General Guidelines for Visits to Bhavana
- Due to severe weather conditions (flooded roads, ice storms, or heavy snow), Bhavana may be forced to cancel or close retreats or events. If inclement weather seems possible on the date of your trip to Bhavana, please check the website for updates. Every effort will be made to contact all who have registered.
- Food is not eaten after 12 noon each day. Only tea, juice or soft drinks are consumed after noon. (An evening meal for medical reasons must be approved at the time of registration.) The meals prepared here are vegetarian; please note, dairy and egg products may be used. Vegan options are usually provided.
Please also note, fasting (no food taken) is not allowed at Bhavana Society. It is not Bhavana Society’s responsibility for those who wish to fast, please do not come here for this purpose, we do not have the medical staffing to accept this kind of responsibility. If you decide not to eat while staying at Bhavana Society, unfortunately, you will be asked to leave. We are hopeful you will understand the decision requested from you to strictly follow this guideline.
- When registering for a retreat be sure to select the Experience/Participation Level that is appropriate for you.
- All overnight guests/retreatants/residents must be 18 or older or accompanied by their parent or guardian (except for the Youth Retreat). First time visitors between the age of 18 and 19 may be asked to have a parent or guardian visiting with them. This request from Bhavana will be made on an individual basis.
- Abstain from killing, stealing, committing any sexual activity, lying, gossiping, slandering, and using harsh language.
- The use of tobacco or any tobacco products, including vapors, vapor pens, etc. cannot be used here. Even if the devices are used for flavor or other stimulants these devices are not acceptable.
- Please let us know your estimated arrival time to as close as you can. Please consider arriving between 2:00-4:00 p.m. since you will need to meet with a resident or Retreat Coordinator upon your arrival.
- Completing your on-site retreat registration/check-in here begins at 3:00 p.m. in the dining hall the first day of the retreat. Each retreat ends after lunch on the last day.
- All retreatants will be asked to do a daily chore while in retreat. This work, which is required during retreats, is to help us maintain our center while large groups are in residence. Chores like washing dishes, maintaining the tea area, vacuuming floors, etc.; there will be a sign-up sheet available when you complete your registration here. Please ask our Retreat Coordinator for details.
- If you have medical needs relating to your sleeping accommodations, such as indoor plumbing or electricity, please let us know.
- You may not use a telephone during retreats. When not in retreat, you may use the telephone for a short message using your credit card or by calling collect. Limit your calls to no more than five minutes.
- E-mail and Internet access is not available at any time.
- The Bhavana Society is not to be taken as a hotel or recreation center. It is purely a place for serious meditation and Dhamma study.
- Avoid all physical contact except in emergencies.
- Bhavana Society accepts visitors to stay up to seven days. If you would like to stay at our center before a retreat begins or stay after it ends, we request that you follow our guideline of seven days total with the exception of retreats that last longer than seven days. When requesting to arrive before a retreat begins or stay after it ends, if your stay is longer than seven days (including retreat days), you are requested to apply for lay residency. Please note, applying for residency may take up to three to six weeks before we will let you know if your request is accepted or not so please plan according. Please also note, we are limited to how many visitors we can accept at one time so accepting your request will depend on how many are already scheduled to visit.
- If you cannot fully participate in the entire retreat, you will need permission from the leader of the retreat before you can reserve a space to participate. The guideline to request permission to leave a retreat early or arrive late is: You will need to contact the Bhavana Society and ask permission to arrive late or leave early before registering (contact our office for details). If you receive permission to register from the monastic leading the retreat, your name would be put on a waitlist. If a space is available the week before the retreat starts, our office will contact you.
- Laundry facilities are only available for those who stay at our center ten days or longer.
- Men should not enter women’s dwellings and women should not enter men’s dwellings, even for loading and unloading vehicles.
- As a matter of respect and etiquette, it is considered inappropriate to point the soles of one’s feet toward a monastic or Buddha image. Accordingly, please be aware of your posture in the meditation hall: do not stretch legs out toward the altar and do not lounge or sprawl on the floor.
- For those requesting to visit when we are not in retreat, at this time, the Bhavana Society only offers what we term a casual personal retreat. A casual personal retreat means you are asked to follow our daily schedule (sample can be found on our website) which includes no eating after noon, fully participating in all scheduled daily activities, working 2-4 hours each day (or longer if the work load is especially in need during your visit) though most work is completed in the morning but on occasion, it can continue in to the mid-afternoon hours.
- Please note, all monastics must have permission from our Abbot to visit. Even for a day visit, it is requested that you have contacted our Abbot and received permission from him to visit prior to registering for a visit or apply for residency.
