1. What is the GRC? What is the MRC?
The GRC is the Gainesville Retreat Center. Our mission is to support and nurture kindred spirits of diverse traditions who are on a sincere spiritual path for the betterment of all beings. We offer teacher-led, in-house and personal retreats, meditation, yoga, kirtan, holistic wellness practices, family/children's and teacher mindfulness programs, and much more. We are an ever-evolving space, dedicated to serving and supporting the spiritual community in a safe, compassionate, and nature-basked sanctuary. The MRC is our new building, which we have affectionately dubbed the "Mini Retreat Center" (MRC).
2. How do I get there?
Your GPS should take you to SE 51st Street, but when you reach the dirt road, it usually says "you've arrived!" At that point, please continue on the dirt road. It is bumpy, but that means you're in the right place. You will see a building with a red door to the right. That is the MRC. You may park there if you wish, or to continue to the GRC, keep going a short distance until you see a large rock and a small sign pointing to the right. Take a sharp right and continue down the beautiful driveway until you reach a "T." Turn right into our gate; the GRC is the first building on the right.
2. Where do I park?
If you are staying at the MRC, you can park in front of or behind that building as described above, then walk over to the GRC to check in. If you are staying at the GRC, you can pull up in front and unload anything you will need for the retreat. Then, please drive a little further, bearing to your right, until you see the grassy parking lot.
3. What does the GRC provide?
We provide sheets, bath towels, blankets, pillows, soap, meditation cushions, yoga mats, chairs, and meditation shawls and yoga nidra/savasana blankets. We also have two backjacks and three meditation benches. You are of course welcome to bring your own of any of these items as well. We also have an assortment of spiritual literature, meditation coloring books, and colored pens and pencils.
4. What should I bring?
Hair dryers, personal toiletries, sunscreen, bug spray, flashlight, alarm clock (if not wishing to have phone/devices while on retreat), swimsuit and beach towel if using pool, covered shoes and pants for hiking if using trails, hat, personal reading/writing materials.
We have both herbal and DEET-based sprays, but please also bring your own if you have some.
5. When we are in silence for some of the retreats, what does that mean? Can I make any noise?
Silent periods are times to plunge deeply into the self. We do not talk during these times, and whispering/writing notes is discouraged unless absolutely necessary. There is no need to acknowledge others, smile, wave, or do any other societal protocols. Keep your gaze downward and activities mindful and gentle. Of course, normal sounds like coughing, sneezing, etc. are acceptable.
6. What is the Community Vegetarian Potluck/Kirtan?
We offer regular opportunities for the community to gather for vegetarian potluck (please bring a dish to share) and Chanting to the Open Heart with your host, Shana. This is a great opportunity to experience and co-create a true satsang/kirtan (company of the "highest truth"). We accept donations at the door (usually $5-$20).
7. What do I do during a Dharma Talk?
Many retreats and zaxenkais (one day Zen sits) offer a dharma talk or talks, which are occasionally open to the public.The invitation is to sit in a comfortable position and simply listen, allowing your mind to relax and your heart open into the spoken offering.
8. What about the internet?
Internet is available via satellite only--that is, there is only enough bandwidth available to check email and surf the internet. There is not enough bandwidth to download big files, stream music or video, watch movies, etc. While on retreat, it is highly encouraged that you do NOT engage in your phones/computers/other devices so that you may completely immerse in your retreat experience. Please feel free to give loved ones our phone numbers in case of emergency: 352-213-2221 (Shana) and 352-316-6696 (Shana's husband Dan). Then, you may wish to turn your phone off for the duration of the retreat.
9. Does the GRC have a cleaning staff?
The GRC is a family-owned "mom-and-pop" community retreat center. Our "staff" consists of the two owners, Shana and Dan, and the help of our sangha, aka community of spiritual practitioners (you). As such, we are grateful for your attention to the tidiness of the retreat center while you are here. There are always chores to do when living with others in retreat, and we welcome your help in emptying the trash, assisting with cooking, and especially kitchen cleanup, sweeping the floors and outdoor walkways, weeding the meditation paths/labyrinth, watering plants, cleaning windows, wiping bathroom surfaces, and keeping the zendo neat and tidy.
10. Can I hike the trails?
We have over one hundred acres of conservation property, with trails. We welcome you to enjoy them mindfully. Safety rules: Always wear covered shoes and pants and apply some type of bug spray, especially to your feet and lower legs, when hiking. Please bring your phone on your trail hikes and sign in and out on the bulletin board when you leave for a hike. Be mindful of wildlife and plants. We will go over North Florida Forest 101 tips during orientation.
11. Can I bring my pet?
Friendly, well-behaved, house-trained dogs are welcome with advance notice/reservation, for an additional $5/pet/night fee. Must be kept on leash.
12. What does the GRC need?
The GRC is a 501c3 non-profit. We always need coffees, teas, and various sweeteners. We also accept donations of spiritual books, potted herbs and vegetables, native plants, flowers for the altar and common spaces, candles, spices and other vegetarian stock ingredients, artwork/garden sculptures, and cash donations in the dana box to maintain and sustain the GRC and support our continued land conservation--now up to 118 acres preserved-- mission.
13. Can I come back to the GRC by myself for a personal retreat sometime?
We welcome and support your practice. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to request a personal retreat. We can offer structured personal retreats, meditation instruction, and other assistance for your retreat, or simply give you the space you need.