Retreat Renunciation and Simplicity

We are happy to welcome you to the retreat center. Retreats offer a sacred space, protected and removed from the world, intended to allow participants to quiet the mind and open the heart. Some of the most beneficial and rewarding experiences of spiritual life come from attending a silent meditation retreat.

The safety and container of a retreat help participants learn to embody patience, steadiness, loving kindness, generosity, and wisdom. Out of this grows the insight, compassion, and freedom that are natural to the heart. IONS Earthwise retreat center is designed to provide comfortable and suitable conditions. It is also very basic – so when attending a retreat we ask that you arrive with a spirit of renunciation and simplicity.

To foster this spirit of simplicity and letting go, we ask retreatants to undertake the following traditional practices, which are called by our Elders:

“Taking what is Offered”

1. Taking Any Residence – Traditionally in the monastery, one takes whatever hut is offered. The retreat center has accommodations of both single and double rooms, and we ask participants to take the accommodation assigned and practice with whatever situation they find themselves in.

2. Taking the Food that is Offered – Meals provided will be entirely vegan and include a full breakfast and lunch. Fresh fruit and veggies, along with hummus/spreads will be available to eat during the retreat in the evening and a full dinner will be served on the first evening and last evening of the retreat.  If you have any dietary needs or restrictions, please let us know as soon as possible so that we can plan accordingly.

3. Noble Silence – In fostering an atmosphere of contemplation, retreatants commit to the general practice of Noble Silence. This is especially important in your commitment to ‘no-notewriting’ or other communication between retreatants, no mail, no cell phones, and no calls except for emergencies. There will be talking during Dharma talks, practice meetings with teachers, group activities, question periods, and possibly retreat staff, when necessary. If there are concerns that arise at any time, you may talk to the retreat manager or a teacher.

4. Serving the Community – In order to learn the art of mindfulness and for the retreat to properly function as a collaborative, all retreatants are given a daily period of simple work meditation or shramdaan. You will sign up for a work meditation when you check in. Your service in ringing bells, cleaning, and housekeeping is an important part of the training in mindfulness and generosity.

By coming to a retreat, you join us in undertaking these practices of renunciation and simplicity. These are run primarily by retreat facilitators including retreat managers and cooks; and teachers who hope to serve you as best they can. We deeply value the benefits of meditation and retreat, and we are happy to share them with you.

We thank you for your participation and your sincerity.

[Excerpt with changes: Spirit Rock Meditation Center]