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See also How to Register for a retreat.
For many hundreds of years there has been a strong tradition among Buddhists 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.
In addition to meditation, there is some devotional practice on retreat with an optional introduction for those who are new to it. 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. You can get more of a sense of how things go on our retreats by looking at this sample retreat schedule.
To prepare for a retreat, learn our two foundational meditation practices (Mindfulness of Breathing and Metta Bhavana). For more information, see Introductory Meditation Classes.
Like all SFBC events, retreats are offered on a sliding scale to make them accessible to as many people as possible. We ask that you pay the highest amount that you can afford. Your contributions help others come on retreat at a lower rate, cover some of our related program and administrative costs, and, depending on the event, pay for airfare and lodging for visiting teachers. Payment plans and reduced rates are available, but must be arranged before the registration deadline (email info [at] sfbuddhistcenter.org.
During the retreat you may make a donation toward supporting the retreat leaders, all of whom volunteer their time to teach. The tradition of making offerings to teachers is called dana, which means 'giving' in the Pali language.
Space is limited on retreats & there is a lot of background work involved with arranging food, rides, etc. - which is why we require pre-registration at least 10 days prior to the retreat start date. For longer retreats, pre-registration is 2 weeks in advance.
If you are registering before the deadline, you can assume there is room at the retraet.
We do our best to organize and arrange carpools for retreats. However, our transportation resources are limited. If you have access to a car and can drive others, please do. Riders are expected to offer to pay for gas costs. If you are carpooling, you will be notified a few days before the retreat who you're going with! Click here for driving directions to Jikoji or directions to Camp Double Bear.
All food is provided and is vegetarian, vegan optional, and mostly organic. When dairy products or wheat are served, alternatives are provided. Since we cannot cater to each person’s individual food preferences, we ask you to eat the meals that are served. However, you may bring a limited amount of supplies to supplement our meals - a small amount of refrigerator space and a microwave are available. If you have medical dietary restrictions, please let us know at least 3 weeks before the start date of the retreat.
On weekend retreats, no dinner will be served the first night of the retreat – you’re welcome to bring your dinner and eat it there. If not, there will be boxed soups and other packaged foods available for you to make if you need it.
Retreatants sign up for a small amount of cooking and/or cleaning each day which is an opportunity to practice mindfulness through work (a traditional Buddhist practice).
Most indoor areas on retreats are 'no shoe' zones. You'll make life easier if you bring some shoes that are easy to take on and off.
Distracting things like work, computers, music, beepers or cell phones.