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Q: Meditation Retreats ( Answered 5 out of 5 stars,   1 Comment )
Question  
Subject: Meditation Retreats
Category: Miscellaneous
Asked by: wannarun-ga
List Price: $200.00
Posted: 02 Apr 2006 15:49 PDT
Expires: 02 May 2006 15:49 PDT
Question ID: 714745
I have recently started reading about and practicing meditation. I am
still very new to it.

I have heard of meditation retreats and am interested in learning more
about them and possibly attending one. Unfortunately I don't have the
time or the resources to research all the possibilities myself right
now. This is where you (hopefully) come in.

Below is a list of things I'd like to know about meditation retreats
in general and about specific retreats. Ultimately I'd like general
information about mediation retreats and a list of respected or
well-known retreats with details about each one.

- How are the retreats structured
- What religion(s)/philosophy(s) are they based on
- What support is provided
- What food and facilities are provided (not particularly important)
- Costs
- What retreats require a certain level of meditation experience (or
specifically cater to beginner meditators)
- What age groups do they cater to (or is it even a thought)
- Length of retreats (or if undefined amount of time)
- Info about both short and long retreats
- At any of the locations is there the possibility to extend your stay
after the scheduled time if you wanted to stay longer
- What retreats are (if any) well known or respected
- Are there meditation retreats in other countries (possibly countries
with a background of eastern religion, such as India, China, or Japan)
that cater to  English speakers interested in meditation. I'm very
interested in the possibility of traveling to a foreign country to do
this.
- Anything else you can think of adding that you think might be important

I apologize that it's just a seemingly random list. I set the price
quite high to get as many details as possible.

Let me know if you have any questions, although I might not be able to
get access to a computer again for a few days.

Thanks!

Request for Question Clarification by politicalguru-ga on 07 Apr 2006 01:50 PDT
Dear Wannarun, 

How many retreats would you consider as sufficient?

Clarification of Question by wannarun-ga on 10 Apr 2006 09:54 PDT
I'm not nearly as interested in the quanity as I am in the quality of
the finds. I'd imagine it would not be hard to find a large collection
of them in certains areas of the U.S.

Instead I'd prefer a selection of quality/well-known/respected
retreats from various places throughout the world that accomodate
english speakers (if they exist).

Clarification of Question by wannarun-ga on 13 Apr 2006 07:43 PDT
I see that no one has still answered the question.

Is there any specific reason(s)?

I am open to changing the expetations or the dollar amount if there
isn't enough info/research to justify a high cost, if it means someone
is more likely to answerthe question.

Thanks!

Request for Question Clarification by boquinha-ga on 14 Apr 2006 11:56 PDT
Hi wannarun-ga,

I'm able to find most of what you've requested. The one tricky part
I'm finding is where you've specified that you'd like "a list of
respected or well-known retreats." I have not found any sort of review
site for meditation retreats nor some sort of board or association
that rates or qualifies them in any way. However, I can find a lot of
information on some very nice and impressive meditation retreats both
in and out of the United States (please let me know if that is not
your home country). I'm happy to compile a list of several retreats
complete with the details you've requested for each one. Would that
satisfy your request? Please advise. Your question caught my eye--I
find that these retreats certainly do look interesting!

Sincerely,
Boquinha-ga

Clarification of Question by wannarun-ga on 15 Apr 2006 16:34 PDT
"I have not found any sort of review site for meditation retreats nor
some sort of board or association that rates or qualifies them in any
way. However, I can find a lot of information on some very nice and
impressive meditation retreats both
in and out of the United States (please let me know if that is not
your home country)."

Yah, that's fine. If you can't find that sort of information, I would
imagine it doesn't exists, at least online.

I am from the United States.

Thanks.
Answer  
Subject: Re: Meditation Retreats
Answered By: leapinglizard-ga on 17 Apr 2006 21:35 PDT
Rated:5 out of 5 stars
 
Dear wannarun,


I have found in the course of my research that the vast majority of
meditation retreats are based on Eastern religions or philosophies. It
is true that retreats, in the general sense of withdrawal from the
world for a few days of inner contemplation, are well-established in
the Judeo-Christian tradition. However, such retreats typically do not
involve meditation, or at least not the secular activity that most people
would call by that name. Instead, the Judeo-Christian style of retreat
is generally devoted to prayer and scriptural study. Prayer is not the
same thing as meditation, since it implies that one is addressing some
entity or spirit with specific cultural associations.

Many Catholic retreats, for instance, are conducted according to the
precepts of St. Ignatius of Loyola.

    Jesus invites His disciples, "Come away to a lonely place all
    by yourselves and rest a while" [Mark 6:31]. A retreat responds
    to that invitation as Christians gather in quiet to listen to
    God's Spirit and pray. The Church offers many ways to do this.

    Montserrat, honoring nearly five hundred years of Jesuit
    tradition, gives retreats according to the Spiritual Exercises of
    St Ignatius of Loyola, by far the oldest handbook still in use. It
    gives the structure to Montserrat's weekend retreat, which has
    been hammered out over the centuries. You can be confident that
    it will guide you to enter deeply into the revelation made in
    Jesus Christ and open you to greater spiritual freedom.

