Seeking an ideal retreat to immerse yourself in meditation practices? The UK is home to some remarkable centers that allow you to retreat from everyday life and nurture your inner wisdom. Attending a meditation retreat in the UK provides the perfect opportunity to disconnect from habitual patterns and connect with your higher self.
At these retreats, you can learn meditation techniques from experienced teachers in environments specially designed for practice. As a beginner, you can start with short weekend or day programs to learn fundamentals like breathwork, body scans and sitting meditation. Guided by compassionate instructors, you can establish a routine meditation practice.
For deeper exploration, you can join multi-day residential retreats held in serene natural settings like woodlands, lakes, and gardens. Here, you follow an intensive schedule of meditation sessions, lectures, mindful movement like yoga or qi gong, and reflection. By living meditatively, you allow its wisdom to permeate your daily attitudes and activities.
Retreats present an opportunity to temporarily renounce habitual patterns and seek meaning beyond material preoccupations. By turning inward, you connected with your deepest truths. With wise guidance, you return to the world with greater perspective, balance and purpose.
1. Gaia House, Devon
- Website: https://gaiahouse.co.uk/
- Address: West Ogwell, Newton Abbot, Devon, TQ12 6EW
Gaia House, located in Devon, stands as one of the premier meditation retreat centres in the UK. Established in 1983, this institution has cemented its reputation over the years as a hub for the practice and study of Buddhist meditation and mindfulness.
Situated in West Ogwell, Newton Abbot, Devon, TQ12 6EW, the centre occupies an old, elegant country house set amidst serene natural landscapes, offering a peaceful backdrop conducive to deep introspection and meditation.
At Gaia House, you are offered an array of retreats, which range from introductory weekends for beginners to longer, intensive retreats for seasoned practitioners. These retreats are typically rooted in Theravadin Buddhist teachings, though the centre is known for its eclectic approach, blending elements from various Buddhist traditions.
When you choose to enrol in a retreat at Gaia House, you can expect structured programmes that encompass sitting and walking meditation, Dharma talks, and personal interviews with experienced teachers. A significant emphasis is placed on cultivating silence, allowing you to delve deep into your meditation practice without the distractions of daily life.
One of the key features of the retreats here is the practice of ‘Dana’, an ancient Pali term meaning generosity. In this context, teachers offer their time and teachings without expecting any payment, and in return, you are invited, though not obligated, to offer a donation at the end of your retreat.
Furthermore, if you are keen to explore a more extended engagement with the practices, Gaia House also offers the opportunity to live and work as part of their residential community. Here, you can integrate daily chores and responsibilities with formal meditation practice, embodying mindfulness in every aspect of daily living.
2. Amaravati Buddhist Monastery, Hertfordshire
- Website: https://amaravati.org/
- Address: Great Gaddesden, Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire, HP1 3BZ
Amaravati Buddhist Monastery, nestled in the heart of Hertfordshire, is a significant centre dedicated to the practice, study, and propagation of the Theravada Buddhist tradition. Established in the mid-1980s, this monastery has emerged as one of the paramount institutions in the UK, spearheading the teachings of the Thai Forest Tradition under the lineage of the venerable Ajahn Chah.
Situated at Great Gaddesden, Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire, HP1 3BZ, Amaravati spans a vast expanse of green landscapes. The term “Amaravati” finds its roots in the ancient Pali language, translating to the “Deathless Realm” – an apt epithet for a place dedicated to the exploration of the timeless truths of existence.
At Amaravati, you are presented with a diverse array of retreats and teachings, echoing the monastery’s commitment to both the monastic and lay community. If you are a layperson keen on deepening your understanding of Buddhist teachings, there are regular meditation retreats, typically spanning weekends or longer durations. During these retreats, you are immersed in the monastic routine, which comprises of meditation sessions, Dharma talks, and participation in the monastery’s daily rituals.
A hallmark of the retreats at Amaravati is the observance of the ‘Eight Precepts’ – a set of ethical guidelines that retreat participants are encouraged to follow, facilitating a deeper engagement with the teachings. Additionally, periods of noble silence are incorporated, allowing you to cultivate mindfulness and introspection without the distractions of regular conversation or external stimuli.
