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Attending an event at Great Vow

What to expect

When you arrive at Great Vow for an event, please check in at the office, located in the center of the building. If you have arrived for an overnight retreat you will complete registration, receive a dorm assignment, and be shown to your dorm. Dinner is served around 6 p.m., and tours are offered after dinner. Registration begins at 5 p.m., and you are welcome to arrive anytime after 4 p.m. on the day of the event.

For overnight events the day begins with meditation. Meditation instruction is offered for anyone new to meditation. Meditation supplies (chairs, benches, and cushions) are provided, and you are welcome to bring your own. See the schedule link on the page of the event you are attending for details about your retreat.


The guest dorms are large rooms with dividers or curtains arranged to create roughly ten semi-private spaces. Depending on how full a retreat is, you may have more or less space to yourself. There are also four private rooms, which are reserved for honored guests or people with specific health issues. If you have a health issue and would like to request a private room, contact the registrar directly. Each guest dorm has a common restroom. Showers are located in two places in the monastery, and there are wheelchair assessable showers. Please ask when it is appropriate to take showers. 


Meals served at all events are healthy and vegetarian. Food may contain eggs and dairy products. Gluten-free and dairy-free food is provided if requested. If you have specific food allergies please indicate that when your register. 
Food donations are always encouraged. Fair-trade coffee, peanut butter, chocolate chips, dried fruit, cheese, and nuts are especially appreciated.
Proper Attire
To support the dignity of spiritual practice and to lessen distractions, we ask people to wear modest, subdued clothing in the meditation hall. People tend to be most comfortable wearing loose-fitting pants, skirts, or meditation robes. Please do not wear shorts, sleeveless tops, leggings or shirts with advertising or logos.

Because many people are sensitive to scents, please do not use strongly scented toiletries, essential oils or wear perfume or cologne in the meditation hall.

Cancellation Policy
A $50 non-refundable deposit is required at the time of registration. If you need to cancel for whatever reason we can transfer your deposit to another retreat, as long as the cancellation is made prior to the week before the retreat start day. When cancellations are made the week of a retreat, the $50 deposit is no longer transferable. Many of our weekend retreats fill to capacity and open to a waitlist. Your late cancellation may have prevented someone else from attending the retreat. Please consider this when cancelling at the last minute.
What to bring
Personal toiletries (we have a small supply of toiletries including ear plugs if you forget anything)
Flashlight (optional)
Slip-on shoes or sandals (helpful for shoes-off areas in the zendo and dorm rooms)
Please also consider bringing your own linens or sleeping bag. This helps the monastery cut down on energy use. We have plenty of linens available if you would rather use ours. 
Please do not bring
Non-prescription drugs (excluding allergy medications, vitamins and supplements, or related items)
Alcoholic beverages
Radios, media players, and so on
Reading materials or journals (to Beginner’s Mind or Sesshin)
Cell phone and laptop use
Because of the high usage of cell phones and media in our modern times. We encourage you to consider dis-connecting for the duration of your retreat at the monastery. Silent meditation retreats are an opportunity to retreat from the ordinary busy-ness of our lives, to slow down, tune into ourselves and allow the heart mind to deeply settle and re-align. The continuous stimulation and distraction offered by our cell phones and media, can prevent us from tasting the benefits of a quiet mind and settled heart. 
The phone number for the monastery is 503-728-0654, and is checked daily. Please arrange for those who might need to contact you in case of an emergency to use this number, rather than your cell phone. 
It is common to feel symptoms  of withdrawal, irritability, discomfort, restlessness and agitation when committing to a discipline of renunciation. As is the case with the practice of presence and attention, on the other side of discomfort is a deeper settling into the presence and acceptance of this moment, just as it is. The internal work that we are able to do during retreat, can lead to a deeper and more continuous experience of peace and joy, even in the midst of the busy-ness of daily life. Please take this to heart and challenge yourself to give up your cell phone for the duration of the retreat.

We will have opportunities available at registration to place your cell phone in a bag, which we will hold for safe keeping for the retreat, and return to you at the end.
Thank you!
If you will be attending a sesshin or other intensive meditation retreat, please click here.