It is important that retreatants come for the entire duration of the retreat. Arriving late or leaving early disrupts the retreat for everyone and breaks up the sense of community that can develop between the participants over the retreat. If for any reason you may need to arrive or leave early please discuss whether this is possible with the office before booking/coming.
To make the most of being on retreat it is important you do not bring work with you, so please complete any work you have before arriving. We also ask that you leave behind newspapers, music and anything external to the retreat generally. If you want to read something bring something inspirational, rather than something 'distracting'. We have a well stocked Dharma library at Tiratanaloka you are welcome to use whilst here and a well stocked bookshop.
Coming on retreat is also an opportunity to take a break from the busyness of one's life. Establishing retreat conditions is dependent not only on what we provide for you, but on everyone's cooperation. Texts, phone calls and Internet use disrupt those conditions and disturb others on the retreat, so we expect you to turn off your mobile phone and laptop/tablet whilst here. If you wish the team can look after your phone/tablet for you throughout the retreat. There are alarm clocks available to borrow, so you do not need to use your phone for that purpose.
Please make sure you have confirmed all forward travel arrangements before you arrive and let your friends and family know you will be off line for the period of your stay. If being out of contact for a week or more is going to be a serious problem in relation to friends or family, let our office team know and if you need to contact them during the retreat it is possible to use the office phone. Please do not use your mobile phone. In case of emergencies, family and friends can call our office number 01874 676352 if they need to reach you. We also have an emergency mobile phone (+44) 07806 303384, which a member of the team has at night, and which is checked at intervals during the day. This number is on our office answer machine and can be put on the answer message on your phone.
On all of our retreats there are periods of silence observed each day, with usually two or three full days of silence towards the end of the retreat. It is always possible to find a member of the retreat team if you have specific needs during the silent periods.
Silence is a practice of being with others, in a simpler way, without the need to communicate beyond what is necessary practically. Retreats offer an opportunity to practice with keeping silence, and being with what arises for you, in a supportive context. It is important you maintain the silence, both for your own experience, but also as breaking it affects others on the retreat.
It is necessary to refrain from alcohol, illicit drugs, eating meat and fish, and sexual relationships during the retreat. Smokers can not smoke on the premises but may do so outside the main gate (this includes electronic cigarettes).
There are no facilities for you to wash clothes, except in a sink, so we do advise you to bring adequate and appropriate clothing for the retreat you are attending. However we have a good drying room if your clothes or shoes get wet. There are a few waterproofs and wellingtons for you to borrow if needed.
Generally we discourage people from bringing musical instruments on retreat with them, as it can be a source of additional distraction to themselves and others. Please check with the office if you do want to bring an instrument.
We ask you to be sensitive if you are taking photographs, as others on retreat will be having their own experience and may find being photographed invasive. Please don’t photograph other retreatants without their permission.
We don’t recommend using our retreats as a time to radically change your dietary habits or give up smoking. The retreat should be a time of spiritual intensity and being in positive connection with your body is important.
Are you well enough to be on Retreat?
Our primary concern in considering whether or not someone is well enough to be on retreat is their own wellbeing. However, when you come on retreat we also ask that you at least have a reasonable expectation of being able to fully participate in the programme. If you are unable to participate in the work rota due to ill health or disability please inform us before the retreat.
If you think you may need specific conditions or support on the retreat please feel free to discuss your needs and concerns with our office team (01874 676352). Any information given to us in confidence will only be shared with members of our team. This is to give you the best possible support.
The list below covers the sorts of things we ask people to consider:
For your own wellbeing and the wellbeing of other people please do not come on retreat if you have a very bad cold. As we live collectively it is easy for a cold to quickly spread amongst the retreat.
2. General health issues
Please note that if you have an unstable medical condition, Tiratanaloka has a minimum 25 minute call out time for an ambulance and is 30 minutes drive from the nearest A&E. Retreat team members are not medically trained.
If you have a stable underlying medical condition but may require special conditions or support during your stay please call the office (01874 676352) to discuss these prior to booking so we can clarify what support you may need and whether or not we can reasonably provide it. Single rooms and downstairs rooms may be available but should be agreed with the office team prior to booking.
Please ensure you bring enough of your prescribed medication to last the retreat.
3. Physical disabilities
Tiratanaloka is an old house and was not originally designed with disabilities in mind, however we have made a number of modifications. If you require a single room, a downstairs room, a bed (rather than a bunk) or a room with an en suite bathroom please arrange this with the office prior to booking as these facilities are limited and cannot be guaranteed without prior arrangement. These rooms are allocated due to specific need, not preference.
We do have two wheelchair accessible bedrooms with a shared disabled friendly shower room. The front doors have a step and can be accessed by a portable ramp. If at all in doubt or if you think you may require special support during your stay please call the office prior to booking so we can be sure we can give you the support you need.
If you have food allergies or other medical dietary requirements please let us know prior to your retreat so we can ensure appropriate arrangements can be made. We cannot cater for the FODMAP diet however.
4. Emotional distress
Coming on retreat can feel quite intense at times and bring up strong emotions, and it is a positive environment in which to work with these. However if you are experiencing some emotional distress please be aware that retreats are not therapeutic environments and although our retreat team members will be able to offer helpful support should you experience this whilst here, they are not counsellors or therapists and the amount of time they can offer you will be limited. Please also be aware that on retreat you will be around other people quite intensively, and participating in a collective programme, so be sure you will be able to handle that. If you are experiencing some emotional distress it would be best if you talk to your friends, especially dharmacharinis, before you come, to see if they think it is the appropriate time for you.
5. Mental health issues
Having a diagnosed mental health condition or a suspected mental health condition does not mean you cannot come on retreat, if your condition is stable.
However, for some people, being outside of your familiar environment and in intensive contact with other people can represent a risk of relapse of the condition, and then a retreat may not be the best place for you at that time.
If you have a diagnosed or suspected mental health condition please discuss with your local Order Members whether it is best for you to come to Tiratanaloka. If you wish you can also call our office to talk over your needs.
We hope this guidance has been useful. If at all in doubt as to whether or not a retreat is appropriate or whether we will be able to adequately support your needs please talk to an Order Member at your local centre who knows you, and then call our office (01874 676352) to talk it through with us.
The Tiratanaloka Team