6 Meditation Getaways in and Near Boulder


The Dalai Lama visited Boulder. Twice.

We have a Buddhist-inspired (but secular) university.

Boulder is home to the world’s first Shambhala city center, founded by famous Buddhist Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche.

No doubt Boulder is a Buddhist hotspot.

Along with the many Buddhist temples and groups comes a long list of meditation gatherings and yoga studios.

Even if you’re not a practicing Buddhist, studies have found meditation is good for your health and can reduce anxiety, depression, pain, high blood pressure, sleep problems — and can even help with heart disease and cancer. The Mayo Clinic notes many of meditation’s roles in health and wellness.

In addition, wellness retreats are a big travel trend right now, according to SpaFinder.com.

Combine the two and you’ve got a meditation retreat in Boulder.

Here are six great meditation getaways in and near Boulder to consider for your next wellness retreat.

Shambhala Mountain Center
The Shambhala Mountain Center. Photo by Flickr user Ed Ogle (https://flic.kr/p/fJWz6e)

1. Shambhala Mountain Center

The Shambhala Center is arguably the most famous place in Northern Colorado to immerse yourself in meditation and mindfulness.

This center offers more than 100 different programs every year taught by reputable teachers. Sign up for a weekend or weeklong meditation and mindfulness retreat or plan a self-guided getaway. The center also offers meditation sits multiple times a day (morning, noon and evening).

This year, special workshops include Running with the Mind of Meditation (with Cynthia MacKay, Marty Kibiloski, Tara Michelle and Michael Sandrock) and Finding Happiness Within: Reconnecting with Your Natural State through Pristine Mind Meditation (with Orgyen Chowang Rinpoche).

The Shambhala Center itself is a worthy destination. This beautiful center is tucked in a 600-acre valley in Red Feather Lakes; it’s more than an hour drive from Boulder, yet it’s common for many Boulderites and Boulder visitors to make the trek. The center is at 8,000 feet altitude, surrounded by mountains and trees, and features eight miles of wilderness trails and many meditation halls.

You can stay on site in a private room, rustic cabin or shared dorm, or if you’re on a budget, ask about staying outside in a tent. Food is included.

One of the biggest features of this center is the 108-foot-tall Great Stupa of Dharmakaya, established in the ‘70s by Rinpoche himself. It is considered one of the most important examples of sacred Buddhist architecture in the country.

Shambhala Mountain Center
The Great Stupa at the Shambhala Mountain Center. Photo by Zane Edwards

Among its long list of honors, the Shambhala center has been named one of the best:

  • Beginner-Friendly Meditation Retreats in Some of the World’s Most Beautiful Settings (Vogue magazine, 2016)
  • Meditation Retreats in the U.S. (Outside magazine, 2014)
  • Meditation Destinations (Men’s Journal, 2014)
  • Top 11 Wellness Retreats (Sunset, 2011)
  • 9 Top Meditation Retreats (Travel + Leisure, 2010)

Local tips: Because it’s in the mountains, weather can be unpredictable and change quickly. Dress in layers and pack for all seasons. Also, always take off your shoes before going inside, except in the dining room and main visitor’s bathroom.

2. Shoshoni Yoga Retreat

The Shoshoni Yoga Retreat is closer to Boulder: just 40 minutes away, up in the beautiful mountains, at 8,500 feet above sea level.

Shoshoni’s emphasis is Shambhava Yoga (that’s one of the first schools of yoga in the United States).

Shoshoni offers yoga and meditation retreats all year, including an Anytime Yoga and Meditation Retreat, offered most of the time May through September, to more structured retreats for people with all levels of experience. Examples include a day-long, introductory workshop (with take-home guided meditation CDs and a journal), or a four-day immersion (including meals and daily yoga).

Unable to commit? Shoshoni offers drop-in classes.

The property itself is like a fantasy land in the mountains, with hiking trails, organic gardens, solar greenhouses and three temples. Stay in sustainably-heated cabins.

Local tips: Food here is vegetarian. Also find seasonal Ayurvedic cleanses.

3. Boulder Meditation Center

If you want to incorporate meditation into your vacation but don’t want to leave Boulder’s city limits, head to Dharma Ocean’s Boulder Meditation Center, 4676 Broadway St.

Every Tuesday from 7-8:30 p.m., the center offers open, guided meditation. There’s also a monthly intensive on the first Saturday of the month. These classes are open to anyone.

For something more in-depth, check out the weekend programs and courses, like the Vajra Assembly, a two-week immersion retreat.

Totally new to meditation? Dharma Ocean offers a free audio series online for you to check out before you come to town.

The Boulder Meditation Center does not offer lodging on site, so this is better suited for an add-on to your existing trip.

Boulder Shambhala Center
The Boulder Shambhala Center. Photo by Flickr user teofilo (https://flic.kr/p/5kpcBu)

4. Boulder Shambhala Center

The Boulder Shambhala Center is another meditation space located right in town, at 1345 Spruce St. Like the Shambhala Mountain Center, this was also established by Rinpoche. The center is part of Shambhala, an international community of hundreds of meditation centers founded by Rinpoche.

The Boulder center offers lots of regular, weekly, drop-in programs that are free and open to the public, from personal meditation practice to instruction and talks. There’s even a Young Sangha class for younger meditators (starting at age 16).

Want some guidance with your meditation? Stop by every Wednesday from 5-6 p.m. for free meditation instruction.

Another fun offering is the monthly Full Moon Shambhala Sadhana community practice.

There is no lodging at the Boulder Shambhala Center, but it’s close to downtown, where there are many places to stay within walking distance.

5. Dharma Sangha Boulder

Although the Briar Rose Bed and Breakfast is not exclusively a meditation retreat, it is owned by a practicing Zen Buddhist and the stunning, historic B&B is home to a meditation room for Dharma Sangha Boulder.

There’s a meditation every day, and weekday mornings there’s a chanting and bowing service.

The Dharma Sangha Center also organizes multiple Zen seminars, potlucks and more. Most events take place at the Briar Rose, making a perfect combination if you want to stay in Boulder city limits and incorporate meditation and mindfulness into your vacation.

One special event includes Dharma Weekends, offered monthly September through May.

6. Nature Meditation Retreats: Impermanent Sangha

Fuse your meditation with nature during the Nature Meditation Retreats offered through Impermanent Sangha. These meditation retreats take guests into the wilderness not far from Boulder to immerse in nature, community and mindfulness. The remote location helps deepen the practice, the Sangha says.

Participants meditate together at sunrise and sunset, go hiking during the day and participate in discussions around the campfire at night. Choose between lodging in a dorm or camping in a tent.

Some examples include the annual Rocky Mountain Weekend Retreat at the Eco-Dharma Retreat Center or in Rocky Mountain National Park, or a 10-day retreat in a wilderness setting.

Bonus: These getaways are inexpensive and scholarships are available; they say no one will be turned away. A World Wildlife Fund grant helps pay for activist scholarships.

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