About Meditation Retreats
Retreat is an extraordinary opportunity to disengage from the rhythms of our daily lives and bring ourselves wholeheartedly to meditative practice. Coming together for periods of sitting and walking meditation, daily meals, and Dharma instruction, we use mindfulness to observe what is happening in our minds and hearts to see how it impacts our lives and those around us. In this way we can explore the roots of our suffering, as well as our potential depths of peace, compassion, and wisdom. Through this noble practice we may get a taste of the radical freedom of being present with what is. Please click on the tabs to the left to see our current retreat schedules.
Who comes to meditation retreats?
Our retreats are attended by people of all ages, spiritual paths, and walks of life. You do not have to be a Buddhist to benefit from the universal and practical teachings offered at our retreats. Retreats range from 2-day retreats intended for beginners to retreats that are several weeks long for more experienced meditators. Whatever your level of meditation practice is, we are confident that you will find a retreat appropriate for you.
The great majority of retreats at Cloud Mountain are held in silence. By observing outer silence and temporarily renouncing our usual habits of conversation, we provide a support for the cultivation of a deep inner silence. Essential communication is done through notes on the center's message board. For the sake of the integrity your own retreat experience, we ask that you keep notes to a minimum. In the event of an emergency, you are welcome to speak to a staff member in a way so as not to disturb other participants. There will be spoken daily Dharma talks as well as opportunities to engage verbally during question and answer periods and private interviews with teachers.
May I arrange a personal retreat at Cloud Mountain? Can my meditation group rent your facility to hold our retreat?
Unfortunately we do not offer personal retreats or facility rentals. You will find other retreat centers listed on the internet.
Accommodations: We understand that it is everyone's preference to have a single space while on retreat. Over the years, in order to be fair and equitable about assigning our limited number of ten single space accommodations, we have evolved the practice of assigning rooms on a first-registered first-housed basis. First we will fill singles, then doubles, and on very full retreats some people will be housed in rooms with two or three roommates. If a cancellation opens up a single room, the next person on the list, based on registration date, will automatically move into that space. Guest rooms include electric lights, have single or bunk beds and small wardrobes. While some sleeping areas have attached toilets and showers, the main toilet and shower facilities are in a separate building. There are toilets in various locations on the property. Please be aware that in assigning housing, we must meet a variety of medical special needs. We ask that you accept whatever housing assignment you're offered and practice with whatever situation in which you find yourself. Rooming is assigned the day the retreat begins in order to accomodate any last minute changes.
Meals: Meals are vegetarian, with the main meal at midday. Tea, fruit and light snacks are available at all times. Healthy, simple, well-balanced meals are served, and some dietary restrictions can be accommodated with advance notice. Coffee is not provided, but you may bring your own supply and use our cones and filters for brewing.
We use tofu, beans, and/or lentils as a protein source in most dishes. For lunch, we serve a grain (usually rice or quinoa), a main course (such as dal, tofu, tempeh or a casserole), a vegetable, and salad. For dinner, we serve soup and artisan breads. An ingredients list will be presented with all prepared meals. We also keep a stocked snack table, available at all times to retreatants, which contains fruit (apples, oranges, bananas), whole-grain crackers, rice cakes, bread, butter, peanut butter and jam.
We offer non-dairy, non-wheat, and vegan options as a standard as necessary. We make non-gluten, non-wheat bread available, but do not guarantee to provide non-gluten meal options. For retreatants who have dietary restrictions other than non-dairy, non-wheat, or vegan, we recommend that you bring along some supplementary food of your own to fill in with the provided food that you can eat. We offer refrigerator space, use of the microwave in the dining hall, and shelf space to those retreatants who do not fit into what we offer for dietary restrictions. We can also offer you storage containers so that you can put aside portions of dishes that we serve during the retreat that work for your dietary needs to eat at later times when what goes out on the table won't work for you. The cook will offer guidance on where and how to store your food.
