Retreat FAQ

What Will A Meditation Retreat Be Like?


No, really, what should I expect?

A meditation retreat is a break from the world during which we focus exclusively on meditation.  We will not use phones, internet, or the like, and our time will be almost entirely devoted to caring for our bodies (eating, showering, exercising) and meditation.  Normally, you will have scheduled 1:1 meditation interviews with Upali throughout the retreat, and there will be a nightly optional dharma talk.

Can I Really spend this much time on retreat?  Me?

Yes!  Especially if you have a history of meditation practice. Any physical or mental health conditions you’re concerned about might alter this to a pre-fab “yes”, please ask!

Can I talk during the retreat?  

The retreat will be held in noble silence.  This means outside of personal interviews and dharma talks, we will maintain the intention to be silent. If there are emergencies or general issues that you need to resolve, retreat center managers will be available for help and Upali will be available 24/7.  You are welcome and encouraged to communicate in those cases. Safety is the #1 priority, so if breaking silence means keeping yourself and/or others safe, please speak up.

Outside of emergencies, consider only speaking if you have meditation questions for Upali or if what you have to say is more beautiful than the precious silence retreats afford us.

But won’t I go crazy if I don’t speak for so long?  

No. In fact, most retreat participants describe states of significant mental well-being after spending just hours and especially days in noble silence.

How much does the retreat cost?  

Please check the specific retreat for its costs. Prices can vary depending on the retreat center and the housing option you choose for yourself. If you would like to attend a retreat but can’t afford it, apply for a scholarship at

What is Dana, and how much should I give?  

Dana is a Pali word that means “generosity” or “giving.”  Dana is given at the end of the retreat and goes to the teacher for his or her teachings. The retreat prices do not include payment to the teacher.  The idea is that you give as generously as possible in a way that’s also sustainable for you and the teachings. You can also consider Dana as “paying it forward.” The retreats are given at cost, and the way they continue to happen for others is by the Dana that’s given after.

But seriously, how much should I give? Can you give me a ballpark number?  

As frustrating as this reply is, it’s totally up to you.  Feel into what’s generous and possible for you, and follow your heart!  

What should I bring?

Often, retreats take place in natural settings, so be prepared for nature. Sunscreen, flashlights, rain gear, protective footwear, bug repellent, and hats are recommended. It can be nice to come prepared for both cold and warm weather.

What’s the food like?

Retreat diets with Upali are vegetarian, but dietary options vary based on the retreat center. If you have a dietary restriction, please say so in your registration. Most of the time, your dietary needs can be accommodated. There are three meals a day at Upali’s retreats, and often, snacks & tea/coffee are available between meals.

What about booze or other “mood-altering substances?”

Traditionally, during retreats, participants adhere to the five precepts which include refraining from:

  • Harming living things.
  • Taking what is not given.
  • Sexual misconduct.
  • Wrong speech (saying anything with harmful intentions)
  • Activities and behaviors that cause dullness of mind

While the precepts have different meanings for different people, please plan to adhere to these precepts during the retreat in a way that feels right for you and that is considerate to others.   Please also abide by the law and honor the policies of the retreat center.

How do I get to the retreat center?  

Ultimately, you will be responsible for your transportation to the center.  However, carpool efforts are often organized from the nearest city. If you need help arriving to the retreat center, just let Upali know!