Montserrat Retreat: What Is A Retreat?
http://www.montserratretreat.org/whatis.html


I assume that this kind of retreat, which involves Christian theology and
prayer, is not what you think of as a meditation retreat. If, however,
you do think of prayer as a kind of meditation and wish to choose a
Christian retreat, you will find a useful summary and broad selection
in the following Budget Travel Online article.

The Religious Retreat Vacation: Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu and
Buddhist retreat centers across the United States: Page 1
http://www.budgettravelonline.com/bt-dyn/content/article/2005/06/04/AR2005060400391.html


I should warn you that the address given in the article for the Genesis
Spiritual Life Center is inaccurate. The correct address is the following.

Genesis Spiritual Life Center: Home
http://www.genesiscenter.us/start.html


I also draw your attention to the final page of the article, which
mentions "two Hindu retreat centers, both highly popular and well
respected in the Hindu community".

    The Shree Muktananda Ashram located in South Fallsburg, NY,
    calls itself a "spiritual University." The focus is on ancient
    Hindu teachings, although serious seekers of all faiths are
    welcome. The Ashram was founded in 1979 by Swami Muktananda,
    and is a modern representation of the traditional gurukula,
    the school of the Guru described in ancient Hindu texts, where
    students gather around a spiritual master to learn both scripture
    and the way to lead a life of righteousness (dharma). Students
    participate in a full daily schedule of meditation, chanting,
    contemplation, scriptural study and selfless service (which
    could include anything from chopping vegetables in the kitchen,
    to caring for the Ashram grounds). Classes cost between $150 and
    $475, and room and board cost from $57/night for dorms, $90 for
    twin accommodations, and $95/night for singles. Shree Muktananda
    is affiliated with the Gurudev Siddha Path Ashram in India, which
    was founded by Swami Muktananda in 1956. For information on either
    center, contact SYDA Foundation, Information Center, 371 Brickman
    Road, PO Box 600, South Fallsburg, NY 12779-0600 (phone 845/434
    2000 ext. 2450) or view its Web site at http://siddhayoga.org .

    For a more varied, camp-style, but still thoroughly spiritual
    approach to Hinduism, Arsha Vidya Gurukulam (AVG) in Saylorsburg,
    PA offers something for people of all ages. Located on
    15 wooded acres in the foothills of the Pocono Mountains,
    AVC can provide for up to 200 students at once in a complex
    of 15 cottages, five residential complexes and nine "family
    residences." AVG's comprehensive brochure regularly lists more
    than a dozen programs for summer and fall (three of which are
    family retreats), as well as regular retreats on the first and
    third weekend of every month, focused on a variety of studies
    including the Upanishads, Bhagavatgita, Bramasutras and other
    classical Vedic texts as well as such topics as Vedic Astrology,
    Ayurveda, Meditation and Yoga. For more information, contact AVG,
    P.O. Box 1059, Saylorsburg PA 18353 (phone 570/992-2339, e-mail
    info@arshavidya.org). Also online at http://arshavidya.org .

The Religious Retreat Vacation: Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu and
Buddhist retreat centers across the United States: Page 5
http://budgettravelonline.com/bt-dyn/content/article/2005/06/04/AR2005060400391_5.html


On the same page, there is a list of "top seven retreats" in the Buddhist
tradition, without discussing meditation retreats in particular. Indeed,
the article is primarily concerned with a casual type of retreat that
appeals to vacationers rather than to students of meditation. I therefore
carried out my own research on meditation retreats.


Even though Christian churches are not known to promote secular
meditation, there is a recent tradition among Catholic priests, especially
those belonging to the Jesuit order, of teaching Zen meditation in a
non-denominational setting. One relatively old Christian-Zen interfaith
meditation programs is run by the Mercy Center near San Francisco.

    The East-West Meditation program at Mercy Center celebrated its
    20th year in 2004. It was founded by Father Thomas Hand, SJ, known
    to the community as Hando. Hando's approach to spiritual practice
    uniquely honored both Christian contemplation and Zen meditation.

    [...]

    Wednesday evenings from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m., and during his
    intensive retreats and Zen-style sesshins, Fr. Greg leads the
    community in an engaged dialogue on the immediate experience
    of meditation, offering new visitors and long-time meditators
    alike a safe space in which to explore the spiritual path.

Mercy Center: East-West Meditation
http://www.mercy-center.org/programs+retreats/eastwestmeditation.html


The Mercy Center offers "private retreats", which are structured by the
individual participant, as well as more formal "directed retreats".

    Private Retreats
        provide time for you in a supportive and contemplative
    atmosphere, with opportunities for prayer and spiritual
    direction. They are uniquely designed by each individual
    retreatant. Spiritual direction is available in Spanish.

    Directed Retreats
        are more structured and guided, with the help of a
    spiritual director who is a listening and supportive person. The
    frequency of direction sessions varies at the request of each
    individual retreatant.
    
Mercy Center: Private Retreats
http://www.mercy-center.org/programs+retreats/private.html
    
    
One upcoming directed retreat is the weeklong Meditation Intensive
Retreat in June.
    
