Why Do We Offer Meditation Retreats?
Since ancient times all wise cultures have known the value of retreat. Time in retreat allows us to step out of the complexity of our life, to listen deeply to our body, heart and mind. For 2,600 years, meditation retreats have been a central part of the Buddhist path of awakening. Meditation retreats offer practical instruction and group support for discovering inner understanding and freedom. Retreats combine the fertile atmosphere of silence with time for sitting and walking meditation, supported by Buddhist teachings. Careful guidance and training is offered in meditation. Most White Heron Sangha retreats are suitable for both new and more experienced students of meditation.
How Does a Retreat Work?
A retreat, even one that is just for a weekend or daylong, provides an opportunity and a caring container for undertaking more intensive meditation than what we can usually fit into our daily schedule.
White Heron Sangha weekend and daylong meditation retreats are usually offered at our Meditation Center in Avila Village (map and pictures) with up to 75 participants. Most of our retreats are held in silence; retreatants do not speak to one another, unless directed by the teacher. Meditating in noble silence offers a special opportunity to focus inward and to deeply connect with oneself. In this silent and mindful environment, awareness sharpens, the body quiets, the mind clears, and space opens for insight and understanding to develop.
Our retreats are led by teachers from the broad Buddhist community, across lineages. The teachers offer meditation instructions, dharma talks, question and answer periods, and sometimes individual or group practice meetings.
The teacher will often post a schedule indicating the times for the morning and afternoon sessions and lunch break. There are usually alternating periods of sitting and walking meditation, as well as practice meetings and dharma talks. We encourage participants to attend all sessions offered in order to learn ways to bring the practice more fully into daily life, and out of respect for the teacher.
Tea and light snacks may be provided at break and lunch periods for weekend or daylong retreats. We ask that you bring your own cup or mug for beverages in order to cut down on paper waste, as White Heron Sangha is trying to lessen its footprint on the environment. Cups will be available for those who do not bring their own.
White Heron Sangha asks that all retreatants refrain from applying colognes, hairsprays or strongly scented deodorants before coming to the retreat. In addition, we will avoid air fresheners and scented or allergenic flowers in our facility. The use of such products may trigger allergic reactions and create health problems. Symptoms of fragrance sensitivity can include headaches, nausea, and a skin allergy like contact dermatitis. Watery, itching, burning, and red eyes, sneezing, runny nose, congestion and asthma symptoms are also common. We thank you for your cooperation.
Retreat Fee and Dana (Donations)To see a list of upcoming retreats click here.
The registration fee covers the expenses involved in bringing the teachers to the San Luis Obispo area and putting on the event. There are often work scholarships available for those for whom the fee would be excessive. The teachings are offered freely – none of the registration fee is given to the teacher. Details on how to donate to the teacher are provided at the retreat. We try to keep our retreat fees at a minimum so that the participant can be truly generous with a donation to the teacher. In addition, there is opportunity to support the work of White Heron Sangha through donations and volunteer positions. For more on the concept of dana, please see Donations .