Practicing meditation in South Mississippi, USA, without easy access to a sangha or teacher, and reading Buddhist literature (primarily Theravadan), I feel a need to attend a week to ten day meditation retreat in accordance with Theravadan practices. I am retired, so my typical daily practice comprises sitting for at least an hour in the wee hours, and occasionally another 1hr+ sit in the evening. I would like to attend a retreat that lasts at least a week. However, I can't afford to pay much money. Are there Theravada meditation retreat opportunities in the USA that offer a visitor the option to work for room and board?

6 Answers 6


Here you can see the US locations for the 10-day S.N. Goenka Vipassana Meditation Retreat.

This retreat is free and is solely dependent on donations from past students. So a retreat is a gift from a past student.

You can read more about the tradition and the course here.

  • 2
    I agree, the Goenka retreat is your best bet. It's free, and you can donate your time and service even as a retreat helper if you plan to spend more time there.
    – Buddho
    Commented Aug 3, 2015 at 18:26
  • I also recommend a Goenka retreat. Even if your personal practice is Mahasi Sayadaw, the Goenka tradition practice will still benefit you and add to your practice. And attending a 10 day retreat where you sit 10 hours a day will give you lots of motivation and confidence to increase your own daily regimen of meditation at home :)
    – Ryan
    Commented Aug 3, 2015 at 20:45
  • @All - thx much!
    – PaPa
    Commented Aug 4, 2015 at 2:15
  • 1
    Why am I getting downvoted? At least put a comment explaining why so that I can change anything if needed.
    – user2424
    Commented Dec 1, 2016 at 19:31

Working while at a meditation retreat would not be ideal because your time there is limited and your opportunity to meditate intensively under a teacher's guidance is the priority. It's an invaluable experience.

Fortunately, in the Theravada tradition, meditation instruction is offered at monasteries, (not all monasteries), at no charge. If a person is inclined to make a supporting donation, that is fine, but there is no requirement or expectation of that per the tradition.

As an alternative to the above mentioned S.N. Goenka courses, which can be booked solid for months in advance, is the option of seeking meditation instruction at a monastery.

Venerable Yuttadhammo teaches meditation to individuals at a monastery in Canada. Although the course is considered a 21 day course, it is possible to split this up and complete the course in two or more parts if your schedule does not allow such a large block of time all at once. Course descriptions here.

I attended this course and felt it was very beneficial both in terms of the individualized instruction and also the ability to work around my job schedule requirements.

Not all monasteries have such an option, but many hold occasional meditation retreats. It's an alternative worth looking into. Best wishes with your retreat. :)

  • 1
    Is Ven. Yuttadhammo's monastery within the actual city? Is it possible to take a greyhound/amtrak to stony creek, and if so, how to get from the bus/train depot to the monastery? TY!
    – Ryan
    Commented Aug 3, 2015 at 20:59
  • 1
    @Ryan, yes it's in the city and you can get a local bus that goes there from train/intercity bus station. Also, kind lay people from the monastery sometimes go to pick up meditators from the bus station.
    – Robin111
    Commented Aug 3, 2015 at 21:00
  • 2
    @ Robin111 - thx much for the details. Have read Ven. Yuttadhammo's booklets and watched many of his videos (YouTube), and have been reading some of the Mahasi Sayadaw literature ... all of which strikes a cord with me. Again, many thx:)
    – PaPa
    Commented Aug 4, 2015 at 2:47

Dhamma Greetings PaPa,

I recommend to ask at the Dhamma Sukha Meditation Center in Annapolis (MO).

Best Wishes, Mirco


Retreats run by monastics in the Theravada tradition of Ajahn Chah, tend to be free to all. For instance, I have heard that about 25% of the participants at the Amaravati Retreat Centre are unable to (or otherwise chose not to) donate anything, which is fully accepted by the retreat center. On the other hand, retreatants tend to be generous and donate more than the cost of their own participation, also covering the costs of those unable to donate.

It is worth noting that the Buddhist teachings encourage generosity, for the benefit of both donors and recipients. The size and type of donation is up to each of us. Available means to each of us is different, and depends on both what we have available and what we are willing to donate.

Many retreat centers allow for work as a form of payment/donation, but the ones in the Ajahn Chah tradition also allow anyone to participate (although I would encourage to see specifics for each monastery or retreat center to verify). Here is a map of associated monasteries you can check to see about their retreats.

I wish you the best in your practice and for your retreats.

With metta


The Insight Meditation Society in Massachussettes offers work to help with retreats in exchange for room and board plus a retirement package. You can find out more here:



There are several free of charge places. You can find some below. These monasteries are emerged from Thai forest tradition.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .