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Bhavana Society
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2/24/09 2:15 AM
Author: josh0
Forum: Dharma Overground Discussion Forum

I'm curious if anyone has any experience with/at the Bhavana Society in West Virginia. I'll hopefully be starting a new job in the near future that will involve relocation to the DC area (Silver Spring, MD, specifically). This will put the Bhavana Society in striking distance as the nearest retreat center. From what I can gather from their website it seems like a great place, especially as the retreats are free (here in the Boston area a free retreat basically means Goenka). What does the community know about this monastery?

Also, if anyone has any tips for other useful resources in the DC area I'd be very grateful. While I've been living outside of Boston I've been taking advantage of the CIMC for daily practice, and I've found it extremely helpful to have a dedicated space (I just don't have the room to dedicate to it at home). I've been searching for anything similar in the Silver Spring and Bethesda area, but so far have only found a few weekly and monthly sitting groups.

RE: Bhavana Society
Answer
6/29/09 3:29 PM as a reply to Wet Paint.
I'm registered for a four-day retreat in August. Will be glad to report my experience afterward.

RE: Bhavana Society
Answer
6/29/09 8:35 PM as a reply to Wet Paint.
Hi Josh

I've been to Bhavana for a 6 day visit, 9 day retreat and 4 day retreat. It is a fine center. Very quiet and peaceful, good food, good library and fine accomodations especially considering it runs completely on donations. Most retreats tend to be shorter and geared to beginners with a fairly laid back schedule that usually only includes about 7-8 hours of formal scheduled practice per day along with 90 minutes of yoga. They are not as insight focused as the other centers I've been to (IMS and Monastic Mahasi centers).

They also tend to present a variety of techniques (anapanasati, noting, body sweeping) in a single retreat which can be conducive to less intensive practice and results than is often emphasized here. That said, in my last 4 day retreat I was able to forgo yoga, do walking meditation instead of body sweeping guided meditation and add additional practice time to create a more intensive experience for myself.

They have some other interesting themes for retreats you don't see in a lot of other centers including a retreat focused on reflection on death and a sutta study retreat. I've not been to these but they seem helpful when you want to take some time to work laterally rather than directly and intensively.

Let me know if you have any other specific questions. I'd also be willing to chat on skype or phone if you would like to talk at length.

Best,
Lee

RE: Bhavana Society
Answer
3/9/10 9:29 PM as a reply to Wet Paint.
Well, hey, just the old post of mine I was looking for!

It's been a while, mostly due to exactly the job-related relocation mentioned in my initial post. Sadly, in all the turbulence of moving, starting a new job, and all that my practice has dropped off precipitously. As my own experience suggests that I have a very hard time establishing/maintaining a regular practice at home I'm once again on the search for a good place to meditate and hopefully a teacher or two. Bhavana is definitely still on my radar, so I'd still very much love to hear about anyone's experiences there. I doubt I'll be able to make it to any retreats in the near future, but having the prospect of a retreat in the future will hopefully help motivate me to maintain a diligent practice!

RE: Bhavana Society
Answer
3/9/10 9:48 PM as a reply to Lee G Moore.
Lee,

Thanks (now quite belatedly) for the reply! I must admit, it's a bit disheartening to hear that Bhavana might not offer a very intensive retreat experience, though I'd like to think that the exposure to multiple different techniques could be beneficial. My experience up till now has been with intense solo meditation in the Mahasi vein, which I've found to produce surprisingly good results in a short amount of time, at least while I had the benefit of the Cambridge Insight Meditation Center on my daily walk to/from work to provide a dedicated meditation space. I'm hoping to be able to create a similar situation here in DC at the Washington Buddhist Vihara (which I have yet to visit) which will be very conveniently located for my new commute by bike between Takoma and Silver Spring (once we move to our new house in Takoma next month).

Anyway, as to Bhavana, I'm curious if you have any recommendations as to teachers to look for when picking a retreat, or anything of that nature. Also, do you have any insight as to the 'skill levels' they list for the different retreats? All I'm seeing on their current schedule is beginner, intermediate, and any, with only the beginner retreats being of a shorter length. Now that I'm at a full time job rather than freelancing finding time for the longer retreats will be much harder, but I would suspect that a beginners retreat might not be the best use of my time.

Cheers,
Josh

RE: Bhavana Society
Answer
7/19/10 11:11 AM as a reply to Josh Ourisman.
I don't know if this is still possible but:You might consider volunteering at Bhavana during the Jan/Feb retreat for resident monastics and laypersons. I did this about 7 years ago and found the experience very rewarding. The opportunity to incorporate practice and work in support of the residents was valuable to me. It felt very still with plenty of opportunity for individual sitting as well as an opportunity to observe monastic life.
Chris