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

March 22 to 24, at Jikoji - register by March 6
Fri, Mar 22, 2019 to Sun, Mar 24, 2019

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.

This year's theme is Mirror-like Wisdom as an aspect of beginner's mind - our ever-present potential for seeing experience just as it presents itself, nothing added or taken away. It's like the bright dawn right before the sun rises, when the air is clear and cool and the the light is blue and mysteriously revealing. 

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: 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: 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.

Meditation Experience: 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. 

Sliding scale: Please pay what you can afford within the range: $265-$200.  Plus optional dana for the teacher. (SFBC teachers are volunteers - all fees go to support running costs.) Paying the higher end of the scale helps those who need a lower rate - this is particularly helpful this year as Jikoji's prices have risen. If you are unable to come because of money please contact us as we are sometimes able to offer reductions.  


June 1 to 9 2019
Sat, Jun 1, 2019

Register by Friday May 17. Open to anyone with a meditation practice.

Our annual summer meditation retreat is a priceless opportunity to spend a week away from our normal conditions, in silence, supporting each other to go deeper with meditation, and being supported by the changing beauty of nature.

The retreat will be mostly silent except for teachings, meditation reviews and some mindful communication. It's a rare chance to take a break from making conversation and to see what happens when we let ourselves be.

Tejananda has been teaching meditation and dharma and leading retreats for over 30 years. He lives at Vajraloka retreat center in Wales, and luckily enjoys visiting us here in San Francisco. 

Meditation experience is highly recommended for this retreat. 

Accommodation: there are several spaces indoors, and a lot of camping spaces.  It's unlikely we'll be able to offer private rooms for this retreat.  If you need to borrow camping gear let us know.