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Jhana Retreats – Where To Find One?

Having known about Jhana since 2004, and having experienced them since 1997-1998, I can’t recall ever seeing a Jhana meditation retreat offered by anyone. Of course, I don’t go looking for them but on a coaching call this morning a man asked if I knew of any in the Southeast Asia area.

I don’t. It led me to research to see what is out there in the World. Searching “Jhana retreat” brought up my site in the #2 position so I thought I’d better write about it since I didn’t refer anyone to an actual retreat in that article! I refer you to one at the bottom of this page.

First of all, there is confusion as to what Jhana is and isn’t. Some folks have created an app that claims to push you through the Jhanas with suggestions on what to do to get there – as if you can do that while IN the Jhana.

I don’t know why they insist on calling this Jhana or anything related to Jhana, but there it is. People will try to make a billion dollars from anything. Nothing is safe, I suppose! lol. So, the following Jhana Retreats are only those that appear to be retreats about the Jhana that occurs as described in the Buddhist Suttas. Those described by the Buddha.

These are the only Jhanas I know and I wouldn’t feel OK telling you to go try some other thing that people are calling Jhana.

Here’s what I found online.

Jhana Retreats in the USA?

I could find no listing in Google that refers to a Jhana meditation retreat that really seems like they are teaching how to meditate on the breath or use insight to reach the Jhanas. There are some hokey programs out there that just seem like they are preying on the unsuspecting people who yearn to change their lives for the better through reaching access concentration and Jhana.

Jhana Retreats in Canada?

There is one! This is the only one (in the world) I found in 20 minutes of looking.

Martha Retreat Centre (.ca) – Here’s the description of the course from their website. The course is currently closed. They may offer it again. It is in Alberta, Canada just north of Washington State and Montana.

Dates: Wednesday, May 17, 7:00 p.m. – Sunday, May 21, 1:00 p.m. 2023

In traditional meditation practice there are eight progressive altered states of consciousness referred to as jhanas. These states of consciousness are categorized as right concentration. Each of these states helps meditators gain deeper, more insightful states of awareness.

Developing these states of consciousness has been described as the path of serenity and insight which ultimately leads to a deep awareness that helps practitioners on their path of awakening. This retreat will be of interest to those meditators who have a regular meditation practice and who have attended one or more meditation retreats.

Cost: $560.00. Payment options include: cash, cheque at the Centre; e-transfer to [email protected] or below Pay Pal with service fee included. If you have any problems with payment options, please contact the Centre. Facilitator: Bob Campbell.

Vern’s Note – As I looked further into this, it appears to be a religious organization based on the God of the Christian Bible. There’s no mention of Buddhism on their website, so just keep that in mind if you were hoping for something more Buddhist based. It appears that maybe they have a member of their congregation that is well-versed in the Jhanas?

Jhana Meditation Retreats Elsewhere?

There don’t appear to be any other centers specifically offering “Jhana Retreats.” Why might that be?

The Vipassana retreats all over the world are kind of meant to offer a Jhana experience, but they don’t mention that as a goal in public or they would have been all over the search engine results. 10 Day Vipassana retreats have led some to Jhana, but that would only be an advanced practitioner who is already either getting or close to access concentration (Samadhi).

My Idea About 10 Day Vipassana Retreats

I’ve researched a lot of peoples experiences with 10 day Vipassana retreats, especially the one that is close by here in Thailand. When I first arrived in the country 20 years ago, I was curious about them and I considered going a couple of times just to see what the experience was, and whether I could recommend it to other people.

It appears that somewhere around 60% or 70% of people report having a good experience during these long, silent retreats. But there is a fairly large percentage of people who didn’t get much out of the experience.

A 10 day retreat in which you are speaking very little and not allowed to interact with your phone or computer or technology of any kind is quite a drastic change from most peoples lives in present day society.

For some people, it may deepen their meditative practice. For others, it may be a waste of time. For still others, they may see it as a negative experience.

If you are the type of meditator who thinks meditation is for the social aspect, the joy of talking about it and sharing your experiences with others, then a long 10 day silent retreat is going to seem like a nightmare. Isn’t it?

If you are someone who meditates alone and is serious about your practice and you don’t share it much with others, you will probably really enjoy such a long retreat.

Up to you, I guess. I can see that some people will enjoy it and get something positive out of it. I think for me, I got much more out of my private practice where I meditated daily for 20 minutes or so on my own bedroom floor.

One need not go to amazing places like Thailand, Sri Lanka, Burma, or Indonesia to meditate in a silent retreat for 10 days to help their meditation. Just do the work at home. Vacation in these places and enjoy yourself to the fullest!

If you’d like to try a 10 Day silent Vipassana Retreat in Thailand that may lead to Jhana, I’d recommend the Wat Suan MokkhInternational Dharma Hermitage Retreat” that takes place on the first of the month through the 11th each month of the year.

The image at the top of the page is of this Suan Mokkh retreat. Their English retreat is given on 1st through 11th of the month and the Thai language retreat is given after. The image shows 100+ Thais on retreat. The English language retreat gets between 50 to 150 participants usually for each month.

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