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Meditation at a Buddhist Retreat in Sri Lanka with Budget Volunteering


Cultural Exchange, gap year and career break in Sri Lanka

CODE: 0259-1002

Relax and be inspired on a Course at a Sri Lanka Buddhist Meditation Retreat.  

You can't visit Sri Lanka without absorbing the gentle philosophy of Buddhism, which is prevalent in every day life and an important part of the local culture. Sri Lanka’s natural beauty and charm is utterly inspiring if you are looking for an experience of the body, mind and soul this paradise island is the ideal destination!

“…it was very well organised, everybody at the Meditation Center was very kind, approachable and made me feel at ease…it is a great way to experience meditation and a week of silence in a very authentic (very local feel) and kind environment.” Oksana Buto


PRICES Please see the Prices Page - prices for all projects and all lengths are listed and you can also choose which currency you'd like to see them in.
Start Dates All year round - you choose your start and finish dates.
Duration 1 week or 2 weeks
Requirements Minimum age 17.
What's included Accommodation
Meeting you at Colombo Airport
Transfer to your accommodation
Full pre-departure support
Local in-country team support and backup
24-hr emergency support.
What's not included Flights, Insurance, Cost of Visas (if a visa is required), Return transfer to the airport at the end of your placement.
Who can do this Project? All projects are open to all nationalities and all ages over 17.

"I spent one week at the centre and entered it a complete beginner. I could not meditate in anyway shape or form, but 1oneweek on I can do both walking and seated meditation. Without a doubt the first few days are unusual as everything is new and the people around you seem to understand what they are doing while you are still trying to grasp hold of it all. But just live in the present and listen to the advice given to you. Yes it is hard work but you are there to learn a new skill and that takes practice and time… one thing you have a great deal of in the centre.

I felt very well looked after and cared for throughout the whole stay! I am really pleased that I took this opportunity and I do feel different, much calmer and ready to face the next part of my journey. Lisa Oakden


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After experiencing the meditation centre ourselves first-hand, we recommend this 1-week or 2-week course the Centre while on your placement ... you'll have a truly remarkable experience enjoying or discovering meditation.

Many of the other people in the retreat may be there for anything between 2 weeks and 6 months. Your stay of 1 or 2 weeks will be relatively very brief. However, as a Westerner with little or no experience of meditation previously, we believe you will find this duration long enough to give you the benefits you're looking for.

During an initial exploration into meditation, a new sense of self-discipline must be acquired. To do nothing, all day long, may not be as easy as it sounds and it takes the first 2-3 days of a meditation retreat to unwind and slow down from a life of deadlines, responsibilities, distractions, rushing, traffic, communication, relationships, to-do lists and so on.

When the noise of the outside world is turned down and the distractions are taken away from us, our awareness comes back to us and a meditation retreat enables us to journey inside and find a sense of calm and balance.

After the first few days, you acclimatised to the pace, the silence, the routine. You slow down to the rhythm around you. It is now that you start to hear the sounds of the jungle better, notice the wildlife in the trees above you, the way the insects move, the changing lights of the forest. You begin to appreciate everything in a deeper way; the hot afternoon lemon tea, the sun on your back, a smile. Sometimes, briefly, there are no thoughts. This is the time when inspiration can come, creativity, insights and understanding are able to surface when your mind is peaceful and you are completely relaxed.   

Should you want to stay longer than 2 weeks, of course you can (subject to availability), and this can be arranged through our Sri Lankan staff at the time.

CAUTION! A meditation retreat can be a very intense experience. Anyone who has recently been through a traumatic experience may find the experience too much and it may not be helpful to you at this stage. We highly recommend that you consider this meditation retreat only if you feel that you are currently in sound and stable mind.


  • 4.00am Wake up
  • 4.15 Puja (Pay homage)
  • 5.00 Porridge/ gruel called Conglee
  • 5.15 Meditation
  • 6.15 Breakfast
  • 7.15-8.15 Meditation
  • 8.15 Drink of King Coconut
  • 8.30-9.30 Cleaning rooms and centre e.g. sweeping
  • 9.30-11.00 Bathing and washing of clothes
  • 11.15 Lunch
  • 12.30-1.30pm Meditation
  • 1.30 Drink of tea
  • 2.00 Mediation advice usually by head monk
  • 5.00-6.00 Cleaning outside areas
  • 6.00 Pay homage
  • 6.30 Evening drink
  • 7.00-8.00 Meditation
  • 10.00 Lights out

LUNCH: Your lunch is the main meal of the day, and this is provided by local people. Most Sri Lankan’s choose a day to take food to a Buddhist monastery and take one dish on that day every year. It is often a meaningful day to the person who prepares and brings the food – such as the anniversary of the death of a loved one. It means that you will be treated to a wide range of wonderful, tasty dishes each lunch time. It is always rice and curry with lots of variety and endless portions. The food is mostly vegetarian, with some fish. Usually there is also warm water or soup, and pudding of fruit, yogurt and something very sweet, which varies.

Some people save their pudding snacks. This is wise as you do not get to eat again for the remainder of the day (unless you have taken some snacks)!

MONK TIME: After lunch is free time until 2pm. Then the monk comes and sits for anyone who wants to come and talk with him. He speaks English. This is the time to ask questions, get help, or discuss any problems that you are having. Anything at all can be discussed here. Someone is there everyday at 2pm. Sometimes the monk may give you a book to read on how to meditate. Otherwise he will answer any questions that you may have about your meditation.

