Retreats

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.

Upcoming Retreats

December 23 to 30 2023
Sat, Dec 23, 2023 to Sat, Dec 30, 2023

This retreat is now full, with a waiting list. 

If you have missed this one we hope to see you on our Summer Retreat, or next Winter

Openness, Clarity and Kindness

A silent meditation retreat led by Prasadachitta and Padmatara

Thus a person who by having taken refuge
  has become the site for spiritual growth
Will cultivate their mind
  for the welfare of those who are alive
By letting the flower of compassion
  blossom in the soil of love
And tending it with the pure water of equanimity
  in the cool shade of joyfulness.

(Longchenpa's verses on the brahma viharas)

In this week-long retreat we will practice and contemplate the 4 brahma viharas - Love/Kindness, Compassion, Joy and Equanimity. These qualities gently encourage the heart and mind to open, supporting our vulnerability and allaying our fears.  They transform the suffering caused by our sense of separation and we begin to feel more free to be who we are and allow others to be themselves. 

To support our meditation practice there will be regular periods of simple qigong - a mindful movement practice that helps our energy to flow freely and helps to heal any places that are stuck. It can be adapted to be comfortable for all abilities. 

Experience

This retreat is for people who are familiar with Mindfulness of Breathing, Metta Bhavana, and Just Sitting meditation practices. You should feel comfortable being in silence around people for long periods of time. It is helpful if you have been on a previous retreat.  If you are not sure whether this retreat is right for you please email us.   

Silence

After the first day the retreat will be in silence except for teachings, meditation reviews, mindful movement and some mindful communication in the shrine room. There will be a note jar for questions, and the organizer will be available for anything urgent. It's a rare chance to take a break from making conversation and to see what happens when we really let ourselves be. We will provide an emergency number so that you do not need to check your phone.  If you don't feel comfortable putting your device/s aside please consider not attending. 

Health and Safety

We highly recommend being vaccinated and boosted against COVID 19 but this is no longer required.

We ask that you take reasonable precautions to protect against infection in the days leading up to the retreat. Please check all our requirements here.  

If you consider yourself at increased risk you should not attend.

We recommend that you don't travel long distance since there is always the risk of cancelation or illness in these uncertain times, but if you do, please be sure you have refundable tickets and/or a back-up place to stay.

Food and Work Periods 

All food is vegan, with eggs and dairy options on the side. To simplify cooking and cleaning in silence we have a cook to organize lunch and dinner, and everyone on the retreat chooses a task that they can do every day - either preparing breakfast, chopping vegetables, or cleaning dishes. If you have a preference please let us know in advance. There is also a clean up session that we all share at the end of the retreat. 

Free Time

There will be plenty of free time to hike or stroll around the area or relax. 

Accommodation

Dharmadhara is a rustic residence with a very beautiful shrine room, located  in Lake County – about 2.5 to 3 hours North of San Francisco. The main building has a kitchen, dining room, sitting room with wood burning stove, 7 small dorms, some with 2 beds, some with 3 beds, 3 indoor toilets and 2 showers. There are no private rooms. If you do not feel comfortable sharing a room with others we may be able to find space in the living room or shrine room, depending on numbers attending, so please get in touch about this before you register.  There is also the option to camp, although it will be cold, and possibly raining or snowing. 

Travel and Carpooling

We encourage carpooling. If you need help organizing a ride please let us know and we will do our best to get you there. If you are driving and can offer rides, please also let us know. Thank you! 

I'm sorry that we cannot arrange airport or train station pickups. 

Timing and Cost

The retreat is seven nights, beginning 5pm Saturday Dec 23, and ending Saturday Dec 30 at noon.

The cost is $570 to $770.

Registration and Payment

This retreat is now full but please email if you would like to be on the waiting list. (There's a fairly good chance of a space freeing up.)

The sliding scale is $570 to $770.  If you have registered but have not paid the deposit please do so now. Since the retreat is now full deposits will become non-refundable soon so please let us know if your plans have changed.  You can pay the deposit through PayPal (info@sfbuddhistcenter.org) or Venmo (@SFBuddhistcenter) or Zelle, or you can drop off a check or cash or use your credit card at one of our events. 

Please pay the highest amount you are able within the range of $570 to $770. This helps us to cover the cost of the retreat leader, the cook, and others needing help with costs.  

