Retreats & Daylongs
Non-residential Retreats at SIMS
Retreat is especially useful in strengthening practice capacity. The combination of a dedicated practice period, increased meditation and continuity of mindfulness provide the idea conditions for greater understanding and wisdom.
The container provides a safe environment in which to reflect upon the greater implications of having a regular meditation practice in our lives and the possibility of developing a natural inquiring mind. Unfortunately, having the time and resources to go on retreat can be a challenge for many practitioners. SIMS offers a variety of opportunities for extended practice while remaining home.
Retreats offer sustained practice that deepens our understanding of the dharma. They usually include meditation instructions, sitting and walking meditation practice, dharma talks and dialogues with the teacher.
Residential retreats offer a full immersion into meditation practice from early morning to evening. They range from 2 days to 6 weeks. SIMS teachers, Tuere Sala, Tim Geil, and Keri Pederson and many others offer residential retreats.
SIMS does not offer residential retreats because we do not own a retreat center. Our teachers, Tuere Sala, Tim Geil and Keri Pederson, all teach at one or more of these retreat centers listed here.
Cloud Mountain Retreat Center is a non-sectarian Buddhist center hosting residential retreats year round. We’re located deep in the forests of southwest Washington, approximately 125 miles south of Seattle, WA, and 60 miles north of Portland, OR.
Cloud Mountain is situated on fifteen beautiful, forested acres which are dotted with ponds and a lovely creek. The retreat center is a veritable wildlife refuge which we share with black-tailed deer, songbirds of all kinds, great blue herons, owls, ducks, raccoons, koi, newts, salamanders and the occasional river otter, cougar and black bear. The facility is made up of a complex of buildings tucked into the forest and connected by winding, rock-lined gravel paths. You may take a Photo Tour to visit Cloud Mountain’s various buildings, grounds and surrounding forest.
Retreat is an extraordinary opportunity to disengage from the rhythms and habits of our daily lives and bring ourselves wholeheartedly to meditative practice. As we engage periods of sitting and walking meditation, daily meals and Dharma instruction, we observe and investigate what is happening in our minds and hearts to see and welcome the deepest truth of all that arises. 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 and to fully realize the teachings of the Dharma.
A retreat provides an opportunity and a caring container for undertaking intensive meditation, like an immersion course in a language. The central practice is mindfulness, which enables us to see how we create difficulties in our lives and to discover a freedom of heart in the midst of all things. Mindfulness practice on retreat is often accompanied and complemented by training in lovingkindness (mettā) meditation.
Spirit Rock retreats involve a gathering of 30 to 100 or more participants. Most of the retreat is held in silence, and retreat participants do not speak to one another. Writing and reading are also discouraged, so that retreatants can better stay with their own present experience as it unfolds moment to moment. In this silent and mindful environment, awareness sharpens, the body quiets, the mind clears, and space opens for insight and understanding to develop.
With no diversions, the tendency toward distraction is reduced. In this space of intimacy with ourselves, there is a good possibility that we will know ourselves better after a retreat than we did before. Self-knowledge and understanding grow as we see that we can live each moment either with inattention, fear, and judgment, or with clarity, kindness, and wakefulness. By cultivating the power of awareness, clarity, and kindness, we discover the path to liberation, inner freedom, and a peaceful heart.
Retreats are led by a team of experienced teachers from the Spirit Rock teachers collective, or by other well-known and beloved visiting teachers from our broader Buddhist community. The teachers offer instructions, Dharma talks, and regularly scheduled practice meetings to provide guidance throughout the retreat.
IMS’s Retreat Center first opened its doors in 1976. It offers a yearly schedule of meditation courses, lasting from a weekend to three months. Most retreats are designed for both new and experienced meditators.
Recognized insight meditation teachers from all over the world offer daily instruction and guidance in Buddhist meditations known as vipassana (insight) and metta (lovingkindness). While the context is the Buddha’s teachings, these practices are universal and help us to deepen awareness and compassion.
At regular intervals throughout a retreat, group or individual interviews with the teachers take place. A typical daily retreat schedule starts at 5:30 am and ends at 10 pm. The day is spent in silent practice with alternate periods of sitting and walking meditation, as well as a one-hour work-as-practice period.
Meals are nutritious and vegetarian. Accommodations at the Retreat Center are simple single rooms. Men and women do not share accommodations, and camping is not available.
For a list of upcoming retreats, check out our Retreat Center Schedule.
Daylongs and Weekend Retreats at SIMS
These retreats typically start at 9:00 AM and end at 4:30 PM on Saturday and Sunday, allowing participants to sleep in their own homes. They follow the same format of a residential retreat. They provide an opportunity for a weekend of extended practice. They also provide a great opportunity to sit with different guest teachers.
You can see the upcoming schedule at the top of this page.
Guiding teachers Tim Geil and Tuere Sala offer non-residential retreats, and SIMS is also fortunate to have regular guest teachers who come to hold evening talks and non-residential retreats. Some of regular guest teachers at SIMS have included Sharon Salzberg, Ajahn Sumedho, Norman Fischer, Christina Feldman, Phillip Moffitt, Steve Armstrong, and numerous others who visit and freely offer their wisdom and deep practice to our sangha. Visit the guest teacher page to read more bios.
A sandwich retreat is designed to offer the dedicated time of a retreat within the context of our normal lives, allowing retreatants to work and sleep at home. The format of this seven-day retreat invites each of us to intentionally integrate formal meditation and daily life as Dharma practice. The retreat begins and ends with a weekend daylong – this can be thought of as the two slices of bread.
The nature of a sandwich is all about what is in the middle. During the middle week days, we will meet in the evenings only. Coming together again at the end of the day we will sit, walk and share our experiences of working with the exercises. Just like a residential retreat, retreatants are asked to commit to the entire retreat. This builds continuity and momentum of practice.
Days of Mindfulness and Daylongs
A day of mindfulness is included with registration for the Intro to Meditation class. They are geared towards beginners but many experienced practitioners enjoy spending the day in practice as well. Usually they start at 9:00 AM and end at 4:30 PM.
Both SIMS teachers and visiting teachers offer these accessible ways for a day of sustained practice. Guided meditations, sitting and walking meditations, talks and dialogue with the teacher.
Guiding teachers, Local Dharma Leaders and visiting teachers offer a variety of workshops or daylong retreats around specific topics. Visit the guest teacher page to read more bios.