These days in the West there are many centres which offer the Buddha's teachings, and even more in which a range of spiritual or psychological practices can be studied. Cittaviveka, however, is one of the few places where people can train as Buddhist monks and nuns, and this therefore remains its primary focus. Although meditation is taught and practised here, formal guided retreats for lay people are not what we offer. (For such retreats please contact Amaravati Buddhist Monastery, north of London.) Instead, we offer a way of life, in which people can come and partcipate as guests, visitors, friends, supporters and fellow practitioners. Sometimes a visit may be a chance to step outside of domestic concerns for a few hours, or days, and get a new perspective; or a time to gain strength and nourishment from the simple purity and commitment that is the life-force of the monastery; or an opportunity to meet, or re-connect, with spiritual friends. And, of course, if you're interested in taking up monastic life, here is a good place to sample what that may entail before looking to make a further commitment. So for those who feel moved by what the monastery has to offer, there is the opportunity to visit, to come and stay for a while – or to make it into a way of life.
On their first visit, guests can stay for up to three nights, after which they can arrange for a longer stay in the future. Any stay hinges on each individual’s ability to practise in accordance with the themes of the monastic life.
The UK government now requires us to comply with the Health & Safety standards of hotels and public access places (!). So we have to ask guests to fill in a Health & Safety Questionnaire with general information regarding their medical history. This also includes providing contact details of a person we could inform in case of their medical emergency. Please click on the form to see what information you will be expected to provide if you like to come to our monastery. We hope this does not cast too burdensome a light on your stay here!
All teachings, accommodation and food at Cittaviveka are offered by the Sangha and its supporters. As befits a sanctuary, there is no charge to stay in the monastery (though donations to cover costs are appreciated). If you wish to stay here, then it’s important to enter fully and sincerely into the daily life and practice of the community. This will make the stay more meaningful for yourself and harmonious for others.
Through January, February and March, the community observes a silent retreat. During this time we don’t take in overnight guests.
All guests are requested to book in advance in writing. Initial stays are limited to three nights, although exceptions are made for people coming from abroad. Note: NOT possible to alter dates once confirmation have been made; therefore it is prudent to reflect before making commitment to a given time and date period.
The daily routine at the monastery varies depending on the day of the week and the time of year, but the following is a fair example of what to expect.
• Most days begin with morning chanting and meditation, which begins at 5.00 a.m., so please be prepared to wake up at 4.30 a.m.
• Morning chores begin at 6.15 a.m., followed by a light breakfast at 7.00 a.m. Breakfast usually consists of a hot drink, porridge, muesli and yoghurt.
• At 8.00 a.m. guests help with meal preparation or attend the community work meeting if one is held.
• The community gathers at 10.30 a.m. (Winter Time) or 11.30 a.m. (Summer Time) for the main meal. This is generally vegetarian, but the community’s requisites are offered by lay supporters, so alternative foods for special diets cannot be provided.
• Following the post-meal clean-up, there is often a period of free time unless the work period is scheduled for the afternoon.
• Tea is at 5 p.m.
• The day concludes with evening meditation at 7.30 p.m. On Saturdays this is usually followed by a Dhamma talk, and on Sundays there is usually a guided meditation. After the evening meeting, silence is observed in the House.
• Occasionally the community will hold a meditation vigil, which begins at the evening puja and lasts until either midnight or 4.00 a.m. Guests are encouraged to participate as best they can.