Archive for Spiritual Retreats and Courses

Top 7 Vipassana Retreat Centers in India

The Vipassana Meditation

Vipassana, “to see things as they really are”, is an age-old way of meditation that deeply involves purification from physical and mental ills by learning through self-observation and thus, engage concentrated restraint on the form and working of one’s physical aspect and how it links with one’s mental health. Over a course of 10 days, one learns to embrace and live in a transformation of self, which brings about a healthy balance in the mind and body.

Vipassana was actually re-discovered by Gautama Buddha nearly 2500 years ago. It is derived from Theravada Buddhism, which is one of the three primary schools in Buddhism, the other two being Mahayana and Vijayana. Taught as a universal remedy for all aches and tribulations, Vipassanna meditation has been passed down an unbroken link of teachers who do not engage in commercial profit but, rather, teach this way of living for free. The present teacher is Mr. S.N. Goenka. This art of meditation is supported by the many people who take part in it and later, leave donations with the good will of passing on the benefits of this ancient code of life.


Various Locations

In India alone, there are 73 locations that offer Vipassana mediation as taught by S.N. Goenka. Scattered liberally all over the nation and world, a handful of these various Dhamma meditation centers are revealed below.

  1. Dhamma Bodhi, Bodh Gaya, Bihar

The Bodh Gaya International Vipassana Meditation Center is located in Bodh Gaya, in the state of Bihar towards eastern India. This “Enlightenment of Dhamma” center couldn’t hold a better name signifying its importance. Bodh Gaya holds immense significance for Buddhists as this is the place believed to be the actual site where Gautama Buddha, the founder of Buddhism, attained enlightenment, or Bodhimandala, under the widely renowned Bodhi tree which was Gautama Buddha’s site for intense meditation. This is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Being the site of Buddhism’s birth, Bodh Gaya holds a colossal meaning for Buddhists. Holding up to 80 students in every 10-day course, the months from November to February receive the biggest influx of learners.

  1. Dhamma Giri, Igatpuri, Maharashtra


    Photo by Piyushshelare, CC BY-SA 3.0

The largest western state of India, Maharashtra has 25 centers for Vipassana meditation, the largest and most famous of which is the Dhamma Giri in Igatpuri. The meditation courses are held twice a month as this site attracts huge influx of learners. Dhamma Giri, “Hill of Dhamma”, gave out its first course to the public in 1976.



  1. Dhamma Pattana, Gorai Village, Mumbai, Maharashtra

Dhamma Pattana Vipassana meditation center is one of India’s newest centers, located in Mumbai. What makes it different from other Dhamma retreat centers is that it focuses on people involved in business and other high end vocations. Infusing the classic 10-day retreat along with teachings for applying the same principles to the strains and stresses of the business world, Dhamma Pattana (“Port of Dhamma”) has a relatively modern set up too, which includes Western amenities.

  1. Dhamma Sikhara, Dharamsala, Himachal Pradesh

This “Peak of Dhamma” is cozily situated in the Dhauladar range in the north Indian state of Himachal Pradesh. Serene, quiet and nestled in a beautiful forest of deodar and cedar trees, the Dhamma Sikhara holds its 10-day Dhamma meditation course from the months of April to November. The course is conducted at intervals of fourteen days.

  1. Dhamma Paphulla, Bangalore, Karnataka

    Photo by Miran Rijavec, CC BY 2.0

    Photo by Miran Rijavec, CC BY 2.0

Set in a humble location, the Dhamma Paphulla, “Cheerfulness of Truth” is located 30 kms away from Bangalore, the capital of the southern state Karnataka in India. Placed on a sprawling expanse of rustic beauty, the Dhamma Paphulla conducts courses once or twice in a month. The accommodations meet basic needs and provide for a comfortable stay with attached bathrooms and hot water facilities. In addition, the location enjoys a comfortable climate all year round and is easily accessible by city buses.

  1. Dhamma Puri, Machmara, Tripura

The first Dhamma center to be established in north-eastern India, the Dhamma Puri or, “Town of Dhamma” is a quaint location in the state of Tripura. Easily accessible by most means of transport, this Vipassana meditation center is 150 kms away from Agartala, the state capital and is very peaceful and idyllic.

