Retreat FAQ


Undertaking an intensive Zen retreat over several days offers great benefits. We do it as a group in a structured and ritualized way, supporting each other by taking on a personal commitment to the group and also to the form – including the retreat’s duration, timetable, ritual, diet, silence etc. You may experience an impulse or desire to take a break or even to leave altogether. But such resistance is part of what one naturally works through in gaining benefits.

What to bring
Personal – A sleeping bag or similar. (A bunk bed with mattress, bottom sheet and pillow are provided.) Toilet gear including a towel. Ear plugs are available in case of noisy roommates. Work clothes – Work usually involves cleaning or gardening. Footwear – Sandals or loose fitting running shoes for quickly slipping on and off for kinhin. Robes – The centre has extra robe sets for use by retreat participants. You are expected to use a set if you do not have your own.  Outerwear – clothing for the expected weather. Body practice sessions occur on three of the days so bring yoga clothes suitable for this. Yoga mats are provided.

Prepare yourself for the retreat by refraining from alcohol and drugs, heavy food such as meat and coffee, and over exertion in the three days or so before arriving.

Please arrive at the Zen Centre by 7:30 pm on the Friday before the retreat. Everyone is expected to attend an orientation and meditation at 8 pm. If you arrive early from out-of-town, a 6 pm dinner can be provided. Please let the centre know well in advance.

A donation of $400 is asked for the seven day retreat, $300 for the five day retreat. Part-timers pay $60 per day. Please pay at least two weeks before the start of retreat by eTransfers to, or mailing or dropping off a cheque at the centre. Payment secures a place in case more than the maximum of 16 people apply. There are no refunds. A charitable donations receipt for income tax purposes will be issued for half of the fee. As with all Zen Centre donation receipts, it will be sent out at the calendar year end.

Silence and Respect
Please maintain silence throughout the retreat including personal times after meals and in the bedrooms. Silence implies respect for our environment while not being distracted nor causing distractions to others. Couples should have no interactions during the retreat. Smoking may be done outside during the breaks after meals.

Diet and health concerns
Meals are organic and vegan. If you have allergies or medically required diet restrictions, be sure to let the centre know well in advance. Also inform the centre if you have any physical, emotional or mental health issues that may affect your participation. This is important for your well-being. All information will be kept totally confidential and only be used by the staff if a concern arises.

Emergency communication
No phone calls, emails, reading, internet, etc. are permitted during the retreat. Please make adequate personal arrangements beforehand. Emergency messages can be left at the Zen Centre at 604.879.0229.

End of retreat
The retreat ends Friday or Wednesday evening by 8 pm, after a social dinner, tidying the centre and a final closing service. People are welcome to remain at the centre that night if travel arrangements require an overnight stay. Please let the centre know in advance. If you live locally please come to the following Saturday and Sunday 9am-11am meditation and stay for the laundry work, refreshments provided. It’s usually a lot of fun as a result of people’s retreat energy.

Part-time participation
Part-timers are accepted but the number of days allowed may be altered depending on other arrivals and departures. As availability may be limited, please apply early even if you are uncertain about your dates.

Please email the centre the phone or email of an emergency contact person, and any medical or diet information that the centre should be aware of. This information will only be used by staff if needed.

The Zen Centre has two unisex toilets adjacent to the zendo. It’s essential to use the Available/Occupied signs on the swing doors and pay attention to the sign before entering a toilet stall.

The essential rule during retreat, as in the Zen Centre generally, is to follow the form. This produces harmony, allows everything to run smoothly, and strengthens our practice both individually and as a group.

Please do not record or video talks without permission.  The copyright in talks is held by the author or the Zen Center. The Zen Center takes photographs of activities and uses them in its website, newsletter and other publications. You may be depicted in these photographs. If you object to the use of your image by the centre, please discuss this with the Zen Center before attending.

How to get to the centre
Contact the centre if you need directions from the airport or elsewhere.