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.
For Order members and Mitras connected to the SFBC Sangha
Vajradarshini will lead this year's Core Sangha Retreat.
The official retreat will be Friday to Sunday, but if you would like to arrive a day early to help set up, or stay till Monday, that can be arranged.
Our annual women's weekend retreat is a wonderful opportunity to spend a weekend practicing together in the relaxing natural beauty of the Santa Cruz Mountains. We hope you can join us!
Each day will begin with meditation. Mid morning and afternoon sessions will include instruction, guided, mindful dialogue, and more meditation. There is space for hiking, yoga, nature gazing, or relaxing in the hot tub in the afternoon. In the evenings we will have some ritual practice. Silent periods will encourage the deepening of experience.
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. We share cooking and cleaning.
Accommodation is in yurts, or there are places to camp if you prefer.
Open to all levels of experience, but if you have not taken one of our meditation courses please contact us. See our Newcomer page for information about our meditation classes and courses.
Our annual winter meditation retreat is a priceless opportunity to spend a week away from our normal conditions, in silence, supporting each other and being supported by the natural beauty of the Santa Cruz Mountains.
Silence: the retreat will be mostly silent except for instruction, meditation reviews and some mindful communication. It's a rare opportunity to take a break from making conversation and to see what happens when we let ourselves be.
Food and Work Periods: Vegetarian food 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.
Free Time: Camp Double Bear is a lovely place and there will be time to explore the area, hike and/or just relax and enjoy the surroundings, including the hot tub.