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occ's avatar

Recommendations for a silent meditation retreat for beginners in the Bay Area?

Asked by occ (4083points) July 30th, 2007

I'm curious to try out a short (weekend-long or day-long) silent retreat. I've never meditated before. I'm not sure if I'm ready to begin a regular practice...I am just curious about meditation and interested to see what happens if I remove myself from technology and chatter for 48 hours. Is there an affordable retreat of this type in the Bay Area?

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9 Answers

Abby's avatar

I've been to Green Gulch up in Marin. I don't know about affordable, but it's really pretty and nice up there and the food is vegetarian, yummy and good for you. It's really hard to not talk while eating, but a very interesting experience that I definitely recommend.

I think they have various workshops and things to break up the silence.

gailcalled's avatar

Green Gulch is wonderful. Abby described it perfectly. The mother ship (at 300 Page St.) is the SF Zen Center; I stayed at their little and inexpensive 3d floor apt for a couple of days as a guest (my friend's apt next door was too small), but enjoyed my silent breakfasts and occasional chats w. the people who were there for the full experience. There are beginners' and intro classes and short sessions for people who want to begin or explore the path.

emilyrose's avatar

check out spirit rock. they are in marin county, can't remember exactly where but you can look it up. i did a nice day long up there. it wasnt just meditation, but I know they have day longs, and sometimes they do features for new folks...but yah I guess there are also two zen centers in our neighborhood. who knew??? there is one on oak and webby and i gailcalled above said where the other one is. i also had been going occasionally to a friday night one called the dharma punx. i think i was the only one without tattoos. the group was amazing and the guy who leads the talk is awesome. its at 7:30pm on fulton near arguello i think. if you're interested let me know and I will give you the proper info. good luck and you're inspiring me to get back into it too!

Jill_E's avatar

If you don't mind a nice drive along hwy one. A former co-worker of mine went to a montesary south of Big Sur. She loved and raved about it. I was trying to find out the name of it and couldn't find it. Maybe someone on fluther will know which montesary I am talking about.

gailcalled's avatar

@Jill E: Do you mean "monastery?"

New Camalodi Hermitage in Big Sur. Info on their retreats at

Jill_E's avatar

Yes Gailcalled, thanks! I googled again recently just a moment ago and read this link above and realized doesn't have yoga or such. I remember the former co-worker loved it. The town of Lucia does ring a bell loud. Thats it. It offers a quiet weekend, a great story at the link above. I've been curious about this place because my former co worker was in awe about it. She told me this in early 2000s, thats how impressed she was and I was hearing her story.

Jill_E's avatar

If you do decide to go to Lucia, south of Big Sur. These two are heavenly pit stops. Theres adronack chairs in the river behind this restaurant at Big Sur River Inn. Its awesome. Be aware of one protective goose if he is still there. LOL

Also to soak in the cliffside views of the ocean, go to Ventana Big Sur's restaurant and order a drink at the bar or a smoothie and go the outdoor terrace.

These are the advice from my wonderful former coworker including the montesary.

Also breakfast before/after the montesary weekend, check out Deetjens also at Big Sur. That and Rosines in Old Monterey have the best eggs benedicts and great breakfast.


gailcalled's avatar

Lucky all of you who live on the CA coast and can easily get to these gorgeous places.

Seeker767's avatar

I would personally suggest genuine ‘Vipassana’ meditation – that is, if you can find it. I found a place in the state next to mine, that offers a 10-day Vipassana meditation retreat for free (a place to stay, food, and meditation instruction, all for free!). Supposedly, Vipassana meditation is the meditation that the Buddha (Siddhartha Gautama) used to attain ‘enlightenment.’ I hear from reviews that it is incredibly powerful, and has opened people up to life in really neat instances. Vipassana meditation allows people to ‘dive into their subconscious’ and find out what’s really controlling their behavior, and what’s holding us back in our day-to-day lives. Also, I would recommend a type of ‘Zazan’ meditation (one translation of Zazen means “simply sitting”), as it has done wonders with my attention, concentration, memory, and mental clarity. I think Vipassana would be better for long periods of time, and Zazen is good whenever you can do it.

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