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Silent Meditation Retreat Spain

This Vipassana Retreat with Mike Helmle offers the supporting conditions, intensive structure, and personal guidance for meditators to directly and intuitively experience insight into the conditioned nature of the mind-and-body experience you call your lives.

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  • Daily Pali chanting
  • In-depth dhamma teachings
  • 71 sitting and 44 walking meditations
  • Daily morning yoga to prepare the body for meditation
  • Guided loving-kindness meditation sessions
  • 8 nights accommodation
  • 2 meals per day

Skill level

  • Beginner
  • Intermediate
  • Advanced

Yoga styles

7 days with instruction
Group size: 4-19 participants
Airport transfer available:
Málaga Airport (US$63 per person)
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  • Swimming pool (outdoor)
  • Dining area
  • Environmentally friendly
  • Garden
  • Meditation garden
  • Multilingual staff
  • Terrace
  • Yoga studio
  • Free parking
  • Free Wi-Fi

The Olive Branch is a small and friendly bed and breakfast, located in the stunning Ardales National Park. Shared accommodations with twin or bunk beds are available. All accommodations are ensuite, clean, simple, and free from distractions, enabling continuous meditation. Guests can use the outdoor swimming pool before and after the retreat.


Vipassana insights are conditioned phenomena. Vipassana meditation practice is simply putting the right conditions in place. It is cause and effect. If you practice correctly and the conditions are present - your true nature will reveal itself naturally. Taught by the Buddha over 2600 years ago, Satipatthana is a meditation technique that ultimately results in Vipassana ‘clear-seeing. By observing the fundamental workings of mind and body, you manage to create a distance between the experience and the observer.

This space allows you in turn to see things as they truly are, not how you want them to be, or how you believe them to be. The technique reveals clearly how your sense of self identifies with the experience you label ‘me’, ‘mine’, and ‘I’ and the confusion and suffering resulting from that. A continuous practice of Satipatthana (Vipassana) will inevitably bring insight upon one of the most fundamental truths of the human experience; your suffering is self-made.

If the inner workings of human experience are not seen clearly, this truth will remain hidden and you continue looking for the cause of your suffering in the outside world. Once the light of neutral observation reveals the truth of your nature, large parts of your suffering simply begin to fall away by themselves. And once you understand yourself better, you also begin to see that at your very core, all humans are the same.

In this way, the same insights that liberate you from suffering help you to develop compassion for all living beings. A Vipassana retreat is the opportunity to directly observe this process; to know and see clearly the arising of suffering. Vipassana releases you from suffering, step-by-step. It is the path to freedom from the mistaken view of self-identity. The goal of the Buddha’s teaching is the complete end of suffering. Vipassana leads to the complete end of suffering.

Structure and elements of the retreat

The various elements of the Vipassana retreats are like the ingredients in a good meal. They work together to create the best meditation environment possible. Each element performs a different function. When practiced together they greatly assist Vipassana. These elements are the causes and conditions for a successful retreat experience.

  • Moral virtue
  • Sense restraint
  • Right attitude
  • Noble silence
  • Meditation instructions
  • Dhamma teachings
  • Personal interviews
  • Sitting meditation
  • Walking meditation
  • Mindful daily activities
  • Mindful yoga
  • Pali chanting

Moral virtue

The development of moral virtue (sila) was taught directly by the Buddha as the foundation for the higher training in concentration and wisdom. Wise attention to your bodily and verbal activities assists in maintaining this purity. Mindfulness of your motivation cultivates mental attitudes of harmlessness, honesty, truthfulness, and integrity.

You will practice moral virtue by adopting the eight precepts throughout the period of the retreat. The eight precepts are a list of vows that are observed during a Vipassana retreat. They include general precepts such as refraining from killing, but also more specific ones, such as abstaining from cosmetics.

Sense restraint

Sense restraint means guarding the mind by limiting involvement with objects of the sense doors - sights, sounds, odors, flavors, sensations, and thinking. Active engagement with these objects distracts attention outward. The goal of mindfulness is to keep the mind internal.

Right attitude

Having the right attitude on retreat is very important. Practice must not be motivated by the desire for results. Sometimes when meditating there is too much wanting: wanting to be successful, wanting to ‘get it’, and not wanting to fail. This is a wrong attitude. Right practice is putting the conditions in place - not wishing, wanting, or hoping for results.