Meditation Hall Guidelines
- Shoes or slippers are to be removed upon entering the meditation hall or the dining hall.
- Upon entering and leaving the meditation hall, meditators face the altar and offer a gesture of respect to the Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha, either with a single bow or Triple Prostration (optional for non-Buddhist meditators.
- If you have to come late to the meditation hall, please make sure that you enter very quietly and sit quietly, without throwing, dropping or dragging your blankets or cushion.
- As a matter of respect and etiquette, it is considered inappropriate to point the soles of one’s feet toward a monk or Buddha image. Please be aware of your posture in the meditation hall accordingly; do not stretch legs out toward the altar and do not lounge or sprawl on the floor; do not lie down in the hall.
- Hard plastic or metal bottles of clear water may be taken into the hall. Please drink quietly.
- Do not bring chiming and beeping watches or timers into the meditation hall. Turn off cell phones. Do not use iPods or MP3 players in the meditation hall.
- You are encouraged to sit in a position that will allow you to be comfortable for the maximum amount of time. Floor mats and round cushions as well as benches and a limited number of miscellaneous cushions are available. When necessary, folding chairs are provided in the back of the hall for those who need them. You are welcome to bring your own equipment.
- During sitting and walking meditation, keep unnecessary noise (i.e. whispering, clearing the throat, heavy breathing) and distracting movement to a minimum. Do not leave the hall during this period except for an emergency or to go to the bathroom. If you must leave, re-enter the hall quietly with mindfulness. This is a simple matter of courtesy for others who are meditating.
- Meditation sessions usually have a formal beginning and end, indicated by a gong or bell (unless otherwise noted).
- Always treat sacred images and texts respectfully. Do not store Dhamma books on the floor.
- Don’t take any mats, meditation cushions, or devotional books out of the meditation hall.
(At this time, we are not offering intensive personal retreats at our center. When we are able to do so, we will update our website, please check back periodically for any changes to this notification. We are accepting request for those who can follow our 'casual retreat/visiting non-retreat times' guidelines).
Experienced Bhavana meditators can come to the Bhavana Society for an intensive personal meditation retreat. These specific guidelines must be followed. The intensive self-retreat format is limited to those individuals who have previously completed a ten-day retreat at our center. If you have not completed a ten-day retreat at Bhavana, we can offer you a Casual Personal Visit and you will follow our daily non-retreat schedule. Please let us know which of these two types of retreat you are considering.
- For an Intensive Personal Retreat, you must have completed at least one ten-day retreat at the Bhavana Society.
- Retreatants are expected to observe strict silence except in an emergency, in case of sickness, or in order to talk with a teacher.
- Retreatants will be given 2-4 hours of work each day. Instructions for the work will be given before your retreat period begins.
- In addition to your own meditation, you are required to attend two hours of group meditation a day (in morning and evening).
- Interviews with a teacher must be requested and scheduled prior to the beginning of the retreat period.
- Because you will likely be the only one here on silent retreat, be aware that others will be talking. If you want to avoid hearing people speak, we recommend that you stay away from the main building.
- Do not leave the center until your retreat period ends. Once you leave the Bhavana Society premises, we will consider your intensive practice terminated.
To register for a casual retreat, use the Visit Registration form and indicate which kind of personal retreat intended. (NOTE: You must register as a user to establish an Account Profile before you can submit a visit or retreat registration form.)
Visiting at Non-Retreat Times
- You may register for a visit no more than 30 days in advance of the date you plan to visit.
- All guests are expected to fully participate in the daily meditation schedule as well as the devotional service and any other activities while here at our center. During Vassa (July through October) and the winter months (November and December), the daily meditation schedule may be different.
- We do not accept guests when we are in a retreat; please make sure you check our Restricted Dates listing prior to registering for a visit.
- All guests will be expected to participate in up to two to four hours of work each day.
- If you would like to come just for a day visit, we would still ask that you register so that we are aware of your intention to visit along with your arrival and departure time.
- Non-retreat visits are limited up to a seven-day visit. To stay longer, please submit a residency application.
- You may make arrangements to come early or stay after a formal retreat if there is space available. Please note, Bhavana Society closes at noon on January 1st so that all residents can begin their private two-month retreat, please do not register to visit during the months of January and February.
- Any monastic considering visiting Bhavana Society or participating in a retreat MUST receive permission from our Abbot first. Even for a day visit but especially for an overnight visit; this must be prearranged prior to your arrival. You may send your request to our address to Bhante Gunaratana. You may also send an email but it may take days, weeks or months to receive a reply (due to an overwhelming amount of emails he receives daily). We recommend that you send a regular letter to him and include your email address so that he can reply to you directly.
For further useful information, see also: Frequently Asked Questions