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.
Personal retreatants are 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 of one week or more. Shorter Retreats are usually based in the main house: Personal Retreats shorter than a week are available only between scheduled Group Retreats.
Personal retreatants commit to observing the Retreat Guidelines.
Before booking a Personal Retreat, you need to have completed at least one seven-day teacher-led, Insight / Vipassana / Zen meditation retreat in silence – not necessarily at Gaia House – and have an established regular meditation practice.
Anyone interested in a Personal Retreat should complete a Personal Retreat Application Form, which must be approved by a Gaia House teacher.
Christina Feldman, Yanai Postelnik, Rob Burbea and other local teachers offer individual interviews for long-term Personal Retreatants throughout the year. Please contact us if you would like specific information about which teachers will be available at particular dates.
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.
Yes – there is a regular schedule for the main Meditation Hall of seven group sittings per day. Alternatively, you may meditate in your room or, if you are staying in the Hermitage Wing, you are also welcome to use the small Meditation Hall there.
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.
Long term retreatants can usually take part in group retreats as long as they are committed to the full retreat. However, be, aware that sometimes group retreats are closed due to space. A sign up sheet will be put on the Hermitage notice board, shortly beforehand if there are spaces available.
To support a meditative environment it is recommended that retreatants do not make telephone calls during their stay, however a payphone is provided for use in exceptional circumstances. It is also recommended that Personal Retreatants keep the writing of letters and receiving of mail to a minimum. Gaia House is not able to provide paper or envelopes. There is no access to fax, email, internet or photocopier facilities.
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.
For long term retreatants we provide towels and a laundry service once a week.
In order to come on Personal Retreat at Gaia House, you will need to complete a Personal Retreat Application Form and have this approved by our resident teacher who will be supporting you whilst on retreat. You can apply and book on-line; by phone or by post.
The Retreat Application Form contains a number of questions about your personal and medical history. These confidential questions are necessary so that our teachers can judge your preparedness for what can be a unique and profound experience, and your ability to negotiate the demands of a Personal Retreat. You may be asked to undergo additional Group Retreat(s) before embarking on a Personal Retreat.
Please read through the Booking Conditions, including the Cancellation Policy, before making your booking. Please do not make travel arrangements until your place has been definitely confirmed.
Gaia House endeavours to keep costs as low as possible and aims to be accessible to everyone, regardless of financial circumstances.
Gaia House supports 12 bursary places per year for personal retreatants undertaking a retreat of 90 days. Bursary places begin annually on 1st January, 1st April and 1st October.
Retreatant Support Fund:
If you need extra financial help to come on retreat, please apply to the Retreatant Support Fund (RSF).
Retreat Rates for 2013:
Personal Retreats (and extra nights for Group Retreats) from 1 – 30 nights will be charged a nightly rate of:
Personal Retreats longer than 30 nights; the nightly rate will be reduced from night 31 onwards to:
Bursary: Subsidised 90-day Personal Retreat – 2013 rate:
Retreatant Support Fund (RSF) Rate – This rate is available to anyone via a short application process – it offers rates of 50% of the standard cost of the retreat. Everyone has the opportunity to use this rate for up to 30 days of either Group or Personal Retreats in any one calendar year.
In circumstances where individuals do not feel able to afford even a 50% rate, you are encouraged to contact us to discuss what you might be able to afford, as we are keen that cost does not prevent anyone from coming on retreat to Gaia House.
For More Information about Booking at Gaia House, please see: Booking Conditions.