Can I stay at the Retreat Centre before a retreat begins or after it has finished?
If you have a confirmed place on a retreat and wish to offer support to the Retreat Centre, we welcome your arrival a day or two early to help with the preparation, or staying a day longer to help clean up. If you are interested in doing this, please contact the Retreat Centre. It is important that you let us know in advance if you are no longer able to help in this way, so that someone else can take your place.
Will I be able to use the internet, email, or make phone calls whilst on retreat?
Yogis are asked not to use electronic equipment during retreats. If you believe you will be unable to meet this request, we would ask you to consider whether this is the right time for you to come on a silent meditation retreat. We provide safe facilities where mobile phones and other valuables may be left for the duration of the retreat. If someone may need to contact you in an emergency while you are on retreat, please give them our contact details (see ‘contact us’). We will take a message and pass it on to you. We are happy to support you during your retreat in this way.
Will I be able to meet with the teacher?
At the end of each retreat the teacher is available to meet informally with yogis.
During retreats the teacher does not offer individual private interviews, although occasionally these can be arranged on longer retreats.
Can I stay at the Retreat Centre outside of retreat times?
It is not usually possible for female yogis to stay at the Retreat Centre except during a retreat.
Alternatively, if you are a male yogi and you intend to stay on after the retreat, it may be possible to stay as a guest at the monastery with the prior approval of Venerable Dhammajiva Maha Thero @ firstname.lastname@example.org or nissaranavanaya. email@example.com
Can I sit on a chair for meditation?
For the sitting meditation sessions, there is a choice of mats and cushions, chairs, or kneeling stools. All yogis are asked to choose a place to sit in the Meditation Hall at the start of each retreat. It is possible for you to initially choose a mat, but later move to a chair.
Can special diets be catered for?
Medical food allergies and requirements can generally be catered for, but we cannot cater for personal food preferences. There is always a choice of food, including rice, salads and a dessert.
How much does it cost to come on retreat?
There is no charge for attending retreats at Nissarana Vanaya. The teachings are given freely, as are the accommodation, food, and all the other facilities available during your retreat. This is in keeping with the forest monastic tradition as practiced at Mitirigala.
We are able to continue offering retreats due to the generosity of past retreatants and all future retreats remain dependent on that generosity. At the end of each retreat there is the opportunity to offer dāna (generosity), if you wish to do so. This may be financial, or take the form of volunteering your time or special skills, offering supplies (etc). Whatever you feel inspired to give is gratefully received.
Do I have to have meditation experience to attend a retreat?
Retreats of shorter duration are open to all, including those with no meditation or retreat experience. At all retreats, guidance and meditation instructions are offered.
To attend longer retreats (such as ten-day retreats) it is recommended that you have meditation and previous retreat experience, as these retreats offer the opportunity to deepen your practice rather than offering basic guidance.
We hold one fourteen-day retreat a year which is open to yogis who have an established meditation practice and have attended a previous ten-day meditation retreat. This retreat is conducted in the English medium.
How is coming on a retreat different to staying as a guest at the monastery?
Coming on retreat is a different experience to staying at the monastery.
The Retreat Centre has its own facilities, and operates independently of the monastery. While on retreat you keep Noble Silence, spend your time practising sitting and walking meditation, and listen to dhamma talks every evening.
Guests staying at the monastery follow the daily schedule of the monastic routine; working, sharing meals, and meditating with the monastic community. Female yogis are not able to stay overnight at the monastery, unless they are on retreat. The opportunity to stay overnight at the monastery is only available for male participants.
What should I wear?
Yogis are asked to dress discreetly, out of respect for the monastics leading the retreat and to not distract other yogis. This includes:
- not wearing sleeveless tee-shirts, tops or dresses
- not wearing short or tight-fitting clothing or leggings
- not wearing low or plunging necklines or transparent clothing
- not wearing shorts, skirts, or dresses which end above the knees
It is advisable to wear comfortable, loose-fitting clothing for sitting meditation, and suitable outdoor clothing for walking meditation. It is preferable that white clothing is worn at all times, although, clothes in a light shaded colour is also recommended. A white shoulder cloth (uthuru saluwa) is a necessary item to be worn at all times.
What do I need to bring?
You need to bring:
- Sheets and pillowcase(s) (pillow provided)
- Towels and toiletries
You are advised to bring:
- Slip-on shoes or sandals
- Slippers (outdoor shoes are not worn in the Retreat Centre)
- Comfortable, loose-fitting clothing
- Small torch, water bottle
You must not bring:
- Cameras into the Meditation Hall. Taking photographs of the Teacher and video-recording of the proceedings are not permitted
Please refer to the information sheet available under Coming on retreat, which sets out information relevant to preparing for retreats.