What to Expect at Our Silent Residential Retreats

Residential Retreats are multi-day teacher-led silent meditation retreats. After initial introductory greetings and information your instructors will explain how silent retreat practice works to support you in having a deep immersion in the practices of mindfulness and compassion. The daily schedule will include gently guided sitting and walking meditation, morning teachings, mindful movement, and the body scan, as well as compassion cultivation and loving-kindness meditations.

We also offer Residential Trainings for Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) and Mindful Self-Compassion (MSC). These are 5-day residential trainings which are much more interactive. Please see What to Expect at Residential Trainings for more information.

Structure and Participation

Four Daily Practice Sessions

  • Mindfulness and compassion practices are offered in four blocks daily: early morning, morning, afternoon and evening.
  • Participants are expected to attend all sessions and follow the printed schedule you will receive on site as fully as possible.

Practicing in Silence

  • After the initial orientation and introductions on the first evening of the retreat our Residential Retreats are held in silence. Please see Detailed Residential Retreat Guidelines below for more details.
  • Participants are expected to follow guidelines around silence and participation.

Interpersonal Safety

  • Mindfulness and compassion training programs involve our personal stories and emotions. Instructors will work with the group to establish clear guidelines for safety.
  • Participants are expected to be as sensitive and responsive to these guidelines and the needs of fellow participants as fully as possible.
  • Please do not take photos of other participants.

Retreat Center Chores

  • Several of our venues keep costs down, reducing your registration fee, by asking that event participants wash dishes, sweep floors, clean bathrooms, and do other chores around the facility. Final camp clean up chores before leaving are also done.
  • Participants are asked to do chores as fully as they are able. If you have physical limitations we will help you find a suitable chore assignment.

Retreat Schedule

  • Schedule pages will be passed out upon arrival.
  • Please Arrive and depart on time:
    Arriving late will cause stress as you will miss the orientation.
    Leaving early means you are offloading your camp clean up chores on other participants.
  • Follow the retreat schedule as fully as you can.
  • Honor times of silence noted on the schedule: no reading, writing, or using devices. See below for more on silence practice.

This all contributes to creating a strong and seamless container from which the whole group benefits.

Stay on Campus Even Between Sessions 

  • Please stay on campus unless invited to take an off-campus break by the instructors.
  • Please do not use recreational drugs or intoxicants during any part of the retreat.
  • Participants are asked to focus their energies and attention on the instruction and curriculum in order to get the most benefit from the week of training and in consideration of all participants.
  • Session participation is mandatory unless other arrangements are made in advance with the Instructors.

Diversity

We are honored to support each participant in their meditation practice regardless of their nationality, ethnicity, race, color, gender, gender identity, sexual identity, age, physical ability, political affiliation, or religion.

Important Note about Audio/Video Recording  during Retreats

  • Audio/video recordings of our instructors may occasionally be created for certification and training purposes during this program. These recordings will include only our instructors in the photo frame (though they may pick up student voices at some points in the recording) and are for internal use only.

Detailed Residential Retreat Guidelines

Your instructors will go over these guidelines in detail at the orientation meeting on the first evening of your retreat.

Silence Practice

Silence practice includes:

  • not speaking to other participants including close friends or partners you are attending with.
  • not using technology of any form
  • not reading books, magazines, flyers, or any reading materials
  • no writing, including not doing journal writing.
  • reducing interpersonal contact through the eyes or other body language
  • Emergency contact information to share with loved ones is included on our Samish Island Campground  Info Page. The camp staff and Mindfulness Northwest instructors will make sure you receive messages promptly while your phone is off.

The intention is to settle deeply into your own experience and to not interact with others, allowing everyone space to have the retreat they need to have.

The Notes Board

At our silent retreats we do offer a means to communicate essential information to the retreat leaders by leaving them a note. Please:

  • Only write notes about essential and immediate concerns that affect your well-being at the retreat.
  • Please do not write notes to compliment the instructors.
  • Please do not write notes to express preferences about the menu (go directly to the kitchen if there are food allergy concerns please) or to offer praise about the food.
  • Recognize that writing a note is choosing to disturb your own practice and will have an impact on you. Please consider whether you really need to write the note. If you’re sure please go ahead, if you are not please wait.

Following the Schedule Completely

  • Please communicate with the retreat leaders ahead of time if you are concerned about your physical ability to follow the schedule.
  • It’s much better to be “in the room” with everyone even if you are tired or discouraged. It is okay to modify your practices (example: lying down when we are doing seated meditation).
  • Letting go of our preferences about where to be when is a great process of learning. When it’s time to come to the meditation hall, please come.
  • We use a system of bell signals to help you know when it’s time to come to the meditation hall without using watches or phones to check the time. This helps us settle more fully into the schedule.

Upcoming Residential Retreats

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