    June 16th- 23rd, 2006
    Begins Friday @ 6:00pm
    Ends Sunday @ 1:00pm 
    Cost $510 / $450 Commuter
    
    Enter the silence. Introductory and advanced Zen meditation
    instruction, conferences and individual meetings with director Fr.
    Gregory Mayers.
    
Mercy Center:  Meditation Intensive Retreat
http://www.mercy-center.org/Flyers_2006/06-16meditationIntRetreat.html

Mercy Center: The Place
http://www.mercy-center.org/programs+retreats/theplace.html


Later this year, in November, the Prairiewoods spiritual center in
Iowa, founded by Franciscan nuns, offers a three-day introductory Zen
meditation retreat.

    November 3 - November 5 
    5:30 p.m. - 12 p.m.

    Facilitator(s): Judith Edwards, Nancy Hoffman, FSPA, Ann Jackson,
    PBVM, Zuiko Redding

    This retreat is for those just learning about meditation or who
    desire to deepen their present practice of meditation and want
    to spend a weekend in prayer and silence. This weekend will
    includes tracks of: Zen meditation, mindfulness meditation, 
    chanting and sounding, teaching and practice of centering prayer.
    
    Offering: $175/commuter fee $100

Prairiewoods: Meditation Retreat 11/3-5
http://www.prairiewoods.org/scripts/programs_details.asp?IdActivities=583

    
One's stay may be extended at the center's Guest House, Hermitage,
or Delhi Retreat Cabin.
    
Prairiewoods: Accommodations
http://www.prairiewoods.org/scripts/facilities_accomodation_guesthouse.asp


One more Christian-Zen instructional program that may interest you is
offered in upstate New York at the St. Ignatius Retreat House. Six-day
meditation retreats are scheduled for June and August this year.

    INISFADA INTERFAITH ZEN CENTER
    St. Ignatius Retreat House, 251 Searingtown Road, Manhasset, NY 11030;
    Phone: (516) 621-8300; e-mail: roconnell8@aol.com; inisfada@inisfada.net;
    www.kennedyzen.org. 
    
    Six-day zen retreats with Robert E. Kennedy, S.J., Roshi, June 6-22
    and August 4-10, 2006, $355 ($255 shared). Silent meditation and zen
    practice beginning on Friday with dinner and ending on Thursday
    with lunch noon.  Cushions and/or chairs provided. Some experience
    with zen practice recommended. Please register directly with
    St. Ignatius Retreat House.  For questions about zen, please
    contact roconnell8@aol.com.

America Magazine: Retreats
http://www.americamagazine.org/retreats.cfm

    June 16-22, 2006
    Inisfada Interfaith Zen Center
    St. Ignatius Retreat House
    251 Searington Rd., Manhasset, NY 11030

    Zen practice integrating Christian life, prayer and liturgy

    "Robert Kennedy is one of the most eloquent exponents of a
    Catholic Christianity rooted deep in his own lived experience
    of faith. His wonderfully poetic style speaks of Zen as a way
    to overcome the human tendency to theorize, by total immersion
    in a stillness where an intuition of God's immanence can be
    realized..." (Michael Barnes)

    "The group is serious and committed and at the same time has
    warmth and openness. There is simplicity and a minimum of ceremony
    yet sufficient structure to support earnest practice."(an Inisfada
    zen practitioner)

    Silent meditation retreats with formal instruction and
    teaching. Cushions and chairs are provided. The retreat starts
    with dinner on Friday at 5:30 and ends with mid-day lunch
    on Thursday. The price will be announced. A $60 deposit is
    required six weeks in advance. Internet access and swimming
    pool available. Travel from JFK via airlink to Jamaica LIRR
    station and train to Mineola, and then cab. Use Ollie's taxi
    516-437-0505 or Plandome taxi (516-627-0900) or classictrans.com
    for airport pickup.

    Send checks (made out to St. Ignatius Retreat House) to
    St. Ignatius Retreat House, 251 Searingtown Rd., Manhasset,
    NY 11030. Please include your email address. Inquiries about
    zen in general: roconnell8@aol.com.

    Directions can be found at http://www.inisfada.net/index1.html

Morning Star Zendo: Sesshins (retreats)  [scroll down for description]
http://kennedyzen.tripod.com/details.htm#sesshins


Zen is not just a philosophy and a therapeutic practice, but a school of
thought -- in fact, a group of several schools -- within the Buddhist
religion. The styles of Zen meditation that are familiar to most
Westerners have their origins in Japan, where the two most prominent
Zen traditions are called Rinzai and Soto.

    Zen sitting meditation is called zazen. Walking meditation is
    called kinhin. Meditation as a practice can be applied to any
    posture. During zazen, practitioners usually assume a lotus,
    half-lotus, Burmese, or seiza sitting position. A round cushion
    (zafu) placed on a padded mat (zabuton) is used to sit on, or
    a chair may be used. Rinzai practitioners traditionally use a
    square cushion and typically sit facing the center of the room,
    while Soto practitioners sit facing a wall. Awareness is directed
    towards one's posture and breathing.

    In Soto, shikantaza meditation ("just-sitting") that is,
    a meditation with no objects, anchors, "seeds," or content,
    is the primary form of practice.
    
