Forest Refuge – Schedule

IMS’s Forest Refuge program supports experienced meditators in sustained, longer-term retreat practice. A personal retreat, under the guidance of the following teachers, helps strengthen practice faith, confidence and self-reliance.

2018 Schedule
2019 Schedule

2018 Schedule

Aug 1 – Aug 31
Annie Nugent & Caroline Jones
(Please note: Susan O’Brien will step in for Annie Nugent, Aug 6-8)
Sep 1 – Sep 30
Oct 1 – Nov 5
Nov 6 – Dec 4++
Ajahn Sucitto *full, long waitlist – over 100 people*
Dec 5 – Dec 31

++ A lottery was conducted for personal retreats during this time; applications for the lottery were due by July 26, 2017. Priority was given to anyone applying for Ajahn’s entire teaching period or longer. Participants are expected to follow his schedule and instructions, which include observance of the eight precepts.

2019 Schedule

Feb 1 – Feb 28
* See note
Mar 1 – Mar 31 
Apr 1 – Apr 30
May 1 – May 31
^ See note
Ajahn Sucitto ^full, long waitlist
Aug 1 – Aug 31
Sep 1 – Sep 30
Oct 1 – Oct 31
++ See note
Nov 1 – Nov 30
Dec 1 – Dec 31


+ Arrivals and departures are not possible January 23–29, 2019.

* Samatha/Concentration Retreat. The focus of the teachings throughout this month will be on samatha (concentration) practice. Anapanasati (mindfulness of breathing) and/or metta (lovingkindness) instructions will be offered. The daily schedule will include sitting and walking meditation periods, with individual variations set in consultation with the teachers.

A minimum stay for the full month of February is required.

After leading retreats at IMS for almost 30 years, Marcia Rose will be retiring in 2019. This will be her final IMS teaching session.

^ Priority will be given to anyone applying for the full month of May or longer. Participants are expected to follow Ajahn’s schedule and instructions, and to observe the eight precepts if they are able to do so. A lottery will be conducted for personal retreats during this time; applications are due by June 5, 2018.

° The Still Heart of Awareness. This retreat will strengthen our understanding and experience of the nature of awareness in meditation practice. We will explore this in three stages. During the initial part of the month, we will build meditative stability through a focus on anapanasati (mindfulness of breathing). In the next phase, we will undertake intensive practice of metta (lovingkindness), allowing the beautiful and responsive qualities of heart to unfold. Then, with concentration and lovingkindness as our foundation, the last stage of the retreat will focus on specific meditative techniques that allow us to rest in the pure nature of awareness. The teachers will offer regular meditation instructions, talks about the teachings and individual meetings. A minimum stay for the full month of June is required. Participants are expected to follow the sequence of instructions as they are given. A lottery will be conducted for this course; applications are due by July 25, 2018.

++ This month of practice will emphasize the teachings and practices of early Buddhism, especially those of the Thai Forest Tradition of Ajahn Chah. In addition, there will be a focus on the teachings of Master Hsuan Hua from the later Chinese Tradition. Throughout the month there will be an interweaving of both of these streams of practice, co-informing each other and presenting an integrated whole.

The first half of the retreat will focus on cultivating embodied samadhi – calming and unifying the mind/heart/body energies. This leads into the wisdom practices – vipassana – and an exploration of the relationship between calm and insight as foundations for realization of the deathless Dharma.

The second half of the month will emphasize emptiness and compassion, emerging from and supported by the first part of the retreat. There will be an exploration of the Bodhisattva Way through the cultivation of the Kuan Yin dharmas. The Bodhisattva heart balances “letting go” practices with “picking up” a skillful and compassionate relationship to the world. The archetype of compassionate wisdom in later Buddhism is Kuan Yin Bodhisattva, the One Who Listens to the Sounds of the World at Ease.

Every morning there will be a bowing, sitting and chanting session.

The practice of chanting, mantras and ceremony is an area of Buddhist practice which is often challenging for Westerners, and therefore sometimes dismissed or overlooked. While we encourage each retreatant to find a relationship with the teachings and practices in a way that honors their own process, we request that these practices are engaged with as fully as possible as part of the overall commitment entering this monthlong retreat.

A minimum stay for the full month of October is required. A lottery will be conducted for personal retreats during this time; applications are due by September 3, 2018.

Please note

  • A self-sustaining practice is necessary to undertake a Forest Refuge retreat.
  • The teaching schedule may change without notice. It is our intention that retreatants will have the opportunity to practice with a variety of experienced and well-qualified insight meditation teachers.
  • When retreat space is limited, priority will be given to those applying for longer stays.

Supporting our teachers

Here at IMS, our teachers are continuing the ancient Buddhist monastic tradition of freely offering the teachings while living in the midst of contemporary society. What this means is that they rely on the generosity of retreat participants for a sustainable income.

There is an opportunity at the end of your personal retreat to make an offering to teachers – this is known as teacher dana. At the Forest Refuge, where retreatants often stay for long periods, IMS supplements teacher dana as needed to provide an adequate offering.

Your contributions help teachers to lead a life devoted to teaching both at IMS and in other parts of the world, including communities without the means to donate. Your gifts also allow teachers to take time for their own practice, ensuring that their teachings are continuously enriched.