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

2024 Dec 21 to 28
Sat, Dec 21, 2024 to Sat, Dec 28, 2024

Embodied Courage


Led by Pasadini, at Dharmadhara



How do we face our life fully? Where do we find the courage to turn towards ourselves and others, the fullness of our lives, the negative as well as the positive?  When we deeply inhabit the space of our body, both somatic and energetic, it gives us a resource from which to walk through life more easefully, freely and joyfully. On this retreat, we will use different methods to help us find the support to witness and engage with ourselves, and others, with love, kindness, courage, and joy.

Alongside meditations focusing on breath, body and heart, we will introduce exercises focused on the energy centres that lead to an increasing awareness of our energetic/somatic body. This helps to build resources both inner, outer and higher to help us find the ground of our “being-ness”. From this ground we can courageously meet life, and see the deeper truths of reality.

We also incorporate working in healing circles which is a practice of deep listening, and speaking, and allows for connection and healing, and serves as an interpersonal meditation practice.



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.   



After the first day the retreat will be in silence except for teachings, meditation reviews, 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. 



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.



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. 



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 and we ask that you come prepared, with good earplugs and a willingness to practice forbearance towards your roommate/s. 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 for one or two people, but this is not guaranteed, 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. 



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. 



The retreat is seven nights, beginning 5pm Saturday Dec 21, and ending Saturday Dec 28 by noon.

The sliding scale is $770 to $600. The deposit to reserve your space is $200.



Registration deadline December 1. 

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 ($570 to $770), or reserve your place with a $200 deposit and pay the rest by December 1. 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 $570 to $770. 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 $570 please email us at 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 you can pay through PayPal ( or Venmo (@SFBuddhistcenter) or Zelle, or you can drop off a check, payable to San Francisco Buddhist Center - Triratna, to SFBC, 37 Bartlett Street, San Francisco, CA 94110.