
These decreased levels are associated with several health benefits like lower mental and physical stress levels, improved sleep quality, reduced inflammation, and a host of other benefits.
But not everyone does it just for the health benefits; some people use it to connect with their spirituality and promote their emotional well-being, as a way to establish inner peace, stay centered, and bring more stability to their day-to-day lives.
There are many different types of meditation, but they can all be broadly divided into the following seven categories:
Mindfulness meditation is one of the most popular types of meditation because it can be practiced anywhere and at any time.
In mindfulness meditation, all you need to do is to focus on being aware and present at the moment and observe your thoughts and feelings without judgment.
Research has shown this type of meditation to be especially helpful in managing stress, anxiety, and chronic pain. It has even been shown to help reduce blood pressure and improve immunity in many individuals.
Transcendental Meditation is a specific form of mantra meditation that was created by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. In this type of meditation, you repeat a mantra (a word or phrase) to yourself in a specific order to focus and quiet your mind.
Transcendental Meditation aims to “transcend” or go beyond your thoughts and feelings to a state of pure consciousness. This state is said to be one of calmness, clarity, and happiness.
Loving-kindness meditation (also known as Open Heart Meditation) involves sending positive thoughts and feelings (such as love, compassion, and joy) to yourself and others.
The goal of loving-kindness meditation is to cultivate positive emotions, increase your sense of well-being, and enhance your ability to connect with others.
Spiritual meditation is a type of meditation that involves connecting with your spirituality. The aim is to develop a deeper understanding of your spiritual beliefs and practices.
This type of meditation can be helpful for people who are seeking a more profound link with their spirituality. A few examples of spiritual meditation include Tibetan Tummo Meditation and Taoist Meditation.
Visualization meditation is a type of meditation that involves picturing a specific image or scenario in your mind. The aim is to focus your attention on the image and to use it as a tool to quiet your thoughts and emotions.
Many people use visualization meditation o manifest their goals and desires. However, it can also be used as a relaxation technique by picturing yourself in a calming and relaxing place.
Progressive relaxation or body scan meditation is a popular type of meditation that involves focusing on different parts of your body, from your toes to your head.
Body scan meditation aims to increase your awareness of your physical sensations and to slowly and progressively release tension from every part of your body.
Movement meditations like tai chi, yoga, or qigong are types of meditation that involve moving your body slowly and mindfully.
The aim here is to focus your attention on your body and the sensations you feel and to form a deeper connection with the present moment and your physical body.
This type of meditation can be particularly beneficial for people who find it challenging to sit still for long periods of time or those who wish to develop greater body awareness.
One of the best things about meditation is that it can be done anywhere and at any time. All you need is a comfortable place to sit or lie down.
Here are some tips on how to meditate:
The first step is to choose a place and time where you won’t be interrupted. Ideally, if you can, try finding a quiet spot outdoors where you can enjoy the fresh air.
If you want to make sure you get the most out of your practice, experts recommend the following four times of the day to meditate:
- Soon after waking up
- When you’re feeling particularly stressed or anxious
- During or after lunchtime
- After work (but not too close to bedtime)
The next step is to choose a comfortable position to meditate in. You can sit in the traditional cross-legged Lotus or Burmese positions, or in any position that you find comfortable.
How you choose to achieve your position depends on the practicioner, and meditation stools, meditation cushions, or a meditation chair can help. The most important consideration is to keep your spine straight. And if you’re lying down, consider placing a pillow under your head and knees to support your back.
Remember, the goal is to be as comfortable as possible so that you can focus entirely on your meditation during the session.
Now that you’re comfortable, it’s time to close your eyes and take some deep breaths. Inhale through your nose, and exhale through your mouth. As you breathe, focus on the sensation of the air moving in and out of your body.
After you’re relaxed and breathing deeply, it’s time to choose a focus for your meditation. This can be anything from your breath to a mantra or a particular word or phrase you repeat to yourself.
If you’re having trouble focusing, try counting each breath. Inhale for a count of four, hold your breath for a count of four, and exhale for a count of four. Repeat this process until you find yourself focusing solely on your breath.
One of the most challenging things about meditation is letting go of your thoughts. It’s normal for your mind to wander, and the goal is not to clear your mind completely. Instead, simply notice when your thoughts arise and then let them go.