Wikipedia: Zen: Zazen 
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zen#Zazen
    
    
Due to the typically secluded and Spartan nature of Zen temples, they
rarely have websites of their own. However, the BuddhaNet directory
offers text descriptions and phone numbers for several temples in Japan
that offer meditation retreats to foreigners. You may be especially
interested in Kaioji Temple, which schedules formal meditation retreats
but also provides some instruction for individuals who arrive and depart
as they please. You can expect to pay modest Japanese youth-hostel rates
to stay in the temple's dormitory. 

    Kaioji Temple
    642 Katsuura, Nachi Katsuuracho
    Higashi Muro-gun
    Wakayama-ken
    
    Tel: (07355) 2-0839
    
    This is one of the few temples in Japan where foreigners are
    made welcome at any time for Zen instruction. It is a small
    Rinzai temple with a relaxed atmosphere. The priest in charge,
    Sosen Takeuchi, speaks a little English. He has also prepared an
    English language pamphlet with basic Zen instruction. Kaioji is
    suitable for those with little or no Zen experience. The temple
    is registered as a youth hostel.

    The temple boasts its own small zendo, and regular sesshins are
    held there: These are scheduled for February 10-15, April 1-8,
    June 1-7, August 1-7, October 7-12, December 1-8, and December
    31-January 1st.  Three of these: April, August and the end of
    the year sesshin are for women only.
    
    How to get there: A ten-minute walk from Katsuura station.
    
BuddhaNet: Japan Directory: Meditation & Teachings
http://www.buddhanet.net/asia_dir/2abc_j.htm
    
    
If you are looking for a more hard-core experience in the Rinzai school
of meditation, you may wish to ask Kanemaru Roshi about his weeklong
introductory Zen retreats.

    International Zen Dojo
    611 Tsurushima, Uenoharacho
    Kita Tsura-gun, Yamanashi-ken 409-01.

    Tel: (05546) 2-3198

    Teacher: Rev. Kanemaru Roshi

    This is a small Rinzai country temple, little more than an
    hour's train journey from Tokyo. The resident teacher, Kanemaru
    Roshi stresses that his temple is not a hotel. He describes
    his training as kibishii - strict. Students must get up early
    for zazen, and he uses the keisaka stick regularly to stimulate
    concentration. They will also be expected to study and put in
    a lot of work in the fields and gardens around the temple. 
    
    Note that some foreigners have just turned up at the temple
    without advance notice. Therefore you must contact the Kanemaru
    Roshi several days in advance. Beginners are welcome, with the
    proviso that a week of zazen for someone with no experience can
    be physically demanding.
    
BuddhaNet: Japan Directory: Meditation & Teachings
http://www.buddhanet.net/asia_dir/2abc_j.htm


One Japanese Zen center that does have an informative web site is the
Toshoji temple in Tokyo. Here, meditation is taught in the Soto style. The
following page will give you a good idea of this school's approach. Note
that the "hitting stick" is used ritually, with a light touch.

Toshoji International Zen Center: How To Do Zazen
http://homepage3.nifty.com/toshoji/zen00.htm


An exterior photo of the temple and a brief description are found here,
along with a link to a gallery with many interior photos.

Toshoji International Zen Center: Temple
http://homepage3.nifty.com/toshoji/histry.htm

Toshoji International Zen Center: Gallery
http://homepage3.nifty.com/toshoji/tera.htm


A five-day meditation retreat consisting of intensive Zen training is
offered from November 29 to December 3 for less than $30 a day, which
is very inexpensive by Japanese accommodation standards.

    TOSHOJI ROHATSU SESSHIN
    Date: November 29-December 3 (Everybody must arrive the temple until 7:00
    pm. nov.28)
    Place: Toshoji
    Fee: 15000yen (students 10000yen)

Toshoji International Zen Center: Schedule
http://homepage3.nifty.com/toshoji/schedule.htm


For more information, contact the temple as follows.

    4-5-18 YUTAKA-CHO SHINAGAWA-KU TOKYO 142-0042 JAPAN
    TEL 81 (0)3-3781-4235
    FAX 81 (0)3-3781-6168
    Mail toshoji@nifty,com


Zen falls under Mahayana, or Northern Buddhism, but meditation is also a
focal point in Theravada, or Southern Buddhism. Southern Buddhists tend to
practice a style of meditation called Vipassana. A major Theravada temple
that offers meditation retreats to foreigners is Wat Thaton in Thailand.

    Wat Thaton has been a Buddhist center for the learning and
    practice of the Teachings of the Buddha for hundreds of years
    and has continued to grow and improve in the tradition required
    of Buddhist temples. Our Vipassana Meditation courses are taught
    in English.

    We have both scheduled group meditation retreat and individual
    open- ended meditation retreat. The Center is open throughout
    the year.

    Please Contact Us for information and reservation on vipassana
    meditation courses.

Wat Thaton: Home
http://www.wat-thaton.org/


The instruction at Wat Thaton eschews rigid postures for a more flexible
style called Dynamic Vipassana Meditation.