Noble silence

Noble silence is essential for a successful retreat. It helps determine the outcome of your meditation progress. Students are asked to adhere strictly to this precept and refrain from talking to anyone. Silence is needed to look inside the mind. Verbal speech is rooted in thought. Real silence is the silence of thought. Giving up the habit of commenting over a long period is very effective for calming the mind.

It is important that the meditation is not disrupted by chatter. Reading, writing, or making hand gestures are also discouraged during the retreat. Silence allows you to be more mindful, detached, and still. Conversations are a disaster during meditation retreats. Students may, however, speak with the teacher whenever necessary and they may approach the management with any problems related to food, accommodation, health, etc. But even these contacts should be kept to a minimum.

Meditation instructions

Meditation instructions are taught daily throughout the retreat in clear English. The instructions are practical directions in the core methods of Satipatthana Vipassana. Guidance is provided on how to note, label, and create space around various types of physical and mental objects. The directions are technical, yet simple and precise. The set of instructions is also methodical - building on the previous day's instruction, step-by-step. Tips and hints are given to overcome common errors and mistakes made by meditators.

Dhamma teachings

Daily Dhamma teachings cover the purpose and background of Satipatthana Vipassana meditation. The Buddha’s central teachings such as the four noble truths, dependent origination, the four foundations of mindfulness, the six sense bases, the five aggregates, the five hindrances, the five spiritual faculties, the seven enlightenment factors, and the noble eightfold path are taught in a practical manner.

Personal interviews

Personal one-to-one interviews with Mike take place thorough the retreat. They are an opportunity to share meditation experiences and ask questions in order to clarify any possible questions about the practice. You will be given recommendations and advice and Mike will suggest changes and/or corrections that are tailor-made for your experience if needed.

Sitting meditation

Formal 45-minute sitting meditation sessions are in a group setting. Sitting meditation is done throughout the day. The breaks between sits are not longer than two hours. This is to maintain continuity and momentum. The majority of your effort is noting the main objects - the in and out-breath (Ānāpānasati), the whole body, and touching points. Secondary objects - painful sensations, feelings, moods, and thoughts - are attended to if and when necessary. They are noted, known, and let go.

There are 71 silent sitting sessions during the retreat. Each sitting is a new learning experience. Each sitting is valuable in its own way. Accepting the present - not attaching to it or rejecting it - develops contentment, happiness, and wisdom. The effort to be present is a continuous discipline. It requires confidence and patience. Freedom is the art of equanimity now.

Walking meditation

Walking and standing meditation play an important role in retreat. Walking sessions are 45 minutes and often alternate with the sitting sessions. During the retreat, you will progress through four stages of formal walking meditation - three-step, four-step, intention-step, and six-step. A combined walking, standing, and sitting practice balance the meditative faculties of energy and concentration. A good, seamless walking practice strongly enhances sitting meditation. It also leads to its own special insights.

Mindful yoga

Daily yoga exercises are practiced mindfully for one hour every morning. Yoga unites the body, the breath, and the mind. It helps stretch the muscles in the neck, shoulders, back, and legs, to cope with sitting for a long time. The integrated yoga practice will help to:

  • Increase the flow of the life-force
  • Balance the primary elements
  • Promote awareness of whole body
  • Energise the body to reduce tiredness
  • Relax the body to calm the mind

Pali chanting

Chanting in the Pali language (with English translation) is carried out for 15 minutes every morning and evening on retreat. Buddhist chanting is a traditional devotion that uplifts the mind. It is not praying to God. Instead, it is showing respect, going-for-refuge, and recollecting the qualities of the Buddha, Dhamma (teachings), and Sangha (community). Recollection - or bringing to mind - is a form of mindfulness training that inspires trust. The practice develops faith and confidence (saddha) in the teaching and in the noble lineage of the Enlightened Ones. It is a beautiful expression of verbal gratitude whilst on a silent retreat.

Daily schedule

To ensure an efficient retreat experience, you will follow a strict schedule that allows you to let go of any need for decision making and fully immerse yourself in the practice of the teachings. Each day follows the same simple and clear routine, where everything needed to dedicate one’s attention towards the inner landscape of the self is provided; a schedule that allows the mind to slow down and fine-tune itself towards the most subtle layers of perception.