Moreover, if you are drawn to a more profound engagement with the monastic path, Amaravati offers opportunities for longer stays, where you can experience the monastic life firsthand. Here, you can contribute to the daily chores and rituals, participate in regular meditation sessions, and receive guidance from seasoned monks and nuns.
The ethos of Amaravati resonates with inclusivity and a deep commitment to fostering an understanding of the Buddha’s teachings. Irrespective of your prior experience or familiarity with Buddhism, you are welcomed into a space of learning, practice, and contemplation. The teachings and practices aim to navigate the vicissitudes of life, guiding you towards clarity, inner peace and liberation.
3. Sharpham House, Devon
- Website: https://www.sharphamtrust.org/
- Address: Sharpham Trust, Ashprington, Totnes, Devon, TQ9 7UT
Steeped in history, Sharpham House in Devon is renowned as a sanctuary for mindfulness, meditation and personal growth. Dating to the 18th century, this Grade I listed Georgian mansion has been thoughtfully transformed into a retreat center that harmonizes heritage with spiritual practices.
Nestled on a sprawling estate above the serene River Dart, Sharpham House exemplifies the Palladian style, seamlessly blending historic design with natural beauty. This idyllic riverside setting provides an ideal backdrop for introspection and inner work.
At Sharpham House, a spectrum of retreats meet individual needs and experience levels. Choices range from secular mindfulness retreats to nature-based programs immersing you in the estate’s tranquil woodlands and gardens.
For beginners, introductory retreats offer a gentle presentation of foundational principles, with guided sessions to navigate the nuances of mindfulness. For those with established practices, intensive silent retreats allow deep immersion, with ample time for meditation, Dharma talks, discussions and one-on-one instructor guidance. Some retreats also creatively combine mindfulness with practices like expressive arts or yoga for a multidimensional approach to wellbeing.
Central to Sharpham House’s philosophy is inclusivity – participants are encouraged to simply be present, whatever their background. The retreats aim to provide practical tools to integrate mindfulness into daily living, promoting inner peace and purpose.
4. Bodhisattva Kadampa Meditation Centre, Brighton
- Website: https://meditateinbrighton.com/
- Address: 3 Lansdowne Road, Brighton, East Sussex, BN3 1DN
Bodhisattva Kadampa Meditation Centre, situated in Brighton, is a contemporary spiritual institution that embodies the teachings and practices of the Kadampa Buddhist tradition. Serving as both a local centre and a retreat destination, it offers an oasis of tranquility within the bustling heart of the city, facilitating the study and practice of modern Buddhism.
Located at 3 Lansdowne Road, Brighton, East Sussex, BN3 1DN, this centre, also colloquially known as Bodhisattva KMC, was established with the vision to provide a sanctuary for those seeking to cultivate inner peace and spiritual understanding. Drawing inspiration from the New Kadampa Tradition, founded by the venerable Geshe Kelsang Gyatso Rinpoche, the centre champions an accessible approach to Buddhism, making it relevant and practical for contemporary lifestyles.
When you venture to Bodhisattva KMC, you are met with a variety of courses and retreats designed to cater to diverse needs and levels of experience. For beginners or those curious about Buddhism, there are introductory classes that cover the foundational principles of meditation and Buddhist teachings. Here, you will be introduced to techniques that aim to foster mindfulness, concentration and a positive mental outlook.
If you wish to delve deeper, Bodhisattva KMC also offers structured study programmes. Within these programmes, you can explore Buddhist scriptures, philosophical texts and advanced meditation techniques. Under the guidance of experienced teachers, you are encouraged to not just study but to introspectively engage with the teachings, integrating them into your daily life.
Additionally, for those seeking an immersive experience, the centre frequently hosts meditation retreats. Ranging from weekend retreats to week-long programmes, these retreats allow you to detach from daily distractions and focus intently on your meditation practice. These sessions often encompass silent meditations, guided practices, and Dharma talks, creating a holistic experience that nourishes the mind, body and spirit.
