Retreat in California: Body, Impermanence, and Death

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Liberating Meditations on the Body, Impermanence, and Death

A 10-day meditation retreat with Shaila Catherine

Tuesday, May 9 – Friday May 19, 2023
at Redwood Glen, 100 Wright Drive, Loma Mar, CA 94021

“Mindfulness of death, when developed and cultivated, is of great fruit and benefit, culminating in the deathless, having the deathless as its consummation.”
– Anguttara Nikaya 8.7

Western societies seem adept at hiding death behind closed doors or in “sanitized” locations like hospitals and nursing homes. Most people rarely see corpses up close or witness the process of dying. Have we have lost access to the spiritual insights that a closer connection with death could bring?

Developing mindfulness of our own death can protect the mind from complacency, and inspire us to practice dharma with greater energy and sincerity. Formal death contemplation can prepare us for the inevitable event of dying, help us to let go of latent fears, stimulate profound insights into impermanence, clarify priorities, and abandon sensory attachments.

Many forms of maranasati (mindfulness of death) are taught in Buddhist traditions. This retreat will begin with mindfulness of the body practices, and then introduce specific Buddhist approaches to the contemplation of death through guided meditations that encourage the perception of impermanence, develop ease with letting go, and use visualizations of skeletons and decomposing corpses as a powerful means for exploring impermanence and nonattachment. Most simply, we will practice remaining aware and balanced as we reflect on the fact that we will surely die. These contemplations can remove fear of death, produce a sense of being at ease with the nature of things, and support the development of mindfulness, concentration, and insight.

This silent retreat is structured with alternating periods of sitting and walking meditation, dhamma teachings, small group discussions, and teacher consultations. It is intended for meditators who are already familiar with mindfulness based practice, and have previously attended at least one multi-day silent residential retreat.

SITE FEATURES: This retreat will be held at Redwood Glen, a lovely retreat center nestled in a redwood forest between La Honda and Pescadero. It’s about a 15-minute drive from Pescadero State Beach, and about a 1-hour drive from either the San Francisco Airport or the San Jose Airport. This retreat center is convenient to reach, and yet offers a secluded and intimate environment for deep meditation practice. You will enjoy the benefits of natural beauty, a spacious meditation hall, comfortable accommodations, delicious meals, and access to walking trails. The center is nestled in a majestic redwood forest, adjacent to county parks and open space preserves. Just a few minutes’ walk from the meditation hall you will find yourself strolling along creek side paths, surrounded by the powerful serenity of the redwood forest.

COVID PRECAUTIONS: Please read our page on COVID Measures and Compliance Requirements. This will explain  the measures we are taking to prevent the spread of illness, and the actions that will be required of retreat participants.

Register now! Space is limited.

The retreat begins with registration at 2:30 pm on Tuesday, May 9; it ends with an optional noon lunch on Friday, May 19. Participants who are traveling from afar might need to check flight times carefully, and if necessary arrange to stay in a hotel the night before the retreat. Early-arrival accommodations are not available at this retreat center, and we must depart shortly after lunch on the closing day.

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.

Details of our cancellation policy are on the registration form.

The retreat facility is somewhat handicapped accessible. Accommodations include comfortable hotel-style rooms with ensuite baths, and a few dorm-style cabins. RV camping with hook ups are available. See the application form for accommodation details.

COST: 10 nights (includes accommodation and meals), plus a donation to the teachers at the end of retreat.

Due to precautions regarding the spread of COVID-19, most participants will need to select the single room option and a rate along the single room sliding scale. 

  • Full retreat for single occupancy: 10 nights is $3,000 – $2,200 sliding scale (estimated actual cost for single is $2500)
  • Double occupancy sliding scale: $2500 – $1900 (estimated actual cost for double occupancy is $2200)
  • Camping in personal tent or RV sliding scale: $2200 – $1500 (estimated actual cost for camping is $1800)

Fee covers only accommodations, food, and basic administrative expenses. There will be an opportunity at the end of the retreat to make a donation to the teacher.

The estimated actual per-person cost if we had used a fixed rate is $2500 for a single room, $2200 for a shared room, and $1800 for camping. By selecting an amount above the estimated actual cost, your generosity supports those who need to select a lower rate to attend the retreat. Selecting an amount below the estimated actual cost is equivalent to receiving a partial scholarship.

The sliding scale will allow most scholarship needs to be self-managed. If you need additional scholarship support to attend, consider applying for a scholarship through, or contact our registrar for assistance through IMSB/Bodhi-Retreats.

PARTIAL ATTENDANCE may be arranged for a stay of at least 3 nights, but must begin on the first day of retreat, and priority is given to full retreat participants. We strongly encourage attendance at the full retreat. Applicants for partial attendance will be placed on a wait list which will be reviewed approximately 2 months prior to the retreat. Partial attendees will likely be housed in double occupancy rooms unless single rooms remain available 2 months prior to the retreat. You may contact the registrar to determine if single rooms for partial attendance are available.

The rates for partial attendance below are listed as single occupancy. The mid-point on each sliding scale is our estimated actual cost. Take 18% off any point on the sliding scale for double accommodations, and take 25% off for camping.

  • 3 nights (Tuesday–Friday) is $1100 – $900 sliding scale
  • 4 nights (Tuesday–Saturday) is $1,300 – $1100 sliding scale
  • 5 nights (Tuesday–Sunday) is $1,600 – $1300 sliding scale
  • 6 nights (Tuesday–Monday) is $1,900 – $1500 sliding scale
  • 7-9 nights is same as full retreat: single $3000 – $2200 sliding scale

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

QUESTIONS?: meditation3bodhicourses

Co-Sponsored by Bodhi Retreats and Insight Meditation South Bay

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