This information will give you an overview of the retreat before registering or before arriving to the retreat. Feel free to contact CML via email if you need more clarification after reading this information. We hope the information below and at the welcome orientation will answer your questions; however, if you have any concerns after orientation, please feel free to write a note and post it on the bulletin board and the Retreat Manager will answer it as soon as possible.
This is a silent retreat for persons of all levels of meditation experience. It includes sitting and walking meditation. It may include sessions of mindful movement; i.e., Yoga or Qi Gong, if volunteers are available to lead. If you’d like to volunteer, please sign up at the sign-up table at the retreat.
Instruction is through:
Lecture (Dharma Talks)
Guided meditation during Technique Instruction Sessions
Online Meditation Support
In the interest of fostering the next generation of mindfulness teachers, Shinzen is now incorporating a Co-Teacher into retreats. Instruction in the basic techniques of Unified Mindfulness will be provided to newcomers/first timers by the Co-Teacher and instruction in more elaborate techniques will be provided for current students by Shinzen. All students, whether newcomers/first timers or current students will still have daily access to Shinzen through group Q&A and onlines/private interviews. Most dharma talks will be given by Shinzen, but on occasion by a senior facilitator or the Co-Teacher.
The retreat is designed to be an intensive learning experience and may heighten emotions. Please keep this in mind if you have experienced emotional distress or are under psychiatric care. You will be asked to read and sign the Waiver of Liability and Authorization for Emergency Medical Treatment when registering.
Newcomers are expected to attend the full retreat (no partial days) as techniques and instructions build on the day previous. Special instruction is available for newcomers during the retreat. In addition to a newcomer orientation with Shinzen on the first day/evening, newcomers are also pre-assigned online sessions with Shinzen the first few days. Newcomers will also meet with a designated person to answer a short questionnaire half way through the retreat - as a check-in and to talk about the logistics of the retreat. CML facilitators (senior students trained by Shinzen) are often available for one-on-one interviews as well. For more information, newcomers may view the following YouTube clips:
All dharma talks and group interview sessions are usually recorded by an attending retreatant for VSI archives or future sales ONLY. These recordings may be provided to retreatants as a bonus (and not to be shared elsewhere). You are most welcome to bring your own recorder to place near Shinzen to capture any session. If it is necessary for you to use a microphone, please be sure it is a stand-alone one, as Shinzen will already have two microphones clipped to him.
Arrival & Departure
Full Retreat Participants:
Please give yourself time to check in, sign up for volunteer tasks, and to settle in. Arrival and departure times vary per retreat so visit the 'Register' page and click on each retreat date for information. If you are arriving late (available to current students ONLY), please let us know in advance. Sometimes early arrival the night before may be available for an additional cost. Email CML to inquire about availability.
Weekend/Partial Attendence (if space allows)
If a current student familiar with the daily schedule, you are welcome to arrive any time on your requested day & leave any sitting gear in the zendo during meal breaks. Your key will be located on the table by the main office. Please remember you are joining a 'silent' retreat.
See Daily Schedule for a sample of a typical retreat day (with the official schedule posted for each retreat when available).
In the spirit of Dana (generosity), CML offers financial assistance to people unable to attend retreats due to limited financial resources. Student assistance is for a portion of the fees only, not the entire retreat, and is granted for double occupancy only. Financial aid up to $300 may be offered. When registering, you are required to pay a deposit) when you select the Student Assistance choice. Further information is also collected on the registration form. After registering, CML will contact you to discuss the financial aid you require and if available, options to pay your balance. In order to help as many people as possible, we ask that only those who would not be able to attend without a scholarship apply.
We encourage financial aid recipients to volunteer service during the retreat. Tasks may include helping with set-up/clean-up or grocery/supply runs during the retreat. As one’s financial situation changes over time, we encourage donating back to the program so it can be a revolving fund available for others.
We offer no more than one scholarship per person per year. In addition, we give first consideration to persons who have not received a scholarship in the past 18 months. Further, assistance is determined on financial need and on the number of requests per retreat and funds available.
It is extremely important that we maintain good personal hygiene during a retreat to help minimize the passing of germs that are inevitable during colds, coughing, and/or sneezing. We can’t always control normal coughing or sneezing, but as a precaution, you are expected to use a barrier other than your hands if this happens. This means using your shawl or blanket to cover your face should you need to cough or sneeze.
All participants are asked to wash their hands frequently with soap and water during a retreat out of respect to others. As an added precaution, hand sanitizer will be placed throughout the centre and is especially to be used before going through the meal lines. If you feel unwell during the retreat (i.e., develop a cold or flu), it is better for you to isolate yourself from others for a while, rather than join sessions in the zendo or group process. If you arrive with a cough or develop a cough while on retreat, please ask the retreat manager for a face mask to wear in the zendo or, if you prefer, do sitting in your room for a few days to lessen the spreading of germs. Throat lozenges will be available in a basket outside the zendo.
Please also read Noble Silence.
As a support in providing a safe environment, and also as an exploration of our relationship to life, we agree to five traditional guidelines (Five-Fold Sila), or Precepts, for the period of the retreat:
1. I undertake to refrain from causing harm to living beings.
2. I undertake to refrain from taking that which is not given.
3. I undertake to refrain from telling lies or harmful speech.
4. I undertake to refrain from sexual misconduct.
(in the context of the retreat, this implies no sexual activity).
5. I undertake to refrain from using intoxicating substances.
Please note: Precepts are taken at orientation. If for some reason you are unable to arrive in time to participate in orientation (current students only), it is expected that you have watched the video above to assume taking on the precepts along with everyone else at the retreat.