  1. Dhamma Garh, Chhattisgarh

This “Fort of Dhamma” is found 120 kms away from Raipur, the state capital of Chhattisgarh. It was started in 2011 and can accommodate 18 male and 10 female students.

Vipassanna meditation reconstructs one’s outlook on life and how one interacts within internal and external surroundings. With dedicated practice, one can find the positive alternations to turn life around. Tranquility and confidence flow through one’s being and the wave of goodness passes on and on.


Author Bio

Himanshu is an enthusiast of living life to the fullest. He enjoys good food, positive experiences and goes for things that fuel his lively outlook on the world. He is an aficionado of Vipassana meditation and has taken multiple 10-day retreats. He writes on his website and keeps the various facets of his life in gentle balance with its teachings.

Hey. How About High Tea Online with Aussies Amanda and Julie?

Feel like pampering yourself for an hour or so?
Join Amanda and Julie for High Tea !
Saturday 25th June
at 11am
Join Amanda & Julie for a delicious High Tea & experience some of the gifts of Kerala.
We will be sharing yummy morsels that are unique to Amanda’s upcoming Kerala retreat at the end of September.
Contact them now, as this free event is going to book out very fast!
Phone or SMS Julie 0427 716 766  Amanda 0405 344 149
or email

Journeys of the Spirit227bfc37-e86e-44e7-8eae-9fc49e2e4c04

Phone / SMS / Viber / WhatsApp:
In Australia: 0427 766 716   International +61 427 766 716
Email:  Skype: julie.baker.journeys
You don’t have to be in Australia to join them. Pass it on and see you there.
Vicki Starfire

Remnants of a Bigger Stonehenge Discovered

Artist's concept of how the stones may have looked before being buried.

Artist’s concept of how the stones may have looked before being buried.

On September 7, 2015 researchers discovered another set of giant stones near the original Stonehenge in the UK. The archaeologists found them using non-invasive multi-sensor technology (something like X-Ray). The site might have been 15 times the size of Stonehenge and older and is located only 3 km from Stonehenge.

The word henge refers to a particular type of earthwork, typically consisting of a roughly circular or oval-shaped bank with an internal ditch surrounding a central flat area. Henges may have contained (or may still contain) ritual structures such as stone circles, timber circles and coves. Read more by clicking here.

Dr Nick Snashall, National Trust Archaeologist for the Avebury and Stonehenge World Heritage Site, said: “The Stonehenge landscape has been studied by antiquaries and archaeologists for centuries. But the work of the Hidden Landscapes team is revealing previously unsuspected twists in its age-old tale. These latest results have produced tantalising evidence of what lies beneath the ancient earthworks at Durrington Walls. The presence of what appear to be stones, surrounding the site of one of the largest Neolithic settlements in Europe adds a whole new chapter to the Stonehenge story.”

The new stones are mostly buried and according to the data are even larger than the Stonehenge monoliths. Some of them are lying in their sides and seem to have been covered with an earth mound at some time in the past. There’s still much we don’t know about what went on at Stonehenge and now the other nearby sites as well. This is a Neolithic settlement dating from approximately 4,500 years ago. However, there’s no clue as to how long it was used and really for what purposes. We need some good psychics to contact “the other side” and find out the details, perhaps in the Akashic Records, the reports of human history and perhaps that of other planets as well.



Top 5 Spiritual Places in India

Here is a guest post from someone living and traveling in India. This is not a tour group, but the information he describes can be useful if you are adventurous and want to see these paces on your own. I like the fact that he has chosen holy places from all religions.

Sacred and religious places are doorways for spiritual attainment. While spirituality is awakening of the soul, religions and religious dwellings make the process easy. If you too were looking for an awakening, India would be the best place to start with. India is a cornucopia of cultural richness. Not only does the nation boast of varied cultures and religions co-existing but also of the magnificent structures that these religions have fashioned.

