The Vipassana Retreat Experience: A Consideration of the Meditation Retreat as a Religious Paradigm of Travel


  • Glenys Eddy


Despite the scarcity of references to meditation retreats in the large volume of research and literature concerning the relationship between modern leisure tourism and forms of religiously motivated travel, the number of meditation retreat centres has increased worldwide in recent decades. Michael Stausberg notes the growth in the international spiritual retreat business since the 1980s, and lists the visitation of retreats as one of the common purposes of religious tourism, itself one of the various forms of contemporary spiritual life that are a result of the increased leisure time available to us in our modern life. Meditation retreats, by their style of presentation and advertisement, may resemble other forms of religious travel. Websites of some Buddhist retreat centres have the facility where the enquirer can download the retreat schedule, whilst others have web pages that advertise forthcoming retreats, almost in the manner of a catalogue from which to browse the types of retreat on offer. Some even have testimonials to the efficacy of particular retreats, seen, for instance, in the Finding Freedom in the Body: Mindfulness of the Body as a Gateway to Liberation retreat, held recently between 10 and 15 April 2012, and advertised on the website of the Spirit Rock Meditation Centre.