General Guidelines

History, Vision, Community, and Theravada Buddhism

  • No pets are allowed at Bhavana Society. We know you love them, but we need to provide a place that’s comfortable for everyone, including those allergic to pet dander. Please, do not bring any pets.
  • 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 note that fasting is not permitted at Bhavana Society. Please do not come here with that intention.  If you decide not to eat while staying at Bhavana Society, unfortunately, you will be asked to leave.
  • 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.
  • Smoking, vaping, tobacco products, illegal drugs and alcohol are not permitted.
  • Please let us know your estimated arrival time.  The best time to arrive is 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 are assigned a daily chore.  This helps us maintain our center while large groups are in residence.  Chores are usually basic cooking and cleaning talks such as meal prep, dishes,  vacuuming, etc. There is a sign-up sheet for chores at registration.  Please ask our Retreat Coordinator for details.
  • If you have medical needs relating to your sleeping accommodations which require indoor plumbing or electricity, please let us know.
  • You may not use a telephone during retreats. When not in retreat, we ask that you limit your phone time.
  • Email and Internet access is not available during retreats.
  • The Bhavana Society to be used only as a place for serious meditation and Dhamma study, not as a hotel, recreation center or place to just hang out.
  • Please avoid all physical contact except in emergencies.
  • If you are coming for a retreat, you may apply to stay for a few days before and/or after.  For stays longer than seven days,  please submit an application for lay residency.   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. You can do so by filling out the application under the “Residency Applications” tab of this page.  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 coordinator 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

  • Please remove your shoes before entering the main building, meditation hall or dormitories.
  • Upon entering and leaving the meditation hall, meditators may face the altar and offer a gesture of respect to the Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha, either with a single bow or Triple Prostration. This is optional.
  • Please enter the meditation hall quietly and take your seat as quietly as possible.
  • Please don’t point the soles of one’s feet toward a monk or Buddha image.
  • Please don’t lie down in the meditation hall.
  • Hard plastic or metal bottles of clear water may be taken into the hall.
  • 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.
  • Make your sit a comfortable one. Feel free to sit it in the position that is comfortable for you. We have lots of meditation cushions, and you may bring your own if you wish.  If you’re not able to sit on a cushion, folding chairs may be used at the back of the hall.
  • During sitting and walking meditation, please be mindful of noble silence. Please keep loud breathing to a minimum and try to walk silently.
  • Meditation sessions usually begin and end with a chime.
  • Please treat sacred images and texts respectfully and do not store Dhamma books on the floor.
  • Don’t remove mats, cushions, or devotional books from the meditation hall.

Personal Retreats

(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 Residency Applications tab of this page and indicate the type of personal retreat you intend to have.

Visiting at Non-Retreat Times

  1. You may register for a visit no more than 30 days in advance of the date you plan to visit.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. All guests will be expected to participate in up to two to four hours of work each day.
  5. 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.
  6. Non-retreat visits are limited up to a seven-day visit.  To stay longer, please submit a residency application.
  7. 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.
  8. Any monastic considering visiting Bhavana Society or participating in a retreat MUST receive permission from our Vice-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. 
Scroll to Top