Chan Meditation Roadmap

Our Style of Retreats

We offer meditation retreats in the style of the Dharma Drum Lineage of Chan Buddhism, balancing serious, strict practice with flexibility and gentleness. While maintaining the spirit of traditional retreats held in Chan monasteries of ancient China, our retreats also incorporate a variety of activities suited to contemporary people's needs.
Our retreats are designed to minimize all potential distractions, allowing you to wholeheartedly devote your energies to using the method of practice. Daily interviews with the teacher are available for personal guidance regarding use of the method. Dharma talks are given daily to elucidate the details of investigating one's mind.

Noble Silence

Retreats are conducted in Noble Silence, which supports your meditation practice by limiting mental distraction. In addition to refraining from conversation, Noble Silence also means no reading, writing, texting, email, phone calls, music playing devices, or the internet. The retreat leaders will speak when they need to direct you, and of course, the teacher speaks when giving Dharma talks or interviews. When other communication is necessary, short handwritten notes are allowed, or you may speak quietly to one of the retreat supervisors.

Intensive and Non-Intensive

To accommodate the differing needs of experienced and newer practitioners, we offer both intensive and non-intensive retreats.

Our intensive retreats follow the traditional Chan monastery retreat schedule, starting early in the morning and making the most efficient use of time in group practice. Intensive retreats can be seven to ten days long, with numerous forty-minute sitting periods each day. Participants should be mentally and physically prepared for the rigors of such a regimen. Therefore, to be accepted on our intensive retreat, the applicant should have:
  1. ​already received basic meditation instruction
  2. established a daily personal practice
  3. previously attended at least one of our weekend intensive retreats (or a comparable retreat at another Buddhist center)
We also offer non-intensive retreats for people newer to the practice. On non-intensive retreats, the sitting periods are twenty to thirty minutes. Wake-up time is not as early as on an intensive retreat. Basic meditation instruction is given (on an intensive retreat, participants are expected to already know the basics).

Our longer intensive retreats focus on advanced Chan methods, such as silent illumination or Huatou. Our non-intensive retreats focus on preliminary methods, such as counting or following the breath, or recitation. Read through the retreat descriptions listed below to see which retreat might be suitable for you.
How to Choose the Right Retre