Retreat Centers in Santa Barbara

Retreat Centers in Santa Barbara
Looking for a spiritual as well as physical escape? Two hours north of Los Angeles, the seaside community of Santa Barbara offers many sites where you can take time to refresh and renew your soul. Here's a quick overview.

Originally established in 1947 over beautiful acres in the hills above Santa Barbara, the Mount Calvary Monastery was destroyed by fire in 2008. The monks of the Order of the Holy Cross, an Episcopal Benedictine order, then moved to what was then St. Mary’s Retreat House within the city limits. Today, Mount Calvary Monastery continues to offer retreat and conference services. Solitary visitors may elect to take part in part or all of the schedule enjoyed by those that live and breathe traditional Western monastic life, a day which includes periods of silent prayer, meditation, services, and meals. In addition, one may choose to walk the labyrinth by the creek or meditate at the Great Cross which graced the original building, survived the fire, and finally moved with the order to the new location. Specific week-long programs on a varitey of topics are also available. Accommodations, which include all meals and linens, are offered at one hundred and twenty dollars a night; multiple-day programs are priced to include accommodations and meals in addition to the teachings.

The original buildings at La Casa de Maria were originally private houses, but were sold in 1947 to the sisters of the Immaculate Heart in Los Angeles. The Center has gone from Catholic novitiate to interfaith retreat center; as the website states, it is now “open to all faith traditions and diverse spiritualities.” Groups can rent sections of the 26-acre property for retreats of varying lengths, using the center's meeting rooms, dining facilities, and overnight accommodations. Or enroll in a Center-sponsored retreat on yoga, meditation, creativity, and other themes. Self-directed stays are also possible; you'll enjoy a welcome lecture before choosing from a variety of places to meditate and reflect as well as amenities including a swimming pool, a labyrinth, and a peace garden. Pricing is dependent on the number of amenities selected, ranging from seventy to two hundred and seventy dollars.

While the White Lotus Foundation exists primarily for the purpose of yoga teacher training, owners Ganga White and Tracey Rich offer several weekend retreats over the course of the year. While the foci vary, all of these retreats include classes on yoga, breathwork, and meditation as well as vegetarian meals. Accommodations range from private rooms, lofts, yurts, and tents. The organization is well-known for the excellence of its yoga instruction, and a weekend spent here can only deepen one’s knowledge of yoga.

Want a retreat on the cheap? Rent a site at Carpinteria (to the south), Refugio, El Capitan, or Gaviota (to the north) State Parks. Reserve America is where you will make site reservations; your accommodations can range from bringing your own tent and sleeping bag to renting an RV through 101 RV Rentals. Bring your own food, reading material, journal, yoga mat, or whatever you need to spend a weekend focusing on contemplation, relaxation, and spirituality.

Wherever you choose, the Santa Barbara seems to contain great spiritual energy. A day, weekend, or longer spent here will surely improve your outlook and deepen your connection to Spirit. Enjoy your stay!

Disclaimer: I am not affiliated with any of the places mentioned in this article.

Mount Calvary Benedictine Monastery and Retreat House, 505 E Los Olivos Road, Santa Barbara. (805) 682-4117. www.

La Casa de Maria, 800 El Bosque Road, Santa Barbara, (805) 969- 5031. www.

White Lotus Foundation, 2500 San Marcos Pass, Santa Barbara, (805) 964-9617

Reserve America ,

101 RV Rentals, (805) 210-7391

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