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Work Retreats

What is a Work Retreat?

Work Retreats offer the opportunity to integrate your meditation practice with daily life. The work directly contributes to the well-being of the Gaia House community and is one way you can help to keep rates as low as possible.

Work Retreats are suitable for robust and healthy individuals who have previous silent retreat experience and an established meditation practice.

A Work Retreat consists of five hours of physical work and at least four sessions of meditation a day. One day a week is set aside as a retreat day. From the second month, as a work retreatant you will be entitled to two additional retreat days per month for each month completed.

Work retreatants are supported by a facilitated weekly group meeting with the resident teacher when scheduled, as well as meeting individually with teachers. Work Retreats are undertaken and continued with the agreement of the teacher.

During Group Retreats, you are welcome to participate in the Group Retreat schedule as your work allows.

You commit to staying with us for a minimum of two weeks, up to a maximum of three months. Work Retreats start and finish on a Sunday.

Who can apply for a Work Retreat?

Work Retreats often involve work that is strenuous and demanding, so prospective work retreatants need to be fit and in robust good health. Work retreatants are allocated to a department according to the needs of the house and have to be able to work in any department.

You also need to have the capacity to live and work in silence and to work independently (with instruction from the residential staff).

Work Retreats are available only to those with previous retreat experience (at least 2 weeks on a silent Group Meditation Retreat) and an established meditation practice. As with a Personal Retreat, a Retreat Application Form (RAF) has to be completed and submitted for approval by a Gaia House teacher. The independence of a Work Retreat can be very challenging if you are not ready for it – you may be asked to undergo further Group Retreats before embarking on a Work Retreat.

What are the Practice Guidelines for Retreatants?

Work retreatants commit to observing our Code of Conduct, including the Five Precepts, which for Gaia House Retreatants are interpreted as:

  1. Refrain from taking life and harming living creatures
  2. Refrain from taking that which is not offered
  3. Refrain from expressions of sexuality
  4. Refrain from unnecessary speech and respect the silence within the House and grounds
  5. Refrain from the use of alcohol, cigarettes and drugs (unless for medical reasons)

Continuity and steadiness are essential factors in the deepening of meditation. Retreatants are asked to participate for the full retreat booked and shorten a retreat only after discussion with a teacher. Retreatants are also requested to commit themselves fully to Gaia House and stay within the immediate vicinity of the House and grounds unless there is good reason to do otherwise. You are welcome to walk in the nearby peaceful countryside when your work schedule allows.

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

Can I stay in touch with my family?

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 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.

How do I get my clothes cleaned at Gaia House?

For long term retreatants we provide towels and a laundry service once a week.

Will I have to pay for a Work Retreat placement?

Whatever the length of your Work Retreat it will cost you an initial Booking Fee and Deposit of £50: – £10 of this is a non-refundable Booking Administration Fee and £40 is a refundable Deposit.

On satisfactory completion of your Work Retreat, you will receive a refund of the £40 Deposit. If you decide to cancel your booking or don’t complete your Work Retreat, however, then the £40 deposit is forfeit.
More about Booking Conditions.

How do I apply?

Gaia House has five Work Retreat places available at any time. To apply for a Work Retreat, please complete and submit a Work Retreat Application Form.

The Retreat Application Form contains important questions about your personal and medical history. This confidential information is necessary so that our teachers can assess your preparedness for what will be a unique and profound experience.

You can apply on-line; by phone or by post. If your application is accepted, Gaia House will be in touch to discuss available dates. Please do not pay your deposit or make travel arrangements until your place has been confirmed.

Different types of Gaia House Meditation Retreats

Booking and Cancellation Policy