What is meditation?
To meditate, to ponder.
This ancient practice, traditionally revered as a path towards spiritual enlightenment, encompasses a variety of tools to calm the mind and connect with the present moment. By focusing on the breath, repeating a mantra, or cultivating feelings of loving-kindness, meditation allows ingrained thoughts to naturally unfold.
As you develop your practice, you will notice the reoccurring patterns of thought – fear, insecurities, or attachments – that reside in the recesses of your subconscious mind. The more you learn to observe these patterns with curiosity and compassion, rather than judgement, the more they dissolve. As the morning mist clears, this creates a space for you to connect with your inner wisdom.
Rooted in Eastern traditions, the earliest written account of meditation techniques can be traced back to the Verdic Sanskrit texts from around 1500BC, which make reference to ‘dhyana’, the training of the mind. Across cultures, meditation has been pivotal in the contemplative practices of many religions, with similar references found in the Tao Te Ching of Ancient China, as well as the Pali Canon and the Mahayana Sutra Buddhist texts of India. In recent years, meditation has gained popularity in the secular world as a therapeutic modality for improving wellbeing and finding stillness.
What are the benefits of meditation?
In a fast-paced and ever-changing world, most of us find ourselves home in a constant fight-or-flight state, which takes a toll on our physical and mental health. By staying present in the moment, regulating the breath, and activating the parasympathetic state, meditation can manage our stress response and offer a plethora of benefits, including:
- Reducing stress, anxiety, and depression
- Enhancing pain tolerance
- Improving immune function
- Enhancing focus and attention
- Improving cognition and age-related memory loss
- Improving sleep and helping with insomnia
- Decreasing blood pressure and heart disease
As well as the reported psychological benefits, neuroimaging studies have shed light onto the corresponding neurological benefits, with notable changes in the functioning and structure in certain brain regions. Practiced meditators show decreased activity of the default mode network (the culprit of mind-wandering and ruminating thoughts) and reduced aged-related brain atrophy. Even novice meditators, after participating in an 8-week mindfulness meditation training programme showed notable changes in grey matter density in regions involved in learning and memory, emotion regulation and self-referential processing.
Importantly, meditation is accessible to anyone willing to set aside 30 minutes of their day to close their eyes and find stillness. For those seeking to cultivate or deepen their meditation practice, attending a meditation retreat can be a transformative experience. Whether you are new to meditation or have practiced for a couple of years, such retreats provide the time and space to disconnect from the outside world and create a supportive environment for deeper immersion into the mind.
Why choose the Sen Wellness Sanctuary in Sri Lanka?
As a land steeped in Buddhism, mindfulness is deeply engrained in the Sri Lankan way of life and can be felt in the air as you wander through markets or visit local temples. Beyond the city, you are immersed in vast landscapes, lush greenery, and untamed wildlife, that take you to a transitional realm. Home to many meditation and yoga retreats, Sri Lanka offers a unique opportunity to explore the cultural heritage of Buddhism, while delving deeper into your practice.
The Sen Wellness Sanctuary stands out as an eco-conscious, authentic retreat centre, nestled between the secluded beach along the southern Sri Lankan coastline and a tranquil lagoon within the Rekawa Nature Reserve. This area is home to a rich, tropical mangrove ecosystem, teeming with unique and diverse flora and fauna. From the moment you set foot on the Sanctuary grounds, your body, mind and soul are in sync with the rhythm of nature. The singing of birds, the chorus of waves from the Indian Ocean, and the gentle hum from the lagoon lull you into a state of meditation. Your body naturally falls into the parasympathetic state, and you are reminded of your inner tranquillity.
Voted as one of the top 20 yoga retreats in the world by The Times, and featured in the Taschen and Conde Nast, we are a peaceful haven for those seeking to immerse themselves in the restorative benefits of nature and experience the ancient healing of Ayurveda, Yoga, and Meditation and other healing modalities. For those seeking to cultivate their meditation practice, we offer pranayama, mindfulness walking, forest bathing and mantra meditation, led by either a visiting Buddhist monk or one of the centre’s highly experienced teachers.
We honour the Sanskrit term for daily routine, ‘dinacharya’, which means to be close to the day and in touch with the rhythm of nature
At Sen Wellness, we place great emphasis on supporting and empowering all our guests to reconnect with their authentic selves. On your day of arrival, our experienced Ayurvedic doctor with conduct a thorough consultation and develop a tailored healthcare programme that includes daily doses of herbal medicines, Ayurvedic treatments, yoga and meditation classes.
As dawn begins to break, a delicious cup of herbal tea is delivered to your door just before the early morning meditation and yoga session at 6:00 am. It is the easiest time to drop into a meditative state, as the mind is still clear from deep sleep over night. The session starts with pranayama and mantras to quieten the mind and continues with a yoga practice to energise and revitalise the body.
After a post-yoga swim and nourishing breakfast, you will begin your bespoke Ayurvedic treatment programme, to cleanse and detoxify the body, calm unwanted inflammation, and strengthen the body-mind connection.
Throughout the day, guests will have time to rest and recalibrate and explore the state of just ‘being’. Whether you are forest bathing or walking on the beach, you can listen to the soundscape of nature and focus on the breath. Watch the waves as they come towards the shore and ebb away to where they came from. If lucky, you might witness a turtle emerging from the ocean. We invite you to journal to let your thoughts unwind, our find guidance in or collection of mindful reading.
In the evening, guests can participate in a gentle yoga practice, followed by deeper meditation or mantra chanting, often accompanied by the healing vibrations of the gong. The day ends with a wholesome dinner around a communal table, where guests can connect and share their experiences. As dusk falls over the yoga shala, fireflies mimic the stars in the night sky, signalling another beautiful day drawing to a close.
Whether you are new to meditation or have practiced for a couple of years, join us for your next retreat and discover the power of stillness.
The Sen Wellness Team