Forest Refuge

The program

IMS’s Forest Refuge has hosted experienced meditators since 2003. Its program is specifically designed to encourage sustained, longer-term retreat practice – a key component in the transmission of Buddhism from Asia to the West.

Within a harmonious and secluded environment, meditators can nurture the highest aspiration for liberation. In consultation with visiting insight meditation teachers, a program of training in one or more Early Buddhist practices is created for each participant, allowing the continuing unfolding of deeper levels of wisdom and compassion. A personal retreat here strengthens practice, faith, confidence and self-reliance.

Participants are welcome to apply for retreat periods ranging from a minimum of seven nights to stays of a year or more. A stay of 10-14 nights or longer is beneficial to deepening practice and supports a more fruitful retreat.

Before you apply, please read the retreat guidelines and make sure you meet the Forest Refuge application requirements. The Forest Refuge is structured for meditators with an established and long-term commitment to vipassana practice, including longer-term retreat experience.

Applicants are expected to have at least one six-week structured and teacher-led insight meditation retreat, or six similar one-week retreats.

For a list of upcoming retreats, check out our 2024 and 2025 Forest Refuge Schedules.

The Forest Refuge: Sustained Practice in Deep Silence
In “The Forest Refuge: Sustained Practice in Deep Silence,” above, Joseph Goldstein, Winnie Nazarko, Caroline Jones, Ajahn Sucitto, Tara Mulay, and Devin Berry discuss the origins of the Forest Refuge and share their experiences practicing and teaching in this unique environment.

View the full 18-minute video above, or its six individual chapters here:

An Inspired Vision
A Design that Serves Function
Seclusion that Supports Practice
Differences Between the RC and FR
Joys and Benefits of Deep Practice
The Next 20 Years—and Beyond

Essential information

The facility

Careful consideration was given to the design and construction of the center. A beautiful meditation hall is nestled in the woods with several walking meditation rooms close by. There is single-room accommodation for up to thirty retreatants in a dormitory adjacent to the meditation hall.

Each bedroom allows for both sitting and walking meditation for those who wish to practice in a more secluded way. The meditation hall, walking rooms, dining hall and dormitory are all linked by interior walkways.

External walkways lead to the Administration building and Counsel House. Interviews with teachers take place in the Counsel House – the building also contains a small library of Buddhist books and recordings of dharma talks, as well as a room for yoga or other forms of gentle mindful movement.