FAQs for Meditation Retreat Rookies

I’ve answered thousands of questions over the years for folks new to retreats. If you’ve never been on a retreat and are curious, here are some common questions to quell your curiosities.

I’ve never meditated before, what can I do to prepare?

The best thing you can do to prepare is to make sure you’re here on time for the Primordial Sound Meditation class, which is always the first thing on our schedule for any retreat after course registration. This introductory class into meditation will give you all the information you need to start your practice. From there, the follow-up classes and group meditations will help build confidence in your meditation practice.

I’m religious, does it conflict?

As long as you’re open to practicing yoga and meditation in terms of how that fits into your religion, then there’s no conflict. We’ve had many priests, rabbis, nuns, reverends, and people of all religions join us in the past. Many of them have gone on to become certified in meditation and haven’t felt a conflict. At the Chopra Center, we introduce meditation in terms of the benefit on your physiology using ancient philosophy—rather than religion—as our foundation. There may be references by our speakers to many different religions and religious leaders during lectures, but Deepak Chopra nor the Chopra Center are not affiliated with any religion in particular.

What should I wear/bring?

The best type of attire is what you feel most comfortable being in all day. The majority of our guests wear yoga or workout style clothing but other people feel more comfortable dressing up. We do our best to regulate the temperature inside our lecture rooms but bringing layers of clothing is always a good idea in San Diego. This allows you to be comfortable when you are inside but also enjoy the beautiful sunshine during our outdoor meals and breaks.

What’s the schedule like?

Our schedules vary from course to course but are all meant to be full in order to keep you connected to the group and immersed in the content and the experience. Yoga generally starts our day around 7:00am and evening sessions can run as late as 9pm. There will always be a breakfast, lunch, and dinner break and several shorter breaks and events throughout the day. Each event page on our website offers sample schedules to give you a detailed look at your day for each course.

Do I need experience for a meditation retreat?

There is absolutely no experience needed. At Seduction of Spirit, our signature yoga and meditation retreat, beginners are welcome and plentiful. We will teach you all you need to know about meditation and guide you along in your process during the week. The only thing you need is an interest and openness to learning new things. The rest, we will provide.

I’ve tried meditation before, but failed. Will this be different?

Being open to a new experience with meditation is the best thing that you can do when joining us and learning Primordial Sound Meditation. Many people attending our retreats have tried to meditate on their own or with other styles and been unsuccessful. “I can’t meditate” is the phrase we hear more than anything before someone joins us for a retreat. This is what we recommend to ensure you are set up for a successful and consistent meditation practice:

  • Be open to a new way
  • Be on time to the Introduction to Primordial Sound Meditation class on the first day
  • Attend all follow-up meditation classes integrated into your schedule

Do people come by themselves? Is that weird?

The majority of people come to our retreats alone. We certainly see our fair share of groups, couples, and pairings of every kind, but if you are attending by yourself, know that you will not be alone. This is one of the best places to be with other like-minded people and meet new friends.

Do we have to sit on mats or can I sit on a chair?

We always have chairs at our events. No grass mats here! We also have the option of ‘backjacks’ and floor seating, but most people sit in chairs.

Do I have to be flexible to do yoga? I’ve never tried it … will I be able to participate?

Can’t touch your toes? Never done yoga? Great! You’re in the right place here with our level 1 or chair yoga class. Our classes are meant to be a physical extension of your meditation rather than a workout. The Seven Spiritual Laws of Yoga, the style we practice at the Chopra Center, is meant to be a nourishing and restorative practice with a meditative pace. Absolutely no yoga experience is necessary. Our intention is that you leave understanding that yoga helps create flexibility in your body, but you don’t need to be flexible in order to practice yoga.

What should I bring? What do I pack?

At check-in we will give you a Chopra Center Bag for your things while you are here with a journal, pen, and bottled water, so you don’t need to bring those unless you have something special you like to have.

  • For most of our workshops and retreats, you will need to bring your own yoga mat. Unless you are attending the Perfect Health retreat, we will not have yoga mats available for your use and you will need to bring your own. At all retreats towels will be available before yoga if you do not choose to bring a mat.
  • We recommend packing layers, as our session rooms and beautiful city of Carlsbad, California can vary in temperature from hour to hour and day to day.
  • Comfortable sandals or walking shoes are good to bring for those who want to take longer strolls around the resort
  • Always feel free to bring pillows, blankets, or cushions to make you feel more comfortable while sitting

Will you cater to my particular dietary needs? (Gluten-free, vegan, organic, soy-free)

All of our meals are vegetarian with several gluten-free, vegan, and soy-free options. All meals have an ingredient list and are marked accordingly. If you have a specific allergy or a dietary need beyond this, just make your program consultant aware prior to arrival so we can accommodate you. Our executive chef buys local and organic when at all possible, although we are not 100 percent organic.

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About the Author

Gabrielle Forleo

Vedic Educator
Gabrielle has worked at the Chopra Center since 2006 and is a certified Vedic Educator, having completed teacher trainings in Primordial Sound Meditation , Seven Spiritual Laws of Yoga , and Perfect Health: Ayurvedic Lifestyle . Although she has practiced many styles of yoga for more than a decade, she was first certified in the Seven Spiritual Laws of Yoga in 2008 and has been teaching yoga at the Chopra Center and...Read more