What to Expect at a Vipassana Retreat

Residential retreats create optimal conditions for the deepening of concentration and insight. They provide the ideal opportunity to set aside the business and pressures of daily routines, and focus intensively on developing the mind, clarifying perception, and opening the heart.

Noble Silence

During the retreat, we will maintain silence to allow ourselves to focus on our inner experience
and to see more clearly the movements of our minds and hearts. After the retreat starts, silence is
observed except in the following circumstances:

  1. Teacher-led question and answer times.
  2. Teacher Interviews: this is a chance to talk about your experience with the teacher. Interviews are relaxed, low-key ways to check in with each other and share experiences. They are designed to be helpful, supportive, and informative. Depending on the retreat, interviews may occur individually or within a small group setting.

When maintaining silence we also try to avoid making eye contact with others. This may feel
unfriendly but, it is actually a gift that each person is offering to both themselves and others. It
allows us to maintain our focus internally during the retreat.

Meditation Hall Etiquette

  1. Feel free to experiment with your sitting arrangements. There will be chairs in the Hall for you to use. Please don’t feel that you have to be stoical and sit in a style that might not be comfortable. For some people it takes a while to discover a style of sitting that feels right. Listen to your body. 
  2. Please do not enter or leave the Hall when a sitting is already in progress, except in an emergency.
  3. Please do not sleep, take naps or lie down in the Meditation Hall. If you have a
    back problem that requires meditating while lying down, please advise the teacher.
  4. No food or drink, including water in bottles, are allowed in the Meditation Hall.
  5. Please do not bring extra items into the Hall. Plastic bags, jackets, rain
    coats or other items that produce noise may be left outside the Meditation Hall.
  6. Please turn all pagers and cell phones off and turn your watches off of “beep” mode.

General Retreat Etiquette

  1. Please assist those with allergies and chemical sensitivities by not using perfumes, scented lotions, scented aftershave or other strongly aromatic products during the retreat.
  2. Please do not leave notes or speak to any other retreatants unless it is an emergency. Keeping silence is one of the most important ways that we contact our deepest experiences. It is a rare and amazing opportunity to have a period of silence in one’s life.
  3. The employees at the retreat site are not responsible for the retreat or its retreatants. If you have a question related to your room, the food or another aspect of the Centre, please leave a note and you will receive a response.
  4. Smoking is not allowed.