This meditation retreat provides a supportive environment for practicing meditation in an immersive setting. We get to simplify life for a few days, putting aside the usual responsibilities and distractions to turn inward in a beautiful setting in the San Bernardino mountains just 2.5 hours from Los Angeles. The retreat is open to experienced practitioners as well as those newer to meditation.
Memorial Day, a day of remembrance here in the US, can serve as an appropriate time for practice. The ancient Buddhist word Sati, often translated as mindfulness, has the notion of remembering at its root. During this retreat, we’ll practice remembering to come home to the body and to the present moment to settle the mind and heart, we’ll practice remembering the wholeness that exists within us even when we may feel fragmented, and we’ll practice remembering the innate capacity of the heart, to connect with a sense of freedom, joy, ease and well-being.
We will alternate periods of sitting meditation and walking meditation, chanting, Qi-Gong, mindful eating, dharma talks and rest. There will be daily instruction and guidance and periodic short practice discussions with the teachers to support your practice.
As a special offering on this retreat, we’ll have an optional daily morning session of chanting and bowing. This devotional practice is another dharma doorway that has been around throughout history but has largely been forgotten in the Western insight meditation communities. These practices help us remember and connect with the part of our heart that can rest at ease with the sounds of the world using gestures of humility and respect which naturally tenderize the heart, along with the vibrational energy of ancient mantras and oral teachings and visual imagery.
Qi-Gong is an ancient energy cultivation and healing practice. The gentle yet potent movements support our practice by opening the energy channels in the body, balancing the energies, soothing the body and mind and putting one in a state that activates the body’s own innate capacity for healing on the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual levels.
RETREAT SCHEDULE: 5 nights, 6 days
Arrive 4:00pm Thursday, May 21st
Depart 11:00am Tuesday, May 26th
The daily rhythm of a retreat usually involves alternating periods of sitting and walking meditation, nature walks, meals and tea, as well as practice meetings, dharma talks and rest periods. The first sitting usually begins before breakfast. Each morning the teachers offer continuing meditation instructions for the day. The whole retreat is a succession of mindfulness training, breathing practices, deep awareness of the body and environment, meditations on the nature of feelings, and awareness of mind are from the Buddhist Insight Meditation tradition.
Sitting Meditation: Sitting meditation is at the heart of silent retreats. In sitting practice silence and stillness develop, concentration deepens, and awareness expands. The training of the heart brings kindness and compassion for all that arises. We come into presence and learn to find freedom in the midst of life as it truly is.
Walking Meditation: Walking gracefully and wisely on the earth is also a way to practice meditation. On retreat, periods of walking meditation alternate with periods of sitting meditation. Through walking practice we learn to sustain meditative awareness through movement. In walking meditation, we become aware in the midst of activity. Throughout the retreat we learn to cultivate a mindful awareness in all postures, sitting walking and lying down.
Eating Meditation: An awareness of food, and the mindful understanding of the entire process of nourishment and eating is included in the practice at retreats. Retreatants are encouraged to bring the same calm, focused attention to eating as is brought to sitting and walking. Mindful eating is a wonderful context for the arising of insights. Every bite of food we eat contains, rain, sun, earth and the work of many, many beings.
Dharma Talks and guided meditations: Each day, the teachers present a different set of teachings that are central to practicing mindfulness and compassion. These teaching can be applied to our own experience. Sometimes the talks focus on retreat practice, and sometimes they offer teachings for wise living in the world.
Pricing: The price of the retreat includes accommodation for 5 nights and all meals for the duration of the retreat.
Donations/Dana: Please note that the price of the retreat covers accommodation, food, facilities, and other InsightLA expenses. To allow the teachers to continue their dharma work, support from the students is needed. There will be an opportunity to contribute at the end of the retreat to the teachers.
Accommodations: Located just a 2.5 hour drive from Los Angeles, Big Bear Retreat Center is nestled in the ancient Juniper woodlands of the San Bernardino Mountains near the town of Big Bear, California. The tranquil property is immediately adjacent to the National Forest and offers access to roughly 1,300 acres of conserved lands.
The property consists of eleven separate buildings for dining, meditating, and sleeping. The single-story residence buildings include both single and double rooms. There is a mirror and a small clothes-hanging area in each room. Two bathrooms are located in each building.
Yogi Jobs: Participation in this retreat will involve a light working meditation to support the community experience. When you arrive you will be assigned a daily task to complete with mindful attention. Please let us know if you have any physical challenges that might impact your ability to perform certain tasks. Please also bring long pants, closed toe shoes, and a shirt that you can change into in the event you are assigned a yogi job in the kitchen.
Meals: All meals will be vegetarian.