Spiritual places in India cannot be confined to a number; every monument, every place has a significance of its own. Here are five spiritual places in India that should be a part of your itinerary.

1. Haridwar


Photo by Paul, shared thru Creative Commons

Photo by Paul, shared thru Creative Commons

Photo by -.-Paul-.-, CC BY-ND 2.0

While the name literally means “Gateway of God”, Haridwar translates as the mecca of Hindus. With holy river Ganga adorning the city, it is considered to be one of the holiest and oldest city in India. The temple is nestled amidst the foothills of enormous Himalayas in Uttarkhand. The pious Ganga enters North India from this very place. Go here to join the evening ritual of lighting lamps and floating them in Ganges. Kumbha Mela is the most happening festival in Haridwar that attracts over millions to the city. It happens only once in twelve years and is a rare sight of divinity and worship.

2. Bodh Gaya

Bodha Gaya

Photo by Andrew Moore, CC BY-SA 2.0

Bodh Gaya is the place where the revered Buddha attained enlightenment could also be the one where you achieved yours. Buddhists across the world flock this place to witness Mahabodhi temple and the Bodhi tree. It is also celebrated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The two flight of stairs, considered as stairs to heaven will take you to the platform and from there to the inner sanctum of the temple. The best sight is to rest by the Bodhi tree and to gaze at the wondrous vajrasana – diamond throne or navel of the earth.

3. Amritsar


Photo by Arian Zwegers, CC BY 2.0

Amritsar or ‘pool of nectar‘ is the spiritual capital of Sikhs. The city itself was founded by Guru Ram Das, the fourth guru of Sikhs. The city’s name was given by the waterbody that surrounds the exquisite Golden Temple. The golden dome sparkling in dim light at night is a sight to witness. Harmandir Sahib (the true name of golden temple) has four doors that invites people from all walks of life and over one lakh people visit the temple daily.

4. Goa


Photo by Basheer Olakara, CC BY 2.0

Goa being the capital of churches in India is definitely a hot spot for spiritual awakening. The most famous church here is Basilica of Bom Jesus i.e. Infant Jesus. It carries the mortal remains of blessed St. Francis Xavier. The body of the saint who died in 1552 is still preserved here in a well decorated casket and is open to public only once in ten years. While the preserved body itself is a miracle, the architecture completes the beauty and spirituality of this place.

5. Ajmer


Photo by Shahnoor Habib Munmun, CC BY 3.0

The city of Ajmer is a very important place to both Muslims and the Hindus. It is a prominent pilgrimage centre after Mecca for Muslims all over the world. Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti’s Dargah receives people from all over the world answering to their wishes and prayers. The shrine is visited by Muslims, Hindus and Sikhs as a sign of communal peace. It holds some magic that people across all faiths come here seeking Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti’s blessings. The entire place lights up during the festival of Urs. During this festival there are qawwali programmes, where singers sing praises of the saint. The music is so mesmerizing and enthralling that it leaves its audience spell bound.

These cities hold magic, they carry peace and enlightenment that washes over you while you visit them and will leave you coming back for more. These places are also examples of how religion is not the only factor for spiritual awakening. They call out to people from all walks of life, from all around the world to come and experience energy, peace and love. They are like a reflection of “God is present everywhere and in everyone”

Author Bio:

Rohit is an avid traveler and blogger at His passion for exploring has taken him to places all around the world. Accounts of his travel experiences often act as a guide to other travel enthusiasts.


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Excellent Spiritual Education: Arthur Findlay College

02Want to progress in your spiritual knowledge? Of course you can join a local class or development group, read books on the topic or meditate on the subject. However, if you want to take a big leap in spiritual development, I recommend Arthur Findlay College in Essex, England. Some of my friends have gone there and all highly recommend it. Located in Stansted Hall built in 1871, Mr. Findlay bought it in 1923 and lived there nearly 40 years. After retiring from a business career, he started a college there “for the advancement of psychic science”. He bequeathed the hall to the college upon his death. Fortunately for us, it continues on strongly still today. Here is a quote from the website.

