In a place helpful to the mind and pleasing to the eyes, in a hidden retreat, let the aspirant cultivate spirituality.
The Society maintains a retreat in west Marin County, about an hour’s drive from San Francisco in the town of Olema, where spiritual seekers may meditate and study away from the disturbances of urban life. The purpose of the retreat is to provide spiritually-minded people, of any faith or spiritual path, a supportive environment for spiritual practice.
The retreat is open daily from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and is available to people who value it as a spiritual sanctuary. Day visitors are welcome; please check in at the barn. Upon approval, individuals may stay overnight at the retreat from time to time after an interview at the Vedanta Society in San Francisco. To arrange an interview, please telephone the Society’s office at 415-922-2323 any weekday (except Tuesday) between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. PST. Please note that we are on summer recess from June 22 through September 12, 2015. To arrange an interview to use the retreat overnight, please phone 415-922-2323 beginning September 14. The maximum stay is for five days and five nights.
The retreat occupies over 2000 acres on the Point Reyes Peninsula ― a sparsely settled, still largely pristine area on the coast of northern California.
The Vedanta Society maintains a retreat house for men, as well as a separately located house for women. Each house accommodates retreatants in private bedrooms. Daytime visitors, both men and women, may use the library and the meditation room on the first floor of the Men’s Retreat House, which is located near the entrance of the retreat.
Individuals on retreat are self-directed. They should use their time well by cultivating the life of the spirit through meditation, study, and reflection, as appropriate to their own spiritual tradition. The retreat houses provide blankets and pillows; however, retreatants bring their own towels, sheets, and pillowcases. All retreatants must provide and prepare their own food. As a courtesy, each retreatant is to leave his or her bedroom clean and ready for the next occupant. In keeping with the spiritual atmosphere of the retreat, conservative dress and demeanor are required. Although donations are welcome, there is no fee.
The Vedanta Society purchased the property, previously a ranch, in 1946. It became the site of a small monastic community shortly thereafter. Throughout the years many dedicated Vedantins, both lay and monastic, have been actively involved in establishing the retreat on a firm footing, upholding in practice the ideal of service to God in all. Since 1973, when retreat accommodations became available, the retreat has been welcoming people of all faiths.
Annual Special Program
On Memorial Day, an all-day spiritual program is held at the retreat, open to all without charge. Each year a speaker from a different spiritual tradition and a swami of the Ramakrishna Order speak on a spiritual theme, and their talks are followed by questions from the audience. Complimentary meals are served after the morning and afternoon programs.
There is also a bookshop tent with a large selection of publications on the world’s religions.
Over the years, spending Memorial Day at the Olema retreat has become a tradition with many people from all over the Bay Area and beyond. In a story on this annual program, one of the local newspapers wrote: “The ambiance was wonderful ― expansive, accepting, lightly humored, nonjudgmental, and hopeful.”
For photos of recent retreats, please see the Photo Galleries.
Vedanta Society Retreat
9799 California 1
Olema, CA 94950