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 Padmatara
Fri, Nov 9, 2018 to Sun, Nov 11, 2018

Our annual women's weekend retreat is a wonderful opportunity to spend a weekend practicing together in the relaxing natural beauty of the Santa Cruz Mountains. We hope you can join us!

This year's theme is Finding Stability in Turbulent Times.

Whether the turbulence feels internal or external, or both, through connecting with our physical, emotional and mental experience with a curious, open attitude we can cultivate a sense of groundedness that allows us to respond to ourselves and the world with more wisdom and kindness. 

Each day will begin with meditation. Mid morning and afternoon sessions will include instruction, guided, mindful dialogue, and more meditation. There is space for hiking, yoga, nature gazing, or relaxing in the hot tub in the afternoon. In the evenings we will have some ritual practice. Silent periods will encourage the deepening of experience. 

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. We share cooking and cleaning. 

Accommodation is in yurts, or there are places to camp if you prefer. 

Register by Oct 31.

Open to all levels of experience, but if you have not taken one of our meditation courses please contact us. See our Newcomer page for information about our meditation classes and courses.

led by Vimalamoksha and Padmatara
Sat, Dec 22, 2018 to Sat, Dec 29, 2018

Our annual winter 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 natural beauty of Nature.

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

The theme this year is Loving the Dream, and we will contemplate these words from the Diamond Sutra, along with other teachings and poems, exploring what (if anything) they might mean for the way we live our lives. 

Each object in this fleeting world is like a lightning flash,

a bubble in a stream,

a wisp of smoke, a cloud,

a drop of dew,

a fading star at dawn,

a breath, a dream.

Food and 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: There will be plenty of time to explore or hang out among the trees or sit by the fire. 

Meditation experience is strongly recommended for this retreat. If you have not taken one of our meditation courses please contact us or drop-in to our Thursday classes.