The college is the centre of Spiritual and Psychic Investigation and Instruction in the UK. We are here to teach and help you increase your knowledge in an atmosphere of love and spiritual activity. Spend 7 nights as a student on an all-inclusive Residential Course with full board and excellent tuition (shorter courses are available). Choice of vegetarian or ordinary diet.

What kind of courses can you take?  Here is a sample from the upcoming year: trance mediumship, trance healing, energy management and mediumship, journey of the soul, in service to spirit and a traditional Victorian Christmas at the Arthur Findlay College.  Keep in mind that there are 9 – 15 courses every month, so please survey the website:   to find out more. There are 44+ instructors (called tutors on the website). Don’t miss the section on  “Choosing the Right Course”. This includes choosing the right level for your abailty as well.

Some Great Places Spending Christmas

 Ice Skating at Christmas Fair in Museumplein

Ice Skating at Christmas Fair in Museumplein

Whether you are a world traveler looking for something new or an armchair traveler who likes to hear about what other people are doing, it’s always a treat to hear about special Christmas places where celebrations are “in the air” so to speak. The first group of resorts are in the northern hemisphere where you can experience the traditional cold weather with a good place to warm up and perhaps a hot drink. Thanks to Bree Sposato for suggesting Amsterdam. As you can see form this photo, the canals become wonderful ice skating rinks, and the 16th and 17th century houses are strung with lights. Why not stay till New Year’s Eve and celebrate with champagne and fireworks?

Here’s a more remote suggestion by Jennifer Coogan: Reykjavik, Iceland. Enjoy the northern lights from the comfort of a thermally heated hotel. There are only 4 hours of daylight, so bring your friends and prepare for an indoor party. Don’t miss the unusual Icelandic food such as smoked puffin and Brennivin (like schnapps). “Statues of the 12 Yule Lads (the Icelandic version of Santa Claus) peer out from every corner shop and window.”  Click here to read the original version

city street in San Miguel de Allende at night. Image shot 2006. Exact date unknown.There are a lot of “snow birds” from Canada and the northern states who like to frequent San Miguel de Allende, Mexico for the hot, dry days and cool nights, the traditional crafts made and sold there as well as the old cobblestone streets and the Spanish architecture. However, Christmas is very special with the procession of Mary and Joseph and everyone else who wants to sing traditional carols. The procession goes from one decorated shop to the next, stopping to sing at each one. The children will enjoy the ritual of breaking pinatas filled with candy and small toys. It’s a special treat to have blooming flowers such as poinsettias and bougainvilleas.



200911-w-christmas-kaikouraThinking about a warmer place? Try Kaikoura, New Zealand. It will be summer when you visit, so you can enjoy the beach, kyaking or boating to see the whales, dolphins and fur seals. The vegetation and forests are so totally different. It’s like you are visiting another planet. Lee Magill recommends staying at the Kapuku Lodge and Tree Houses with gourmet, natural meals. Make reservations long ahead of time any place in New Zealand over the Christmas holidays. It is after all their summer holiday time.

 Hapuku Lodge and Tree Houses is the ne plus ultra of New Zealand’s eco-tourism accommodations: a complex of cedar-covered buildings and six tree houses with views of both the bay and the imperial Kaikoura mountain range. Luxe high design reigns inside and out.


Perhaps you are seeking something more spiritual. May I then recommend Shambhala Mountain Center on 600 acres in Red Feather Lakes, Colorado? Here is a deeply established center which accommodates a great variety of practitioners from week-long “learn to meditate” stays to longer, intensives for advanced meditators. The staff also leads spiritual journeys during the year to Bhutan, Tibet, Nepal and Mongolia. The rooms are elegant but very simple and comfortable. People who have participated in longer retreats say it is like an immersion vacation, and the effects often stay with the person for many months, even years after. It’s a bit like unpacking your brain or fragmenting your computer. The effect are nearly always calming, relaxing. It’s especially a good choice if you are alone or with a partner rather than a family vacation or a good party celebration.

Let us know what you decide to do this year and how you liked it once you return. I’m always open to new ideas.