    Following a 2,500 year old Buddhist tradition, Wat Thaton
    gives ongoing classes in Vipassana meditation. Luangpor Teean
    was an important Thai Buddhist teacher who introduced a new
    technique of meditation that can be characterized as "dynamic"
    in contrast to the more conventional techniques of "static"
    meditation. Luangpor Teean?s Sati (mindfulness) meditation
    incorporates rhythmic bodily movements as a way to stimulate,
    develop and strengthen mindfulness/awareness. This practice
    is regarded as a way through which the body and the mind are
    harmonized. This harmony is the first step to "seeing" thought
    and is the foundation of the path towards enlightenment. In order
    to overcome greed, anger, and delusion, Luangpor Teean suggested
    that we have to go to the root of mental impurities. He taught
    that we should let thought flow freely and let awareness see
    thought and break through the chain of thought. If one persists
    in this practice, wisdom will arise in an orderly process,
    level by level. Ajahn Suthep Chinawaro, Head Meditation Master
    at Wat Thaton, is one of the last disciples of Luangpor Teean,
    and teaches vipassana meditation in English.  For a detailed
    description of the technique, click here, or better visit us!

Wat Thaton: Dynamic Vipassana Meditation 
http://www.wat-thaton.org/meditation/med_style.html


Formal meditation retreats are scheduled for the last ten days of each
month, with the rest of the month open to flexible stays with "loose
supervision of the instructors."
    
    The following rules apply for any application to the Wat:
    1. Please contact us in any case by phone or email as soon as possible
    before your planned stay.
    2. Please arrive at the Wat before 6pm.
    3. Please be aware of the following meditation periods:

    * 1st till 19th of each month: Individual meditation with occasional
    * activities. Introduction to the meditation method and loose
    * supervision of the instructors. No fixed daily schedule.
    * 20th to the end of month:
          More intensive group courses are held. Permanent
          supervision of the instructors is given and the fixed
          daily schedule has to be followed. If you want to
          attend, please come before the 20th. Any meditators
          arriving after the 20ths cannot be allowed to stay
          until the end of the month. 

Wat Thaton: Contact Details
http://www.wat-thaton.org/meditation/med_contact.html

    
    Guest meditators who want to practice meditation in the tradition
    of Luong Por Tee-An can stay alone in simple masonry kutis with
    attached bathroom.  The huts are functional, but do not expect
    too much comfort!

    What to expect...
    
    Beginners as well as experienced meditators are welcome to
    practice at Wat Thaton any time. Wat Thaton Meditation center
    offers a scenic environment close to the nature. At the center,
    we teach Dynamic Vipassana Meditation as taught by Luang Por
    Tee-An.  We want to ask the experienced meditator to approach
    this meditation method open minded, irrespective of any other
    method practiced in the past. We recommend to stay at least 10
    days but exceptions are possible for shorter periods. Please
    check our CONTACT section for further details how to apply. 

    Each month, the period from the 1st till the 20th can be used by
    individual meditators who can live and practice at the center at
    their own accord. They will be given instruction in the meditation
    method and all instructors do their best to be available whenever
    questions arise or further advice is needed. Occasional special
    activities are offered to support the meditator in his progress
    but there will be no fixed daily schedule to follow.

    From the 20th till the end of each month, there will be a 10 day
    Vipassana course with a fixed daily schedule and more intense
    supervision of the instructors at the center. This might be the
    more suitable alternative for beginner meditators.

Wat Thaton: Meditation
http://www.wat-thaton.org/meditation/


As for fees at Wat Thaton and at Vipassana meditation retreats in general,
a commentator on BuddhaNet has this to say: "There is no set fee for
accommodation, food, or instruction, but donations appropriate to the
accommodation and length of stay are the norm." If you get in touch with
the temple, they will give you an idea of what sums are appropriate
for these "donations". From what I have read, the reputable temples
expect no more than a modest fee, comparable to what you would pay at
a youth hostel.

    EMAIL: meditation@wat-thaton.org,
    contact person Connie Merk-Kouwenhoven
    Telefone: 07-8177522,
    contact person Ajahn Suthep


Another Vipassana meditation retreat is held every month in Southern
Thailand at Suan Mokkh.

    Suan Mokkh is a forest monastery along the coast of Southern
    Thailand, 600 km from Bangkok. It was founded in 1932 by
    Buddhadasa Bhikkhu and grew to become the most innovative and
    progressive Buddhist teaching center in Thailand.  Although
    Buddhadasa Bhikkhu has passed away, much of his work continues.

Thu Vien Hoa Sen: Theravada Buddhism
http://www.thuvienhoasen.org/index-links-theravada.htm


Each retreat begins on the first of the month and lasts through the
tenth. See the comprehensive retreat schedule on the following page.

Suan Mokkh: Typical Retreat Schedule
http://www.suanmokkh.org/ret/ret-sm3.htm


Contact details and directions to Suan Mokkh are at the following address.

    Dhammadana Foundation  [ dhammadana@usa.net ]
    c/o Suan Mokkh
    Ampoe Chaiya
    Surat Thani 84110
    Thailand
    fax: (66-77) 431-597
    tel: (077) 431-596, -661, -662

Suan Mokkh: Directions
http://www.suanmokkh.org/ret/travel.htm


Perhaps the most famous modern teacher of Vipassana meditation was
a Burmese man named Sayagyi U Ba Khin. His school is now led by an
Indian-Burmese teacher named S. N. Goenka. The following page gives a
thorough overview of this school of Vipassana meditation.
    
