What to Expect
from a course at Sirimangalo International Meditation Centre
Before the Course
Visit the Apply to Meditate page for application details. If in order to prepare the course, please:
- Read our booklet on How to Meditate.
- Settle all external affairs before coming to take the course, as students are asked to refrain from contact with the outside world during their course. Our centre’s phone number is available on the Meditation Centre page. Please give this to your family in case of an emergency.
- Read the Centre Rules carefully and ask about anything you are not sure of.
- If you smoke or drink beverages containing caffeine, it might be advisable to give these up in advance of arriving to make for a smoother transition.
- You may wish to reduce or eliminate such activities as listening to music, watching TV or movies, or excessively using the internet to make for a smoother transition to keeping the 7th precept.
Once accepted for the course, you will be emailed a welcome packet detailing important information about your course.
Getting to the Centre
Most meditators coming from afar will fly into the Region of Waterloo International Airport or another airport in the region such as Toronto Pearson International Airport. Public transit options from the airports to Kitchener are available, and detailed information about your options will be included in your welcome packet.
Personal Devices and Entertainment
You will be asked by the steward to hand over any personal electronic devices and books you have in your possession for the duration of the course. We have found that these items provide too much of a distraction, even when meditators intend to avoid their use. Even books related to Dhamma serve as a distraction in the context of a retreat. Please make sure your affairs are in order so that you can be out of contact for the duration of the course. If there is an emergency and you need your items returned to you, they will be provided upon request. We also have a phone in the centre which you may use in the case of emergency.
Meditators are required to abide by the eight precepts, the traditional set of training guidelines for laypeople in a retreat setting. Please read our Centre Rules before applying.
Eating is between 6:00 am and 12:00 pm (noon) only in keeping with the sixth precept. Meals are to be eaten in silence. One may consume non-pulp juice or tea beyond noon. Breakfast is to be self-served and is generally a small, simple meal and lunch is a larger meal prepared by the steward.
If you have special food needs such as allergies please make a note of it on your application and we will coordinate with our supporters to see if this can be accommodated. If you have a very specialized diet and we are unable to provide for your needs, we’ll inform you of this as soon as possible.
Interaction with Monastics
Because monastics have given up so much, and because they work so tirelessly for the benefit of all, they’re traditionally afforded a certain elevated respect from householders. A monastic has taken a Buddhist name, and this name is to be used by students in reference to the teacher, with the honorific Venerable (meaning “worthy of respect”), example: Ven. Yuttadhammo. However, Bhante (bàɴtè) is an acceptable short-hand (it translates to “Venerable Sir”). For a female monastic, the preferred short-hand is Ayya.
Monastics should not be touched physically, or engaged-with in casual conversation. All encounters with a monastic should be taken as formal meetings. All advice should be taken as if given for the maximum development in the Dhamma.
Instruction and Practice
Each day, the meditators meet one-on-one with the teacher to report on their practice and receive further instruction. Meditation is generally solitary. Though you may gather as a group for Dhamma talks, meditators are not meditating at scheduled times together. Instead, the instructor will provide guidance for one’s meditation practice each day, which will be followed by meditating mostly in one’s room.
Bathing and Laundry
Appropriate body cleanliness is expected and meditators should refrain from using overly scented cleansing products and applying make-up or fragrances. Showers and laundry facilities are available.
Cleaning and Chores
Meditators are asked to contribute about one hour of work per day doing household chores. This helps maintain the centre and gives the meditator the opportunity to practice mindfulness in all activities.
Each meditator stays in their own room, spacious enough for sitting and walking meditation. At rare times there may be more in attendance and meditators may share space; if this is the case you will be informed before the beginning of your course.
Meditators are asked to sleep only 6 hours during the course and be up early. (If you go to sleep at 10 pm, you should be up at 4 am in the morning, you may eat at dawn).
All of our courses are offered for free, and there is no expectation of payment. If you are interested in making a donation, you may make a donation to Sirimangalo International, which supports Venerable Yuttadhammo in his teachings both in-person and online. Visit our Support page for more information.