About Our Retreats
One of our greatest joys is welcoming and supporting friends on retreats. You are welcome to join us almost every week of the year! We offer Themed Retreats, Personal Retreats, and Group Retreats. Before you register for a retreat, please familiarize yourself with the important details below.
US Tour Retreat at Blue Cliff
Every two years we have this special retreat including a delegation of monks and nuns visiting from our many worldwide practice centers. The last US Tour was held in the fall of 2015.
Themed Retreats focus on a holiday or a particular community. They are specific events on the monastery's calendar such as our Wake Up and Vietnamese Retreats. Themed Retreats may include from 30 to 200 participants. We ask all participants to attend the entire retreat. This helps to support the energy and continuity of the retreat, as well as the stability of the practice center.
Personal Retreats offer individuals, families, and small groups a unique opportunity to practice with the community when there is no Themed Retreat taking place. The environment at Blue Cliff at such times allows for more personalized and intimate retreat experiences. We are not accepting guests for Personal Retreats February 29 through March 17, 2016, April 4 through April 14. To register for a Personal Retreat, first check our calendar to be sure there are no conflicts with the dates you would like to visit, then go to our registration page and select Personal Retreats. Many people benefit from a weekend visit. Visits for up to two weeks are welcome. For questions concerning your arrival date or departure date, please contact our registration office.
Contribution/person/night is made on a sliding scale for accommodation in 4-8 person rooms (bunk beds).
Camp, bring your own tent and equipment, $80-$40.
Student (18-27), Unemployed, and Senior (65 and up), $80-$40.
Teen Dorm/Tent (ages 13-17), $40-$35.
Children Dorm/Ten (ages 6-12), $30-$25.
Group Retreats are times for sanghas, schools, or other groups (larger than eight) to practice with the community when there is no Themed Retreat taking place. To organize and plan a Group Retreat, please contact our registration office.
We currently offer online registration for all of our retreats. We request that you use this system to register. If you are are registering multiple people, each person in your party (over age 5) must be registered individually; however, information from your first registration is carried over into additional registrations, and you may check-out for everyone at the same time. Registration requires making a financial contribution via online credit card payment.
When to Arrive
All guests for Personal Retreats and Group Retreats must arrive on Friday. Everyone is welcome to attend the Friday evening orientation. (Note that Themed Retreats do not always begin on Fridays.) We ask that you arrive between 3:00pm and 5:00pm on the start date of the retreat. On arrival, please come to the registration office upstairs in the main building. If you arrive after the registration office has closed, you will find your name and accommodation information posted on the welcome board in the dining hall. You may speak to a monastic or lay resident if you have any trouble finding your way around.
Please see our Getting Here page for more information on transportation to the monastery.
Most people who visit Blue Cliff stay in a simple dorm-style room with bunk beds and two to ten people, depending on the size of the retreat. Sharing a living space with others is part of our practice of community and togetherness. Spaces for couples and families are available. If you have questions or other accommodation needs, please contact our registration office.
If you would like to camp during the warmer months (April through October), please bring your own tent and equipment. It can be cool at night even during these months, so please pack accordingly. You will have access to shared bathrooms with shower facilities.
Although we encourage our guests to stay at the monastery whenever possible, you may opt to commute to Blue Cliff for each day of a retreat if you live nearby or if you have arranged your own nearby housing. This is an especially helpful option in the rare case that all rooms at the monastery are already reserved.
Three vegan meals per day are included with your registration fee. There is generally a variety of options available at mealtime, but feel free to bring supplementary food for yourself if you have a particular dietary need. There may be limited access to a community refrigerator but there is no kitchen access. Due to safety regulations, we ask that you do not cook in your room.
To meet our operating costs, Blue Cliff depends primarily on the financial support of our guests. Through donations, monthly contributions, bookshop purchases, and retreat fees, you help Blue Cliff to continue. For retreats, we have established a suggested sliding scale, allowing you to choose the specific amount of your contribution. The top of the scale covers most of our operating costs. Please consider an additional donation to help us offer scholarships to those in need and to help us renovate and improve our facilities. (You may earmark donations for a specific project or purpose.) For our themed retreats, you may apply for a scholarship during your registration process.
Refunds are only available for cancellations made three or more days before the start date of a retreat. In the case of a refund, there will be a $25 processing fee for stays of four or more days and a $15 processing fee for stays of three or fewer days. To cancel your reservation, please email our registration office. Please do not phone in your cancellation.
What to Bring
Please bring loose, casual, and comfortable clothing suitable for a monastery environment and for sitting meditation - shirts covering shoulders, back, and midriff, and shorts/skirts/pants at least to the knee. You will need enough clothing for the duration of your stay, as there are no washing machines available to guests. Please bring weather-appropriate clothing and shoes suitable for walking on nature trails so you can fully enjoy the outdoor walking meditation with the community.
Please avoid wearing perfumes or other products that may affect those who are sensitive or allergic to scents.If possible, please bring a blanket and towel. (We ask for a $10 donation if you are unable to bring these items and wish to borrow them.) Please bring your own toiletries, but avoid bringing products that may affect those who are sensitive or allergic to scents.
It may be helpful to bring these items: a flashlight, an alarm clock, an umbrella, and shoes that are easy to slip on and off. We encourage our guests to spend their whole stay at the monastery, so please bring everything you might need. Please do not bring non-vegan foods, alcohol, or other intoxicants. Please do not bring pets; only service animals are allowed.
Sample Daily Schedule
Below is a typical schedule of events at the monastery. Note, however, that our schedule varies from day to day and from season to season.
5:00am - wake up
5:45am - sitting meditation
7:00am - exercise
7:45am - breakfast
9:30am - Dharma talk or working meditation
11:30am - walking meditation
12:30pm - lunch
3:00pm - Dharma sharing or other activity
6:00pm - dinner
7:30pm - activity or personal practice time
9:30pm - noble silence
For descriptions of the practices above, see our Be Mindful in Daily Life page.
Mindfulness is woven into all of our daily activities--speaking, eating, walking, sitting, or enjoying a cup of tea. Although Blue Cliff is not a silent retreat center, stillness and quiet are at the heart of our practice. Everyone is encouraged to generate this peaceful and healing energy by taking time to stop, slow down, be present for ourselves and others, and to be aware of each of our actions throughout the day. You may read more about the many ways we practice mindfulness at the monastery on our Be Mindful in Daily Life page.
We emphasize community practice so that we can support each other and benefit from each other’s presence. We ask all who join us to help create the energy of community and togetherness by participating in all scheduled activities and by sharing their living space with others.
The Five Mindfulness Trainings are the foundation of our practice and represent the Buddhist vision for a global spirituality and ethic. In order to create a safe, harmonious, and healthy environment, we ask all of our guests to live in accord with these trainings during their stay. Retreatants are requested to refrain from smoking, drinking alcohol, and sexual activity while at the monastery. Please take a moment to read through the trainings.
Internet, Phones, and Electronics
To maximize the benefit of your mindfulness practice with us, we suggest that you use electronic devices only when absolutely necessary and always in a mindful and discreet way, especially respecting the calm and quiet of our living spaces, meditation halls, and dining halls. This practice will help all of us to release our busyness and to really rest. Please let your loved ones know that you will be on retreat. In an emergency, they can reach you by contacting our registration office. Internet access, including wifi service, is not available to guests. Cell phone service is not always reliable in our area. Please make all travel arrangements in advance.
To support the monastery, everyone is encouraged to participate in short community service periods that we call "working meditation." Work is always done in a light and mindful way, with the support of others. Tasks may include arranging the meditation halls, cleaning bathrooms, chopping vegetables, washing pots, and other simple responsibilities. Each person's ability and inclinations are respected when it comes to delegating work for a given work period.
Blue Cliff is deeply committed to inclusiveness. If you have any particular need for assistance or special accommodation please contact us so we can offer you as much support as possible.
Children and Teens
Children and teens are welcome to attend our retreats. A children’s program (ages 6-12) and teen program (ages 13-17) are included on Themed Retreats when there are at least six children or teens registered.
In the spring, summer, and fall, Blue Cliff is home to deer ticks which do carry Lyme Disease. It is easy to protect yourself if you take a few simple precautions--most importantly, thoroughly checking yourself and your children for ticks each day. Please follow the link to learn more.
If you would like to stay longer than two weeks, you may write a letter of request during your stay with us. After some time of becoming familiar with the Blue Cliff community, you may also be interested in considering one of our residential programs.