What to expect?

 Noble silence

Our retreats are held in Noble Silence, which all retreatants are expected to observe. Noble silence gives us the opportunity to not engage in conversation with others unless absolutely necessary. This can be thought of as a gift that we have so rarely in today’s society. Noble Silence helps to quieten the mind and allows us to have the space and time to reflect inwardly and observe our minds, thoughts and feelings.

“Let go of the past,
let go of the future,
and let go of the present,
Proceed to the opposite shore with the free mind,
leaving behind all suffering.”

Dhammapada, verse 348

While on retreat, retreatants are requested not to use mobile phones, laptops, iPads, iPods etc. at any time. If you feel you will be unable to meet this request, we suggest you should consider whether this is the right time for you to come on a silent meditation retreat.

However, if you think someone may need to contact you in an emergency whilst you are on retreat, please give them our contact details (provided in your Confirmation email). We can take a message and pass it on to you. We are happy to support you during your retreat in this way.

Asking the teacher questions
On most retreats there are opportunities to ask the teacher questions, either verbally or in writing.

During weekend and five-day retreats the teacher will give instruction in both sitting and walking meditation. There is also usually an opportunity to ask the teacher questions about Buddhist teachings and meditation practice.

On ten-day and thirteen-day retreats participants meet with the teacher in small groups for questions and answers. Longer retreats are for those who already have some experience of meditation, so basic instruction is not generally given, although often there are guided meditations.

Sitting and walking meditation
Both sitting and walking meditation sessions usually last for about 45 minutes. Although, on longer retreats the sessions may last up to one hour. There are opportunities to sit in meditation for longer during free periods, should you wish to do so.

For sitting meditation we provide cushions, kneeling stools or chairs. You are also welcome to bring your own cushion or kneeling stool.





Working meditation
Working meditation periods are an opportunity to practice mindfulness whilst doing a simple task in silence. The session lasts for approximately 45 minutes each day. Tasks include activities such as chopping vegetables, gardening, washing windows and cleaning. Instructions for each task are given at the beginning of the retreat. Working meditation also helps keep the Retreat Centre clean, tidy and running smoothly, for the benefit of all on the retreat.


“One who transforms old and heedless ways
into fresh and wholesome acts
brings light into the world
like the moon freed from clouds.”

Dhammapada, verse 173


Eight Precepts
All participants are expected to keep the Eight Precepts whilst on retreat. They offer a way of living together morally, ethically and harmoniously, causing ourselves and each other as little suffering as possible.

  1. Harmlessness: not intentionally taking the life of any living creature.
  2. Trustworthiness: not taking anything that is not offered.
  3. Celibacy: refraining from any sexual activity.
  4. Right Speech: avoiding false, abusive or malicious speech and idle chatter. Whilst on retreat keeping Noble Silence.
  5. Sobriety: not taking any intoxicating drinks or drugs that lead to carelessness.
  6. Renunciation: not eating after midday.
  7. Restraint: not wearing make-up, perfume, jewellery or immodest clothing; not texting, emailing, making telephone calls or using the internet; not playing or listening to music, or watching TV.
  8. Alertness: refraining from overindulgence in sleep.


In Thai Forest monasteries in the West, including Amaravati Retreat Centre, chanting during pujas is in Pāli* and/or English. Chanting books are provided, but joining in with the chanting is completely optional.

View the chanting book

* Pāli is the language of the scriptures of Theravada Buddhism.

Amaravati Retreat Centre shrine room