Preparing for Your Retreat

The practice of retreat begins as soon as you have the intention to come on retreat and begin to make plans. As we make space for the deeper parts of our life to come forward and be held in lovingkindness, compassion, and mindfulness, obstacles can arise, both logistical and emotional. Planning carefully and without rushing will be very helpful in starting your retreat in a grounded and supportive way. If you are planning on attending a retreat on the land at Spirit Rock, please read this page carefully, as well as the emails you receive from Registration, which will have necessary retreat-specific information.

Arrival

Please arrive between 3:00-5:00 p.m. to check in and get settled. Check in at the Dining Hall, where you will also receive work meditation assignments. Please arrive no later than 5:00 p.m. If you arrive earlier than 3:00 p.m., you may have tea in the dining hall while you wait for check-in to open or walk around the land to orient yourself. Dinner is served on opening day. Explore our beautiful campus.

Late Arrival

Please arrive no later than 5:00 p.m.

Late arrivals are not allowed without prior approval from the teachers. If you will be delayed past 5:00 p.m. please call the retreat office at 415.488.0164 ext. 262 and leave a message letting us know to hold your space. If possible, also email [email protected] before 5:00 p.m. After 5:00 p.m. if retreat staff have not heard from you they begin calling the waiting list.

Our security gate is closed each night between 10:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m. If a late arrival has been approved and you anticipate arriving after 10:00 p.m., contact the registrars or retreat staff prior to arrival to receive the 4-digit gate code.

Departure

The retreat ends by 11:00 a.m. on closing day. Breakfast is served on the closing day, but not lunch.

Early Departure

Early departures from the retreat are not allowed without approval from the teachers. If your plans have changed since you registered, please contact the registrars immediately.

COVID-19 Safety

Effective June 5, 2023

For Residential Retreats

  • Masking: Optional for all participants, staff, and teachers, attending a residential retreat. If you choose to mask, any masking type will be allowed. Please bring your own supply of masks.
  • Vaccination: All staff, teachers, and practitioners must be fully vaccinated for COVID-19, which includes at least one booster. If you have not received at least one COVID-19 booster since your first COVID vaccination, you will need to have a booster before you attend retreat. The first booster must have been received no less than two weeks (14 days) prior to the retreat start date. Any FDA-approved booster is acceptable. If you have had more than one booster, in addition to your first COVID-19 vaccination, you are fine to attend regardless of the timing of the boosters. Proof of vaccination with booster(s) will be required. Individuals will not be admitted to the retreat if not "fully vaccinated."
  • Negative COVID test: All practitioners must arrive with proof (picture or actual test) of a same-day negative antigen test that they have taken prior to arrival. Practitioners who do not arrive with a negative test will be given one prior to admittance. Individuals will not be admitted to the retreat if the test result is positive for COVID-19.

For Non-residential Programs (in our Community Meditation Center)

  • Masking: Optional for all participants, staff, and teachers attending a non-residential program. If you choose to mask, any masking type will be allowed. Please bring your own supply of masks.
  • Vaccination: Not required; vaccination and booster (at least 1) strongly encouraged.
  • Negative COVID Test: Not required; same-day COVID testing is strongly encouraged.

Additional Safety Protocols

  • Ventilation/Air Filtration: We have upgraded air filtration in all the meditation halls and have provided small air purifiers in all dorm rooms and public spaces.
  • Surface Cleaning: Sanitizing of all high touch areas will be done twice daily, and hand sanitizing stations will be placed in convenient locations across campus.
  • Dining: Physical distancing will be maintained in the dining hall with additional indoor and outdoor seating options for dining. We’ve added more tents with heaters to our outside dining space and have air filters in the dining hall as well. Typically, our opening night supper is a time for conversation and community connection. However, to minimize aerosolized particles and promote greater safety for all practitioners, retreats will begin with noble silence at the first meal and continue through the end of the retreat. We are extending the buffet time to 45 minutes for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and ask that the first 10 minutes of each meal be reserved for seniors and folks with compromised immune systems. We ask that retreatants practice mindfulness while eating and not linger in the dining hall, as we have reduced our seating capacity to make more space for physical distancing.
  • Physical Distancing in Meditation Hall: Cushions and chairs will be arranged to maintain physical distancing in the meditation hall.
  • Symptom Check: All practitioners, staff, and teachers will receive a personal kit that includes a symptom checklist and thermometer. All are to monitor their symptoms daily and notify a staff member if their symptoms indicate COVID.
  • Sick Policy: If a practitioner or teacher becomes sick, they will be asked to remain in their room and if serious, return home. We will also ask them to take an antigen self-test onsite, and if they test positive for COVID-19, they must exit the retreat. If they cannot return home due to travel restrictions, we will support their quarantine to the best of our ability.

