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Extended Multiday Non-Residential Retreats

Extended multiday non-residential retreats are held in the Community Meditation Center at Spirit Rock where meditators spend their days practicing in silence and then spend their nights at home or in local accommodations that they arrange on their own (and at their own expense). The intention is to integrate your practice into your daily life, and the supporting teachings for this format will often address the best ways to bring your practice into your everyday routine. 

A retreat provides an opportunity and a caring container for undertaking intensive meditation, like an immersion course in a language. The central practice on retreats is mindfulness, which enables us to see the ways we create difficulties in our lives and to discover a freedom of heart in the midst of all things. The mindfulness practice on retreats is often accompanied and complemented by training in loving-kindness meditation. Most of the retreat is held in silence and we encourage participants to maintain silence from the start of the retreat to the end of the retreat because, in this silent and mindful environment, awareness sharpens, the body quiets, the mind clears, and space opens for insight and understanding to develop. With no diversions, there is nothing to distract us. Since there is no place to hide from ourselves, there is a good possibility that we will know ourselves better after a retreat than we did before. Self-knowledge and understanding grow as we see that we can live each moment either with inattention, fear, and judgment or with clarity, kindness, and wakefulness. By cultivating the power of awareness, clarity, and kindness, we discover our path to liberation, inner freedom, and a peaceful heart.

Who is it for? 

Extended Multiday Non-Residential Retreats are great for . . .

  • Newer practitioners who don’t feel ready to jump into residential retreats and want to add another level of practice to their lives.
  • Experienced participants who want an opportunity to supplement practice throughout the year.
  • Perfect for parents so that they can return home in the evenings to attend to family life.

 

MORE INFORMATION

 RETREAT SCHEDULE

The daily rhythm of a retreat usually involves alternating periods of sitting and walking meditation, eating and work meditations, as well as meditation instructions and dharma talks. The whole retreat is a succession of mindfulness training, breathing practices, deep awareness of the body and environment, meditations on the nature of feelings, and awareness of mind and the laws that govern it. These are the same fundamental teachings of insight meditation offered in the traditional Buddhist monasteries of Asia.

Sample Extended Non-Residential Multiday Retreat Timing:

Opening Day:

8:00 a.m. – 8:45 a.m. Check-in and Continental Breakfast

9:00 p.m.– 12:30 p.m. Morning Session

12:30 p.m. – 1:30 p.m. Lunch/Open Sit

1:30 p.m. – 2:00 p.m. Work Period #1 for ½ of practitioners

2:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m. Afternoon Session

6:00 p.m. – 6:30 p.m. Work Period #2 for other ½ of practitioners

Day 2+

7:00 a.m. – 8:00 a.m. Opening Sit

8:00 a.m. – 8:45 a.m. Continental Breakfast

9:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. Morning Session

12:30 p.m. – 1:30 p.m. Lunch/Open Sit

1:30 p.m. – 2:00 p.m. Work Period #1 for ½ of practitioners

2:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m. Afternoon Session

6:00 p.m. – 6:30 p.m. Work Period #2 for other ½ of practitioners

Sitting Meditation: Sitting meditation is a beautiful practice, at the heart of silent retreats. In sitting practice silence and stillness develop, concentration deepens, and awareness expands. The training of the heart brings kindness and compassion for all that arises. In sitting we can find for ourselves the wisdom and freedom discovered by the Buddha. Beginning meditators are encouraged to use the breath as a focus for mindfulness. The arising and passing of breath shows us in a direct way the universal truth of impermanence. After an inner calm and steadiness are established through breathing, the meditation is systematically opened to include mindfulness of all experiences, external and internal, of body sensations and emotions, of thoughts and the nature of mind itself.

Walking Meditation: Walking gracefully and wisely on the earth is also one of the great Buddhist meditative practices. On retreat, periods of walking meditation alternate with periods of sitting meditation. Just as in sitting meditation, where attention is brought to the rhythmic pattern of breathing, in walking meditation, mindfulness is cultivated by resting the attention on sensations of the body as one walks. In walking meditation, we become aware in the midst of activity. Sometimes a slow, careful, practice walk is taught. At other times retreatants are encouraged to walk more leisurely or move at whatever speed cultivates mindfulness for them. Throughout the retreat we learn to cultivate a mindful awareness in all postures prescribed by the Buddh–sitting, walking, standing up, or lying down.

Eating Meditation: We offer vegetarian breakfast and lunch for our Extended Non-Residential Retreats. Awareness of food and the mindful understanding of the entire process of nourishment and eating is included in the practice at retreats. Retreatants are encouraged to bring the same calm, focused attention to eating as is brought to sitting and walking. Mindful eating is a wonderful context for the arising of insights. The simple, mindful eating of an apple connects us to the orchard far away from our dining table, to the sun and rain and earth that nurture the tree, to the grower, the picker, the trucker, the grocer, to the truth of the interconnectedness of all existence.

