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.
June 1 to 9 2019
Register by Wednesday May 15. 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, 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 telling our usual stories and see what happens when we let ourselves be and open to fresh possibilites.
Dharma, or Buddhist practice can be seen as a dynamic mandala of five principles: we progressively integrate mind and body and discover the power of skilful and positive mental states. Then, directly investigating, penetrating and dispelling our various layers of delusion, we open ever-more to the wonder of what is - the essential dharma-truth of our being. Then, at last, we can rest in simple openness, embodied wholeness.
We're all already engaging with these principles in different ways and to different degrees. In this retreat, we'll explore their dynamic and transformational nature, how our meditation and other practices might change as we go deeper and how, as the Buddha promised, dukkha may come to an end and wisdom and compassion be fully embodied.
We will approach this in a thoroughly embodied way, building up an integrated practice which brings all five principles together. Our practice will be 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.
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.