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

led by Padmadharini
Sat, Dec 21, 2019 to Sat, Dec 28, 2019

This retreat is now full - if you would like to be on the waiting list please email us. 

Connecting with the heart (and soul) of our practice

Our annual winter meditation retreat is a wonderful opportunity to take a break from our usual distractions and enjoy the many benefits of living and meditating together in a simple, supportive and mostly silent space.

This year our focus will be on connecting with the heart, trusting experience, and staying connected and curious about whatever arises. 

Padmadharini has practiced and taught meditation for many years and has recently completed a two year training as a hospital chaplain.  She is enthusiastic to share what she is learning through working with people who are actively dying.

The Gift of Silence

The retreat 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 let ourselves be.

Food and Work Periods 

Vegan food and simple menus are provided and food preparation and cleaning are shared by everyone on the retreat. If you have a preference please let us know in advance. 

Free Time

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

Meditation Experience 

There will be periods of instruction towards the beginning of the retreat, but the early morning meditation sessions will not be led, and as the retreat deepens there will be less input. If have not taken one of our meditation courses and don't have much experience we recommend coming to these before the retreat. Contact us for more information. 


Is a rustic residence with a very beautiful shrine room, located  in Lake County – about 2.5 to 3 hours North of San Francisco.  Accommodation is currently quite limited during winter months when it is too cold for most people to camp. There are 2 small dorms, and several cots and mats for sleeping in the living room or shrine room. There are no private rooms.  

Weekend option

If you cannot stay for the full week there may be the option to leave on Monday 23, depending on numbers, but our indoor sleeping space is limited so it's possible this won't happen. Send us an email for more information or to be on the waiting list.  It's likely to be quite cold but if you are prepared to camp and/or can drive please let us know in your email as that  may make a difference to whether we can accommodate you. 

at Jikoji
Fri, Mar 27, 2020 to Sun, Mar 29, 2020

Beginner's Mind 

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. 

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.