What is a Retreat?
For many hundreds of years there has been a strong tradition among Buddhists and other meditators of going on retreat in quiet, secluded places. During the three-month rainy season the Buddha recommended that his followers stay in one place and meditate more intensely. Today there is perhaps even greater value in stepping back from our busy and sometimes stressful lives and leading a simple, communal, focused life for a period of time.
Meditation is the central focus of most of our retreats, supported by good conditions - nature, good food, community and periods of silence. On weekend retreats we usually remain in silence at least over night, or for the whole retreat after the first evening. There are always more extended periods of silence on longer retreats.
A sample retreat schedule would be something like this: Rise at 6:30 for meditation at 7am and another at 8am. Breakfast at 9am. Free time or work period. Instruction at 11. Lunch at 1. Free time or work period. Meditation or groups at 3:30. Dinner at 6. Meditation, usually some chanting or other variation at 7:30pm.
To prepare for a retreat it helps to learn our two foundational meditation practices (Mindfulness of Breathing and Metta Bhavana). For more information, see the Newcomer classes.
Please refer to the logistics pages to learn more about how retreats are organized.
This annual retreat aims to provide a space to reconnect with beginner's mind - our natural capacity to see through expectations and prejudice and respond to our inner and outer worlds with gentle curiosity and wisdom. People with many years of experience as well as actual beginners are invited to give your practice a refreshing boost, surrounded by the quiet, natural beauty of the Santa Cruz mountains. Meditating together and supporting each other, away from our usual schedule, gives us the chance to go deeper and refresh our perspective on life.
Each day will begin and end quietly with meditation. Mid morning and afternoon sessions will include instruction and guided, mindful dialogue. Weather permitting we plan to spend a fair amount of time outside in nature.
All activities are optional and while we invite you to enjoy the flow of the schedule and stretch your comfort zone just a little, we also encourage you to listen to your body and participate in whatever way is most helpful.
Food Work Periods
Vegan food (with some eggs and dairy options) and simple menus are provided and cooking and cleaning are shared by everyone on the retreat. If you have a preference please let us know in advance.
Jikoji is a beautiful place and there will be time to explore the area, hike up to the ridge, and/or just relax and enjoy the surroundings.
There will be meditation without instruction in the morning and evening so if you have not taken one of our meditation courses we recommend dropping in to one or two of our Thursday 7pm classes. Contact us for more information.