Concentration, Jhana, and Breath – Two 10-night Retreats in Southern California

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In-depth meditation with sixteen steps of anapanasati samadhi

led by Shaila Catherine


Full Retreat: August 10-31, 2021
Part One: August 10-20, 2021
Part Two: August 21-31, 2021

Location: Big Bear Retreat Center, Southern California

NOTE: Vaccination against COVID-19 is required to attend this retreat. 

These two back to back 10-day retreats will provide the opportunity to sit for 3 weeks.

This retreat will utilize the breath as the primary meditation object and will encourage the development of meditative skills that lead to deep concentration (samadhi) and insight (vipassana). Daily group instructions will focus on the sixteen steps in the Anapanasati Sutta as a route to jhana and/or liberating insight. Meetings with the teacher in small groups and one-on-one dialogs will tailor the practices to meet the needs and interests of individual students. Some students may choose to emphasize concentration practice throughout the retreat; others may practice both concentration and insight inconjunction with mindfulness of breathing. Teachings on Part One will emphasize the development of concentration; teachings on Part Two will emphasize liberating insight.

This retreat offers a special opportunity to train in concentration, jhana, and insight practices with personal guidance from Shaila Catherine. It is one of the very few retreats each year in which Shaila systematically guides students to establish jhana by working step-by-step with the Anapanasati Sutta.

This silent retreat is structured with alternating periods of sitting and walking meditation, dhamma teachings, and teacher consultations. See our Concentration and Jhana FAQ page for more information about developing concentration and the absorption states of jhana.

Prior to the retreat, please read Focused and Fearless by Shaila Catherine, and the Anapanasati Sutta. You may download the sutta at:

We keep this retreat small to enable in-depth guidance from Shaila (under 40 participants in a normal year, and much smaller (about 25) until the pandemic subsides).

ABOUT THE SITE: Big Bear Retreat Center is located in the serenity of the forest outside Los Angeles, CA at a 7000′ elevation. It is a 90-minute drive from the nearest airport—Ontario Airport in Riverside, CA.

TO REGISTER:  Please use the online form at the link below to submit your registration and waiver forms.

This form will take approximately 20 minutes to fill out. Upon completion of the form you will receive an email with details for completing your payment. You have the option of paying the non-refundable deposit of $250 or the full retreat payment either by mailing a check to the registrar or by making a Zelle bank transfer. The address and account information for making this payment will be included in the registration confirmation email.

If we must cancel the retreat for any reason (such as if we are under shelter-in-place orders at the time of the retreat), we will return your deposit and fees, however, the $250 deposit remains non-refundable if you cancel your reservation. Details of our cancellation policy are on the registration form.

Link to registration form: BB2021 Registration Form

Participants must be vaccinated and agree to abide by our guidelines to prevent the spread of COVID-19. A question in the registration form asks if you agree to comply: Covid-Guidelines

REQUIREMENTS: This retreat is designed for experienced students who are fully vaccinated to protect against COVID-19. Previous retreat experience in the insight meditation tradition is required, with a minimum of at least one week-long silent residential retreat. If you have less than one week-long silent retreat experience, your attendance requires approval from the teacher.

ACCOMMODATIONS AND MEALS: Accommodations are in 3-4 room cabins. Some rooms have ensuite and others have shared bathrooms. Individual cabin rooms are either double or single occupancy. A camping option is not currently offered because separate bathroom facilities are not available for campers. Three meals a day will be offered with omnivore and vegetarian options. If you have mobility limitations, please contact the registrar for details.

Please note that this will be a non-smoking retreat.

COSTS: Registration fees cover accommodations, meals, and basic administrative expenses. There will be an opportunity to offer donations to the teacher at the end of the retreat.

If you are registering after July 1, please send the full payment rather than just the deposit with your application..

Updated Aug 1: Due to precautions regarding the spread of COVID-19, the double occupancy rate is only available to couples or friends who are arriving together and agree to share the room. We cannot arrange double accommodations.
Most participants will need to select the single room option and a rate along the single room sliding scale. Contact the registrar if you need financial assistance to attend the retreat. 

COST for 10-nights:

  • Single occupancy sliding scale: $2800 – $1950 (estimated actual cost is $2300)
  • Double occupancy only available for couples or friends who arrange to stay together: $1900 – $1400 (estimated actual cost is $1650)

The estimated actual costs represent the amount that we would have charged to cover costs for accommodations, food, and administrative expenses if we had used a fixed rate instead of a sliding scale—$1650 for double accommodations, and $2300 for single accommodations per each 10-night retreat.

Selecting an amount above the estimated actual cost will support the retreat and enable those who need to select a lower rate to attend the retreat. Selecting an amount below the estimated actual cost self-selects a supported scholarship rate. This sliding scale will allow most scholarship needs to be managed by self-selecting an amount lower than the estimated actual cost. Inquire with the registrar if you need additional scholarship support or a payment plan to attend.

WORK STUDY POSITIONS: 8/4/21 Two work-study positions have just become available. If you are interested in attending in a service role, fill out the registration form and email the registrar right away! Two or three people may register for a work-study retreat. These service roles have a registration fee of $1100 per 10-night retreat, and involve approximately 4 hours of work per day (mostly kitchen work, and housekeeping). Work-study arrival is on August 9 or August 20 to help set up the retreat. Inquire with the registrar for more information about these service roles.

MONASTIC SCHOLARSHIPS: Several monastic scholarships are available for this retreat. These scholarships provide either partial or full scholarships for ordained practitioners. Full scholarships are intended for monastics who do not earn money, and do not have money to spend on fees. To apply for a monastic scholarship, please fill out this registration form. Include a note to the registrar requesting a monastic scholarship. Indicate whether you need a full scholarship, or if you are able to contribute a portion of the fees. Suggest the amount that would be comfortable for you to contribute. Monastics are responsible for their own transportation costs. The scholarship grant covers room and board for the duration of the retreat.

DANA: Compensation for the teacher is not included in the registration price. There will be an opportunity to offer donations to the teachers at the end of the retreat.

Questions?: awakeAddress_at_imsb

Co-sponsored by Bodhi Retreats and Insight Meditation South Bay

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