Dharma Talks: Dharma talks are the vocal heart of a retreat. The teachers present a different set of teachings from the central practices of Buddhism, offering ways to apply them to our own experience. Sometimes the talks focus on retreat practice, and sometimes they offer teachings for wise living in the world. In the talks, the teachers may speak about the nature of wisdom or address Right Livelihood, explain the Four Foundations of Mindfulness, explore the Five Hindrances, speak of loving-kindness and equanimity, or tell stories from personal experience that help illuminate practice. The dharma talks are not Buddhist tenets to be believed but are spiritual principles offered for students to consider and use in ways that bring benefit to their daily lives.

Leaving the Retreat: Whatever you think a retreat is going to be like, it will probably be different. Most participants find it deeply refreshing and healing, often life-transforming. While spiritual truths can be seen every day of our ordinary life, the stillness and simplicity of retreat bring a wonderful and unique possibility for renewal. At the retreat's end, talks and instructions are given for wise ways to leave the retreat and continue the practice at home. Our task is to return to our communities and bring a reawakened spirit of awareness and compassion to all we touch.

View the extended non-residential retreat calendar and register here >

 FAQ's — GENERAL

What’s included in this retreat?

  • A light breakfast and a hot lunch catered from local San Geronimo and Ross Valley restaurants are part of your registration fee. Spirit Rock serves lacto-ovo vegetarian meals with vegan and gluten-free options at every meal. Additional healthy snacks such as granola bars are available for $2.00.

  • Hot water plus a variety of herbal and black teas plus filtered water. 

  • Western style chairs and meditation cushions (zafus and zabutons) as well as yoga mats. 

  • Compensation for teachers and staff is included in the registration fee. Unlike residential retreats, there is no additional financial support (known as “dana” in the residential retreat center) request for teachers, retreat managers or cooks.  


What should I bring?

  • Bring a water bottle, as well as a mug for tea. Bringing these items from home helps reduce our trash output and our impact on the land.

  • You will be asked to remove your shoes prior to entering the meditation hall and to put them back on for lunch. We recommend you wear or bring socks and wear easy-to-remove shoes. 

  • Wear layered clothing as the hall temperature can vary.

  • Bring a notepad and pen. Notebooks are also available in our bookstore.

  • Coffee will not be available so plan ahead if this is an important need for you.


What should I not bring?

  • We encourage you to lock your car and keep valuables with you. As our hall space is limited, you might also consider simply not bringing anything you won’t need for the day.

  • Pets, emotional support animals, and service animals without valid credentials are not allowed in Spirit Rock buildings or on Spirit Rock land as part of a program. If you have an ADA Certified Service Animal who assists you with an ADA recognized disability, please call our Event Manager at (415) 488-0164 x276 to talk with us about your needs. You’ll be asked to provide current certification that your Service Animal has undergone Assistance Dogs International (ADI) or similar training.

  • In consideration of all participants, do not wear scented personal care products to Spirit Rock (including "natural" products).


Where do I go when I arrive?  

Here is a map of our campus including the Community Meditation Center where most non-residential programs occur. Most days of the year residential retreats are in session in the upper retreat area. Please do not pass the wooden gate, unless staff let you know that there is not a retreat that day.  

What seating options are available?  

We have both chairs and zafus/zabutons (meditation cushions) available. For programs with larger attendance, seating is mostly or all chairs to accommodate everyone who signs up for the program. If you have your own meditation cushion or bench that you prefer to use, bring it with you. For larger programs, we may not be able to accommodate personal seating preferences.  Contact event staff at (415) 488-0164 x 238 in advance if you need a special seat due to a medical condition.  

Is your facility wheelchair accessible?

Yes. Please let our Event Staff know if you will arrive in a wheelchair so we can save an easily accessible space for you in the hall. Contact event staff at (415) 488-0164 x 238.

 FAQ's—REGISTRATION

How do I know what extended non-residential retreats you offer?

Our website is the most up-to-date source of program information. In addition, we publish a print newsletter three times a year that lists all of our programs, and we send out weekly email newsletters with information about upcoming events. To receive the email newsletter, sign up here. View an electronic version of the print newsletter here. To be added or taken off our print or electronic mailing lists, contact our Front Office Coordinator at (415) 488-0164 x 234 or SRMC@spiritrock.org.

When should I register?

Programs typically open for registration three months in advance.

How can I register?

