Long Term Plans (Meditation Retreat)

I’m sure all of my readers are familiar with making plans, and in particular, how plans often change many times before being carried out (or abandoned altogether).

I know it isn’t wise to get too attached to plans, especially the long-term kind, but I’ve also learned that if I don’t set certain “goal posts” in the future I’ll simply never do the things I want to do. It is a funny sort of situation — we all have to make plans for the future but we also have to be reasonable and expect some of them to fail.

I’ve been wanting to assemble a plan to do a week long (or longer) meditation retreat in California, but the cost of flying out there and then renting a car to get where I need to go (regardless of which monastery I choose) seems prohibitive. I have started saving up what money I can toward this end, but I’ve definitely felt this lingering concern that it is just too far, too expensive.

Perhaps in a stroke of luck, however, I recently discovered the Bhavana Society, located in High View, West Virginia.

The abbot there is a fairly well-known meditation teacher, a Sri Lankan monk, Bhante Henepola Gunaratana, who has been teaching in the U.S. since the late 60’s. He is a respected member of the monastic community and he’s been in the country longer than I’ve been alive — making him as much an American as I am the way I figure it.

Yes, this matters a little to me — a teacher who is familiar with English and those who speak it.

Also, Bhavana is a Theravada organisation, making it a match with much of the study and practice I’ve already done.

Like other Theravada organizations, they do not charge a fee for retreats. While donations are not discouraged, Theravada monks are generally prohibited by precept to ask for (or even carry) money, so one shouldn’t have to worry about being badgered constantly about handing over cash one doesn’t necessarily have in great abundance.

I would be interested in hearing from readers who have experience planning such a retreat, so please share your experiences and challenges if you are so inclined. I’m looking to make this (whatever finally results of my planning) happen in the Summer of 2015.

I hope you are well, friends. I will write again soon.



  1. I think you will enjoy it very much. The longest retreat I have done is 10 days – I find I struggle the first couple of days but by the end everyone has a gentle grin and a slower pace…

  2. ‘I would be interested in hearing from readers who have experience planning such a retreat.’

    I would humbly suggest that planning and expectations are probably not tremendously helpful. In my experience, silent retreats invariably pan-out in unexpected ways, and it’s best not to corrupt possibilities with preconceptions.

    What I would say though, is that it’s helpful to allow yourself a very quiet day both before and after the retreat. This helps quieten the mind prior to the retreat, and helps to absorb insights following it.

    Also, if like most people, you can’t resist expectation completely, then expect not to find any real tranquillity for the first three days; at least then you will help circumvent over-effort – a very common hindrance for retreatants.

    I hope to hear how the retreat goes in time.

    With metta.


  3. Sensible. Thank you Hariod. 🙂

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