An Elegant West Coast Retreat: Gowlland Harbour Resort

homepage-imageLooking for a good retreat for your family, your company conference, your honeymoon or just a few days away for yourself? This resort located on Quadra Island in the Canadian West Coast accommodates all of these groups. Here’s what they advertise: “where wild west coast beauty meets natural elegance”. You can certainly see that in the website pictures, some of which I have posted here. You can see why people say, “Why didn’t we come here sooner?”

The accommodations are hotel rooms with an downstairs lounge and dining room, several guest houses which hold 8 people and their new honeymoon suite. There is a boat moorage, a spa and complimentary WiFi.

What can you do besides relax and read a book, take a walk? Lots of water activities are available such as kayaking, whale watching, canoeing and even golf on the island. There are special events as well. 59 Unfortunately, the website doesn’t let you know much about the owners and staff, but I did meet one of the staff personally – a very nice and enthusiastic young woman. Certainly a phone call could tell you more about the staff, the prices and how to get there. I personally recommend going there by float plane. There are regular flights to Quadra Island and also nearby Campbell River. It’s an experience you won’t forget, and there are endless runways for float planes! More expensive, you say? If you add up the gas and two ferry fees it might be about the same. Flying is certainly faster.     GHR-BH-Honeymoon-2014-sh


In closing, I’m going to quote from the website:

Ideally situated on the waterfront and perched at the water’s edge of the harbour, this one-bedroom luxury suite is perfect for honeymooners, second honeymooners or for anyone wanting a magnificent escape. Highlights of this romantic hideaway include a thoughtfully equipped gourmet kitchen, living room, dining room, lovely ensuite bathroom with glass walk-in shower and Jacuzzi soaker tub. There’s also an uncompromising water view.

Spirit Skies Retreat Center Reopens

In a past post I have featured this retreat center composed of several close-by locations, Spirit Skies and Spirit Falls. The owner and manager, Bodhi Heart, has now added and renovated Spirit Skies and is offering a opening discount of 30% on all week retreats in July and August and 20% off for retreats in September and October. These are silent retreats in small, personal cabins, not guided or group retreats. It seems that Bodhi has finished his third cabin and plans to sell the Spirit Falls retreat.

Spirit Skies Retreat Center Reopens

SPIRIT FALLS – “How to Find & Buy a Retreat”
Would you like to change your life?  This 4-day, 3-night weekend seminar will show you how easy it can be to create a personal retreat lifestyle in nature.  Through case studies of two retreats that are now for sale– and –you will see how to find, value, buy, and create your own small retreat center.
Mention this offer when you inquire for the 50% OFF EMAIL SPECIAL – For more info, click:!find-retreats-for-sale
SPIRIT SKIES – Grand re-opening with 2 new cabins
Earth Mother and Elk Spirit have been added to Spirit Skies personal retreat, and we are currently having a 30% OFF GRAND RE-OPENING SPECIAL for retreats of one or more weeks.
There is also a new video of our newborn elk (9 calves in 2014) on the website front page.  For more, click:
 Contact Bodhi for more information and to receive your bonus.

Australian Tour Company: Journeys of the Spirit

Here’s another spiritual tour company that is worth checking out. With the internet so easy to access these days and the use in international calling using plans such as Skype, there should be no problem making reservations from North America. Julie Barker is at the center of this company who says, “Her personal interests have always included a commitment to health and wellbeing of mind, body and spirit..”  The trips include some of the usual places such as Bali, Thailand and Machu Picchu. However, there are some other alternatives that look intriguing – Kerala Ayurvedic retreat including an audience with the Dalai Lama, Byron Bay Yoga, Indochina (Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos), and Bhutan (going on right now). There are also “tailor made journeys” available that let you and a small group of friends set up a private journey.  Here are some more details about a trip that is soon to happen to Peru and Chile (9/13 – 10/14). The website state there are only 4 places left.

a621f7ac5209f041570e0fdf83ebd20aWalking in the footsteps of the ancient Incas, we explore the many breathtaking natural wonders of this very sacred land. A soul nourishing and uplifting experience!