Vipassana Meditation: Technique
http://www.vri.dhamma.org/general/vipintro.html
    
    
If you read this school's Code of Discipline, you will see that Vipassana
is not for the faint of heart. The classic Vipassana meditation retreat
is a very demanding affair, with activities starting at 4 a.m. and
ending at 9:30 p.m. every day for ten days. There is no opportunity for
socialization during the retreat, with speech permitted only between
student and teacher, not among students.

     All students must observe Noble Silence from the beginning
     of the course until the morning of the last full day. Noble
     Silence means silence of body, speech, and mind. Any form of
     communication with fellow student, whether by gestures, sign 
     language, written notes, etc., is prohibited.  Students may,
     however, speak with the teacher whenever necessary and they
     may approach the management with any problems related to food, 
     accommodation, health, etc. But even these contacts should be
     kept to a minimum. Students should cultivate the feeling that
     they are working in isolation.

     [...]

     It is not possible to satisfy the special food preferences
     and requirements of all the meditators. Students are therefore
     kindly requested to make do with the simple vegetarian meals
     provided. The course management endeavors to prepare a balanced,
     wholesome menu suitable for meditation. If any students have
     been prescribed a special diet because of ill-health, they
     should inform the management at the time of application.

     [...]
    
     Dress should be simple, modest, and comfortable. Tight,
     transparent, revealing, or otherwise striking clothing (such as
     shorts, short skirts, tights and leggings, sleeveless or skimpy
     tops) should not be worn.  Sunbathing and partial nudity are not
     permitted. This is important in order to minimize distraction
     to others.

     [...]

     Students must remain within the course boundaries throughout
     the course.  They may leave only with the specific consent of the
     teacher. No outside communications is allowed before the course
     ends. This includes letters, phone calls and visitors. In case
     of an emergency, a friend or relative may contact the management.

     [...]

     According to the tradition of pure Vipassana, courses are
     run solely on a donation basis. Donations are accepted only
     from those who have completed at least one ten-day course with
     S.N. Goenka or one of his assisting teachers. Someone taking the
     course for the first time may give a donation on the last day
     of the course or any time thereafter.  In this way course are
     supported by those who have realized for themselves the benefits
     of the practice. Wishing to share these benefits with others,
     one gives a donation according to one's means and volition.

     [...]

     The following timetable for the course has been designed to maintain the
     continuity of practice. For best results students are advised to follow
     it as closely as possible.

     4:00 a.m.---------------------Morning wake-up bell

     4:30-6:30 a.m.----------------Meditate in the hall or your own room

     6:30-8:00 a.m.----------------Breakfast break

     8:00-9:00 a.m.----------------GROUP MEDITATION IN THE HALL

     9:00-11:00 a.m.---------------Meditate in the hall or your own room

     11:00-12:00 noon--------------Lunch break

     12noon-1:00 p.m.--------------Rest and interviews with the teacher

     1:00-2:30 p.m.----------------Meditate in the hall or your own room

     2:30-3:30 p.m.----------------GROUP MEDITATION IN THE HALL

     3:30-5:00 p.m.----------------Meditate in the hall or your own room

     5:00-6:00 p.m.----------------Tea break

     6:00-7:00 p.m.----------------GROUP MEDITATION IN THE HALL

     7:00-8:15 p.m.----------------Teacher's Discourse in the hall

     8:15-9:00 p.m.----------------GROUP MEDITATION IN THE HALL

     9:00-9:30 p.m.----------------Question time in the hall

     9:30 p.m.---------------------Retire to your own room--Lights out

Vipassana Meditation: Code of Discipline
http://www.dhamma.org/code.htm


If you are willing to take the plunge, there are many Vipassana meditation
centers throughout Asia that offer this ten-day retreat. For instance,
here is this year's schedule for English-language Vipassana meditation
retreats in Malaysia, at three different locations.

Vipassana Malaysia: Schedule
http://www.dhamma.org/nonctrw.ap.en.shtml#Malaysia

Vipassana Malaysia: Course Locations
http://www.my.dhamma.org/location.htm


But the best place to go for this style of retreat is probably the
Vipassana headquarters in the town of Igatpuri, in northern India. The
meditation center here is called Dhamma Giri in Hindi, and Hill of Dhamma
or Vipassana International Academy in English. The second of the next
two links has an extensive schedule and contact information.

Vipassana Meditation: Dhamma Giri
http://www.vri.dhamma.org/centres/giri.html

Vipassana International Academy: Schedule of Courses
http://www.dhamma.org/schvia.shtml


Another location for Buddhist meditation is the Root Institute, which
was founded in Bodhgaya by exiled Tibetan Buddhists. Tibetan Buddhism
falls under the Mahayana, or Northern Buddhist tradition. The town of
Bodhgaya is significant to all Buddhists because it is the site of
the Bodhi Tree, under which Siddhartha Gautama, the Supreme Buddha,
attained enlightenment.

Root Institute: 
http://www.rootinstitute.com/history.html


Most instruction at the Root Institute combines meditation practice with
Buddhist philosophy. However, individuals may opt for self-structured
meditation retreats at any time.

