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

June 1 to 9 2019, with option to leave June 4
Sat, Jun 1, 2019 to Sun, Jun 9, 2019

Register by Wednesday May 15 with a $200 deposit. Register early to be sure of a place. Open to anyone with a meditation practice.

Our annual summer meditation retreat is a wonderful opportunity to see what happens when we take a break from our normal conditions and stories and let ourselves be open to fresh possibilities. This year will be the first Summer Retreat in our beautiful new shrine room at Dharmadhara in Lake County.

Our meditation retreats are mostly silent except for teachings, meditation reviews and some mindful communication.

This year the theme is Embodied Wholeness

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 skillful and positive mental states; then, directly investigating, penetrating, and dispelling our 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. 

Tejananda lives full-time at a retreat center in Wales and has taught meditation for many years. He will guide us in embodied practice, 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.

Meditation experience is highly recommended for this retreat. 

Dharmadhara is a simple rustic space with a beautiful meditation room, limited indoor beds, and plenty of sites for camping. A number of sleeping mats are also available in the shrine room.

Registering: go to "Select Amount" and choose either maximum ($700) or minimum ($550) payment for June 1 to 9, or 3 days maximum ($270) or 3 days minimum ($230) if you plan to leave June 4. Paying the higher rate helps provide scholarships for those who cannot otherwise afford to attend.  You can also pay an amount in between the minimum and maximum amounts by choosing the minimum and adding a donation on the following page.  (We're working on making this simpler - thank you for your patience!) . You will be given the option of paying in full or paying the $200 deposit through paypal or paying by check.  



Thursday Aug 1 to Sunday Aug 4, with Paramabodhi
Thu, Aug 1, 2019 to Sun, Aug 4, 2019

This annual retreat is for order members and mitras connected to the San Francisco Buddhist Center.

Paramabodhi will lead the retreat this year, exploring the Satipatthana Sutta and other buddhist teachings and practices that help to calm the mind and see through delusion through becoming more and more mindful of the body. 

Paramabodhi helped get the SFBC going back in the early 90's before going back to London to work on his art.  He has remained a good friend to us and visits regularly to share his love of Mindfulness practice and creativity.