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?
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. :)
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.
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: