Service Retreats at the Forest Refuge

A Forest Refuge Service Retreat provides an opportunity to use service as practice, to develop and apply mindfulness to daily life activities in addition to formal meditation sessions.

Service retreats are scheduled in calendar-month blocks.

Service retreatants follow the same retreat guidelines as other Forest Refuge participants, but with longer periods of activity where mindfulness can be integrated into action. A service retreatant can still engage in formal practice and benefit from dharma talks and interviews with the teachers.

Silence is maintained except for any necessary communications with service supervisors and teachers. Otherwise, there is no interaction with staff members or others on retreat. Participation is limited to experienced meditators and requires a high degree of self-reliance.

Your contribution as a service retreatant is an essential aspect of the smooth functioning of the Forest Refuge. Flexibility in accepting service assignments, usually in the Kitchen or Housekeeping department, is important.

Service activities can be physically demanding at times and requires the ability and energy to engage in solitary manual activities for five hours each day.

Service retreats are not available while IMS is closed due to COVID-19. When we reopen, available service retreat months will be listed here. If you don’t see an opening during the month(s) you wish to be a service retreatant, still  feel free to apply, and on acceptance you will be placed on a wait list.

Service retreatants maintain a full daily retreat schedule that combines periods of service with sitting and walking practice. Service times can often be adjusted to suit both individual and departmental needs.

A typical daily schedule might look like this:

5:00 am – Wake up
5:30–6:30 am – Personal Practice

….. 6:30 am – Breakfast …..

7:30–9:00 am – Personal Practice
9:00 am–12:00 noon – Service Practice

….. 12:00 noon – Lunch …..

2:00–3:30 pm – Personal Practice
3:30–5:30 pm – Service Practice

….. 5:30 pm – Light Dinner …..

6:00–7:00 pm – Personal Practice
7:00–8:00 pm – Dharma talk
8:00–10:00 pm – Personal Practice

During a service retreat, days off for more intensive formal practice, as well as for personal chores and laundry, can be scheduled with the service supervisor.

Service retreats are scheduled in calendar-month blocks, starting on the first of the month. Positions are available for one month or for two consecutive months within a calendar year. Once you have committed to a service retreat, we count on your participation. If you must cancel, please let us know as soon as possible so we can find a replacement.

In undertaking a service retreat you are offering IMS a form of dana (a heartfelt donation) through your efforts. We greatly value this form of service. There is no nightly rate – all that is required is a non-refundable $50 application processing fee. This amount will be deposited or charged only when an application is confirmed. If you cancel your retreat, your fee will support our scholarship funds.

Service retreat applicants must be eligible to sit at the Forest Refuge. To apply for a service retreat, complete both the Forest Refuge Application and the Forest Refuge Service Retreat Application.

Forest Refuge Service Retreat Application (PDF)

Forest Refuge Service Retreat Application (Word)

Please submit your completed form(s), together with the $50 processing fee (payable to IMS) to:

IMS Forest Refuge
Attn: Service Retreat Program
1230 Pleasant Street
Barre MA 01005
Phone: 978-355-2063
Email: fr(at)dharma.org

If your Forest Refuge application is not accepted, we will return your service retreat application fee. If you are accepted into the program, and later cancel, your fee will support the Forest Refuge Scholarship Fund.

We look forward to sharing the practice with you in this way – thank you for your generous offer to serve.