Focusing on your breath can help you to notice when your thoughts arise and then let them go. If you find yourself getting lost in your thoughts (which you probably will), simply refocus on your breath.
Always remember that the goal of meditation is not to achieve perfection. There will always be times when you find it difficult to focus. But the important thing is not to judge yourself or your meditation.
Let go of any expectations or goals, and simply focus on the present moment. Over time, you’ll find it easier to clear your mind, to let go of your negative and unnecessary thoughts, and to sit in utter peace and tranquility.
Although taking the time to meditate a few minutes each day can be difficult for some, the more you practice, the easier it’ll become.
Studies have shown that meditating for only 13 minutes a day can lead to significantly better mood, memory, and attention and decreased stress and anxiety.
So try to practice meditating for at least 10 to 20 minutes each day when you’re trying to make it a habit, and always make sure you’re not putting unrealistically high expectations on yourself.
When you’re searching for a meditation retreat, there are a few things to keep in mind.
Here are some of the things to look out for when choosing from one of the best meditation retreats in Bali:
Whether you’re planning on staying at a Bali meditation retreat for a weekend or a week, it’s important to ensure that the accommodation and facilities are up to your standards.
Accommodations can vary from simple sharing rooms with mattresses on the floor or dorm-style bunk beds to luxurious villas. And the type of accommodation you choose can play a significant role in how enjoyable your overall experience is.
Make sure you know what type of meditation retreat you’re seeking, so you can fulfill your expectations. Some centers operate on a more intense, fundamental level of experiencing meditation, while others cater to a more relaxing, pampering experience. It’s important to ensure the retreat center has the proper facilities to meet your desired experience.
Remember, even the least comfortable places can allow for significant personal growth.
When it comes to meditation, the quality of the teacher can make a big difference. Make sure to research and choose a retreat with qualified teachers with experience and who have been properly trained.
Bali is a beautiful island with a lot of meditation retreats to offer, so it’s important to decide what kind of location would be perfect for you.
Think about what kind of environment you want to be in. Do you want to be in the heart of the city where it’s easy to travel or somewhere quiet and surrounded by nature?
Food can be an important part of your experience at a meditation retreat. And if you’re not fond of meat, don’t worry, most Bali meditation retreats offer vegan or vegetarian meals, but it’s still important to check and see if the retreat you’re considering can accommodate any specific dietary restrictions you may have.
When looking at meditation retreats, it’s also important to make sure that the schedule is suitable for your needs.
Some retreats offer a more structured schedule with multiple meditation sessions daily, while others are more relaxed and only have one or two sessions. Choose the type of retreat that you feel would be right for you.
Last but not least, you’ll need to consider the cost of the retreat. Meditation retreats can range in price from a few hundred dollars to several thousand per day, depending on various factors.
It’s crucial to find a retreat within your budget, and with a price tag you’re comfortable paying so you can concentrate on enjoying your experience without worrying about money.
We feel it’s necessary to point out that, unfortunately, not all Bali meditation retreats are worth staying at.
Here are a few things to avoid when looking at some of Bali’s spiritual retreats.
First, you’ll want to avoid any retreats that are located in excessively noisy or busy areas. This can distract you from your meditation and make it more difficult to relax, unwind, and refocus.
Second, you’ll want to avoid any retreats that don’t offer accommodation options you’re not comfortable with. This can make it difficult to get a good night’s sleep, which is important for your meditation practice, and this can severely hamper your overall experience.
Third, always avoid any retreats that don’t offer the most basic of amenities like laundry service, private fridges, or complimentary toiletries.
Finally, if you don’t like working around strict schedules, you should avoid retreats with tight schedules and strict rules.
Not everyone enjoys adhering to schedules, especially on meditation retreats that are meant to help you escape from everyday life.
Retreats with busy schedules can make it difficult to relax and take away from the overall experience, so check whether the retreat you’re looking at has a flexible schedule or is one that suits your needs and wants. You don’t want to end up feeling trapped once you’re there!
Now that you know what to look for and avoid in Bali’s spiritual retreats, you’re ready to start preparing for the trip.
