Winter Retreat (2018 – 2019)

Sold-out. Register to be placed on the waitlist.


Big Bear Retreat Center is pleased to welcome Cheryl Slean, Frank Baird, Rosamaria Segura, Steve Levitt, James Rosser, and Cecilia Ussher for a special New Year’s Insight Meditation retreat.

This silent meditation retreat offers a precious opportunity to develop the momentum of compassionate mindfulness that leads to transformative insight into our hearts and minds. Each day will consist of sitting and walking meditation, teacher guidance, and yoga–and on New Year’s Eve, a special Intention-Setting Ceremony. This retreat is suitable for both beginning and experienced meditators.


Sold-out. Register to be placed on the waitlist.

The Winter Retreat will take place from December 26th, 2018 to January 1st, 2019.

The abbreviated retreat will take place from December 29th to January 1st, 2019.

Additional Information / Frequently Asked Questions:


How do I register for the retreat?

Click the “Register Now” button, or visit our Retreats page. If you are not able to register online, contact the Retreat Manager listed for the specific retreat.

How much does it cost to attend the retreat?

The Winter Retreat is being offered freely at no cost to anyone who participates. You will be invited to contribute a donation (dana) at the end of retreat. Your generosity will allow others to participate in future retreats.

A refundable deposit is required to apply for a retreat. The deposit is refunded upon request when one arrives at the retreat or if one cancels two weeks before the start of the retreat.

At the end of the retreat, retreatants have the opportunity to offer a donation to the teachers and to the BBRC Retreat Fund. These generous donations (dana) are what enables BBRC to continue to operate and offer retreats in this way.

The BBRC Retreat Fund is used for BBRC’s operating costs, including accommodations, minimum guaranteed compensation for retreat teachers and staff, retreat food and supplies, retreat management, caretaker and facilities managers, as well as the general operation costs of running the center.

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. This retreat is being offered on a first-come first-served basis. If you’ve registered after the retreat is full, you will be notified within 48 hours and placed on the waiting list. If you do not have email access, the Retreat Manager will contact you by phone.

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.


What if I need to cancel?

Please notify the Retreat Manager by email or phone as soon as you know that you are unable to attend.

Do I lose my deposit if I have to cancel?

You will not lose your deposit if you cancel before the *Cancellation Date. If you cancel after this stated date, your deposit will be donated to the BBRC Retreat Fund.

*Cancellation date – the deadline to cancel and not forfeit your deposit is by 5pm Pacific Standard Time on December 11, 2018

Can I transfer my deposit to another retreat?


Can I transfer my deposit to my partner or another person?


General Retreat Information

What time do retreats begin and end? 

Typically, check-in is from 2 to 4 pm followed by a welcome and orientation at 4:30 pm. The retreat usually ends by 11 am on the last day. Times for your specific retreat will be listed in your registration materials.

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.
  • Wake-up bell: 6 or 6:30 am
  • Alternating 30 to 45-minute periods of sitting and walking meditation
  • Guided yoga
  • Meditation instruction and daily dharma talk
  • Breakfast, lunch and a light supper are provided (also available through the day are bread, nut butters, and fruit).
  • A daily work meditation period, typically kitchen, housekeeping or grounds-keeping.
  • Periodic group practice discussion with the teacher(s).
  • Sleep: 9:30 pm.

What are the practice discussions with teachers?

Sometimes called interviews, these are an opportunity to discuss your meditation practice and retreat experience with a teacher. They usually occur in small groups with a teacher.

What is Work Meditation?

A daily 30 – 40 minute period of work as meditation practice. Jobs include helping with meal preparation, kitchen cleanup, housekeeping and grounds-keeping. These are pre-assigned.

Can I arrive early on the day my retreat begins?

Plan to arrive during the check-in period unless special arrangements have been made.

Can I stay extra nights before or after a retreat?

Sorry, the Retreat Center is currently booked.

Can I participate in less than the full retreat?

For this retreat, two options are being offered. The Full-Length Option will take place from December 26th – January 1st. The Abbreviated Option will take place from December 29th – January 1st. You may register for either, but you are required to attend the full duration of the retreat in which you enroll.

Requests for late arrivals or early departures must be approved by the teacher(s) before the retreat.

Is there a number I can be reached at during the retreat in case of emergency?

Yes. This will be provided in your registration materials.

Can I practice yoga during the retreat?

Yes. The Winter Retreat will feature guided yoga instruction. Additionally, there are a number of areas that can accommodate yoga. Keep mindful to avoid distracting fellow retreatants.

Can I have a package sent to me while I’m on retreat?

To receive a package while on retreat, please inform the Retreat Manager. The Retreat Center is in a rural area and specific arrangements may need to be made to accommodate package deliveries.

