Mendocino County is, without a doubt, a spiritual destination unlike any other. Visitors come to take a break from the everyday world, and locals have settled here from all over the globe after discovering something magical – it’s a common refrain that you don’t find Mendocino, Mendocino finds you. Maybe it’s the captivating natural beauty, or the remote quality of the land, or the community of fellow seekers that has built up over the past decades – but whatever it is, the energy that imbues the region is unmistakable. And it’s not just visitors that have discovered this – various spiritual and religious groups have established outposts throughout the county over the years. Many of them are open to public tours (generally by contacting them in advance), and they offer a truly unique travel experience. Here are a few of our favorites.
Abhayagiri is a Buddhist monastery in the Thai Forest Tradition of Ajahn Chah, located on a stunning 250 acres in Redwood Valley just outside of Ukiah off of Highway 101. The community is comprised of monks, novices, postulants, and lay devotees of both sexes, who live there to pursue a life of meditative reflection amidst the beauty of Mendocino County. They live according to the monastic discipline set out by the Buddha – the Vinaya – which means, in part, that they depend on daily offerings of alms food to continue to thrive. This creates a mutualistic relationship between the adherents who live at Abhayagiri and the outside world.
Visitors are invited to come appreciate the spiritual gifts of Abhayagiri as well. Guests are welcome to pursue walking meditation in the peaceful forest, listen to teachings with the community, enjoy tea with the adherents, and of course, to meditate. This exchange is a key part of the mission of Abhayagiri, and they are incredible welcoming to visitors. For those with an interest in experiencing a taste of the monastic life, Abhayagiri allows limited numbers of guests to stay overnight, by advance reservation.
Abhayagiri is a unique destination, and a place suffused with the energy of the hundreds of practitioners who make their life here. There is a humbleness about the lifestyle, and an openness to outsiders, that makes it a remarkable place to visit.