Insight Retreat Center

FAQ (Online Retreats)

We offer online retreats focused on insight meditation (Vipassana) and the liberation teachings of the Buddha. All retreats are freely offered. Our center is supported by donations from those who practice here, and it is managed entirely by volunteers.

Registration, deposits & lottery General Questions
Waiting list Preparing for an Online Retreat
Cancellations Zoom Instructions
Schedule (Typical Retreat Day) Contact

Registration and costs

How do I register for a retreat?

Register online on our Online Retreat Schedule page. If you are not able to register online, contact the registrar listed for the specific retreat.

Cost: donation-based retreats

Our retreats are offered freely at no cost to anyone who participates. Most of the financial support for IRC comes from donations that participants offer at the end of retreats. Their generosity is what allows others to participate in future retreats.

Participants have the opportunity to offer an online donation for the teachers and for IRC Expenses. Teachers serve without compensation from IRC.

Refundable deposit

A refundable online deposit (credit card or Paypal) is required to reserve a space in the retreat. (See Online Retreat Schedule for amount).

Your credit card will only be charged (or check cashed) in two instances:

  1. You are accepted into the retreat and cancel after the cancellation deadline, which is three weeks before the start of the retreat. (see Online Retreat Schedule for date.)
  2. Or, you are accepted into the retreat and do not attend.

Retreat lottery

All applications that come in during the first 3 weeks of registration are entered into a lottery.  There is no advantage to applying immediately when registration opens – all applications received within the first 3 weeks of registration opening are treated equally.

  • Results of the lottery are communicated by email by the date listed on the registration page.
  • Those not selected in the lottery, or that register after the lottery, are placed on the waiting list.
  • Note:  Unlike our Residential Retreat lottery, where if an applicant isn’t selected in the lottery, their probability of getting accepted increases with each subsequent retreat they apply for.   With Online Retreats, your chances of being selected in the lottery are always the same.

How do I know if I’m accepted into the retreat?

You will receive an email confirmation upon receipt of your registration form and deposit. We will inform you if you have been accepted to the retreat within two weeks after the lottery deadline. If the retreat is full and you registered after the lottery deadline, you will be placed on the waiting list.

Can I re-register if I have already cancelled?

Yes, if there is room. But, if the retreat is full, you will be placed on the waiting list.

Waiting List

How does the waiting list work?

When a retreat fills, a waiting list is started. If a cancellation occurs, the next applicant on the waiting list is notified. To be taken off the waiting list, please contact the Registrar — their contact information is listed in your in your IRC retreat emails or on the Online Retreat Schedule.

What are my chances of getting into a retreat if I am on the waiting list?

  • It can vary with each retreat, but generally, the first number of waitlist applicants have a good chance of getting into a retreat, especially if they can be flexible with time, and can accept a spot in the last 2 weeks before the retreat starts. You have nothing to lose by staying on the waitlist.

How will I know if I’ve moved up on the waiting list?

You will receive a waiting list status update 4 weeks prior to the start of a retreat.

How do I get on a waiting list for a retreat that is full?

Register online and make a deposit. The Registrar will add you to the waiting list and give you notification of your status.  Your deposit is refundable.

Will I be charged the deposit while I am on the waiting list?

No, your credit card will not be charged at any time while you are on the waiting list.


What if I need to cancel?

Notify the Registrar by email or phone as soon as you know that you are unable to attend.  The registrar’s info can be found on the Online Retreat Schedule page, or your confirmation email.

Do I lose my deposit if I have to cancel?

If you cancel before the refund date (stated in your registration materials) you will not be charged the deposit.  If you cancel after the stated date, you will be charged the deposit and it will be donated to the IRC Fund.

Can I transfer my deposit to another retreat?

No, deposits are not transferable to other retreats.

Can I transfer my deposit to another person?

No, deposits cannot be transferred to another participant.

General Retreat Information

What time do online retreats begin and end?

Typically, you must check-in between 2:00 and 3:30 pm, and the retreat starts soon after that.  The retreat usually ends by 12 pm on the last day. Times for your specific retreat are listed in your registration materials and on the IRC website.

What is a typical retreat day like?

The daily schedule varies from retreat to retreat. However, a typical day is as follows: All retreats are in silence unless specified otherwise.

  • First sitting at 6am (Pacific time)
  • Alternating 45-minute periods of sitting and walking meditation until bedtime
  • Meditation instruction and a daily dharma talk
  • There are times in the schedule when tasks of daily living may be done as an integrated part of mindfulness practice.
  • Periodic individual or group practice discussion with the teacher(s)

What are the practice discussions with teachers?

These are an opportunity to discuss your meditation practice and retreat experience with a teacher. They may occur in small online groups or one-on-one meeting with a teacher.

What is Noble Silence on Retreat?

Retreatants are asked to commit to being silent during most of their retreat, and only speaking if it’s necessary.  Keeping our attention internal and being silent, is an important support to the practice of mindfulness while on retreat. It means not communicating with others by speaking, using notes, phone, email, or internet. It includes quieting the mind by not reading, writing or listening to news and entertainment. Notes to the teachers and retreat managers are an exception. There are opportunities to talk with teachers during practice discussions and Q&A sessions, as well as chances to interact with other retreatants during the retreat Opening and Closing sessions.

Can I participate in less than the full retreat?

You are expected to attend the full retreat. Requests for exceptions must be approved by the teacher(s) before the retreat.

Can I audit the retreat?  

The teachers may accept several experienced practitioners who would like to audit the retreat.   LEARN MORE

Is it okay to lie down during sittings?     

Yes, if there is a physical condition that necessitates it. 

Phones and Internet

To allow the full potential of meditation practice it is important to give the mind as much break as possible from phone, email and internet usage, though you will use them in specific ways to participate in the retreat. In registering, you agree to limit your use of these devices as much as possible.

Reading, writing and other activities

Retreat practice is a valuable time to keep the attention inward.  To take advantage of this special time, we encourage participants not to read or pursue other activities during the retreat.

Preparing for an Online Retreat 

Contact Information

Email the Online Retreat Coordinator or the registrar for the retreat you are interested in.  See the Online Retreat Schedule