Working Meditaiton Tasks: Retreatants are asked to assist with daily tasks such as chopping vegetables, washing dishes, sweeping floors, etc. These tasks are offered as a form of working meditation. This assistance is integral in maintaining consciousness of our interconnectedness and interdependence. It also assists us in fulfilling our mission to keep retreats accessible to all by keeping retreat fees low. At the end of each retreat, participants are asked to clean their own rooms and to help with final clean-up, which usually takes about half an hour to complete. A working meditation chore training period takes place the first evening at 6:45 to ensure you are adequately trained and prepared to perform your task.
Arrival: Retreats begin in the evening of the first scheduled day, with check-in between 4:00 and 6:00pm Your confirmation letter will specify these times to facilitate your timely arrival, and you will receive a reminder email shortly before the retreat start. Upon arrival, retreatants check-in, complete the registration process, sign up for working meditations, pay any remaining fees, and move to an assigned room. A light dinner is served at 6:00pm, followed by chore trainings and an orientation given by the teacher(s) and Cloud Mountain staff. Retreatants should make travel plans which allow arrival between 4:00-6:00pm, as the spirit and continuity of the retreat is greatly facilitated by starting together. Please be realistic about planning for the predictable rush hour traffic on the freeway. In the event that late arrival is unavoidable, Retreatants should notify Cloud Mountain at (360)274-4859 or 1-888-465-9118.
Departure: Retreats end in the afternoon of the last scheduled day, typically no later than 1:30pm. Your confirmation information will specify the exact time. Retreatants are asked to stay until the scheduled end in order to complete final working meditations. Additionally, it is most respectful to the continuity of the group energy as a whole, for the smooth running of the retreat and the center, and for your own experience of full introduction, completion and closure that all participants plan to attend the full retreat.
Retreat Format: Retreats are conducted primarily in silence, commonly referred to as Noble Silence. This offers a rare and precious opportunity to simplify one's daily routine, quiet the mind and cultivate an inward focus of attention. To facilitate this process, retreatants are expected to follow, with mindfulness and sincerity, the retreat schedule and guidelines established by teachers and staff. Retreat content is structured by the teachers, and usually includes sessions of sitting and walking meditation, discourses by the teacher and opportunities for questions.
What to bring to Cloud Mountain: Bedding: a sleeping bag or sheets and blankets, and a pillow. A mattress pad or extra sheet to cover the mattress is optional. Comfortable clothing for variable weather. SW Washington can be cool and damp at any time of year. The buildings at Cloud Mountain are pleasant and well-insulated, but retreatants will often be walking between them necessitating clothing and shoes appropriate for walking outdoors. This includes a warm sweater or jacket even in the summer, a raincoat or umbrella. (Please pack adequate clothing for the length of your retreat, since laundry facilities are not available to retreatants on retreats shorter than thirteen days.) Personal toiletry items: towel, soap, shampoo, toothbrush, razor, etc. Flashlight and batteries for walking between buildings at night, meditation cushion or bench, a pad for beneath the cushion and a shawl for chilly mornings. We also suggest an alarm clock and/or watch. Slippers: Shoes are not permitted in any of the buildings. Slip-on shoes for easy removal before entering buildings. Also, to reduce paper waste at Cloud Mountain, we encourage you to bring your own cloth napkins and handkerchiefs.
If you must pack lightly: If you are traveling into the area by plane, train or bus, we do have some items available so that you do not need to pack so much for your retreat. We have cushions, chairs and shawls for loan to use in the meditation hall. For a laundering fee of $10 we can provide sheets, blankets and towels for you. We do need advance notice that you will need these items. Please indicate what items you need when you submit your registration, or by email or phone prior to arrival.
What NOT to bring to Cloud Mountain: Pets, radios, alcohol, illegal drugs, candles or incense. Smoking is not permitted in any of the buildings. Please leave non-essential techonological devices at home. There is no internet connection available for use by retreatants.