Beyond its core programmes, Bodhisattva KMC also emphasizes community engagement. They host regular community events, workshops, and special courses, ensuring that there are avenues for everyone, irrespective of their background or beliefs, to explore the transformative potential of meditation.
5. Holy Isle, Scotland
- Website: https://www.holyisle.org/
- Address: Lamlash Bay, Isle of Arran, Scotland, KA27 8GB
An island sanctuary off Scotland’s west coast, Holy Isle has long been a sacred haven for spiritual growth and holistic wellbeing. With roots tracing to the 6th century, this small island has been an interweaving tapestry for numerous spiritual traditions across the ages.
Nestled in the Firth of Clyde near the Isle of Arran, Holy Isle’s coordinates are Lamlash Bay, Isle of Arran KA27 8GB. Once home to early Christian hermits, in recent decades the island has transformed under the guidance of Tibetan Buddhism.
Today, Holy Isle offers diverse retreats and courses spanning spiritual traditions, with a strong Buddhist presence. The island’s north end hosts the Centre for World Peace and Health, hub of many programs – from introductory mindfulness to advanced Buddhist philosophy and practice.
Central is the Theravadin Buddhist practice of samatha (“calm abiding”) meditation. Skilled teachers guide you in techniques cultivating concentration, clarity and profound inner tranquility.
For those drawn to nature, Holy Isle also provides eco-mindfulness retreats. Immerse yourself in pristine island landscapes, meditating amidst rich biodiversity and absorbing nature’s healing gifts.
Seeking interfaith wisdom? Holy Isle occasionally hosts dialogues honoring shared truths across traditions. Additionally, you can join the Peace and Purification Project, creating gardens and natural sanctuaries embodying humanity’s harmony with nature. Holy Isle’s layered history, natural sanctity, and ethos of spiritual openness converge in retreats that renew body, mind and spirit.
6. Dhanakosa, Scotland
- Website: https://www.dhanakosa.com/
- Address: Balquhidder, Lochearnhead, FK19 8PQ, Scotland
Dhanakosa, situated in the heart of the Scottish Highlands, stands as a revered retreat centre dedicated to the practice and teachings of the Triratna Buddhist Community. Enveloped by the serenity of Loch Voil and the majestic Braes of Balquhidder, the centre provides an unparalleled setting for meditation, personal growth, and spiritual exploration.
Located at Balquhidder, Lochearnhead, FK19 8PQ, Scotland, Dhanakosa was founded in the early 1990s, with the vision of creating a space that merges the profound teachings of Buddhism with the rejuvenating power of nature. Its name, “Dhanakosa”, is derived from ancient Sanskrit and means “Treasury of Gifts”, which aptly captures the centre’s ethos of offering transformative experiences that enrich both mind and spirit.
At Dhanakosa, you are presented with an array of retreats designed to cater to varying levels of familiarity and engagement with Buddhist practices. If you are new to Buddhism or meditation, introductory retreats offer a gentle immersion into the fundamental principles and techniques. Here, you will be acquainted with mindfulness practices, metta meditations, and foundational Buddhist teachings, all intended to instil a sense of inner calm and clarity.
For those with a deeper familiarity or commitment to the path, Dhanakosa offers themed retreats. These delve into specific aspects of Buddhist teachings, such as the Bodhisattva ideal, deepening meditation, or exploring specific Buddhist texts. These retreats often combine rigorous study with periods of meditation, allowing you to integrate intellectual understanding with experiential insights.
Recognizing the holistic nature of well-being, Dhanakosa uniquely integrates other holistic practices into its retreat framework. As such, you might find retreats that combine meditation with yoga, Tai Chi, or creative expression, ensuring a comprehensive approach to spiritual growth.
Furthermore, the centre places a significant emphasis on community and collective practice. During retreats, you not only engage in personal meditation but also participate in communal rituals, chanting, and group discussions. This collective dimension enhances the retreat experience, allowing you to benefit from shared insights and fostering a sense of spiritual kinship.
