Arrival & Departure Days:
All Personal Retreatants are asked to arrive only on Wednesdays, Fridays or Sundays. Departures may occur on any day of the week.
Length of Stay:
Two-night minimum. If you have no retreat experience and this is your first visit to a monastery, you may apply to stay for a maximum of five days (possibly a bit longer if visiting from out-of-province or internationally). If you have not visited Birken in the recent past, you may apply to stay up to 10 days (or one week if you need Wednesday pick-ups and drop-offs in Kamloops). If you are a frequent visitor and have stayed for at least 10 days in the past, you may apply to stay up to two weeks. Longer stays require special permission from the Abbot. All guests are limited to 30 days of total retreat time at Birken, per calendar year.
Please consult the Birken Calendar to determine a suitable period of time for your Personal Retreat. First-time visitors should not plan to come for a visit when Ajahn Sona is away. We no longer maintain a ‘vacancies calendar’ – you may submit a registration form for your desired dates and we will notify you if space is no longer available.
Prior to registering for a Personal Retreat, please make sure you have read the latest version of our Guest Guidelines outlining our daily schedule, monastery etiquette, and other guidelines applicable to your stay. All guests are expected to abide by the Eight Precepts outlined in our Guest Guide.
Contact with “The World”:
In order to safeguard the retreat environment at Birken, guests do not have internet or cell phone access at the monastery at any time. Please finalize your worldly affairs and travel arrangements before arriving. It is expected that you will reside on the monastery property throughout your stay and not leave the premises to make phone calls or run errands, etc. You may provide the monastery’s email address to loved ones back home, for emergencies only: firstname.lastname@example.org
It is customary for all guests to help out with light chores around the monastery throughout their stay. Please sign up for one or more tasks on the ‘Yogi Duties’ board in the kitchen upon arrival. All guests are asked to assist with breakfast and lunch clean-up.
Please plan to arrive at Birken sometime between 1:00–4:00pm if you are driving to the monastery (or by 1:30pm if requesting a pick-up in Kamloops). PLEASE NOTE: we now require all guests arriving and departing from the Kamloops Airport to take a taxi / shuttle to and from the Birken pick up location (detailed instructions will be provided in your retreat confirmation). There will be only one guest pick-up and drop-off location in Kamloops. Participants needing a ride to Kamloops will depart the monastery after breakfast (about 8:30am). Prior to registration, you must determine how you plan to arrive and depart, and include this information on your registration form (please wait to finalize your transportation arrangements until the Birken Office has confirmed your booking). Please visit Getting Here for more details.
Last-minute cancellations are burdensome to the monastery and prevent other guests from the precious opportunity to visit. Please notify us as soon as possible if you need to cancel your visit. Those who cancel at the last minute or leave the monastery prior to their scheduled departure date, may be subject to restrictions on future visits.