Can I attend a retreat as a commuter?

The teachers determine if they will accept commuters for each retreat. Please contact the Retreat Manager if you are requesting this.

Can I camp?

There is no camping available at this time.

Is it okay to lie down during sittings in the hall?

Yes, if there is a medical or physical condition that necessitates it. Please discuss this with the retreat teacher.

Can I use my CPAP machine? Is there a place to plug it in?


What happens in case of Medical Emergency?

In the event of medical emergency the retreatant will be taken to a LOCAL hospital or Urgent care facility as applicable. We are not able to accommodate requests to other facilities.

Can I bring my Service Animal?

Though we wish we could support those who rely on Service Animals, we are not able to accommodate them.

Retreat Practice

Phones and Internet:

In registering for a retreat, retreatants agree that during the retreat they will not make phone calls, check email or go on the internet. In case of emergency the Retreat Manager may be contacted. They pick up messages at least twice a day.

If you’d like, your phone can be kept under lock and key for the duration of the retreat.

Meditation Hall Etiquette:

We ask that retreatants be on time, and not to leave until the end of a sitting.

No electronics are permitted in the meditation hall. If you choose to take notes during a talk or instruction period, please bring paper and pen.

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 bring reading material or pursue other activities such as creative writing or photography during the retreat.

If you’d like, your phone can be kept under lock and key for the duration of the retreat.



Most rooms have two beds per private room. We have a limited number of single rooms, and on occasion, in overflow situations, we make use of fold-out beds in the living room areas of cabins.

Wheelchair Accessibility:

BBRC currently offers wheelchair accessibility, but with limitations (we are hard at work improving this). Please contact our Retreat Manager with your specific needs / concerns / requests.

Sheets & Towels:

We provide clean sheets, bedding, and towels. However, we encourage you to bring your own as it aids us in conserving energy, water, and volunteer hours. All beds have twin-sized mattresses.


There is no smoking anywhere in the facility or grounds of BBRC. This includes electronic cigarettes.

Hair Dryers:

If you feel you have to bring a hair dryer, it should only be used at times it won’t disturb others, typically right after meals for about 45 minutes.


What are meals like?

We serve vegetarian meals during our retreats. We serve breakfast, lunch, and a light supper. Vegan and gluten-free options are always available. BBRC does not accommodate individual dietary preferences, unless medically necessary. We thank you in advance for gratefully accepting the food we offer.

Do you serve tea and hot water?

Available throughout the day.

Do you serve coffee?

Drip coffee-makers are available for pre-ground coffee.

I must eat meat for my health. What should I do?

We do our best to make special dietary accommodations, when medically necessary. Please contact the Retreat Manager if you have specific requests and/or concerns.

What to Bring

Water bottle:

BBRC is committed to conserving water. Bring your own water bottle to help prevent having to wash glasses.

No Scented Products:

Being mindful of some people’s allergies or sensitivities, please do not bring or wear scented cosmetics, soaps, or other products, including “natural” scents. Do not use fabric softeners or scented detergent in clothing worn on retreats. For resources about how to be fragrance-free, we highly recommend visiting EBMC’s site.

Clothing for all weather:

Indoor temperature is controlled by forced-air heating. There can be large temperature swings between day and night so bring appropriate layers.

Bring an umbrella and rain gear in the Spring, and winter gear in the Winter.


Bring shoes that are easy to slip on and off. Most buildings are shoe-free. Ideally closed-toe shoes in case your work meditation is in the kitchen. For some, it can be helpful to bring indoor shoes or slippers. We also provide indoor-only slippers.


Bring whatever you need. We are not able to shop for items you may have forgotten.

Please bring:

  • Unscented toiletries: toothbrush/paste, shaving items, sunscreen, etc… (note: Shampoo, conditioner & soap are provided.)
  • Medical and personal supplies: Tylenol/aspirin, cough drops, eye drops and lip balm…
  • Sunglasses and sunhat for walking outdoors.
  • Shawl or wrap for the mediation hall
  • Indoor “slipper” shoes or extra warm socks. (No shoes in most buildings.)
  • Flip flops for shower room
  • Flashlight or headlamp (and batteries)
  • Water bottle

Meditation Cushions and Mats (Zafus & Zabutons):

Zabutons (mats) and round cushions are provided in the meditation hall. Cushioned chairs are also available. The meditation hall floor is carpeted. Retreatants are encouraged to bring their own bench or special cushion.

Will I be able to do laundry?

The center’s laundry facilities are not available to retreatants. To help conserve water, bring enough clothes to not have to do hand laundry if possible.

*Photo Credit: Rudy Espinoza (Instagram @rudyespi)

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