Darwin Zen Group retreat information guide

Retreats or Zen Sesshin are a very special occasion and you are warmly invited. Please help the planners by reading and filling in the registration form carefully and considering what you need to bring.

Please make sure you understand the nature of a Zen retreat or Sesshin by talking to the Darwin Zen Group Teacher and Zendo Support members.

The Sesshin is a wonderful opportunity to retreat from the complexity of everyday life in order to return to the simplicity of our True Nature. Participants are supported to touch into the peace, ease and joy that is always available when we learn how to Simply Be. The retreat is an offering from the Zen teacher and Darwin Zen Group members (Sangha) and to take time out in this way is a deep commitment by all participants, as are all transformative experiences.

In return for the Zen teachings and support of the Darwin Zen Group members, there is an expectation that you will stay for the entire time that you sign up to. The reason for this is that the only thing that newcomers usually regret about retreats is that they leave the retreat earlier than intended! Newcomers sometimes realize this when it is too late. Retreats are a rare opportunity to sink into the Truth of our Being.

Retreats are powerful containers for deep insight into the nature of reality. Sometimes insight is not what we expect and we feel unsure of ourselves (our self). This may happen and it is usually when we begin to see into those aspects of our life that cause us difficulty, however a retreat is a wonderfully supportive and flexible environment to explore what is really here for us, things that apparently seem to prevent us from being complete in our lives. If we stay and participate in the talks, inquiries and exercises, these issues are resolved and we feel a deep sense of peace, ease and joy. Life flows after attending a retreat.

In Zen we explore awareness in action through joining others with joyful, mindful, communal sharing of tasks on retreat e.g. cooking and washing up. Please let us know if you have any special needs that may prevent you from sharing these tasks at specified times.

Our aim is to support you to have a wonderful and deep retreat.

The Retreat will be held at Riyala, 255E Elizabeth Valley Road NOONAMAH NT 837
Riyala is a peaceful rural retreat 45km south of Darwin. Turn left off Stuart Highway onto Elizabeth Valley Road. Then turn left onto a private dirt road (see Riyala sign on the corner) before reaching Weaver & Horsnell Roads, which are on the right further along Elizabeth Valley Rd. See map below.

Accommodation is in comfortable 2 bed dormitory / bunk bed style or camping. For dormitory accommodation, mattresses and pillows only are provided. Please bring all your own bedding. If you prefer to camp, you will need to bring all of your own equipment. Cost of sheets and pillow case from Riyala is an extra $15. Remember plenty of shawls and blankets.

Retreat timetable
Please arrive with an open heart as early as possible to set up your bedding gear at the accommodation after 3pm on the start day. If you able to arrive early to help set up for retreat we are extremely grateful. Please let us know if you are able to help. Please also ensure you have a big lunch and bring something to eat as we will only provide light refreshments on the first evening. The retreat formally begins at 6.30pm on the start day and you are expected to be present for the introduction to other participants and Zen procedures. Please inform the teacher if this is a problem for you or if you are unexpectedly delayed, as we wait for everyone before we start. If you are late everyone is waiting for you. Everyone is expected to support with retreat pack up and we all leave the land together when everything is completed.

Please bring everything you need including any special drinks or food you require and please if you bring special treats bring enough to share with others.

Please check weather conditions at Berry Springs before you pack. It can get cold at night in the dry season, but also may be very hot in the afternoons so please bring enough cold and warm weather clothing depending on the forecast. There are always friends who forget how cold it gets at night in the bush in the dry season and do not have enough warm clothes/blankets . Warm sleeping bag, pillow, camping mattress, loose clothing (preferably dark or plain/ unpatterned),walking shoes, torch, towel and toiletries ear plugs, alarm, medications and eye mask if needed, insect repellent, hat, sun block, water bottle and rug/sarong to sit outside and place your mat and cushion on. Helpful extras are yoga mat for body practice and bathers for the post-retreat swim at Berry Springs. Please consider bringing a musical instrument and favorite suitable songs and poetry for a possible camp fire. Those in a dorm need sheets and pillow case as well as blankets or sleeping bag.
You may prefer to bring your own meditation cushions but we will bring cushions. If you have strong preferences or need several please let us know. Plenty of chairs are available. (Blankets and towels are useful supports.). During a retreat you may need more height and support so please let us know if you feel you might need more.
You are asked to stay at the retreat once you have arrived so please pack carefully.

If you don’t have a car and need a lift please state this on the registration form. The retreat coordinator will put you in touch with someone who can drive you to the venue. It is your responsibility to contact the driver and make the arrangements. It is customary to offer the driver money for petrol for long trips. Some participants, particularly those travelling from interstate, will need assistance with transport. We also need people to assist with taking gear to and back from the retreat. Please also list if you are willing to assist by providing accommodation to someone travelling from interstate before or after the retreat, or if you need assistance with accommodation.

Food in Sesshin
DZG offers the invitation to go vegan for the retreat week. Vitasoy light milk is offered for tea and coffee and on bircher muesli.Vegan cheese and other vegan spreads and treats are offered. If this is a health problem for you please state health issues/allergies on the registration.The cooks will be informed of any food intolerance and allergies.

Financial arrangements
The fee of $450 for 7 days and $300 concession and covers the cost of mounting the retreat – food, facilities fee, administration and teaching fee. Problems with payment should be discussed with DZG teacher as there are possibilities for longer term payment or donations of service.

Please pay in full ASAP by date on the registration form (no deposits for this retreat) as we need to buy the food and organize the retreat and need firm commitment. IF THIS IS A PROBLEM PLEASE EMAIL [email protected] to work something out.

Making payment
Please make your full payment by electronic transfer to Darwin Zen Group
BSB 035302 Account 297241
Then email electronic receipt to [email protected] to confirm your place on the retreat.

Participants are invited to note that if they leave the retreat early it tends to create several unnecessary shopping, cooking and transport issues for those DZG members who regularly commit to attending the whole retreat and support its organization. Zen is about supporting this moment and everyone and everything to be complete. Thank you so much. We look forward to Simply Being with you!

Sesshin enquiries should be made to the DZG
[email protected]
If you need to be contacted in an emergency during the retreat please phone 0407 807 448 and leave a message it will be checked frequently.