Central to Dhanakosa’s philosophy is the principle of generosity or “dana”. Retreats operate on a donation basis, emphasizing the importance of giving freely and cultivating a generous heart. This ensures that the transformative potential of Dhanakosa’s offerings remains accessible to all, regardless of financial constraints.
7. Tiratanaloka, Wales
- Website: https://www.tiratanaloka.org.uk/
- Address: Felindre, Brecon, Powys, LD3 0ST, Wales
Tiratanaloka, ensconced within the verdant landscapes of Wales, is a pivotal institution dedicated to the training and development of women who aspire to be ordained within the Triratna Buddhist Order. Its mission is deeply anchored in the propagation of the Buddhist teachings, specifically tailored to cater to the spiritual growth and development of women within the Triratna community.
Positioned in the scenic Brecon Beacons National Park, Tiratanaloka can be found at Felindre, Brecon, Powys, LD3 0ST, Wales. Established in the early 1990s, the centre has since functioned as a nexus for women from around the world who are deeply committed to their spiritual journey within the Triratna tradition.
When you venture to Tiratanaloka, the primary focus of the retreats and courses on offer revolves around the Going for Refuge process. This is an integral part of the ordination journey within the Triratna Buddhist Order, emphasizing a deep and personal commitment to the Three Jewels: the Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha.
At the outset, you might opt for retreats that provide an introduction to the ordination process. Here, you will be acquainted with the foundational principles, practices, and ethical precepts that are central to the Triratna Order. These retreats serve as a clarifying ground, helping you discern your aspirations and commitment to the ordination path.
For those who have formally embarked on the ordination process, Tiratanaloka offers more intensive retreats. These programmes delve deeper into the study of core Buddhist texts, ethics, and meditation techniques. Emphasis is placed on both individual practice and communal living, fostering an environment where you can collectively explore, debate, and reflect upon the teachings.
Moreover, the centre regularly conducts workshops and courses that address the nuances and challenges specific to women’s spiritual journeys. Here, issues pertaining to gender, spirituality, and community are openly discussed, ensuring that the ordination process is both transformative and contextually relevant.
8. Samye Ling Tibetan Centre
- Website: https://www.samyeling.org/
- Address: Eskdalemuir, Langholm, Dumfriesshire, DG13 0QL, Scotland
Samye Ling, located in Scotland, is the first Tibetan Buddhist centre to have been established in the West. Positioned amidst the tranquillity of the Eskdalemuir valley, this centre functions as both a monastic community and a place of learning, deeply rooted in the Kagyu lineage of Tibetan Buddhism.
You will find Samye Ling at Eskdalemuir, Langholm, Dumfriesshire, DG13 0QL, Scotland. Its inception dates back to 1967, when two Tibetan lamas, Dr. Akong Tulku Rinpoche and Chöje Lama Yeshe Losal Rinpoche, embarked on the mission to establish a centre that would preserve the authentic teachings and practices of Tibetan Buddhism. Today, it stands not only as a testament to their vision but also as a vibrant hub of spiritual activity and learning.
Upon your visit to Samye Ling, you are introduced to an array of courses and retreats that cater to various levels of interest and experience. For the novice, introductory courses on meditation and mindfulness are available. These programmes are designed to help you navigate the challenges of contemporary life through the lens of ancient wisdom, equipping you with techniques that foster inner calm, clarity and resilience.
If you have a deeper inclination towards Tibetan Buddhism, Samye Ling offers traditional retreats centred around Vajrayana practices. Here, the teachings delve into intricate tantric practices, empowerments, and advanced meditation techniques. Under the guidance of experienced lamas and teachers, you have the opportunity to deepen your understanding and practice of this profound tradition.
Furthermore, acknowledging the confluence of mental well-being and spirituality, Samye Ling also conducts courses that integrate Buddhist teachings with therapeutic modalities. This includes programmes on compassion-based therapy, Tara Rokpa Therapy, and healing practices.
An integral part of the Samye Ling experience is its commitment to communal living and work. During your stay, you are encouraged to participate in the daily life of the centre, which includes group prayers, meditation sessions, and community work. This engenders a sense of kinship and allows you to experience the teachings in a lived, experiential manner.
