Insight Retreat Center

The Full Vision for the Insight Retreat Center

Your support will help us build it

The Insight Meditation Center

The Insight Meditation Center (IMC) in Redwood City, California, is one of the oldest urban Insight meditation centers in the country. Under the leadership of its guiding teacher, Gil Fronsdal, the center has grown and flourished since its founding in 1990.Today the full weekly schedule of meditation, talks, classes, family activities, and other events draws a cross section of people of all ages: from men and women who have been practicing mindfulness meditation for decades to people who aren’t even quite sure what mindfulness is. Whether people are dedicated to a lifetime of practice or simply curious about the benefits of meditation—or somewhere in between—all are welcome to take part in the range of programs freely offered at IMC.

Suffering . . . and an End to Suffering

There is certainly no shortage of suffering in our world. Twenty-five hundred years ago the Buddha set forth some simple ideas about human suffering and how to end it. We can understand this suffering to include not only the big upsets that send our lives into turmoil, but also the smaller, low-grade challenges people encounter on a daily basis—what we might think of simply as irritations or stress.

Mindfulness practice offers a way to work skillfully with everything that life throws in our path, the big issues and the small, so that we can experience the breadth of our lives, the ups and downs, with more ease, wisdom, compassion, and joy. This in turn can lead to the end of suffering,  the liberation that the Buddha taught was possible for all of us.

On Retreat . . . A Precious Experience

At IMC, people practice meditation in the midst of active lives that can include family, work, school, and community responsibilities. Indeed, one of the hallmarks of meditation in the West is its prevalence as a non-monastic practice. Centers like IMC make Buddhist teachings and mindfulness practice—and the many benefits these bestow— available to everyone.

Meditation retreats offer practitioners a chance to devote an extended period of time—from a few days to a couple of weeks or longer—to continuous, sustained practice. The benefits of this kind of uninterrupted meditative practice are many, and they vary from person to person. Most meditators find that over the course of a retreat they gain increased calm, clarity, wisdom, compassion, and gratitude, all of which they carry back to their families, workplaces, and communities. Slowing down and spending such intimate time with oneself is fundamentally healing, and participants learn to be more kind and accepting of themselves and others.  For many people, even those without an established meditation practice, going on retreat is a precious experience whose effects are felt long after the retreat is over.

Establishing the Insight Retreat Center

Having our own retreat center has long been a vision for the IMC community: to allow seasoned practitioners to deepen their practice . . .to enable new practitioners to experience the fruits of sustained meditation . . . and to establish a place where coming generations will receive the training to become Buddhist teachers and leaders.

Thanks to the generosity of many individuals, in June of 2011, IMC purchased a beautiful property—a former nursing home—in Scotts Valley, California. This is the future home of the Insight Retreat Center. We plan to begin offering retreats by June of 2012.

The Insight Retreat Center will offer a full schedule of retreats throughout the year—taught by IMC teachers Gil Fronsdal and Andrea Fella, as well as visiting teachers. The retreats will be of varying lengths and will accommodate up to 40 participants. The Center will welcome practitioners from the immediate community as well as those from around the country. Everyone will be invited to come and practice.

A Culture of Generosity

IMC offers all of its events free of charge. It is in this same spirit of generosity that we will offer retreats at the Insight Retreat Center. Retreatants may choose to support the Center out of a feeling of generosity but there will be no obligation. The Retreat Center will be staffed by volunteers who are committed to supporting retreat practice for themselves and others. In addition, many of the retreats’ day-to-day operations, such as cooking and cleaning, will be performed by retreatants themselves as part of their practice. We at IMC believe that the teachings of the Buddha flower most beautifully when they’re offered freely.

What Lies Ahead . . . and How You Can Help

The future Insight Retreat Center sits on 2.8 beautifully landscaped acres in a semi-rural area of Scotts Valley, California. The building is in excellent condition, but significant remodeling work is needed to transform the former nursing home into a comfortable and inspiring retreat center that will live on for generations.

Your support will help us:

  • Construct the meditation hall and walking meditation hall
  • Build additional bedrooms for a total of 40 single rooms
  • Remodel the kitchen and dining hall, and replace needed appliances
  • Add additional bathrooms
  • Purchase the adjacent timber preserve, which will provide serene areas for contemplation and walking meditation

The Insight Retreat Center will be a gift to the IMC community, and to practitioners everywhere—offering a place to sit in stillness and find peace in the midst of a busy world. Please help us build it!

Practicing for Ourselves . . . and for the World

The benefits of retreat practice extend far beyond the participants themselves. As people grow in mindfulness, compassion, and wisdom they bring the these benefits of the practice to their family, friends, places of work, and community.  We are inspired to have a retreat center where people undertake this practice to transform not only themselves, but the world as well. 

The benefits of retreat practice extend far beyond the participants themselves. As people grow in mindfulness, compassion, and wisdom, they bring these qualities into all their actions and interactions with others.  We are inspired to have a retreat center where people undertake this practice to transform not only themselves but also the world.