Here are a couple of places and events I have attended in the past to either get away from it all, recharge my batteries, experiment with new behaviors in a safe setting, or do it all at the same time.
Spirit Rock Meditation Center is dedicated to the teachings of the Buddha as presented in the vipassana tradition. The practice of mindful awareness, called Insight meditation, is at the heart of all the activities at Spirit Rock. The center provides silent meditation retreats, as well as classes, trainings, and Dharma study opportunities for new and experienced students from diverse backgrounds with a willingness to develop their own practice.
The Kalani Oceanside retreat is my favorite place to visit on the Big Island of Hawaii. Founded by Richard Koob and his partner Earnest Morgan 30 years ago, they continue to offer an impressive selection of workshops with an emphasis on dance, yoga and personal growth workshops. Every year they offer about 15 workshops specifically for gay men. Whether you come for a deep exploration of your inner spaces or just enjoy the adventures of living at the edge between newly formed land and the mighty pacific, you will come back with truly special memories. In Richard’s words: “Kalani Honua means harmony of heaven and earth, and this is what we aspire to. We welcome all in the spirit of aloha and are guided by the Hawai’ian tradition of ohana(extended family), respecting our diversity yet sharing in unity.”
The California Men’s Gathering was started in 1978 as an annual event and is today held three times a year throughout California. A gathering is typically a three day weekend at a remote camp with anywhere between 150 to 300 men attending: “The primary activity of the California Men’s Gathering is to create gatherings in a safe and supportive environment in which men can confront, risk and experience the challenges and discomfort necessary for genuine growth, transformation and empowerment as men.”
Although Body Electric isn’t a place to go, but an experience to have I’m including it here. To quote from the website: “Body Electric is a school of the healing arts committed to helping people experience their potential as healers of self and others through touch, conscious breath, and honoring the wisdom of the body.” Though Body Electric is so much more that unfortunately I do not have the words to describe it adequately. If you have the good fortune as I had to attend a Body Electric workshop at the beautiful Kalani resort, be prepared for a life transforming experience. If you are looking for less of an initial commitment, consider signing up for a weekend version of “Celebrating the Body Erotic”, offered throughout the year at many locations.
I would omit an important resource, if I did not mention the Esalen Institute, “founded in 1962 as an alternative educational center devoted to the exploration of what Aldous Huxley called the “human potential,” the world of unrealized human capacities that lies beyond the imagination.” Located along the spectacular Big Sur Coast line south of San Francisco and blessed with natural hot springs it is a unique place to visit. Though if you are a gay man, I would highly recommend that you visit Esalen for the first time while participating in a workshop for gay men. They offer several gay-themed events throughout the year and I believe you will be much more able to enjoy the natural beauty of the site while being in a sense of community.
The Flesh & Spirit Communitybegan as a series of workshops and intensives created in Cincinnati, Ohio, in 1992 as venue for queer men to build community and explore the unity of the erotic and the spiritual. Since Flesh & Spirit’s inception it has developed into a Bay Area community supporting queer men on a path of healing, integrating and celebrating our bodies and our eroticism as sacred. The basic philosophy of Flesh & Spirit Community is a weave of loving ideas, concepts and practices from many traditions such as, Buddhism, Tantra, Taoism, African & Native American, spiritualities, Christianity, Wicca, Judaism, Sufism, Feminist theory, congruence theory, liberation theology, healing/recovery models, behavioral medicine, energy medicine and body oriented therapies.