Additionally, Samye Ling is renowned for its traditional Tibetan art and architecture, which adorn the temple and the surrounding structures. As part of your experience, you can also engage in workshops that introduce you to Tibetan art, craft and rituals.
9. West Lexham, Norfolk
- Website: https://westlexham.org/
- Address: West Lexham, Norfolk PE32 2QN
Nestled in the picturesque Norfolk countryside, West Lexham is a model of sustainability and a sanctuary for wellbeing. Although not a strict Buddhist center, it embraces diverse spiritual and holistic practices for inner growth.
Located at West Lexham, Norfolk PE32 2QN, the ethos here fosters community, creativity, and consciousness. Spanning 21 acres of lush greenery, West Lexham harmoniously blends human design with nature – 95% of the structures use sustainable materials from the estate itself.
At West Lexham, a mosaic of experiences rejuvenates body, mind and spirit. Retreats draw from many traditions, not conforming to any singular practice. The emphasis is on holistic wellness through a range of modalities.
For those interested in mindfulness, courses introduce techniques and insights to stay grounded amid modern life’s turbulence. Under wise guidance, you learn to navigate tumult and return to the present moment’s equanimity.
Beyond meditation, immerse in Hatha, Kundalini and other yoga retreats integrating postures, breathwork and meditation. A comprehensive approach for holistic health.
Seeking interconnectedness? Join retreats focused on group dynamics and collective wellbeing. Here, practices like circle gatherings, discussions and community building cultivate empathy, understanding and harmony.
Recognizing our inherent bond with nature, many workshops also center around nature therapy. Experience woodland walks, permaculture courses and water healing – tapping into nature’s therapeutic power. And West Lexham’s appeal transcends its retreats. Sustainably built treehouses, floating water meadows and organic gardens beckon you to introspection and reconnection. Wandering its spaces, the environment silently facilitates reflection and peace.
10. Osho Leela, Dorset
- Website: https://osholeela.uk/
- Address: Thorngrove House, Common Mead Lane, Gillingham, Dorset, SP8 4RE, England
Osho Leela, situated in the picturesque landscapes of Dorset, stands as a prominent community and personal development centre inspired by the teachings and vision of the Indian mystic, Osho. Established in 1996, it functions as a nexus for those seeking spiritual growth, self-awareness, and transformative experiences.
You will find Osho Leela at Thorngrove House, Common Mead Lane, Gillingham, Dorset, SP8 4RE, England. Since its establishment, Osho Leela has dedicated itself to being a space where individuals can delve into their inner world, foster genuine connections with others, and experience the tenets of Osho’s teachings in a communal setting.
Upon your sojourn to Osho Leela, you are introduced to an array of meditation and personal growth retreats. The centre, drawing inspiration from Osho’s teachings, places emphasis on dynamic, active meditations. These practices, unlike traditional silent meditations, often incorporate movement, dance, and expressive techniques to unblock suppressed energies and facilitate deeper states of consciousness.
For the uninitiated, you might opt for their introductory meditation retreats. These programmes provide a comprehensive overview of Osho’s meditation techniques, encompassing practices such as Dynamic Meditation, Kundalini Meditation, and Nadabrahma Meditation. Facilitated by seasoned practitioners, you are guided through these techniques, ensuring an experience that is both transformative and grounding.
For those already familiar with Osho’s meditative practices or seeking deeper immersion, Osho Leela offers more intensive retreats. These programmes often blend active meditations with therapeutic processes, group dynamics, and self-exploration techniques. Here, you are not only introduced to the meditative practices but also encouraged to delve into your emotional and psychological landscape, fostering holistic well-being.
A distinctive offering of Osho Leela is its emphasis on community living and participation. As part of your stay, you are encouraged to be an active member of the community, participating in daily tasks, group sessions, and collective meditations. This communal experience, rooted in Osho’s vision of a “New Man”, is intended to cultivate a sense of interconnectedness, mutual respect and collective harmony.
