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About Group Retreats

meditating

Gaia House offers an extensive programme of silent meditation retreats in the Buddhist tradition.

Group Retreats are teacher-led and most are suitable for beginners as well as experienced meditators. This page answers questions about meditation practice, daily routine and retreat guidelines.

Details of individual Group Retreats and on-line booking:
Group Retreat Programme

What is a Group Retreat?

Gaia House Group Meditation Retreats are led by established and experienced teachers, and are usually a week or a weekend (but can range from one day to four weeks). The group join together in a daily schedule of sitting and walking meditation, and a short work session to help look after the house and gardens.

There are regular talks on a theme from the teacher(s), instructions and guidance about meditation and teacher-led discussions or interviews. Apart from the teaching (Dharma) sessions, the retreats are held in silence. More about silence. This shared experience is often felt as profoundly peaceful and safe for newcomers. More about meditation.

Are Group Retreats suitable for beginners?

Yes – Group Retreats are recommended for beginners as well as for more experienced meditators (unless stated otherwise in the Group Retreat Programme details). Meditation Days or weekend Group Retreats are good introductions to meditation (or can equally be opportunities to deepen a continuing personal meditation practice). Some newcomers join a week-long silent Group Retreat as their first experience of meditation, and find that this longer immersion in a retreat environment is also a good way to begin.

Gaia House Personal and Work Retreats are suitable only for experienced meditation practitioners.
More about the Retreats that Gaia House offers.

This is my first Retreat at Gaia House - What do I need to know?

Gaia House offers the opportunity for individuals to engage in retreats with the support of other meditators. To make it possible for Gaia House to offer an atmosphere and envi­ron­ment which is conducive to meditation, it is essen­tial that all retreat­ants observe these practice guidelines:

  • Please respect the silent atmosphere throughout the House and grounds.
  • Please engage in at least four periods of meditation practice.
  • Everyone is asked to contribute one hour of work per day to the house.
  • We encourage sensitivity towards all living beings and a non-harming relationship to all life.
  • A retreatant takes only that which is clearly given.
  • No consumption of drugs, cigarettes or alcohol is permitted at Gaia House. (Including all areas of the house, garden and grounds.)
  • Retreatants are asked to abstain from all sexual contact during their retreat

Continuity and steadiness are essential factors in the deepening of meditation. Retreatants are asked to participate for the full retreat and shorten a retreat only after discussion with a teacher. Retreatants are also requested to commit themselves fully to Gaia House and to stay within the immediate vicinity of the House and grounds, except in an emergency. Walking in the nearby countryside is fine.

The teaching and service from the Teachers, Coordinators and Volunteers at Gaia House is offered freely. Our retreat rates cover the cost of food, accommodation and teachers’ travel expenses only. During your retreat you will be invited to offer Dana (a donation) for the support of Gaia House and the teachers who have guided your retreat or practice.

Code of Conduct: This is based on the five precepts. Our ethical guidelines are displayed in the library.

Retreats FAQ: Please read through the Frequently Asked Questions about the practical side of coming on Retreat at Gaia House.
Answers to questions about Group Retreats. If your queries are not answered on this website, please contact us, and we will be happy to help.

What is the role of the teachers on a Group Retreat?

The teachers provide guidance through meditation instruction, evening talks, and individual and/or group meetings. The talks aim to clarify the nature of meditation practice, to explore its application in daily life, or to explore the nature of human experience in the light of spiritual teachings. There will be opportunities to discuss your experience and meditation practice with the teacher(s), in the form of group or individual interviews and/or question and answer periods. More about Gaia House teachers.

How much time is spent in formal sitting meditation?

Meditation generally alternates between regular periods of sitting and walking. Sitting meditation is divided into manageable sessions throughout the day, so that you get plenty of time to stretch your legs and enjoy the beautiful grounds. Sitting meditation may be done on cushions or a meditation stool or bench, or you may wish to sit in a chair: you can use the posture you find most comfortable. More about meditation.

What is meant by 'Silent' Retreat?

While on retreat you are asked to refrain from engaging in all forms of verbal and written communication with other retreatants and the outside world. Please respect this guideline, once the retreat begins. You are still able to speak with the retreat teacher(s) when appropriate, to ask questions and discuss your meditation experience, and with the staff if there are any essential practical matters you need to attend to.
More about silence. 

What will I do on a typical day, while on Group Retreat?

Individual retreats vary, but an average day starts at 6:00 in the morning and finishes at 9:30 at night. Most of this time is spent in meditation practice, either sitting in the spacious hall or walking in the peaceful grounds. Apart from personal and group meetings with teachers, retreats at Gaia House are held in complete silence.

The schedule, silence, group support and comprehensive instruction combine to create an atmosphere of exceptional sensitivity, mindfulness and stillness, which support and facilitate the deepening of meditation and the unfolding of insight. As part of this shared experience, each person is asked to contribute one hour of work per day, to help the coordinators and keep the House running smoothly. More about silence.

How do I find out what each Retreat is about - and how do I book?

Book on-line: in the Group Retreat Programme – clicking on the title of a Retreat will provide a description and a brief biography of the teacher(s), along with details of dates, retreat rates, and on-line booking. 

How to Book a Retreat: More ways to Book a Retreat and other Booking Information.

More FAQs about Retreats: The Frequently Asked Questions page is all about the practical side of coming on Retreat at Gaia House.

About Retreats: Answers to questions about the type of meditation Retreats offered at Gaia House.

Hopefully most questions are answered on this website – but if you have any other queries, please contact us, and we will be happy to help you.