First, you’ll want to make sure that you have suitable attire. You’ll want to dress in comfortable, loose-fitting clothes that won’t distract you from your meditation once you’re at the retreat, so make sure to pack accordingly!
Second, you’ll want to ensure that you have all the necessary supplies and things you usually use in your everyday life or when you meditate. This includes items such as a meditation cushion, chair, shawl, or any other personal products that you might need.
Lastly, you’ll want to ensure that you understand what you’re getting into and keep your expectations in check.
Remember, staying at a meditation retreat can be a deep and introspective experience, so you must know what you’re going to be doing and approach it with an open mind for anything that might come your way.
After considering all of the best meditation retreats in Bali, we’ve narrowed our favorites down to the following five:
Source: Silent Retreat Bali
The Silent Retreat Bali is a fantastic place to truly get away from it all and begin an inner contemplative journey.
The retreat is located in a beautiful and remote setting surrounded by Tabanan’s UNESCO-protected emerald rice fields. Nestled near the sacred Mount BatuKaru, so you’ll be all set to focus on your meditation without any distractions.
But the main highlight of this retreat is that it’s completely sustainable. All of the buildings on the property are made from natural materials, and the food is all organic, making it an ideal choice for an eco-conscious traveler and meditator.
Source: Fivelements / Booking.com
Possibly one of the most famous Bali Meditation Retreats, the Fivelements is an upmarket choice that’s perfect for those looking for luxury and seclusion.
This beautiful retreat is right alongside the Ayung River and offers a wide variety of rooms and villas to choose from, so you can easily find the perfect one to fit your needs.
A unique part of the Fivelements experience is its retreat program is heavily inspired by Balinese rituals, traditions, and cultures. Thus, you can experience an all-in-one inner healing journey as well as a unique spiritual and cultural experience that not many other retreats are able to offer.
However, one thing to note is that the starting price for a retreat at Fivelements is relatively high. But, if you’re looking for a luxurious and once-in-a-lifetime experience, it might be worth the splurge.
A village resort like no other, the Desa Seni is an idyllic and picturesque choice that will give you a local experience like no other.
This unique resort is designed to look and feel like a traditional Balinese village, complete with thatched roofs, colorful flowers, and charming stone pathways. It truly is the perfect place to relax and escape the hustle and bustle of city life.
The resort offers a wide variety of activities and amenities, including a wide range of yoga and meditation classes led by passionate teachers, a holistic spa, an on-site restaurant, and even an organic farm. Everything you’ll ever need for a relaxing and sustainable stay on the tropical island.
Source: The Yoga Barn / Tripvisor.com
Situated in the heart of Ubud, The Yoga Barn is one of the largest and best meditation retreats in Bali.
This serene and beautiful property features up to seven yoga studios, more than 100 yoga and meditation classes each week, and an on-site cafe and restaurant serving healthy, organic food.
However, the best thing about this retreat is that they also offer various supplementary activities and workshops in addition to their meditation classes. This includes things like art, Tibetan bowls, and even dance classes. So you can find the perfect way to unwind and relax during your stay.
The last retreat on our list is another eco-friendly resort that is surrounded by the lush green jungle and rice paddies of Ubud and offers stunning views of the surrounding waterfalls, rivers, and Tabanan mountains.
But the best thing about this retreat?
No matter which accommodation you stay in, you’ll be able to take advantage of their many amenities, including a swimming pool, yoga classes, and even a restaurant serving healthy, organic food.
So, if you’re looking for an eco-friendly and unique place to stay in Ubud, Bali Eco Stay is a great choice.
Serene, picturesque, surrounded by nature, and offering a wide variety of activities, Bali truly is one of the best places for a meditation retreat.
Plus, there are many different types of Bali spiritual retreats and options to choose from, so whether you’re looking for a luxurious villa or a more rustic village or treehouse experience, you’re sure to find the perfect one for you.
And if you’re a beginner, don’t worry! Plenty of retreats offer classes and workshops to help you get started.
So what are you waiting for? Book your ticket to Bali today and start planning your perfect meditation retreat!
We hope you found this ultimate guide to meditation in Bali helpful and that it gave you a better idea of what to look for when choosing a meditation retreat.
Do you have any favorite meditation retreats in Bali? Share them with us in the comments below!