    General Courses on Buddhism are structured for both new and 
    old students. The courses will teach Buddhist philosophy
    and meditation with plenty of opportunity for debate and
    discussion. In the process you will learn much about yourself
    and the workings of your mind, together with methods to help
    you to increase peace and happiness in your daily life.

    All courses commence in the evening and end following lunch on
    the final day.

    Root Institute also offers throughout the year the possibility
    of doing personal retreat in retreat cabins.

Root Institute: Spiritual Programme
http://www.rootinstitute.com/programme.html


    The following are available all year:

    ? Accommodation and personal retreat facilities including clean,
    comfortable rooms and retreats huts, delicious vegetarian meals
    and lovely garden surroundings available for individuals and
    private groups.

    ? Visit our excellent library and bookshop of Dharma books
    and videos, including extensive information on the Buddhist
    holy sites, the preliminary practices (ngondro), and the best
    practices to do at the Mahabodhi Stupa.

    ? Meditate in our two beautiful meditation halls and gardens.

Root Institute: Course Schedule
http://www.rootinstitute.com/programme_schedule.shtml


The Root Institute is also offering a formal Vipassana meditation retreat
early next year that combines elements of Northern Buddhist and Southern
Buddhist meditation.

Root Institute: Sixth Annual Vipassana and Basic Mahamudra Retreat
http://tinyurl.com/jod82 


    Root Institute for Wisdom Culture 
    Bodhgaya
    Gaya District
    Bihar 824 231
    INDIA

    Tel: + 91 (631) 2200 714
    Fax: + 91 (631) 2200 548

    Course enquiries: spc@rootinstitute.com
    Health Programme enquiries: health@rootinstitute.com
    Room bookings and all other enquiries: info@rootinstitute.com

Root Institute: Contact 
http://www.rootinstitute.com/contact.html


For a more relaxed style of meditation than Vipassana, you might turn
to yoga. Yoga is not just the contortionist physical regimen popularized
in the West, but a spiritual practice that includes meditation.

    Common to most forms of yoga is the practice of concentration
    (dharana) and meditation (dhyana). Dharana, according to
    Patanjali's definition, is the "binding of consciousness to a
    single point." The awareness is concentrated on a fine point of
    sensation (such as that of the breath entering and leaving the
    nostrils). Sustained single-pointed concentration gradually leads
    to meditation (dhyana), in which the inner faculties are able
    to expand and merge with something vast. Meditators sometimes
    report feelings of peace, joy, and oneness.

    The focus of meditation may differ from school to school,
    e.g. meditation on one of the chakras, such as the heart center
    (anahata) or the third eye (ajna); or meditation on a particular
    deity, such as Krishna; or on a quality like peace. Non-dualist
    schools such as Advaita Vedanta may stress meditation on
    the Supreme with no form or qualities (Nirguna Brahman).
    This resembles Buddhist meditation on the Void.

Wikipedia: Yoga: Common themes
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yoga#Common_themes


There are many packaged yoga holidays abroad, which should not be confused
with the rarer and more formal yoga retreat. The following page elucidates
the distinction.

    Generally speaking, a yoga holiday is primarily an activity
    holiday. The time devoted daily to yoga usually won't exceed
    four hours, in one, or possibly two daily classes, and you
    will have time for other activities or just to relax and chill
    out. [...] On a retreat, on the other hand, the yoga schedule is
    likely to be more intense, possibly including some meditation,
    times of silence, etc.  The main focus is no longer to enjoy
    yourself on holiday, but to deepen your yoga practice. Again, the
    choice of location should reflect this, with a quiet, possibly
    remote location. Retreats should be fully residential, the food
    vegetarian, and meal times carefully thought out to fit smoothly
    within the daily yoga routine. You will find more 'hard core'
    yogis and yoginis on retreats, and the overall atmosphere can
    be quite serious, with much less 'free' time.

yogaholidays.net: A quick guide to yoga holidays and retreats
http://www.yogaholidays.net/guide.htm


Among the yoga retreats reviewed by this site, perhaps the most appealing
one is held at an old Portuguese villa in Sri Lanka. The review page
describes the climate and accommodations, and has some useful travel tips.

yogaholidays.net: Yoga and Ayurveda in Boossa
http://www.yogaholidays.net/boossa/index.htm


The villa's own site describes the two-week yoga-meditation retreats in
more detail.

    We offer two week program of yoga and meditation through out
    the year, conducted by either European or Sri Lankan teachers,
    some of whose bio data appears in the teacher's column.

    The 14 day program comprises 10 days of yoga with a two day
    break after day five. One day either side allows you to arrive
    and depart at leisure.  The two day break is designed to give
    your body a well earned rest. Click here to find out more about
    what you might do in your free time. Whilst our course is for
    two weeks, we can accommodate you on a weekly schedule as well.

    Your Typical Daily Routine

    * Morning yoga at 7:30 am for 1.5-2 hours
    * Breakfast at 10:00 am 
    * Free time until 5:00 pm
    * Evening yoga and meditation class from 5:00-6:30 pm
    * Dinner at 7:30 pm
    
Villa De Zoysa: Yoga & Meditation
http://www.villadezoysa.com/docs/yoga-meditation.html?pic=9.jpg


The fees for this retreat are quite modest compared to the cost of a
hotel stay of such a duration anywhere in the United States.
    
Villa De Zoysa: Prices & Contact
http://www.villadezoysa.com/docs/prices-contact.html?pic=2.jpg
    

Closer to home, in Costa Rica, the Inner Harmony Yoga center offers a
one-week interdisciplinary retreat in yoga and meditation. The fees are
much higher for this program, although much of the price difference will
be offset by the lesser travel cost as compared to an Asian destination.

Aug 26 - Sept 2, 2006

    Tentalow - $1295
    Standard - $1395
    Deluxe - $1495
    Super Deluxe-4 - $1425 
    Super Deluxe-2 - $1750
    Suite-$1895
    ***All pricing is for double occupancy unless otherwise
    stated. Prices include, all classes, meals and airport transport.
    
Inner Harmony Yoga: The Union of Yoga and Meditation
http://www.innerharmonyyoga.com/retreats/2006/yogaMeditation_rumbaughKempton_0826-0902.asp
    
Inner Harmony Yoga: Facility Descriptions
http://www.innerharmonyyoga.com/facility.asp


For a truly eclectic mix of near and far, yoga and meditation, Eastern
and Western, consider the Dhanakosa Buddhist Meditation and Yoga Retreat
Centre, which is located on the shores of a Scottish loch.

    Our introductory retreats provide an excellent introduction 
    to meditation and Buddhism. Our retreats are renowned for their
    friendliness and harmony.  No previous experience of meditation or
    Buddhism is needed.  Retreats are an ideal situation in which you
    can take a fresh look at yourself and your life.  On retreat you
    can relax and enjoy yourself.  You can learn to meditate or take
    your meditation further with the help of experienced teachers.
    This can help you develop clarity, confidence, energy, positive
    emotion - even a deep insight into yourself.  A retreat is an
    ideal situation in which you can grow. [...]

    Accommodation is in shared rooms and all food is vegetarian. Most
    retreats of one week will include one afternoon work period to
    help us maintain the beauty of the surroundings.  Please bring
    work-clothes and footwear suitable for light gardening work. We
    also run retreats which are focused around activities which
    complement meditation, such as the creative arts, T'ai Chi
    and Yoga. Yoga is a balanced form of body work that leaves you
    well-toned, refreshed and relaxed.  T'ai Chi, a series of graceful
    and gentle physical exercises, can help develop awareness of
    your body and increase levels of energy, suppleness, strength
    and relaxation.

    [...]

    Suggested donation for a weekend: 125 waged, 85 low wage,
    60 unwaged

    Suggested donation for a week: 285 waged, 210 low wage,
    140 unwaged

    Suggested donation for a 10 day retreat: 365 waged, 270 low
    wage, 180 unwaged

    [...]

    Dhanakosa
    Balquhidder
    LOCHEARNHEAD
    FK19 8PQ
    Scotland

    tel +44 (0)1877 384 213 (10am to 5pm)
    e : info@dhanakosa.com

Dhanakosa Buddhist Meditation and Yoga Retreat Centre: About
http://www.dhanakosa.com/dhanakosa%20meditation%20retreat%20centre%20UK.htm


Introductory courses in "Yoga and Meditation" are held according to the
following schedule. Rest assured that although the page title mistakenly
reads 2005, this schedule applies, in fact, to 2006.

    In these retreats the yoga body work will be presented as an
    integral part of meditation practice, both mutually supporting
    and augmenting one another. The classes will be taught working
    from fundamental working principles and can be enjoyed by people
    with any level of experience.

Dhanakosa Buddhist Meditation and Yoga Retreat Centre: Yoga and Meditation
http://www.dhanakosa.com/introductory_retreats.htm#Yoga


Dhanakosa also offers stricter Buddhist meditation retreats according
to set themes, such as "Entering Pure Awareness" and "The Open Heart".

    The following retreats are suitable for those who already practice
    meditation on a regular basis and have attended at least one
    week?s retreat. These retreats will be more intense than
    introductory retreats and will probably involve several hours
    meditation a day and be mainly held in silence.

Dhanakosa Buddhist Meditation and Yoga Retreat Centre: Meditation Retreats
http://www.dhanakosa.com/Regulars%20Meditation%20Retreats.htm



I have found it an interesting challenge to answer your question. If you
have any concerns about the completeness or accuracy of my research,
please advise me through a Clarification Request and give me a chance
to fully meet your needs before you rate this answer.

Regards,
    
leapinglizard
    
    
Search strategy:
    
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wannarun-ga rated this answer:5 out of 5 stars and gave an additional tip of: $100.00
I was going to knock off a star because you spelled retreats wrong in
the first link under "Search strategy", but I decided to go easy on
you.

Just kidding!

Thank you for your thorough and well written answer. I only hope it
can be as helpful to others as it has been for me.

Comments  
Subject: Re: Meditation Retreats
From: leapinglizard-ga on 18 Apr 2006 09:39 PDT
 
Thank you for the rating and the handsome tip. I also apologize for
the negligent misspelling in my search link. Your patronage is much
appreciated.

leapinglizard

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