What is a spiritual retreat?
For over two and a half millennia, there has been a strong tradition among Buddhists of going on retreat in quiet, secluded places. The Buddha recommended that his followers stay in one place and meditate more intensely during the three-month rainy season.
Today there is perhaps even greater value in stepping back from our worldly activities in an environment that offers quiet and freedom from distraction. A retreat offers a chance to withdraw from our usual external stimuli: our job, our daily responsibilities, the news, planning, projects, and society at large. A retreat provides positive conditions for going inward, for stilling our energies so we can attend to the motions of our deepest being.
What happens on a retreat?
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 overnight, or for the whole retreat after the first evening. There are often 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 below.
To prepare for a retreat, we suggest learning our two foundation meditation practices (the Mindfulness of Breathing and the Metta Bhavana) by taking an Introductory Class.