Retreat General Guidelines
About Our Retreats
The Retreat Organizing Committee is very happy to welcome and congratulate all students from all over the world on your Awake goal to join the Awake retreats at Universal Door Meditation Center. One of our greatest joys is welcoming and supporting you on retreats. To help you prepare for the retreat, we highly encourage you to read, familiarize yourself with all of the important details, and follow all the basic instructions below, which will help you to be clear and happily follow, which in turn bring benefits to the practice of the entire Sangha on the path towards Awake.
Awake Sangha Lifestyle
Life in the meditation center is different from the secular life. Awake is the foundation of every daily activity in the Center - walking, standing, lying, sitting, talking, interacting, eating, working. Awaken to not forget the Awake goal in all activities throughout the day and everywhere in the Center. The Awake Sangha is always fresh, harmonious, gentle, open, living in a spirit of harmony.
In order to support students to practice Awake in all circumstances and to reduce the cost of living and maintaining the Center, students attending the retreat are required to avoid waste of water, food, electricity and minimize garbage disposal by sorting recyclable trash and putting it in a recycling bin.
There will be 3 meals a day prepared by students in the retreat who will cook dishes in accordance with the daily menu. All foods at the Center are vegetarian (no meat, no seafood, but has butter). If you are allergic to a particular ingredient, please prepare it yourself if you have special needs. The menu is changed daily.
The climate in Houston often changes. Summer is often hot and humid. The winter is quite cold, sometimes with chilling wind so makes it feel colder. All rooms have air conditioning systems. Please bring enough clothes to keep warm when outdoors in winter and spring.
Proper Attire for Retreat
Clothes worn in the meditation center should be solemn, not sophisticated. Please wear vat khach and a gray robe. In addition, it is recommended to choose clothes that are loose, comfortable but not thin and not revealing, suitable for the practice environment. Avoid wearing fabrics that make noise (nylon material, etc.) when bowing as well as moving that may affect other students. The elastic, loose, comfortable fabric is the best, easy for meditation and bowing. Do not wear short skirts, short pants, tight-fitting clothes, tight yoga pants, and open arms (no sleeves).
Things to bring
Please read the PACKING LIST FOR RETREAT. Avoid bringing too many things into the retreat. The less the better.
Universal Door's residential retreat accommodations offer comfort and simplicity. Students attending the retreat will stay in a simple dormitory room, depending on the number of students attending the retreat, each room can have 2 to 10 people. At the meditation center, we practice the Sangha lifestyle, living in harmony with each other like an Awake family so anyone who comes to the Center would share a room with others, according to the arrangement of the organizers. If you have any questions or other accommodation needs, please promptly contact the retreat organizer. To keep the Center quiet and safe at night, please return to your dormitory area and turn off the light at 10:00pm.
Blankets/sleeping bags and pillows are provided for students from out of town. As for local students, please bring your own blankets/sleeping bags and pillows when you come to the retreat.
Things Cannot be brought into the retreat
Please do not bring jewelry or valuable items, perfumes or fragrant products, illegal drugs, cigarettes, guns, weapons, fireworks, or other flammable materials into the meditation center.
Arrival and Departure
Please arrange to arrive on time on the first day of the retreat, so you have enough time to check in, pick up your name tag, put away your belongings, locate your assigned sleeping area, settle in, and then get ready to assemble in the meditation hall to attend the mandatory Retreat Orientation. Please let the retreat organizer know if you arrive late. In addition, we require students to come and leave the retreat on the exact days as per registration. In order to have enough time to receive, experience and gain great benefits, students should attend the entire retreat, cannot come or leave in the middle of the retreat while the retreat is taking place.
Commuter Students (go home every night)
In case all the rooms in the Center are full, in order to support the out-of-town students, we have to let those who are living near the Center choose commuter retreat. Every day in the retreat, local students drive back and forth from their residence to the meditation center to attend the retreat but it is recommended that you do not arbitrarily drop any session or day in the retreat.
Please read the AWAKE RETREAT GUIDELINES for additional rules.