• Culture & Tradition
  • 16 April, 2021

6 Reasons to Go on a Retreat in Nepal

6 Reasons to Go on a Retreat in Nepal
Meditation time at Kopan Monastery, Kathmandu. Photo: Iuliana Marchian

Meditation and yoga retreats, as well as Buddhism course retreats in monasteries, are a great way to experience a different side of Nepal, one connected to the body, mind, and spirit. Whether you practice this at home or not, experiencing a retreat in Nepal is a good way to start or deepen your practice. Here are a few reasons why you should consider going on a retreat in Nepal.

1. They are a great add-on to a trek

Even if you may go to Nepal primarily for trekking in the Himalayas, a retreat is a great add-on after a trek. Trekking itself can be a way to connect to yourself, nature, or divinity, so you can deepen your practice in Nepal.

Plan well, as you might not have time for everything once you arrive in the country. Retreats can range from a weekend to up to a month.

6 Reasons to Go on a Retreat in Nepal
Practicing yoga on a yoga retreat at Namo Buddha Resort. Photo: Annie Seymour/Elen Turner

2. To have an authentic experience away from the crowds

Most yoga and meditation centers are located in nature, or are extensions to a Buddhist monastery. They are not part of tourist circuits, nor are historic monuments visited as tourist sites. You may find some of the centers listed in guide books, but visiting them is usually considered an optional activity when visiting Nepal. If you do choose to go on one, you’ll be rewarded with a different experience.

6 Reasons to Go on a Retreat in Nepal
Monks at a puja ceremony at Kopan Monastery. Photo: Iuliana Marchian.

3. You will meet people seeking similar experiences

People travel to Nepal for different reasons, and only some are interested in going on a retreat. Once you get there, you will have the chance to meet people with similar values and interests as yours. You can find people for whom yoga, meditation, and practicing Buddhism is a way of life and part of their daily routine, but you can also meet people who are just starting in one and are eager to learn more, directly from the source.

6 Reasons to Go on a Retreat in Nepal
Rice fields and villages surrounding the monastery in Pharping. Photo: Elen Turner

4. Many retreat centers are located in stunning nature

Going to a retreat usually means you disconnect from the tumultuous pace of life and experience something different. One of the best ways to do this is in the middle of nature. This is why many centers are located at the foot of the mountains or in the countryside, outside of cities. Not only you will have the stunning panoramas of the Himalayas, you will also be surrounded by pristine nature and a different pace of life. In some cases, car access may be a challenge, so you will have to walk a bit to reach the retreat center; this is not a bad thing! It may be part of the retreat experience to be away from the outside world as much as possible.

5. You can enjoy a completely different pace of life

Many retreats, especially those in monasteries, have rigorous schedules. Waking up early in the morning for the first meditation of the day is a rule of thumb, and eating vegetarian food is commonplace. A retreat is a detox for body and mind, so depending on the retreat you choose, you may have the option of total silence or you will 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 and gain maximum benefits during the retreat. No matter how hard it seems, one thing is for sure: when you come back to ‘normal life’, you will see it with different eyes.

6 Reasons to Go on a Retreat in Nepal
Monks debating at Kopan Monastery.

6. To learn more about life in a Buddhist monastery

If you go on a retreat in a Buddhist monastery, you will have the chance to talk to the monks, see how they live, and learn about Buddhist teachings directly from them. You will be able to participate in a puja ceremony when monks play gongs, cymbals, conch-shells trumpets, and large drums. If you’re 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.

Whichever reason appeals to you, going on a retreat in Nepal is a memorable experience that’s sure to enhance your trip to the country.

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