Online registration is encouraged. You can register online and pay with a Visa or Mastercard. We do not accept American Express. Registration can also be made by mail. Send a check made payable to "SRMC" to Spirit Rock, PO Box 169, Woodacre, CA, 94973. Please include the program code on your check and on the outside of your envelope along with your daytime telephone number and email address. Upon receipt of payment, we will send you a confirmation email. You can also call our registrar at (415) 488-0164 x 266 and register by phone Monday to Friday until 3 pm. Pre-registration for weekend programs closes at noon on Friday.

What can you tell me about program rates?

Spirit Rock’s intention is to make the teachings accessible to everyone, thus rates for programs are kept as low as possible. Program rates are a major source of income for Spirit Rock; without them, we could not operate. The average cost per-day to run a program in our Community Meditation Center (CMC) is $160. Or sliding scale base rate is much lower than our actual cost.

Can you explain the sliding scale rate structure?

Spirit Rock’s non-residential program rates are offered on a sliding scale basis and include financial support for our teachers. The sliding scale fee structure allows you to choose a level of support that works for your financial situation. The average cost per person, per day to Spirit Rock to offer a program is $160. Please consider paying at the highest sliding scale rate that you can afford. Your generosity allows others to attend who might not be able to otherwise and helps sustain our programs. Those who are able to offer more allow others who are not able to do so to attend programs through our scholarship program. Note: Any amount paid above the sliding scale base rate is a tax-deductible donation to the extent allowed by law to Spirit Rock, which is a nonprofit organization. Your confirmation email is your tax receipt, please keep it for your records.

The lowest end of the sliding scale does not work for me. What other options exist?

We have a volunteer program that allows qualified individuals to volunteer at the program they wish to attend or volunteer in another department at Spirit Rock and accrue hours towards attending programs. About 700 people volunteer their time and talents to Spirit Rock each year! We could not operate as we currently do without this support. To find out more contact our Volunteer Coordinator at (415) 488-0164 x224 or Volunteering@spiritrock.org.

Volunteering sounds nice, but I don’t have the time. Is there another way to attend?

Yes. Many of our programs offer full and partial scholarships for most types of non-residential programs. Benefits and some special events are an exception. Contact the Volunteer Coordinator at (415) 488-0164 x224 or Volunteering@spiritrock.org to register in advance. Scholarships may not be available at the door.

I can’t come to the event I signed up for, what should I do?

There is a non-refundable cancellation fee that increases closer to the start of the program. The rates below are for Multiday Non-Residential Retreats and our NEW! Extended Multiday Non-Residential Retreats. Cancellations for single-day programs can be found here. Cancellation fees are calculated as follows:

> 4 weeks $50 Flat Rate

1-4 weeks $75 Flat Rate

< 1 week No refund*

*Supporting our teachers is a high priority for Spirit Rock and the program fees directly help to support them so they may continue to share the dharma with all people. Last-minute cancellations make it hard for us to fill and thus less funding for the teachings. Please know that the fees ultimately do support them and all that we do here at Spirit Rock.

What is the policy on drugs and intoxicants?

Spirit Rock is a drug and alcohol-free campus. All intoxicants, in general, were thought by the Buddha to cloud the mind and it is important that the retreat container is maintained to support the mutually shared space. On the first night of the retreat when entering noble silence, you’ll be asked to take the Five Precepts which serve as guidelines for living in community.

These are:

  • refrain from killing/harming any living creature
  • refrain from taking what is not offered
  • refrain from any kind of sexual activity
  • refrain from false and harmful speech
  • refrain from intoxicants including recreational drugs and alcohol

 HOW TO GET TO SPIRIT ROCK

How do I get to Spirit Rock?

Directions and our physical address are listed here.

How far are you from a town?

We are approximately 12 minutes from the town of Fairfax, in the town of Woodacre, CA.

Can I get to Spirit Rock via public transportation?

Yes, but the bus schedule here is limited. Visit Marin Transit for more information. As an alternative, we recommend ridesharing. Visit our ridesharing bulletin board to offer or ask for a ride.

What can you tell me about your parking?

We have limited parking and encourage ridesharing as a way of reducing traffic in the San Geronimo Valley area. It is a good idea to arrive at least 15 minutes before the start of the retreat to give yourself time to park, register and choose a seat.

 OTHER QUESTIONS

Can I spend the night at Spirit Rock?

Only as part of a residential retreat.

Can you recommend a place to stay in the area?

Although Spirit Rock staff have not personally viewed or vetted them, as a courtesy to our out-of-town guests, we suggest you check out these nearby accommodations.

Where can I smoke?

Smoking at Spirit Rock is discouraged but not banned. Please be respectful of others who may be practicing walking meditation on the trails or paved areas. You may smoke in your car or in the gravel parking lot. While on retreat there is a smoking hut, but it is in the residential retreat area and only accessible to yogis on retreat.

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