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What to Expect on a Retreat

Noble Silence

Our retreats are conducted in Noble Silence. The retreat leaders will speak when they need to direct you, and of course the teacher will be giving Dharma talks. When other communication is necessary, short handwritten notes are allowed, or you may speak quietly to one of the retreat supervisors.

In addition to no talking, Noble Silence also means no reading, writing, texting, email, phone calls, music devices, or internet. All of this supports your meditation practice by limiting mental distraction.


The Meditation Hall

Cushions for sitting meditation are provided in our Chan Hall.

There are also backless chairs and a few meditation benches.

You are welcome to bring your personal cushion (zafu) or bench if you prefer; please be sure your personal item is marked with your name.

Please don’t bring a large flat floor cushion (zabuton) as we like to keep a uniform look in the meditation hall.


Arrival and Departure

Plan to arrive on time and to complete the entire retreat.

Starting and ending times vary, please check the specific event for exact details.

If you encounter unexpected travel delays, please call 845-744-8114 to let us know.

If you arrive after the check-in time meal service may not be available.


Transportation

There is detailed information about public transportation on our directions page.

We are unable to provide shuttle service from the local train and bus stations; taxi information is available on our directions page.

For some retreats, if enough people request it, we are able to charter a bus or van which will leave from Manhattan, near Grand Central Station. Check the specific event for details.

If you are registered for a retreat, you have access to our ride share service where you might find people to carpool with. You must be signed in to your account to access the rideshare service.


Accommodations

The retreat fee includes a single-occupancy bedroom.

Dormitories are segregated by gender.

Bed is twin-size and includes a pillow. Please bring your own sheets and blankets.

If you are traveling by plane and cannot fit bedding in your luggage, you may rent bedding from us for a small laundry fee.

Bathrooms are communal-style with multiple showers and restrooms. Please bring your own towel and toiletries. (Please avoid toiletries with strong perfume scents, so as not to disturb others.)

If necessary for your travel plans, it is possible to stay at our center before or after a retreat. Suggested donation is $25 per night; arrangements must be made ahead of time.

If you stay at our center before or after a retreat, we ask that you follow the residential schedule and perform work practice during your stay.


Meals

The retreat fee includes all meals. Breakfast, lunch and a light supper (“medicine meal”)are all provided in the dining hall.

Food is for sustaining energy during practice and not for indulgence; therefore, no food or beverage is to be consumed outside the dining hall and scheduled meal times.

Meals are vegetarian and follow monastic dietary rules (no eggs, garlic, or onions). We use whole grains and fresh produce, and strive to serve natural and healthy food.

Dishes containing dairy or gluten, etc. are labeled so those with dietary restrictions can avoid those foods.

We ask that guests accommodate themselves to our menu and not bring any personal food.

Coffee is served at breakfast on some retreats. We ask guests not to carry coffee to the meditation hall in their thermos cups, as the aroma may be distracting to others.

There are water stations in the meditation hall, dining hall and dormitories with hot and cold filtered water.

Green and black tea is available at all water stations.


What to Wear

Modest, loose and comfortable clothing suitable for meditation, in dark or muted colors.

Elastic-waist pants are most suitable (jeans can constrict the waist and chafe the thighs when sitting for long periods in meditation).

Plan to layer clothing, as temperatures can vary greatly throughout the day.

Winters are cold here, so bring a warm coat, hat, socks and gloves.

Bring shoes suitable walking on our woods trails, where we do outdoor walking meditation.

You may want to bring shoes that are easy to slip on and off, since all buildings are shoes-off.


What Not to Wear

Form-fitting yoga pants, unless modestly covered with a long tunic.

T-shirts with eye-catching graphics.

Brightly-colored clothing.

Tank tops or shorts.

Cosmetics, perfumes or colognes.

Clothing that makes a lot of noise, such as nylon ski-pants.


Essential Items to Pack

Sufficient clothing for the duration of the retreat (there are no laundry machines nor facilities for hand washing in the dormitories).

Your personal thermos cup.

Toiletry items (e.g. hair dryer, razor, shaving cream, shower cap, toothbrush, toothpaste, bath towels, unscented soap, shampoo, and lotion).

Personal medications, vitamins, supplements, etc.

Twin-size bed sheets, pillow case and blanket. Even Summer evenings can be cool, so warm bedding is important.

If you bring a sleeping bag we ask that you cover our mattress with a fitted sheet to protect the mattress cover from being torn. We can lend you a fitted sheet if needed.

For guests traveling with weight restrictions, we have a limited supply of bedding we can lend you for a fee of $10.


Optional Items to Pack

A shawl for wearing in the meditation hall.

Soft indoor-only slippers for use in the dormitory.

A bathrobe for traveling between your room and the communal bathroom.

Umbrellas are provided but you may want to bring a raincoat.

Your own supply of tea bags.


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)