Caring for the Community

Spirit Rock welcomes people from around the U.S. and the world to participate in our retreats and programs. Our intention is to include as many people as possible. We have chosen to require COVID-19 vaccination and one booster for our residential retreats but not our non-residential programs. This is not a decision we have made lightly. It reflects our obligation to keep our workplace and practice spaces as safe as possible.

If you are not vaccinated and boosted, we invite you to participate in our non-residential programs and online retreats to deepen your practice and connect with our community. If you have any questions, please contact us at [email protected]. Thank you for your practice and dedication to Spirit Rock.

View all COVID Safety Protocols

Practitioner Questionnaire

As part of registration, you will complete an online practitioner questionnaire. In this required form you’ll submit proof of COVID-19 vaccination, a photo, and answer questions about your meditation practice and psychological health. This form is confidential and will be disposed of after the retreat.

Final Payments

If you are not paid in full, please be sure that your full balance is paid before the start of the retreat by contacting the registration department. If we have a credit card on file for you, we are happy to charge the remaining balance for you. Payment plans are not available following a retreat.

Cancellation Policy & Fees

To offer participants greater flexibility as we make our way out of the pandemic, we’ve changed our cancellation policy for residential retreats and online multi-day programs and retreats (4+ days) through Dec 2021:

  • $100 fee if you cancel two or more days before your retreat (fees reduced to half for scholarship participants)

  • No refunds when you cancel less than two days prior to your retreat (applies to all participants)

Travel & Ridesharing

Airport information and driving directions at Plan Your Visit.

Your fellow practitioners are traveling from near and far and may need help getting to and/or from the retreat. Consider offering a ride to, from, or both ways. Our rideshare board can be used to coordinate rides or to share an airport shuttle to the retreat. We do not monitor this board. It is the responsibility of the practitioners to coordinate between themselves via this platform. Your generosity is appreciated.

Community Rideshare Bulletin Board [pending rebuild].

Emergency Phone Number

If you need to be reached in an emergency during the retreat, the retreat staff office number is 415.488.0164 ext. 262. The retreat staff will get a message to you as quickly as possible. Please let people know this number should be used only in case of emergencies.

Office hours are 9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. PT daily.

What to Bring

  • A variety of loose, comfortable, casual, layered clothing; and ask that you not wear anything with obvious logos or slogans.
  • Outdoor walking shoes (and hiking shoes if you intend to hike)

  • Slip-on shoes and indoor slippers if you need them. No outdoor shoes are allowed in the retreat hall or residence halls

  • Hat and scent-free sunscreen in the spring and summer, rain gear in the late fall and winter for outdoor walking

  • Flashlight or headlamp with fresh batteries (our campus is quite dark at night!)

  • Wristwatch, if you intend to hike (we have only a few loaner wristwatches)

  • Earplugs, if you’re a light sleeper (we have some for purchase)

  • Shawl or lap blanket (for use during meditation practice)

  • Checkbook, cash, or credit card, for dāna contributions

  • Water bottle. Filtered water is available onsite in several places. We have water bottles available for purchase.

  • Optional: Sleeping bag or your own personal linens. Linens (towels and bed sheets), blankets, and a pillow are provided. You do not need to reserve these ahead of time. Linens are available in self-serve linen closets in each dorm on the 2nd Floor.

  • Optional: Sitting cushion(s) or bench. If you have special sitting supports or you require a large number of pillows, consider bringing your own supply so there are enough cushions for everyone. The meditation hall has zafus (round sitting cushions), zabutons (floor mats), and chairs available.

  • Optional: Personal scent-free soaps, if you prefer. We provide fragrance-free shampoo, conditioner, and body soap in each shower of the dorms.

  • For yoga retreats only: If you have specific blocks, straps, or other yoga equipment that you need, you may want to bring them along. We have a good supply, but not enough for everyone on a dedicated yoga retreat.

What NOT to Bring

  • All technology besides phones, including computers, tablets, and other devices
  • Silence all notifications on smartphones and watches if you bring them. We will have a renunciation ceremony on the morning of the first full day of the retreat, where you can choose to relinquish your smartphones and watches for the duration of the retreat.

  • Printed books, ebook readers, magazines

  • Intoxicants: plant, chemical, or alcohol. (But DO bring prescription medications and continue taking your prescribed medications through the retreat.)

