5 of the best retreats near Sydney

I am obsessed with retreats. My first meditation retreat was 2.5 days spent at a Buddhist temple in Southern Thailand. I was a Rotary Exchange Student and the temple made special arrangements to take my friend and I in.

We slept in a simple concrete room on the floor. Mozzies were abundant and Buddhist nuns – even rookie ones – aren’t allowed to kill anything. We got up at 3.30am for morning chanting. We chanted again at 9.30am, had breakfast at 10.30am and then cleaned up. We fasted for the rest of the day, did a silent meditation walk around the courtyard, and then chanted in the evening in a side-legged position that was agonising.

It wasn’t fun at all but I felt the calmest I’d felt in a long time by the time I left.

Ever since that day, I’ve been hooked. Here are five of the best retreats I have been to.

Happy Buddha, Wentworth Falls

The Brahma Kumari Centre for Enlightenment, Mt Hay

The Brahma Kumaris have four retreat centres in Australia but I have only been to the Mount Hay one which is beautiful. What I love about these retreats is the fact that all guests are invited to help in the kitchen preparing the vegetarian meals, that there is a bushwalking track on the property (we did a night time star walk once) and, depending on which course you do, this is an opportunity to dig deep in your psyche and identify wounds that need healing. These retreats are payment by donation so you can pay whatever you can afford – a special act of inclusivity by the organisers.

Billabong Retreat, Maraylya

Hotel Gibraltar Spring Health Break, Bowral

Govinda’s restaurant, Darlinghurst

Is this a retreat? Not exactly but it certainly feels like one when you’re in the Sunday afternoon kirtan (chanting) session. If you don’t have time to disappear into the bush for two days, this is an ideal way to top up your spiritual energy. For the full saffron robe experience, stick around for the Hare Krishna buffet upstairs. It’s BYO so if your version of soulfulness involves wine, you’re welcome to bring a bottle.

Where are your favourite retreats? I am always up for a retreat so I would love to hear your recommendations.

Do you like your retreats with more Champagne and less people? Check out some fun glamping sites around the world here.

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