Retreat FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions about Retreat

How can I get information about a retreat?

Retreat schedules and descriptions can be found on our website and in the Spirit Rock News and Schedule of Events. If you have reviewed the available information, including the information below, and still have questions, contact the Registration Department by email ([email protected]) or call (415) 488-0164 x 234 for additional retreat information.

Can I come and stay at Spirit Rock to do a self-retreat?

No. Spirit Rock does not offer self-retreats. Buddhist Insight Network has a directory of retreat centers worldwide, some of which offer self-retreat. The primary self-retreat facility in our lineage is the Forest Refuge at IMS in Barre, MA.

Is it possible to stay extra nights before or after a retreat?

No. Spirit Rock does not have accommodations available either before or after a retreat.

Can I arrive at Spirit Rock early on the day my retreat starts?

Yes. You are welcome to arrive early; however, the retreat staff will not be ready to check you in until 2:30pm. We do not have secure luggage storage facilities for those arriving early. You may bring your luggage to the Community Meditation Center and leave on the patio, or if it is rainy, you may tuck it inside the building foyer. You may explore the land while you wait. You’ll find a campus map here.

Is there a number where I can be reached in case of emergency during the retreat?

Yes. If you need to be reached in an emergency during the retreat, the retreat staff office number is 415.488.0164 ext. 262. Staff are available at this number from 8:00am - 5:00pm PT daily. Calls made after 5:00pm will be routed through an after hours reception desk. Please leave a message and know that it will take some time to get a message to you (the retreatant). Please let people know this number should be used only in case of emergencies.

Can I have a package sent to me while I'm on retreat?

Yes. However, we do discourage this for short retreats. You can have the package sent to the following address: Your name, c/o SRMC-Council House Office, 5000 Sir Francis Drake Blvd, P.O. Box 169, Woodacre, CA 94973. Make sure to clearly mark the name of the retreat on the package to ensure it gets to you. The retreat staff will leave you a note when the package arrives, and you can pick it up in the Council House office.

What is a parallel retreat?

Concurrent or "parallel" retreats are two smaller retreats that occur simultaneously in our retreat center with a much smaller attendance for each that ranges between 24-72 participants. Concurrent retreats provide a much more intimate environment for a retreat. Each retreat has a unique topic and depending upon the anticipated interest of that topic is held either in the upper Meditation Hall or the Community Meditation Center. The venue location will be indicated on the website. Both halls are fully accessible.

Attendees use the same facilities as a single retreat, except that the meditations take place in separate halls. All meals, residence halls, and common areas are shared by both retreats. Retreatants are not to "visit" the other retreat space and are expected to commit to one retreat or the other; and honor the space of the other retreat. Switching retreats mid-retreat is not permitted.

How do I know if a retreat is a parallel or concurrent retreat?

Concurrent, or parallel, retreats are noted by the location of the retreat. The dates of the retreats will be the same but the hall location will be different. One will be held in the upper retreat center (the main retreat hall), and the other will be held in the Community Meditation Center.

What is a retreat commuter?

Retreat Commuters attend the full retreat, including all meals, but you are not provided with overnight accommodations. You will need to arrange and pay for your own accommodations offsite. A sliding scale commuter rate will be offered and is lower than the residential rates.

If a commuter option is available, it will be posted on the website of the retreat below the description. Unless you have a teacher's permission, you must meet the prerequisite of having completed a minimum of one 7-day or two 5-day silent retreats as a resident before you are allowed to be a commuter, preferably at Spirit Rock, or another Vipassanā or Insight meditation center.

What does “fragrance-free” mean?

Since many people have allergies, asthma or other chemical sensitivity to common chemicals and fragrances, Spirit Rock asks that all participants who attend any program to please refrain from wearing scented products (learn more here). Many have difficulty breathing, suffer from headaches and migraines, or experience flu-like symptoms. In order to make Spirit Rock accessible to all, we ask people to:

  • Avoid cologne, aftershave and perfume

  • Avoid hairspray, hair gel and other strong-smelling hair products

  • Wear clothes laundered in fragrance-free laundry detergent

  • Avoid laundry softeners

  • Use fragrance-free soap, lotion, shampoo and conditioner

  • Avoid use of essential oils

  • Test each product—many products are mistakenly marked “unscented” or “fragrance free” but contain masking scents that can be very harmful

Read more about our fragrance request.

What is the policy on drugs and intoxicants?

Spirit Rock is a drug and alcohol-free campus. Following the guidelines set by the Buddha, we understand intoxicants to be substances that have the potential to “cloud the mind and cause heedlessness.” To maintain the safety of our communal practice environment we request that all participants be free from the influence of intoxicants while on campus. This includes alcohol and cannabis, as well as psychedelics and other state-altering substances, but does not include prescribed psychiatric medications, which practitioners should keep taking as usual.

Spirit Rock is not an appropriate place for the therapeutic or spiritual use of psychedelics or other intoxicants or sacred substances. We recognize the value these practices hold for some in our community, and agree with the guidelines from many traditions on “set and setting” that make a communal retreat environment like Spirit Rock unsuitable for these practices.

What are Spirit Rock's COVID safety protocols?

Please refer to our COVID Safety Protocols for our latest guidelines.


If you have questions that are not answered here, please reach out.