Retreats

Due to COVID-19, we are not currently offering retreats at the monastery. However, you may still find general information about retreats below. When we begin offering retreats once again, the information below may change.

If you can and would like to stay at the monastery for longer than one month, we are currently accepting residency applications from people who have been on retreat with Buddhist Insights in past years, or folks with previous monastery residency experience.

For more info, please check out Winter Retreat Residency.

Retreats at Empty Cloud Monastery

Retreats at Empty Cloud Monastery provide the conditions for you to deepen your meditation practice in an intensive and supportive environment. On retreat, we pull back from the business of everyday life and focus on waking early, eating simply, performing light work, and spending much of the day meditating—all within the container of silence and peace. Within this container, we allow the mind to settle and to give our practice greater opportunity to develop insight and tranquility.

What are retreats like?

Most of our retreats follow a typical daily schedule that starts at 5:00 am and ends at 9:00 pm. The day is spent in silent practice with alternate periods of sitting and walking meditation. Two meals are served – breakfast and lunch. Comprehensive meditation instruction and talks about the Buddha’s teachings are also offered daily. In addition, group or individual meetings with the teachers about meditation practice take place regularly.

A short work period is set aside each day and usually lasts an hour. This gives retreatants an opportunity for mindfulness during everyday activities, from chopping vegetables or washing dishes to vacuuming or cleaning bathrooms. This voluntary service period is essential to communal harmony, and is a great way to extend our practice to all activities of our day.

A retreat environment, with its simple yet nourishing lifestyle, is designed to support and enhance your meditation practice.

Retreat cost 

Everything at Buddhist Insights is offered free-of-cost, following the ancient practice of dana, or giving. We invite every retreatant to personally reflect on how they can support the monastery and the retreat environment however they can, before, during, and after the retreat.

Transportation

Please see our Transit Directions page for more information on transportation to the monastery.

Accommodations

Most people who visit stay in a simple dorm-style room with beds for two to eight people, depending on the size of the retreat. Sharing a living space with others is part of our practice of community and togetherness. We currently do not offer single rooms. If you have questions or other accommodation needs, please contact us.

Meals

Two vegetarian meals per day are offered on retreat, breakfast and lunch. There is generally a variety of options available at mealtime, including steamed veggies, brown rice and white rice, oatmeal, fresh fruit, nut, soy and/or rice milks. For safety reasons, retreatants are not allowed access to the kitchen or fridges, and are not allowed to eat outside of designated meal times. Please let us know if you have a medical or health concern regarding food. 

What to Bring

Please bring weather appropriate-clothing for staying cool/warm as needed, as well as twin-sized bedsheets or sleeping bag, a pillow case, a towel, toiletries, a portable timepiece such as a wrist watch, outdoor work boots/shoes, simple work clothes, sun hat.

Sample Retreat Schedule

Below is a typical schedule on retreat. Note, however, that the schedule changes depending on the specific retreat.

4:30 am – Wake Up
5:00 am – Meditation
6:00 am – Morning Chores
6:15 am – Breakfast
7:00 am – Dharma Talk
8:00 am – Meditation
10:00 am – Work Period
11:00 am – Lunch
12:00 pm – Break
2:00 pm – Dharma Talk
3:00 pm – Meditation
5:00 pm – Break
6:00 pm – Talk
8:00 pm – Meditation
9:00 pm – Bedtime

Appropriate Conduct

Along with the schedule, precepts are the foundation of fruitful meditation practice and communal harmony. In order to create a safe, harmonious, and healthy environment, all retreatants must follow the Eight Precepts while on retreat. These are:

  1. To refrain from taking the life of any living creature (including insects)
  2. To refrain from taking that which is not given
  3. To refrain from all kinds of sexual activity
  4. To refrain from false and harmful speech 
  5. To refrain from consuming intoxicating drinks or drugs
  6. To refrain from eating at inappropriate times (after midday)
  7. To refrain from dancing, singing, listening to music, watching entertainment, wearing jewelry or makeup or otherwise beautifying the body
  8. To refrain from sleeping on luxurious bedding

Internet, Phones, and Electronics

To maximize the benefit of a retreat, Internet, phone, and electronic device use is not permitted. We ask retreatants to leave devices at home. If this is not possible, they will be collected and stored safely until the end of the retreat. An emergency contact will be provided so that friends and family may contact you in case of an unforeseen emergency.

Individual Needs

Empty Cloud Monastery is committed to inclusiveness, and welcomes people from all backgrounds on retreat. If you have any particular need for assistance or special accommodation please contact us so we can offer you as much support as possible.

Staying Longer

If you would like to stay longer than a retreat, please look into our residential opportunities.