There’s more to Santa Cruz than the Mystery Spot and the Boardwalk with its famed wooden roller coaster and deep-fried Twinkies. Framed by sparkling blue waters, towering redwoods and foggy mountainside, it makes the ideal location for a spiritual retreat. From yoga to Vipassana, the area offers a multitude of ways to get grounded and reconnect through growth—both personal and spiritual—of heart, body and mind. There are even free options for both yoga classes and meditation retreats, so that money doesn’t stand in the way of personal transformation, deeper understanding of life and a clearer path to compassion, wisdom and freedom from pain and suffering. So whether you wish to explore your mind-body connection through yoga, meditate through sitting and walking along serene forest trails or gain insight through silence and stillness, welcome to a piece of Earth that is sure to hold space for you in just the way you need.
The Sequoia Retreat Center
Ben Lomond, CA
Off of scenic Highway 9 in Ben Lomond, Sequoia Retreat Center is named after the Coast Redwood, Sequoia sempervirens. This tallest tree on earth is an evergreen, monoecious tree living 1,200-2,500 years and more. The oldest living Sequoia may be 3,000 years old. The land at this center has been held sacred since 1949 and is a place offered for the exploration of the deepest meaning of life. It is a place to experience love, transcend pain and give new birth to hope.
Mount Madonna Center
This conference and retreat center is located at the top of Hecker Pass, on 355 acres of redwood forest and grassland overlooking Monterey Bay. It is dedicated to nurturing the growth of creative arts and the health sciences, within a context of personal and spiritual growth, unified by the common practice of Yoga. The Center offers an oasis for community, relaxation, reflection and learning experiences. Programs include a residential service learning program as well as weekend retreats and free community yoga classes most mornings.
Land of Medicine Buddha
Located just outside of Soquel, Land of Medicine Buddha offers classes and space for both group and personal retreats, including over 100 acres of forest with peaceful and contemplative hiking trails. It is an active Buddhist community, engaging in preserving and transmitting the Mahayana Buddhist tradition and values through teaching, meditation, prayer, retreat and community service. These teachings were brought to the area by founder Lama Thubetn Yeshe and their Spiritual Director Lama Zopa Rinpoche over 40 years ago.
Boulder Creek, CA
Vajrapani Institute, located in the renewing redwoods of Santa Cruz, is a Tibetan Buddhist meditation retreat center that was built by the disciples of the late Lama Thubten Yeshe and has been visited by generations of spiritual practitioners including His Holiness the Dalai Lama. It provides a quiet sanctuary for practitioners of all traditions to cultivate improvement of the heart and mind. This spiritual retreat offers the space to deeply understand our problems and seek a path to transformation.
Insight Retreat Center
Santa Cruz, CA
This community-based retreat center is located just outside of Santa Cruz. Their retreats offer silent meditations focused on insight meditation (Vipassana) and the liberation teachings of the Buddha. IRC is run by a wide variety of practitioners, volunteers and donors with no paid staff and their retreats are offered freely. This is a wonderful opportunity for all to engage in mindfulness training including sitting and walking meditation, dharma talks, work meditation and practice discussion, while silence is maintained throughout most of the retreat.
Insight Santa Cruz
Santa Cruz, CA
Located in Santa Cruz proper, the mission of Insight Santa Cruz is support in the path of awakening and liberation through mindfulness and loving-kindness. In honor of this mission, they offer a plethora of classes and practice opportunities to help cultivate wisdom and compassion inspired from the Theravada Buddhist Tradition. This includes guidance and support by trained teachers to develop integrity (ethical living), steadiness of mind (concentration), and insight into the causes of suffering and the path to freedom (wisdom).