The Salt Spring Island Vipassana Community is dedicated to the teachings of the Buddha as presented in the Theravadan tradition. We cultivate the practice of mindful awareness, called Insight or Vipassana Meditation, and a retreat provides the most suitable conditions to develop this awareness.
The momentum of days of quiet, without distractions or responsibilities, allows the heart to release its guard and access levels of peace and tenderness not usually accessible to us. In this calm, the busy mind settles and becomes clear and bright, revealing glimpses into the simple yet deep truths of all nature. When experienced for ourselves these insights are transformative and liberating.
Retreats are conducted in silence, with no talking or listening to music, and no reading or writing, except for notes recording your meditation experience. There are daily dharma talks and instruction in meditation as well as opportunities to discuss the practice with the teachers through individual consultations or group discussions.
A typical retreat day begins at approximately 5:30 a.m. and ends at approximately 10 p.m. Retreatants spend the day practicing sitting and walking meditation, cultivating continuous attention to the changing nature of our moment-to-moment experience.
Retreatants will also be assigned a daily job to assist with the running of the retreat. This work is a part of the practice and becomes work meditation. Jobs include helping with meal preparation and cleanup in the kitchen, housekeeping and grounds-keeping, and are given out at on-site registration.
The teachings unfold systematically. Retreatants are expected to attend the full retreat.
Facilities & Accommodations
Our sangha meets at Stowel Lake Farm which is a certified organic farm of 115 acres. A community of people live here, who believe in good service and in living in harmony with our world and who offer educational classes and retreats in their beautiful setting which includes a large perennial garden, some greenhouses and many acres of fields and forest.The main buildings are the Gatehouse, which serves as our Meditation hall, and a fully converted Barn which contains the kitchen, dining hall, yoga room and common sitting room.
Personal accommodations are provided in a variety of buildings, cottages, yurts, etc. – a few on the second floor level – and will be mostly shared with one or two others.
Rooms are assigned by the registrar before the beginning of the retreat, and we ask that you graciously accept the room you are assigned.
During summer retreats, there is space for about 15 people to camp.
There will be a limited number of spaces for those who live, or are staying in the neighborhood. For minimal disruption to the retreat, it is important that all retreatants participate fully in the retreat, following the scheduled hours and activities. We further request that a commuter have attended at least one residential retreat of 7-days on a previous occasion.
High quality, nutritious, balanced vegetarian meals are served during the retreat, using the organic vegetables grown on site as much as possible. Almost all of the food served at the retreats is organic. When dairy products or wheat are served, alternatives are provided. If you require (as opposed to prefer) dietary restrictions, please note this when you apply.
What to Bring:
In this beautiful setting are woods, trails & meadows. Summer is usually hot and sunny, but don’t count on it. The main driveway is lighted at night, but not the camping area.
There are no laundry facilities available. We have a number of spare zafus, (yoga) blankets, and chairs.
What Not to Bring
Cell phones, computers, beeper watches, clunky jewelry, no rustly clothing inside the meditation hall.
Bedding is not required if have chosen in-house accommodation (but you may bring your own if you prefer it).
In consideration of all participants, some of whom have severe allergies to scents, please do not wear scented personal care products to the retreat. Your care is requested.
It is recommended that you leave behind reading or writing materials.
Retreat Costs + Dana
If you are unable to attend a retreat due to financial circumstances, some scholarships are available, including the possibility to contribute extra work meditation time for a reduced fee. When applying for your place, please notify the registrar if you wish financial assistance. The registration fees only cover the actual expenses incurred, i.e. per diem use of the farm; teacher’s travel; promotion; miscellaneous incidentals. None of this money goes directly to the teachers. Their ability to continue offering these retreats depends solely on donations from retreat participants.
This tradition of making an offering to the teachers is called Dana, the word in Pali (the language of the Buddha) for generosity. According to the Buddha, generosity, or sharing what we have, is one of the central pillars of a spiritual life. So we encourage students to make an offering to teachers in addition to the registration fees. This opportunity is given at the end of the retreat and can be paid by cash, or cheque only. Sorry, no credit cards.
The Salt Spring Vipassana Community is in the process of obtaining charitable status, but as yet your contributions are not tax-deductible.
Release of Liability
We wish to contribute to well being in the world, and the liberation from suffering of all beings. At the same time, we accept that we live in a modern society with its various ills. Any litigation case would be devastating for our small, not-for-profit sangha. We request you to sign a release of liability and waiver of claim, when you register for our retreats. We thank you for your understanding and responsibility.
We require either:
We require separate registration forms and payment for each person. Early application is suggested, as accommodations are limited.
Once we receive and process your registration form and deposit, a confirmation email will be sent to you, More detailed information about your visit will be attached.
If the retreat is full, your name will be placed on a waiting list in case we have any cancellations.
Cancellation and cancellation fees
Should you need to cancel your place in the retreat, contact the Retreat Registrar, Lisa Lloyd. Please give us AS MUCH NOTICE AS POSSIBLE, so that we can offer your place to another retreatant.
If you cancel prior to 4 weeks before the start of the retreat, you will receive a full refund, minus a $25 administration fee.
If you cancel within 4 weeks of the start of the retreat, there will be no refund, unless we are able to fill your place from a waiting list. Fees and payments for a retreat cannot be transferred to another retreat nor to another person.
No refund will be given if a retreatant leaves a retreat early or arrives late. In consideration of others waiting and hoping to attend, as well as yourself, please make a commitment to attend the whole retreat.