About the Course
Every year a ten-day Vipassana course is organized near Occidental to meet the high
demand around the holiday season. For many people this is the only time of the year
when they can get the time off to sit a course. This course has the same curriculum and
timetable as any other 10-day Vipassana course in this tradition.
The only difference is that the course is held at a rental facility:
the CYO Camp in Occidental, CA. The course is offered to around 240 students,
making it one of the largest such courses worldwide.
Apply to sit or serve
The cabins at the course facility are heated and comfortable. There are 6 bunk beds in each cabin, making it 12 people per cabin. There are no private cabins at this site. The bathrooms are in separate heated buildings. Beds are provided with a mattress. Students are requested to bring their own bed-sheet, pillows, blankets, sleeping bags etc. You can also rent a sheet, pillow, blanket & towel from the CYO camp-site. Cost is $25 for the full set or $5 for each item.
The course site in Occidental is rugged, with uneven and sometimes steep terrain, gravel/dirt roads, etc. Please let us know if you have any difficulties walking moderate distances, climbing steps, or any other special needs that should be brought to our attention.
Simple vegetarian food is provided and most people with vegan diets or gluten sensitivities
find there is enough variety to choose from during the course. Given the size and nature of
this course, we are not able to provide special meals. If you have strict dietary restrictions
without which you cannot complete the course, please email
[email protected] well in advance.
What to Bring
- 2 sheets, pillowcase, and a pillow, sleeping bag and /or blankets.
- You can also rent a sheet, pillow, blanket, towel etc. from the CYO camp-site. Cost is $25 for the full set or $5 for each item.
- A shawl to cover yourself during meditation.
- Bottom mat and one cushion will be provided. If you have a meditation cushion OR any other cushion(s) that you can sit on, please bring them to the course. All old students and servers are requested to bring their meditation cushions if they have them.
- Bring enough comfortable, warm loose-fitting clothing for 10 days as only washing facilities are limited to hand-washing in basins.
- BE PREPARED FOR RAIN AND COLD WEATHER.
- Jackets, sweaters or shawl, hats, gloves etc.
- Umbrella / Raincoat
- Waterproof Shoes
- Alarm Clock (NO CELLPHONES ALLOWED during the course)
- Bring towel, soap, shampoo, toothpaste, deodorant, shaving and sanitary supplies etc.
- Please do not bring perfumes or scented creams/lotions etc. as these can disturb others during meditation.
Please note:If desired, valuables may be checked-in for safe keeping during the course.
Students are asked NOT TO BRING the following:
- Do not bring any personal food items
- Please do not bring reading materials or journals to write in during the course.
- All students should observe the rules for modest dress as outlined in the "Code of Discipline" booklet. Shorts, sleeveless or low-cut tops, tank tops, transparent, tight or revealing clothing, etc. are not permitted. Tights or leggings should be worn only under a knee-length top or skirt.
CYO Retreat Center Address:
2136 Bohemian Highway, Occidental, CA. 95465
Click here for printable driving directions.
If you need a ride or can offer a ride, you can sign up on the rideboard link given in your acceptance email. Any questions regarding the rideshare process can be directed to: [email protected].
Public TransportationIf you are flying in for the course, Sonoma County airport is the closest. San Francisco and Oakland airports are also okay. Avoid San Jose airport.
There is no direct public transportation from SFO or Oakland or Bay Area that comes all the way to Occidental. All options listed below first bring you to Santa Rosa.
From Santa Rosa
- Take a cab -- this is by far the easiest way to reach Occidental from anywhere in Santa Rosa. A regular cab costs around $50. Uber would be around $30.
- The Mendocino Transit Authority bus # 95 leaves the Sonoma County Airport at 3:45PM. It leaves the Santa Rosa Transit Mall at 4:15. The driver will stop at Freestone by request and it is 2 miles from CYO Camp. Please call us to arrange pickup from Freestone. This bus only runs once a day.
From San Francisco cityTake the Golden Gate Transit Bus #101 to the Santa Rosa Transit Mall and change for the MTA #95 at 4:15.
From SFO Airport or Oakland AirportHere are the options:
- Try to find a ride directly from the airport on the rideshare board.
- Take the Sonoma County Airport Express, and:
- If you can board the 1:30pm or earlier bus then take it to the last stop which is the Sonoma County Airport and change for the MTA #95 at 3:45pm upto Freestone. (see above).
- If you are taking a later bus, you can get down at the Santa Rosa Park & Ride stop and take a cab from there. Ask the bus driver to arrange a Taxi (~$50) or call Uber (~$30). Alternately, you can also try to find a ride on the rideshare board from this stop -- it is on the way for almost anyone driving to CYO from Bay Area.
(Phone: 1-800-327-2024, One-way fare: $34 per adult approx).
For further questions about transportation email: [email protected] or call 631-629-6734
All courses are offered free of charge and are run on a voluntary donation basis only.
Donations are accepted only from those who have completed at least one ten-day course with
S.N. Goenka or one of his assisting teachers. Someone taking the course for the first time
may give a donation on the last day of the course or any time thereafter. Visit the donations page to donate online or see other ways to donate (including checks and monthly donations). Email [email protected] if you have questions or need the login information for the donation page.
In this way courses are supported by those who have realized for themselves the benefits of the practice. Wishing to share these benefits with others, one gives a donation according to one's means and volition. Such donations are the only source of funding for course in this tradition around the world. There is no wealthy foundation or individual sponsoring them. Neither the teachers nor the organizers receive any kind of payment for their service. Thus, the spread of Vipassana is carried out with purity of purpose, free from any commercialism.
Serving the course
If you are an Old Student (i.e. have completed a 10-day Vipassana course), you are welcome to help
organize the largest non-center course in North America!
If you wish to serve on the course itself, please fill out an application to serve.
Since this course is held at a rented facility, a lot of effort goes into preparing the site for running a meditation course. e.g.
- trucking in all the materials
- setting up meditation hall, dining hall, dividers etc.
- posting signs and marking course boundaries
- preparing food
- overseeing parking
- registering students, etc.
All of this effort is carried out by old student volunteers. If your schedule permits, please consider arriving before or after the course to help with set up and clean up.
For the December 2017 course, we can use help from Dec 22-24 for SETUP and on Jan 3-4 for CLEANUP. If you are interested in serving, please fill out this form.
Ideally, we would like to have a team of 30 servers for each day. If you arrive on Dec. 22nd or 23rd, you have the option of staying overnight at the CYO site. Please note that only old students may help with course set up. All students though are welcome to stay after the course ends on morning to help with packing things away. We should be able to finish clean up by 11am on Jan 4th.
If you are available to help out, please let us know of your availability by sending an email to [email protected] or calling (631)-629-6734 (please leave a voicemail) and let us know: your first and last name, what dates and times you plan on arriving and leaving, your phone number and whether or not you'll be staying overnight at CYO.