  • 04:00 Wake up bell
  • 04:00 - 04:30 Morning activities
  • 04:30 - 05:15 Sitting meditation
  • 05:15 - 06:15 Chanting or mindful yoga
  • 06:15 - 07:00 Sitting meditation
  • 07:00 - 08:30 Breakfast or chores
  • 08:30 - 09:15 Meditation instructions
  • 09:15 - 10:00 Walking meditation
  • 10:00 - 11:00 Sitting meditation
  • 11:00 - 13:00 Lunch and rest
  • 13:00 - 13:45 Walking meditation
  • 13:45 - 14:30 Sitting meditation
  • 14:30 - 15:15 Dhamma talk
  • 15:15 - 16:00 Sitting meditation
  • 16:00 - 16:45 Walking meditation
  • 16:45 - 17:30 Sitting meditation
  • 17:30 - 19:00 Drinks, interviews, and rest time
  • 19:00 - 19:45 Walking meditation
  • 19:45 - 20:30 Sitting meditation
  • 20:30 - 21:15 Chanting and Metta
  • 21:15 - 22:00 Prepare to sleep


Mike Helmle

Retreat location

This retreat will take place in El Chorro, Málaga, Spain.

Ardales National Park

Ardales National Park is a remote space surrounded by nature, free from the distractions of daily life with beautiful hiking trails into the mountains and lakes. Located only one hour from Málaga Airport (AGP), this meditation retreat is held in The Olive Branch - a simple and welcoming space perfect for up to 20 guests.


  • Teacher's home and retreat center - 40 minutes
  • Málaga Airport (AGP) - 1 hour

Unique features


  • Hiking
  • Massage
  • Swimming pool (outdoor)


  • Dining area
  • Environmentally friendly
  • Garden
  • Meditation garden
  • Multilingual staff
  • Terrace
  • Yoga studio


  • Free parking
  • Free Wi-Fi

This Yoga Retreat is vegetarian-friendly

Click to see more vegetarian-friendly Yoga Retreats


You will be served breakfast and lunch every day included in the price. All food is vegetarian. Any special dietary requirements can be catered for if notified in advance. There is no dinner and in the afternoon break time, you will have access to the tea station for herbal tea or hot chocolate. On the arrival day, there will be a light supper provided in the afternoon.

Simple and basic

Porridge and fruit are provided for breakfast and lunch has a healthy option. Ingredients are organic and locally sourced whenever possible. Eating is part of the meditation practice as students are encouraged to practice mindful eating.

The following meals are included:

  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Drinks

The following drinks are included:

  • Water
  • Tea

The following dietary requirement(s) are served and/or catered for:

  • Vegetarian
  • Vegan
  • Organic
  • Other dietary requirements on request
If you have special dietary requirements it's a good idea to communicate it to the organiser when making a reservation

Things to do (optional)

The Ardales National Park is a haven for climbers and hikers - guests wanting to stay at The Olive Branch before or after the retreat can contact the venue directly to arrange these activities. Yoga, creative writing, and massage therapies are all available at additional costs.

What's included

  • All meditation instruction
  • Yoga classes
  • 8 nights accommodation
  • Daily meals
  • Equipment
  • Bedding and towels
  • 10% VAT

What's not included

  • Flights
  • Transfers
  • Insurance
  • Option to extend the stay (bookable in advance)

How to get there

Recommended Airports

Arrival by airplane

Please book your flight to arrive at Málaga Airport (AGP). Riverheart Retreats will organize a group transfer from the airport at 1:00 p.m. to coincide with this and to offer you the lowest price possible. So, please book your flight to coincide with this. If you arrive earlier, there are cafes at the airport or you can travel into Malaga city to enjoy the sights before the group transfer arrives.

Orientation is at 4:00 p.m. on the arrival day so all guests need to have arrived by this time. Please let Riverheart Retreats know if you intend to make your own way to the center. Check out is at 12:00 noon and Riverheart Retreats will organize a group transfer at this time.

Airport: Málaga Airport Airport transfer available: Málaga Airport (US$63 per person) Additional charges may apply. You can request this in the next step.

Cancellation Policy

  • A reservation requires a deposit of 30% of the total price.
  • The deposit is non-refundable, if the booking is cancelled.
  • The rest of the payment should be paid 30 days before arrival.

Value for money
Accommodation & facilities
Quality of activity
9 days / 8 nights
from --
Minimum group size

This trip requires a minimum of 4 participants


Arrival: Tuesday September 20, 2022
Departure: Wednesday September 28, 2022

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