What is a personal retreat?
For people with experience of silent meditation retreats at Gaia House or elsewhere and with an established meditation practice, an extended period of solitary meditation is an excellent way to develop one’s practice, deepen one’s understanding and foster greater self-reliance. Gaia House offers a rare opportunity to undertake an independent silent personal retreat in a supportive environment with regular guidance from respected international teachers.
As a personal retreatant you will be responsible for your own practice within the structured routine of the house. Personal retreats (of one week or longer) are supported by weekly meetings with a teacher – these are considered essential to maintaining your well-being as part of the residential community at Gaia House. Personal retreats are undertaken and continued subject to approval by a Gaia House teacher.
Personal retreats can range in length from two days to three months or longer. The Hermitage Wing is available for personal retreats staying for one week or more. Personal retreats shorter than a week are available only between scheduled group retreats and are usually based in the main house.
The November Solitary Retreat offers the opportunity for up to a month of independent practice supported by a community of other dedicated retreatants. Regular teacher interviews and Dharma talks are offered, and guidance is available in Insight Meditation (Vipassana), Tranquillity (Samatha) Meditation, Loving-kindness (Metta) and the other Brahma Viharas. See the Group Retreat Programme for further information.Who can apply for a personal retreat?
If you are interested in a personal retreat please complete a Personal Retreat Application Form, for approval by a Gaia House teacher. You may be asked to undergo additional group retreats before embarking on a personal retreat.
We endeavour to keep our rates as low as possible and are committed to ensuring that Dharma teachings are available to all who wish to participate in our programme, irrespective of financial circumstances.
Retreat rates for 2016/17:
|Personal retreats of 1 to 30 nights are charged at a nightly rate of:||£43 per night|
|For Personal retreats longer than 30 nights, the nightly rate from night 31 onwards is:||£34 per night|
You can calculate the cost of your retreat with the Personal Retreat Cost Calculator
If you need financial help to come on personal retreat, please apply to our Financial Assistance and Bursaries Fund (FAB Fund).
Through the Financial Assistance and Bursaries Fund, Gaia House supports 12 bursary places per year for personal retreatants undertaking a retreat of three months. Subject to a place being available, these can now begin on any day throughout the year.
The Retreat Application Form asks questions about your personal and medical history, including meditation and retreat experience. This confidential information is necessary so that our teachers can assess your preparedness for what will be a unique and profound experience, and your ability to negotiate the demands of a personal retreat.
Please read through the Booking and Cancellation Policy, before making your booking.
Do not make travel arrangements until your place has been definitely confirmed.
Each day routinely includes an hour’s work period in the morning. This is an invitation to contribute to the well-being of the house and its occupants and enables us to keep our charges low.
Personal retreatants are encouraged to engage in sustained formal meditation (sitting, walking, standing etc.) and to approach all activities as opportunities for meditative awareness and the development of continuity of practice, as the primary focus of the day.
It may be possible to participate in group retreats during your personal retreat. A sign-up sheet will be put on the Hermitage Wing noticeboard shortly before the start of a group retreat if there is capacity for personal retreatants to participate.
- Please respect the silent atmosphere in the house and the grounds at all times.
- We ask you to switch off all electronic devices (mobile phones, iPads, laptops, Kindles etc.) for the duration of your retreat.
- We recommend that you avoid making telephone calls and sending emails/post during your stay.
- Consumption of drugs (except prescription medications), cigarettes and alcohol is not permitted during your stay at Gaia House.
- This includes all areas in the house as well as the garden and the grounds.
- All retreatants are asked to abstain from sexual contact whilst on retreat.
- Please commit yourself fully to your retreat and stay on the Gaia House premises or within the immediate vicinity, except in an emergency. If you need to leave the retreat please liaise with a coordinator to gain permission from the teacher(s).
- All retreatants are expected to participate for the full retreat and can only shorten a retreat with the permission of a teacher.
- Everyone is asked to contribute one hour of work to the house daily.
- We encourage sensitivity towards all living beings and a non-harming relationship to all life.
The Five Precepts
The core ethical principles of Buddhism are known as the ‘Five Precepts’, which we ask all people who live, work and practice at Gaia House to observe whilst within the house and grounds, in order to support a retreat environment of safety, peace, sensitivity and respect. The precepts are not rules or commandments, but ‘principles of training’, which are undertaken freely.
1. Refrain from harming or taking the life of any being.
2. Refrain from taking or misusing anything that does not belong to you or has not been clearly offered.
3. Refrain from harmful expressions of sexuality.
4. Refrain from harmful expressions of speech.
5. Refrain from the use of intoxicants and substances which cloud the mind.
Thank you for your help with preserving Gaia House’s unique retreat environment for the benefit of all beings.
Through letting go of the familiar world of words we give ourselves space from the complexity of personal interaction, and can come to see our mind and its activity more clearly. Insight into the way things are arises through experiencing life directly, rather than through language and concepts. This direct seeing is the foundation for inner peace, wisdom and compassion.
Retreatants are requested to commit to maintaining silence throughout the house and grounds, apart from essential communication with teachers and coordinators. More about silence.