Saturday June 8, 5pm to Monday June 17 at noon.
Sat, Jun 8, 2024 to Mon, Jun 17, 2024

There is an aliveness and awakeness that we can recognize at any moment. It’s an openness to our full being - in body, senses and awareness. It points to what we really are, outside of conceptual fabrications. In recognising and opening to a spacious yet embodied presence, here and now, we may discover a timeless awareness-emptiness that is inseparable from loving, compassionate energy.

We’ll explore all this through sitting meditation, experiential ‘lookings’ and by discovering our own direct experience as awareness, simplicity, intimacy and aliveness. These four awakened qualities are the essence of the wisdom of the five Buddhas and offer a very hands-on 'map' of our immediate experience, pointing to what has been here all along, unnoticed. 

Tejananda  lives full-time at a retreat center in Wales and has taught meditation for many years. He will guide us in embodied practice, based in the direct experience of the living energy of our body and being. Embodiment means realizing our undivided wholeness, our natural positivity and our intrinsic capacity to see dharma truth directly - all through being open to the energy of the body, and by becoming attuned to its actual nature.

Experience

The retreat is for people with experience of meditation wishing to go deeper into meditation and insight. You should be comfortable being in silence with others for extended periods of time. If you're not sure please feel free to email us

The Gift of Silence

We will be mostly silent except for teachings, meditation reviews and mindful communication. It's a rare chance to take a break from making conversation and to see what happens when we really let ourselves be. We will provide an emergency number so that you do not need to check your phone.  If you don't feel comfortable putting your device/s aside please consider not attending. 

Health and Safety

We ask everyone to take reasonable precautions to protect against infection in the days leading up to the retreat. Please check all our requirements here.  

If you consider yourself at increased risk you should not attend.

We recommend that you don't travel long distance since there is always the risk of cancelation or illness in these uncertain times, but if you do, please be sure you have refundable tickets and/or a back-up place to stay.

Food and Work Periods 

All food is vegan, with eggs and dairy options on the side. To simplify cooking and cleaning in silence we have a cook to organize lunch and dinner, and everyone on the retreat chooses a task that they can do every day - either preparing breakfast, chopping vegetables, or cleaning dishes. If you have a preference please let us know in advance. There is also a clean up session that we all share at the end of the retreat. 

Free Time

There will be plenty of free time to hike or stroll around the area or relax. 

Dharmadhara

Is a rustic residence with a very beautiful shrine room, located  in Lake County – about 2.5 to 3 hours North of San Francisco. The main building has a kitchen, dining room, sitting room with wood burning stove, 7 small dorms, some with 2 beds, some with 3 beds, 3 indoor toilets and 2 showers. There are no private rooms. If you do not feel comfortable sharing a room with others we may be able to find space in the living room or shrine room, depending on numbers attending, so please get in touch about this before you register.  There is also the option to camp, although it will be cold, and possibly raining or snowing. 

Travel and Carpooling

We encourage carpooling and if you would like us to help you find a ride please let us know on your registration. If you are driving and can offer rides, please also let us know. Thank you! 

I'm sorry that we cannot arrange airport or train station pickups. 

Timing and Cost

The retreat is nine nights, beginning 5pm Saturday June 8, and ending Monday June 17 at noon.

The cost is $730 to $990 for nine nights, including shared accommodation, breakfast, lunch and dinner, tea, coffee and snacks. 

There is no weekend option - please register only if you know you are able to stay the whole time. 

Registration and Payment

Registration deadline May 25. 

To register enter the amount you wish to pay in the Event Donation box and click add to cart. You can pay in full now ($730 to $990), or reserve your place with a $200 deposit and pay the rest by May 25. In the event that we need to cancel we will refund all payments. If there is a waiting list and you have not paid a deposit we will do our best to contact you but if we don't hear back we will give your place to someone else. Deposits are non-refundable after the registration deadline. 

Please pay the highest amount you are able within the range of $730 to $990. This helps us to cover the cost of the retreat leader, the cook, and others needing help with costs.  

If you need to request a rate lower than $730 please email us at info@sfbuddhistcenter.org and we will send you an application.

When you get to the checkout you will have the choice to pay now through paypal/credit card, or pay later.  (If you click pay now and don't actually pay now, your registration won't go through - contact us if you have any problems.)  If you choose pay later please send your check, payable to San Francisco Buddhist Center - Triratna, to SFBC, 37 Bartlett Street, San Francisco, CA 94110.