You are encouraged not to write or read, unless advised by the monk or teacher. Sometimes there will also be guided meditation sessions by the head monk, when he is in town. These take place in English.

The meditation centre is separated into different areas, with lots of small cabana’s splayed out in extremely peaceful surroundings which will assist you in setting your mind free. The centre is in a beautiful setting in a small and secluded area. It is very peaceful and relaxed, with sunny and shady parts and areas to sit and relax in. The retreat is split into two sections for males and females and the centre does not allow any interaction between the sexes.

The retreat is a (mostly) silent retreat, allowing you to focus on your own thoughts.The silence is something that takes some getting used to. However it also comes as a tremendous relief as there is no polite chitchat required! Should you need to ask a question or make contact with someone you may do so, respectfully.

A traditional Pagoda in Sri Lanka

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The foreigner accommodation in the meditation retreat is clean, but very basic. You will receive a private room (although it may not have an actual door, but a curtain instead.) with a bed, mosquito net and fan. You'll share a bathroom with the other yogis (meditators) in the accommodation. Again, this is clean and functional but basic.

The rooms are basic but clean and comfortable, and have in them special cushions for comfortable meditation. The cushions can be taken outside to meditate in the grounds. This is especially a good idea in the morning and evenings, as the sun and the moon and the beginning and end of the day, are beautiful. The fireflies are enchanting!

The Rretreat is about an hour and a half away from the Volunteer house in Ja-Ela and it may be possible to accommodate you there for a day or two before or after your Meditation Course Programme.

Food is included in your stay.

One of the main worries or concerns I had before I went was the food… do not fear! I can honestly say that I have never eaten so well! The quality and quantity of the food is quite amazing and I didn't feel hungry once during my week long stay. Many people keep some food over from the lunchtime meal just in case hunger strikes in the night but I assure you, food is plentiful!

One thing you can take to make you feel more at home is tea bags, coffee sachets (cappuccino style) and you can have these instead of the drinks provided. Take care, if you wish to be a real Yogi then milk cannot be drunk after 12 noon and that does include powered milk! Lisa Oakden

Lunch at the Meditation Retreat in Sri Lanka

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We cannot BEGIN to tell you how beautiful this paradise island is! Nor how cheap to live and get around.  It is almost too good to be true! But it is true. 

From towering Pagodas, Hindu temples and ancient fortresses to holy rivers and sacred mountains, Sri Lanka is blessed with a sense of deep spirituality and history.  The local people are extremely welcoming and friendly, especially in the rural areas. The tea plantations are a must, the lace making, monuments and architectural splendours,  etc., but the most appealing is the Elephant Orphanage at Pinnawala. Not to be missed! 

Sri Lanka has miles and miles of amazing beaches. Some of our favourites are:

MIRISSA: Perhaps a contender for the most beautiful beach in the world. Long, deserted and hot. You know you have got away from it all as you sit and watch the sunset over this horizon…The snorkelling is also incredible here.

NEGOMBO: To the north of Colombo lies Negombo, a busting fishing town with golden beaches and a pallet of colour provided by sails and boats against the deep blue of the ocean. 

UNAWATUNA: A sleepy peaceful cove with deep still water and a temple overlooking the bay from the protecting cliffs.

HIKKADUWA: A long stretch of beach with plenty of hostels, restaurants and some nice bars, not forgetting the impromptu beach parties held on the beach front bars blaring Bob Marley, Eric Clapton, Led Zeplin and many other classics! Sri Lanka is a conservative island brimming with culture and Hikkaduwa offers an exciting opportunity to holiday for the odd celebratory weekend! Many a volunteer birthday has been seen in over Hikkaduwa cocktails. You can also body board and even surf on this beach.

ARUGAM BAY: This tiny fishing village is Sri Lanka’s newest hot spot and hosts the best surfing and an easy going happy party atmosphere. With its wide sweeping beach in front of the village and year round gorgeous swimming it is no surprise that this bay has developed into a low budget travellers haunt.

"Thank you for the experience you gave me, it was stunning and a memory that always always always
brings me warmth"
Tim Hancock

White Water Rafting:Sri Lanka’s boulder stream rivers are the ideal setting for white water rafting. Many tours are available and many begin with days of action, rafting the white waters. This high adventure is suitable for fish time ‘go for it’ rafters and experts alike.  Rafting has become a very popular exciting yet safe adventure sport option.

Rock Climbing and Mountaineering: Mountaineering is an adventure sport that requires skills and levels of fitness that few other adventure sports can match. The mountain ranges have breath taking, enthralling, climbing routes.

Hiking and Trekking: Trekking is an excellent way to explore a country, people, their traditions and beliefs. Paths and campsites have been set up to give nature lovers the experience of a lifetime.

Canoeing & Kayaking: This relatively new sport is rated as the most adventurous of all adventure sports. It involves descending a stream as it drops over waterfalls and boulders. In Sri Lanka they have low waterfalls for beginners and some as high as 700 feet for the very experienced - all surrounded by breathtaking scenery.

The driest and best seasons are from December to March on the west and south coasts and in the hill country, and from May to September on the east coast.

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