  • Scented personal hygiene products. (See Please Be Fragrance Free for more details.)

  • Candles or incense

  • Please do not wear anything with obvious logos or slogans.

  • Clunky jewelry, which can be noisy in the retreat hall

Lost and Found

If you leave anything behind, please email us at: [email protected]. We will keep items for 30 days before giving them to charity. Spirit Rock can ship items if needed. You will be responsible for all costs related to shipping your lost items.

Safety & Security

To ensure that our retreat environment remains one of safety and refuge for those who come here, all retreat center dormitory rooms have locks. You may request a key at retreat check-in and keep it for the duration of your retreat. In addition, we have installed a gate at the main entrance near Sir Francis Drake Boulevard that will prevent automobile access to the land at night. The gate automatically opens from the inside, and emergency vehicles have full access at all times. The gate is closed from 10:00 p.m. until 6:00 a.m.

If commuters are allowed on this retreat, and you are a commuter, you will be given the gate code so you can exit and enter as you need to daily. Lastly, please lock your car and leave valuables out of sight or bring them with you into the retreat center.

Accessibility

Spirit Rock is located in the coastal hills of northern California. The wooded campus includes separate buildings for dining, meeting, and sleeping. Spirit Rock has two-story residential buildings with single and double rooms. (Note: During the period of August through December 2021, all practitioners will have a single room.) Go to Spirit Rock Accommodations to read more details about our residence rooms and dining hall.

There is a slope from the dining room to the residence halls. If you have mobility limitations, please let us know in advance, so we can assist you with your participation in the retreat. We do have four (4) scooters and one electric wheelchair with a joystick control for those in need.

Our center has some limitations, so if you are a person with a disability, we would greatly appreciate a conversation with you in advance of your arrival. This way, we can better understand what is needed to support you. We would like you to be able to participate in this retreat as fully as possible. If you need support and you haven’t yet let us know, please contact us at: [email protected], and either the Registrars or the Retreat Operations Manager will be in contact with you.

Commuters

Some retreats allow a limited number of commuters—retreatants who stay off-site. Commuters are expected to attend the entire retreat and follow the daily schedule. While you will not have a room on campus, we will have a resting area with futons for folks to use. Commuters will be given the gate code so you can exit and enter as you need to daily. The gate is closed from 10:00 p.m. until 6:00 a.m. Lock your car and leave valuables out of sight or bring them with you into the retreat center.

Dāna: Generosity & Giving

The cultivation of generosity is at the heart of the Buddha’s path. Dāna is the Pāli word for giving, and refers to the spiritual practice of generosity and letting go. Your giving supports our teachers and staff to continue offering the Dharma in an accessible and open-handed way. To read more about the practice of dāna, go to Dāna: The Practice of Giving.

Dāna for Retreat Teachers: When teachers offer retreats on-land at Spirit Rock (or 4+ day online retreats), they receive dāna as an expression of gratitude. This dāna comes from the community of practitioners who participated in the retreat.

At the end of your retreat you’ll be asked to offer dāna both to the teachers and to Spirit Rock. Typically, teachers receive no compensation for teaching at Spirit Rock beyond what practitioners give. Your gifts support teachers to continue their practice and teaching, maintaining the ancient system of interdependence between teachers and community.

Dāna for Spirit Rock: Spirit Rock depends on the generosity of our community to continue offering the teachings in an accessible way. Retreat registration fees gather only part of our budget, and donations are needed to supply the rest, including scholarships, staff, and all other expenses. Giving to Spirit Rock benefits every aspect of offering the Dharma on-land and online to an ever broader community of practitioners worldwide.

At the end of your retreat you’ll be asked to give dāna both to the teachers and to Spirit Rock, and you can give anytime at our giving page. For those who are inspired to support Spirit Rock’s sustainability into the future, consider joining the Stewardship Circle, Sure Heart Sangha, or Legacy Circle.

Dāna is tax deductible to the full extent of the law. Please retain your payment information as evidence of your gift. Deep appreciation for your generosity!

Continuing Education Credits (CECs)

We offer CECs for many retreats. In order to qualify for CECs, you must:

  • Pre-register and pay for CECs prior to the retreat. We cannot offer retroactive payment for CECs.

  • Attend and sign-in to all required sessions within 5 minutes of the start of the session

  • Submit your evaluation at the end of the retreat

  • Fulfill the attendance requirements, which includes completing the attendance sheet, and certificates will be available to you at the end of the retreat

If you have questions about CECs, please contact the registration department at: [email protected]. CECs are not refundable once the retreat begins.