The chance to do long meditation retreat is rare.
If you’re ready for it, join us for a month-long silent winter retreat.
What Is It?
The annual Winter Retreat is a group meditation retreat. We focus on a different practice every year. Check the Event Schedule for next winter’s dates and meditation topic.
Everyone meditates together, doing the same practice, for at least five sessions a day. At the beginning some sessions may be led, but soon everyone practices on their own in silence. We keep noble silence in the break times. However, the group meets periodically for check-ins and Q & A.
Everyone shares in daily offering service tasks to maintain the retreat environment. This may include cleaning the kitchen and other buildings and assisting with meals. Snow-shoveling is a common activity for those who are able.
Ven. Thubten Chodron offers teachings twice a week or more. She is available for spiritual guidance as needed. Otherwise the retreat is managed by resident monastics.
We offer a beautiful retreat environment—peaceful setting, disciplined retreat structure, qualified spiritual guidance, and a supportive practice community.
Admission is by application.
To qualify, you must:
- Be in good mental and physical health
- Commit to living within the 5 lay precepts plus celibacy (refraining from killing, stealing, sexual activity, lying, and intoxicants) during the retreat.
- Learn the specific retreat practice and stages of the path (lamrim) meditations in advance
- Be able to guide yourself through a 75-90 minute session five times a day
- It’s best if you can sit on a cushion, but chair seating is also permitted
- Commit to attend all sessions, pujas, and discussions unless you are sick.
for 2018 Winter Retreat
Winter Retreat topic is usually set by mid-summer for the following winter.
Winter Retreat FAQs
What is the daily winter retreat schedule?
The daily schedule typically includes four or five group meditation sessions of 75-90 minutes, and one individual study session. The first session begins at 5.30 am, and the last session ends at 8:15pm or 8:30pm. Retreatants are expected to attend every meditation session unless they are sick.
There is time between sessions for reading, walking, yoga, or other activities to keep the body supple for extended sitting. Everyone shares in daily offering service tasks to maintain the retreat environment. We serve three meals daily, except on new and full moon days when we take the eight Mahayana Precepts together.
How much does it cost?
Like all Abbey programs, the retreat is offered on a donations basis (dana).
To have the resources to make the retreat happen, we ask participants to gather donations to support it. In this way, everyone works together to create the conditions for retreat. Your offering sponsors others to do the retreat, and you generate merit for your generosity.
Each participant should raise or contribute at least USD 924 for the one-month retreat. There will be an opportunity to offer additional dana at the end of the retreat if you wish.
Upon notification that your application has been accepted, please offer at least half of the donation to secure your place in the retreat. The remainder should be offered two weeks before the start date.
There will also be opportunity to make an offering to the teacher at the end of the retreat.
Learn more about the Abbey’s economy of generosity.
How do I sign up?
Half of the retreat donation is due upon acceptance of your application. The remaining donation is due two weeks before the start date. Your participation in gathering the dana to support the retreat shows that you are serious about doing retreat.
You can make a check payable to Sravasti Abbey, indicating Winter Retreat on the memo line, and mail it to: Sravasti Abbey, PO Box 447, Newport, WA 99156.
Sending the donation by credit card is fine, but please add 3.3% to offset bank processing fees. Indicate Winter Retreat in the comments box.
If family or friends send offerings on your behalf, please email our office to let us know that they are supporting you in gathering donations for the retreat.
Can I retreat for more or less than one month?
No. The Abbey is closed to the public for the three months of Winter Retreat. We ask that one-month retreat participants arrive before the start date, and leave together on the last day. There will be no early departures except in case of emergency.
Read the Visit section for information on transportation and what to expect at the Abbey.
Can I attend the retreat with my partner?
We have found that it is best if couples do not attend the Winter Retreat together. This gives you the space to retreat from attachments and really focus your attention on your own practice.
Can I come just to offer service?
Some people love serving retreats, and doing so brings lots of reward and merit. We especially welcome cooks during our retreat time.
Offering service attendance is by application. We prefer people who serve the retreat to have retreat experience. Complete and send in the registration form, telling us what you would like to do. The Abbey office will get in touch with you.
Can I be in touch with my family?
We keep the retreat discipline strictly to give meditators the best possible conditions to work with your minds. For that reason, we curtail all contact with the outside world.
That means no incoming or outgoing phone calls, text messages, emails, or letters are permitted. Retreatants should make all necessary arrangements before the retreat begins.
In case of an emergency, your family can phone the Abbey. Telephones and messages are monitored regularly, so they will be able to get in touch with you if it’s necessary.
The value of your time in retreat is directly related to the level of your preparation beforehand. Please take the time to study these materials carefully
- Visit the Abbey —here you will find information on accommodation, food, and clothing.
- Resources on the retreat practice and lam rim meditation will be posted several months before the retreat. It is essential to become familiar with how to do the meditation practices before the retreat begins.