In addition to its meditation retreats, Osho Leela conducts festivals, workshops, and events focusing on dance, music, creativity, and personal development. These events, drawing attendees from across the globe, are characterized by a vibrant, celebratory spirit, further emphasizing Osho’s teachings on life, love, and joy.
11. Beeja Meditation
- Website: https://www.beejameditation.com/
- Address: 45 Hoxton Square, Shoreditch, London, N1 6PD
Beeja Meditation is a contemporary form of meditation developed in the UK that utilizes a customized mantra and simple hand positions called mudras. Founded in 2004 by Will Williams, Beeja Meditation aims to create effortless meditation accessible to all.
Beeja has centers in London and Hampshire. When you attend a Beeja course, your teacher gives you a specially designed mantra and guides you through their meditation technique. The sessions involve silently repeating your mantra along with the mudras while sitting comfortably.
As a beginner, you can experience Beeja’s one-day introductory workshop. This provides a comprehensive overview of their method and includes three guided meditations. After learning the fundamentals, you can continue your practice through follow-up drop-in classes.
For a deeper dive, you may attend a weekend retreat held in the peaceful British countryside. Over two or three days, you practice Beeja Meditation intensively to establish a strong meditation habit. Through sessions and group discussions, you gain a profound understanding of the technique.
Advanced students can join Beeja’s seven-day intensive retreat for the full immersive experience. With twice-daily meditations and theory lessons, this retreat allows you to become adept at entering deep states of tranquility. You emerge with Beeja Meditation embedded into your daily life.
Regardless of your level, Beeja courses focus on effortlessly accessing meditative awareness. With the mantra as an anchor, you build the ability to be present and tap into inner peace amidst daily activity. The skilled teachers adeptly guide you on this simple yet profound practice.
12. Mindfulness Association
- Website: https://www.mindfulnessassociation.net/
- Address: 58 Thirlestane Road, Edinburgh, Midlothian, EH9 1AR
Mindfulness Association is a pioneering institution dedicated to providing comprehensive training in mindfulness, compassion, and insight practices. Founded in 2010, it has emerged as one of the key organizations in the UK that promulgate mindfulness as a means to improve well-being, foster personal development, and cultivate inner resilience.
You can associate the origins of the Mindfulness Association with its three co-founders: Rob Nairn, Choden (formerly Sean McGovern), and Heather Regan-Addis. Rob Nairn, a globally recognized meditation teacher, along with his co-founders, envisaged an institution that would bridge the gap between traditional Buddhist mindfulness practices and contemporary psychological insights.
The primary location of the Mindfulness Association is within the bounds of Samye Ling Tibetan Centre in Scotland, though its courses, retreats, and training programmes are often held in various locations across the UK.
Venturing into the offerings of the Mindfulness Association, you encounter a structured pathway designed to cater to varying levels of interest and proficiency.
- Mindfulness Level 1 – Being Present: As an initial step, this foundational course introduces you to the basics of mindfulness. Over the course duration, you engage with formal meditation practices and integrate mindfulness into daily life, laying a solid foundation for subsequent stages.
- Mindfulness Level 2 – Responding with Compassion: Building on the foundational practices, this level delves into the heart of compassion. Here, you cultivate an attitude of loving-kindness towards yourself and others, using mindfulness as a vehicle.
- Mindfulness Level 3 – Seeing Deeply: Venturing deeper, this course brings to light the insights inherent in mindfulness practice. Through advanced meditation techniques, you explore the nature of the self, reality, and the interplay between the two.
- Mindfulness Level 4 – Connection: Culminating the structured pathway, this level focuses on non-dual awareness, a state where distinctions melt away, and one experiences an interconnected, boundless expanse.
Beyond the structured pathway, Mindfulness Association offers a plethora of specialized courses and retreats. Whether you are interested in mindfulness for stress reduction, teacher training, or deeper contemplative retreats, the array of offerings caters to diverse needs.
Furthermore, for those aspiring to share the gift of mindfulness with others, the association provides robust teacher training programmes. These rigorous programmes, accredited by the UK Network for Mindfulness-Based Teacher Training Organisations, equip you with the skills, knowledge, and experience to teach mindfulness competently and ethically.