What is a work retreat?
*Between April and September 2020 we will once again be offering the opportunity to come on a three to four-week gardening work retreat. Find out more here.
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. There is a maximum period of 4 weeks for your first time on work retreat at Gaia House. Work retreats start and finish on a Sunday.Who can apply for a work retreat?
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 two 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.
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 online; 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.
All work retreatants participate in a weekly teacher-led work retreatant meeting. In addition, we ask you to sign up for a weekly one-to-one interview with the Gaia House teachers.
- 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.