Frequently Asked Questions
We offer individual retreats and formal, structured group retreats. We have three- to five-day and ten-day formal retreats. Retreats are generally held in complete silence, with meditation instructions and teachings in Buddhist doctrine and philosophy. Reading and writing during retreats is discouraged. Meditation styles include concentration as well as mindfulness or vipassana (insight).
Please arrive before 5 pm for all formal retreats begin between 6:00 pm and 7:00 PM on the starting date and end after lunch on the ending date. We require all retreatants to come at the beginning of any retreat. If you cannot fully participate in entire retreat, you will need permission from the leader of the retreat before you can reserve a space to participate.
We do not charge retreatants or residents for room and board, meditation and Dhamma instruction. For the Buddhist practice of generosity, donations are given to provide financial support so that our center can continue to offer retreats at no charge. Donations are tax-deductible with the exception of donations given for books.
If you would like to offer a financial donation to our center, you may use our Donation Box located here or the PayPal link below for: Bhavana Society:
If you are coming to a retreat and have never meditated before, we recomend very highly that you read Bhante G’s book, Mindfulness in Plain English. We also recomend that you start to do some meditation on your own just so you have a little bit of experience before you get here. But no experience is required for beginner retreats.
To register for a scheduled group retreat, visit our schedule page and find a retreat that meets your experience level and interest. Then click on register.
To register for a personal meditation retreat, use our Visit Registration form. Check the regular retreat schedule first because personal retreats cannot be scheduled during group retreats. You must have completed one-ten day retreat to register for a personal intensive meditation retreat. If you do not meet this guideline; you may register as a visitor and follow our daily non-retreat schedule.
MEDITATION: Meditation involves both formal (sitting and walking) meditation and being mindful at all other times.
YOGA: Yoga is offered during formal retreats and it is optional.
WORK PERIOD: One or two hours of light work per day is required during formal retreats. Somewhat more work needs to be done during individual retreats since fewer people will be here.
CHANTING: See the regular daily schedule. During formal meditation retreats we usually do not hold devotional services.
See the typical retreat daily schedule for more specific times.
Visit our packing list page for an exact list. In general, though, pack as if you were going camping. But no need to bring a tent!
Complete and return the membership application. Our center periodically sends newsletters and magazines so you will be kept up-to-date on retreats, special retreats, activities, book offers, list of Dhamma cd’s, just to name a few.
- Hand in RELEASE OF LIABILITY statement.
- Assign yourself a mug (for drinks) and place a piece of masking tape on it. Write your first name and last initial only on the tape. When you are about to leave please remove the tape.
- If you did not arrive by car and need bedding, please get some from the bedding storage area. When they are soiled please wash them if there is time; if not, put them in the laundry basket.
- For cabin (kuti) users - Kutis have wood stoves or gas heaters. If you don’t know how to use them, please ask.
- You may bring your car up to the dormitories for unloading, but as soon as this is done, park in the lower parking lot. However, if you arrive after dark you may leave it there and park it the next morning before 8:30 AM.
Please look in our resident section for more information. If you would like to stay for any length of time longer than 7 days, please read the material on residency and submit an application.
Please see the items to donate page.
Dorm rooms are in buildings with central heating, plumbing and electricity. A limited number of single-occupancy primitive cabins (kutis) without electricity or plumbing and heated by either propane or wood heat are available as are some single dorm rooms. If you have medical needs relating to your overnight accommodations, please let us know. If you have a preference, please offer your request in the Special Needs category on the retreat registration form. Please note we cannot guarantee your request because we are limited to spaces available.
You are encouraged to sit in a comfortable meditation position. We provide floor mats and round cushions as well as benches. A limited number of miscellaneous cushions are also available. Folding chairs are provided in the back of the hall for those who need them. You are also welcome to bring your own equipment.
Because of different tolerances for holding a still posture, meditations do not have designated “sitting meditation” and “walking meditation” periods. While meditating in the hall, you’re invited to sit for as long as you’re able and then quietly do standing or walking meditation. Please be courteous of your neighbors.
If a retreat is marked full, it means that we are currently not taking any more registrations at all. If it says “full for men” or “full for women” then that means there is only space for people of the other sex.
We now offer a waiting list. If you are interested in attending a retreat that is listed as ‘full, men, woman or both’, please submit a Visitor’s Registration form and note in “Special Needs” that you would like to be put in the wait list and specify which retreat (please also include the dates of the retreat on the form). If you do not specify that you are interested in being put on the wait list for a specific retreat, you will receive notice that we unfortunately do not accept visitor’s during formal retreat dates.
MP3 is a way to record Dhamma talks so you can listen to them on your computer (or some CD players). The files are relatively small and that makes it possible to get them over the internet if you have a high speed connection like DSL.
Computers and web browsers are set up in different ways when it comes to audio files. When you click on the “Download File” link, your browser may start playing the file right away. (The screen may be blank with a gray bar in the midle) If you would rather save the file to your computer to play later or move to an MP3 device, try this:
1. With your mouse, Right click on the “Download File” link. This should pop up a menu. (If you are using a Mac, hold down the Ctrl Key when you click)
2. If you are using Internet Explorer, choose the “Save Target As” option. If you are using Fire Fox, choose the “Save Link As” option. Look carefully, there are lots to choose from. If you have an old version of software, the option may have a slightly different name, but it’s the “Save” part that matters.
3. A window should pop up asking you where you would like to save the file. Pay very close attention to exactly where the file is being saved so you can find it when it is downloaded.
Depending on your connection speed the file will take some time to download. If you have dial-up internet, it may not be possible to download large files such as these.
If you would like to change the way your browser behaves when you click on audio links, go into the options/settings area of the software and make the necessary adjustments. (Sorry if that is too general, but it would be difficult to give instructions for all the different versions of web browsers in use)
If a retreat is listed as “full”, you can request to be put on a “Wait List”, this list will be used as spaces become available. Please submit a Visitor’s Registration form and in Special Needs write that you are requesting to be put on the Wait List and specify retreat, then enter the dates for the retreat.
We don’t offer a cost for books or CD"s that can be found on our website or on our bookshelf. Since we purchase the books and CD’s, we do not put a price on these items, it is up to each individual if they would like to offer a donation to defer the cost with these items offered. For the Buddhist practice of generosity, donations are given to provide financial support so that our center can continue to offer these items at no charge. Donations are tax-deductible with the exception of donations given for books and CD’s.
Please offer our office telephone number to your family, 304-856-3241, we have an answering machine on this telephone line and if no one answers the phone, a message can be left on it and you will get their message as soon as possible. To prevent disturbing your retreat, please ask your family to contact Bhavana only when there is an emergency.