General Information About Retreats
Atisha Centre offers both organised retreats
and the opportunity for personal retreat.
Retreats are a great way to initiate a personal exploration, both of Buddhism and of oneself. Thousands of Dharma centres and Buddhist monasteries have sprung up in the West offering many kinds of retreats for new Buddhists.
Attending a “beginner” retreat is an ideal way to begin a personal experience of Buddhism outside of books. You will be in the company of other beginners, and such matters as temple protocols or how to meditate will be explained. Most Buddhist centres offering retreats will make it clear which ones are appropriate for beginners and which require some prior experience.
What to Expect on a Buddhist Retreat
Be warned that a Buddhist centre is not a spa, and your accommodation, while very confortable, is not luxurious. If having your own room is a deal-breaker, inquire if that is possible before you sign up. You will be sharing bathroom facilities with other retreaters. Further, you are expected to help with the chores (karma yoga) – cooking, dish washing, cleaning, etc. – while you stay here. A gong will be rung early in the morning to call you to sessions, teachings or sunrise meditations,
… so don’t count on sleeping in!
Ritual is part of the Buddhist experience. Some beginners might find this puzzling or even uncomfortable at first, but ritual is an integral part of our lives and its relevance becomes clearer as experience