Resolutions. We all make them. Even if you’re not a “New Year, New Me” kind of person, chances are you still want to better yourself in some way or another. Experts say that in order to change your lifestyle in a meaningful, lasting way – like eating healthier or starting a more productive morning routine – you need to repeat the same action, over and over, for upwards of a month. It’s like that old joke on how to get to Carnegie Hall (haven’t heard that one? Let me spoil it: the punch line is practice).
But maybe you, like me, are very impatient. You want change, and you want it now. You want to feel healthier and relieve some of the holiday-induced stress. Maybe you even want to improve upon your already good looks. Maybe you have always wanted to pick up meditation as a daily practice, but never found the time or willpower to do it.
I’ve got good news: there are many places in New England that offer immersive retreats to kick-start your self-improvement journey. Whether you prefer adventure-based excursions or quiet, focused meditation, chances are good you’ll find something on this list to inspire fresh habits and banish winter doldrums.
1. Rolling Meadows Yoga & Meditation Retreats
In the picturesque hills of midcoast Maine, you’ll find this 100-acre meditation and retreat center, located just 15 miles away from the crunchy-cool city of Belfast. In the summer, you can kill time between yoga classes by wandering around the flower gardens and organic veggie plots, where they grow much of the produce for the daily vegetarian meals. Rolling Meadows offers retreats year-round, and each retreat includes several daily meditation classes and an evening Yin Yoga class. The yoga practice at Rolling Meadows is designed to be restorative, which means it’s not going to be too difficult for novice yogis. And if the midcoast isn’t quite exotic enough, you can also book retreats in India, Italy and Costa Rica through the folks at Rolling Meadows.
WHERE: 83 Sullivan Road, Brooks, Maine
CONTACT: 888-666-.6412, email@example.com, rollingmeadowsretreat.com
2. Barre Center for Buddhist Studies
If your interest in meditation and religious studies is more academic in nature (or very spiritual), you may enjoy taking a class or two at the Barre Center in Massachusetts. This rigorous non-profit institution offers classes on everything from “Teachings from the Wilderness” to “Dharma of Self-Sufficiency While Growing Old.” Classes typically last between two to five days, and there are beautiful lodgings on the rural campus. The majority of the classes are held in partial silence, and there is no experience necessary to sign up – all you need is an open mind and a good attitude.
WHERE: 149 Lockwood Road, Barre, Massachusetts
CONTACT: 978-355-2347, firstname.lastname@example.org, bcbsdharma.org
3. Sewall House
Yoga plus writing is a winning combination in my book. As a professional writer and amateur sun saluter, I can’t think of a better way to plumb the depths of your subconscious than spending a few days at Seawall House, where published author Maria Massei-Rosato leads classes in creative writing and memoir. Food is provided and cooked on-site by the staff at Seawall House, though carnivores should note that all meals are meat-free, “in keeping with yoga practice.” According to their website, Seawall House suggests a minimum booking of five days, “so you can truly unwind.” Consider this a suggestion (or a good reason to use up those vacation days you’ve been hoarding).
WHERE: 1027 Crystal Road, PO Box 254, Island Falls, Maine
CONTACT: 888-235-2395, email@example.com, sewallhouse.com
4. Marie Joseph Spiritual Center
If you’re looking for something a little more self-directed—or a little closer to home—try the Marie Joseph Spiritual Center in Biddeford. Owned and operated by the Congregation of the Presentation of Mary, this religious center welcomes people of all faiths to their gorgeous seaside facilities. Guests are invited to partake in the daily Eucharist and morning and evening prayer (but please note that this is not required). If you just want to dip your toe in the spiritual waters, you can always try a one-day retreat, which cost $40 per day and include a hot meal and several hours of guided, silent prayer. This retreat is best for Christian-leaning worshipers, though I’m sure others would enjoy the ocean sounds and peaceful facilities, too.
WHERE: 10 Evans Road, Biddeford
CONTACT: 207-284-5671, firstname.lastname@example.org, mariejosephspiritual.org
5. Nurture Through Nature Retreat Center
This Maine destination is perfect for both spiritual and secular retreats, thanks to its flexible schedule and variety of lodging options. Located in the woods of Denmark, the eco-friendly organization was founded by yoga instructor and life coach Jen Deraspe. In addition to private yoga classes, they also offer guided meditation sessions, traditional Finnish wood-fired sauna steam baths, Swedish massage therapy, and a number of outdoor activities, including guided hikes and canoe trips. If you’re feeling extra hippy-dippy, you can even participate in a drum circle or a crystal bowl meditation session. Or you can just rent the Sunset Yurt and keep to yourself for a calming, quiet wintery weekend.
WHERE: 77 Warren Road, Denmark, Maine
CONTACT: 855-207-7387, ntnretreats.com
6. Stowe Mountain Ranch
Spend some time in the lush mountains of Vermont saying “om” and practicing your headstand at the Stowe Mountain Ranch. They offer various events in the fall, winter, summer and spring. Many of their retreats incorporate other types of outdoor activities, such as skiing or horseback riding, resulting in a full-body workout that will kick your butt (and your arms and your thighs and your sides and… you get the picture). The luxury accommodations have the same vibe as a casual ski resort, and in the warmer months, you can kill some time in the 20-foot-tall tipi, where staff members often hold events like meditation sessions and campfire storytelling.
WHERE: 5504 Mountain Road, Stowe, Vermont
CONTACT: 802-585-9006, email@example.com, stoweretreats.com
7. The Abbey at Farrow Farm
For an inexpensive island getaway, try the Abbey at Farrow Farm, where people of all beliefs are invited to visit for a spiritual escape. For a two-day retreat, the fee is just $135, which includes four meals and an overnight stay in the picturesque abbey. Other events at the Islesboro location include movie nights and poetry readings, and they also accommodate company and group gatherings. Take the ferry over for a cleansing, wintery experience on the water, followed by a weekend of silence and solitude. Perfect for self-directed spiritualists who just want a brief respite from city life.
WHERE: 832 Main Road, Islesboro, Maine
CONTACT: 207-734-2033, firstname.lastname@example.org, theabbeyatfarrowfarm.org