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.
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 or yoga pants, skirts, or meditation robes. Please do not wear shorts, sleeveless tops, or shirts with advertising or logos.
Because many people are sensitive to scents, please do not use strongly scented toiletries or wear perfume or cologne in the meditation hall.
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
During any overnight retreat, but especially during Sesshin and Beginner’s Mind Retreats, we encourage all participants to keep their cell phones and laptops turned off. 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. Not using these devices is an important part of creating a strong container for the retreat.
If you will be attending a sesshin or other intensive meditation retreat, please click here