Perhaps we will be blessed with the sighting of the rare pink dolphins in the Peruvian Amazon, enjoy a hike to the Chacan Rainbow Temple in Cusco and explore the magical realm of the Andean spirituality. Magnificent, extraordinary, breathtaking – words cannot fully describe what you will receive from our experience at Machu Picchu.

It seems that these trips are very popular. For example, their Kerala Ayurvedic retreat sells out a year ahead of time. The tour guides that Julie hires seem experts in their own fields and worth accompanying just to get to know them.  Here are two examples – Peter Bliss and Cathy Brown. However, these are only two of several more very knowledgeable and colorful guides.

e4342f139049f47fe0c0dd2816c008a3Peter ~ is a dynamic business educator who has a very practical yet holistic approach to business and lifestyle. He has studied, coached and presented through keynotes and seminars throughout the corporate world both in Australia and overseas and combines simple western business intelligence with traditional eastern wisdom. He has experienced and is very aware that stress affects us all in different ways. If unaddressed it can be detrimental to all aspects of our lives and halt our full potential. Peter is passionate about mental wellbeing and has a unique ability to impart techniques with humor and practicality, bringing awareness to support you in creating a more balanced and fulfilled life. He has changed his own life through practicing what he teaches. We are delighted Peter will be guiding our Bhutan journeys 24th October to 6th November, 2014.

581f77ca1e1253171a8323e655fded1dCathy started her healing journey 24 years ago when she was diagnosed with secondary melanoma and was told she had only a couple of months to a couple of years to live and that chemotherapy and radiotherapy wouldn’t work. Her children were only six and eight and she knew she had to find ‘another way’ to heal.

After visiting 3 other doctors and told the same story, Cathy joined Cancer Support WA, which was the first place to give her hope and support. Over the years she has facilitated and instigated Wellness Programs, Support Groups, Women’s Healing Circles, the Gawler Foundation Healing and Wellbeing Program and many other groups. She has also been teaching Reiki for 20 years which has allowed her to develop a deep understanding of the spiritual aspect of life. We are delighted to have CSA Wellness Facilitator, Cathy Brown guide our mid- September’s upcoming Kerala journey.

There are also trips to spiritual places right in Australia such as this trip proposed for 2015 to Karijini, Australia to learn from the Aboriginal elders.

8926352872efd8504f9716d69e842fdeThe magic of the Pilbara is a world in which land, people and culture are intimately linked. One of the last frontiers covering 500,000km, the Pilbara is home to some of the most striking landscapes in Australia ~ ancient rock art, spectacular waterfalls, pristine rock pools and magnificent gorges. Blessed with spectacular red beauty, we will explore the spiritual heart of the Pilbara in Karijini National Park, offering you a truly unique outback experience that you will never forget. We share this mystical area of the world with Aboriginal elders, immersing ourselves within the wisdoms of this sacred land & observing through the focused lens the many landscapes surrounding you. Our breathtaking walks will have you discover the hidden gems of this extraordinary natural wonder.

Have I got you interested? Best to visit their website: and find out for yourself what they have to offer. I found the website to be a refreshing change from North American companies with the Ausie bent on the spiritual world. Julie herself has an interesting story of working in some high profile companies and then returning to Australia to set up her own company. As usual, if you go on one of these trips please send a comment so other readers can benefit from your experience.

Deepak Chopra on Life After Death

Deepak Chopra with his combination of Western and Eastern thinking is a wonderful person to explore this topic of death and the meaning of life. Here in a conversation with Allan Gregg in 2010 he describes his ideas of what happens after death as he has written in his book, Life After Death: The Burden of Proof. Please enjoy this half hour discussion of what will happen once you die.

For those who are not familiar with Deepak Chopra he “is an Indian-American physician and an alternative medicine and New Age guru known for his view that healing is primarily a mental rather than physical process”, according to Wikipedia. He has published over 15 best seller books and founded the Chopra Center for Wellbeing in Carlsbad, California. He recently spoke at the headquarters of LinkedIn and Google to instil the ideas that we can heal the world. You can purchase his book or just look inside by clicking on the link below: