February 28th-March 3rd 2019
A four day, three night silent meditation and yoga retreat in a historic home in the mountains of Vermont.
Traditionally the Buddha and his students would take a retreat during the 3 months of the rainy season. Normally mendicant wanderers, they would gather in buildings and eventually temples to study, practice, and reinforce their commitment to the dharma (teachings of Buddha). After the Buddha’s death, this tradition continued as a way to reaffirm their practice and deepen their understanding. Called Vassa, named after the rainy season itself, this period of extended meditation is still practiced today by monks and serious students.
I started my own practice of silent meditation with a retreat, at age 16. Clearly new to the concept of the Middle Way (I have always favored extremes) I signed up for a 12 day silent retreat at IMS in Barre Massachusetts without ever having meditated before. But what came from this experience was life-changing. After an extended period of struggle with my own mind, where I would have abandoned ship and never meditated again given the choice to go turn on the tv, see friends, distract….I had the most complete sense of peace and stillness that I had ever known. My natural anxiousness relaxed into a deep clarity, a full-bodied knowing of the ineffable. And while this has fostered a lifelong practice of mindfulness, I always come back to the format of silent retreat as the place where this experience is most fruitful, most readily accessible.
Why silent retreat? In our culture, we are used to living with a lot of urgency and tension. We may sustain this pace for long stretches, sometimes decades, but we show the strains in the enduring health of our bodies and minds. A silent retreat is an opportunity to deeply re-set, connect inwards, and to stay a while with your own experience. You will find that the days are very full, but in none of the ways you may be used to. We will have a consistent and fairly continuous schedule each day of meditation, self-guided yoga practice, teacher-guided yoga practice, meals, and dharma talks.
Yoga will be both Yin and some Yang to keep the body stimulated and in balance. Our dharma talks will deeply explore the teaching Buddhism, the dharma, the practices of mindfulness, and their application to our daily lives, in a way that is not possible in any other format where the mind is still engaged in social interaction and maximum sensory input. We will peel back the layers of our own habits, mechanisms of mind, holdings and unresolved healings, in order to deeply digest that which still needs processing. The schedule is designed to be quite full, to give a strong backbone to the experience so that you do not have to wonder about where to go or what to do next, but can instead drop that part of your brain that weighs options, decides, and schedules your time.
There will also be an opportunity for a 1:1 check-in. This is not mandatory, but on offer if it will support your experience. As we are able to dive so much deeper to the heart of things on silent retreat than in any other workshop, training or retreat that I have offered before, I welcome the opportunity to answer your questions, help navigate struggles, or otherwise support your experience through the retreat in these 1:1s.
We will arrive on Thursday, Feb 28th. Check-in is between 4-6pm. We will have dinner and orientation Thursday night. You will have the chance to settle in, meet others, and negotiate shared room/shared bathroom logistics if relevant. We will have a restorative practice after dinner, and will drop into silence after the practice. While I will be speaking, of course, to guide our practice, dharma talks, and coordinate, we ask that you hold noble silence in the common spaces, and in your private or shared rooms as well.
This is also an opportunity to take a journey away from one’s daily responsibilities, preoccupations and worldly events. With this in mind, we require everyone to turn off their computers and phones for the duration of the retreat in order to genuinely connect with oneself in a less distracted inner and outer environment. This will undoubtedly deepen everyone’s experience. We feel unplugging from technology in retreat life is essential and will benefit all the attendees. There will be an emergency contact provided for students to give loved ones.
Silence will continue through the end of Thursday, Friday and Saturday, when we will break silence in the evening. I have found that it is essential to have time to ease back into interaction. We’ll make an intentional and supported journey back from our practice of deep introspection, and talk about the ways we may or may not want to share our journey with others.
We will leave Good Commons by noon on Sunday.
Note: You must plan on attending the entirety of the retreat. Exception needs to be requested to me in writing, and will be decided on a case by case basis, as the cohesion of the group dynamic as we move in and out of silence will be the highest priority.
Note: If you have had the experience of going on a much-needed vacation and promptly getting sick, you’ll recognize that we can carry what we do not have time to process till body and mind see an opportunity. Our bodies may have been battling that sickness for months, just waiting for a moment we weren’t racing from point A to B for it to fully manifest. Similarly, in the deep stillness of a silent retreat, you may find yourself finally digesting even long gone experiences; grief, deep joy, sadness can all be vividly present. This is normal, and welcome, for you to feel and experience deeply. However, if you are under the care of a therapist or mental health professional we ask that you consult them prior to attending. We believe in the benefits of this practice for everyone, but just as we would not advise a physical practice with an acute injury, we do not advise a deep mental practice with acute “injury” or level of distress.
Our retreat center is Good Commons, the first place I ever helped lead a retreat from. It’s a place I’ve been hoping to get back to ever since. It is a beautiful space, close to Killington, with all the amenities but a very cozy, old farmhouse feel. There is a large yoga room with beautiful hardwood floors and all the props one might need. A professional kitchen, a spacious dining room, reading nooks and meeting spaces. This time of year will be the high season in Vermont, and winter will be in peak beauty on both your journey to the retreat, and in the space of the retreat.
The food is prepared for us by a brilliant private vegan/vegetarian chef from NYC that we have hired specifically for this retreat. She works out of Good Commons frequently, and prepared the food for the last retreat I held here. We will be using locally sourced ingredients primarily from local farms and co-ops. Our menu is meat free, Ayurvedically designed, with delicious and satisfying options for all, including anyone with allergies or sensitivities.
The rooms are limited. When an option is gone, it’s gone, so if you have a strong preference about what type of room you have, you’ll want to act quickly.
Tuition is $300/person
Room and board prices vary, but are priced per room. Thus you could take a room with 2 beds all to yourself, and pay the room and board price, plus tuition. Or you and a friend/partner could split a room with 2 beds, each pay tuition, and each pay half of the room and board cost.
A hot tub on premises for retreat-goers.
Registration for all retreat and programs are non-refundable and non-transferable.
A large loft with multiple twin beds. 2 shared bathrooms
Room and board - $80/night
Tuition - $300/person
With more privacy than the shared dorm. Ideal for two people travelling together, or a solo traveler seeking privacy and a retreat within the retreat. Shared bath.
Room and board - $210/night ($105/night per person if shared)
Tuition - $300/person
Ideal for two people travelling together, or a solo traveler seeking privacy and a retreat within the retreat. Spacious room. Shared deluxe bath with steam shower.
Room and board - $280/night
Tuition - $300
For the solo traveler seeking maximum space and comfort. Shared bath.
Room and board - $280/night ($140/night per person if shared)
Tuition - $300/person