3 Day Retreat at Chenrezig Buddhist Institute

Retreat at Chenrezig Buddhist Institute

I dream of retreats. I Google retreats. I love the idea of retreating from the busyness of life, the business and even my dear family.

Much as I love the Candy family I also need time away from my three kids and a walk a day just doesn’t cut it. So in the interests of keeping us all healthy and happy (in particular me!) I’m committing to regular time out from them and time by myself. I’m ready to stop dreaming about retreats and actually go on some. Yay!

Yes, I’m being utterly selfish and scheduling time to leave the mum/cheerleader/nag/study mentor/art curator/personal shopper/housekeeper/maid at home, and just be myself as well as be by myself. Bliss!

I’ve decided to aim for a monthly break or retreat and overseas trips take too long to do monthly while commercial retreats and health spas are too pricey. I still hope to get overseas once or twice a year and to a commercial retreat, health spa or posh hotel as often as possible, but I also need a cheaper option for my retreats because there’s enough guilt around taking time away from the family for mums without over-spending would make it worse.

Chenrezig Buddhist Retreat in the Sunshine Coast hinterland* fit the bill for my first solo retreat because:

  1. Chenrezig  is close enough to get to easily from the Sunshine Coast, Brisbane or even the Gold Coast, but far enough away to make you feel like you’re on holiday and on a real retreat. *Chenrezig is about an hour’s drive from Noosa and an hour from Brisbane near the small village of Eudlo.
  2. Chenrezig  is a cheap retreat option with accommodation options starting at $32 per night.
  3. You can buy good, reasonably priced vegetarian food in the Big Love Cafe with breakfast for $7, lunch for $12.50 and supper for  $7.  They have some great cakes for $4 too. Mmmm. A no cooking retreat is right up my street.
  4. There are a range of events and retreats throughout the year at Chenrezig so you can just pop in for a meditation session, a walk in the garden and lunch or stay for a weekend, a week or longer. The retreats and events are varied covering meditation, mindfulness, silent retreats and therapeutic retreats as well as more tightly focused Buddhist courses.

chenrezig retreat stained glass

What I loved about Chenrezig

In addition to the above Chenrezig was a good choice for my retreat and I particularly enjoyed:

1. My retreat hut

I stayed in a fully self-contained retreat hut which is the most expensive accommodation option costing $70 per night. It’s a small stand alone room with a kitchenette area and a tiny bathroom.

To be honest I was a bit shocked when I first saw my hut. The bathroom was probably fitted 20 years ago, the toilet bowl was deeply stained and the shower curtain moldy.

I realise I’ve become a bit of a princess about travel accommodation recently and, when you consider that the last place I stayed at before Chenrezig was the highly luxurious Sofitel Gold Coast, my retreat hut was bound to be a come down.

But once I got used to it I loved it. I got all the privacy I needed, could make a cup of tea whenever I wanted and the bed was comfy. So deeply engrained are my princess travel ways these days that I even brought my own cotton sheets with me but the bedding was fine although I did prefer to use my own towel.

There was a fan for summer and an oil heater for winter too and I loved the parrot that came to visit me on my balcony.

chenrezig retreat parrot

2. The retreat

I attended a two day course called Further Flourishing which covered acceptance and commitment therapy and was led by two psychologists, Dr. Samantha Clarke and NeLi Martin. I won’t go into details of the course here as that’s a whole new blog post but it was excellent.

This wasn’t an official retreat but I’m using the term widely here to mean a break from kids and routine. If you want to do a more organised retreat Chenrezig have them, just check the events calendar on their website.

3. The Big Love Cafe

big love cafe

Apart from the name, which is brilliant, The Big Love Cafe is a fun place to hang out and chat with a diverse crowd of people including some of the nuns and monks who live at Chenrezig and business people from Brisbane who want some peace and quiet.

The food’s simple but tasty. My favourite meal was the curry and the cakes are sensational. Not having to cook is a vital part of any retreat for mothers.

big love cafe cake

4. The peace and quiet

I love nature and walking and there are plenty of options. You can take a brisk walk down the road towards Eudlo or back up the hill for coastal views or just wander round the Garden of Enlightenment (pictured below). I spent a bit of time at the dam which had lovely waterlilies and a resident kingfisher.

chenrezig retreat garden view 2

5. The Buddhist culture

Although you’re on the Sunshine Coast in Queensland, Australia it seems more exotic.

chenrezig retreat garden

What you might not like about Chenrezig

1. Rules

Being a regular rule breaker I struggle with rules but, being a Buddhist Institute and community made up of nuns and monks, Chenrezig has some. They call it a code of conduct and it includes five main rules:

  1. No killing any living beings including all insects and mosquitoes.
  2. No stealing.
  3. No lying.
  4. No sexual misconduct and no sexual contact on the “Hill” area.
  5. No intoxicants including alcohol and marijuana.

Sounds fair enough doesn’t it? The rules were easy to stick to and the one about not killing insects is taken seriously. There are reminders in the bathrooms for you to keep toilet lids down to avoid any insect drownings because there is “no liveguard on duty”! Everyone was very careful not to kill anything, even a bug, even accidentally.

2. Mosquitoes

They tell you not to kill mosquitoes for a reason. They are everywhere. I recommend you take plenty of mosquito repellent and keep your window and door mosquito screens tight shut. Obviously bug spray would be a big no no in view of rule no. 1.

3. Website

Being a web designer I’m fussy about user-friendly websites. Let’s just say that the Chenrezig website has some serious design flaws. Still, if you’re determined all the information you need to plan your own retreat is up there, including a detailed list of courses and events. Find out more about retreats, events and courses on the Chenrezig website.

The final verdict

Chenrezig’s a great place for a budget retreat. It’s cheap, friendly and relaxing plus you can design your own retreat or join an organised one.

My total bill for three nights came in at $370 including the retreat hut, the excellent weekend course plus lunch, dinner and Big Love chocolate cake that I bought the day before and took up to my room for breakfast. You can cut costs if you stay in one of the other rooms and don’t do a course. There’s no obligation to join in with anything so you could just spend your weekend retreat reading and writing if you like.

I love the Candy kids and I loved my mini retreat at Chenrezig too.

chenrezig retreat review

Would you like to go on a retreat?

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  1. Sandra Pawula June 18, 2014 at 9:04 am - Reply

    Yes, I would absolutely love to go on retreat! That garden of enlightenment looks beautiful. It’s been too long since we’ve taken a break like this, but we don’t have anyone in our new neighborhood to watch after our kitties yet. So we need to sort that out.

    I’m glad you’re doing this, Annabel. It’s not selfish at all. The time (relatively) alone will contribute to your well-being and the well-being of your family.

    • Annabel Candy June 18, 2014 at 9:08 am - Reply

      Hi Sandra,

      Oh you’d love a retreat at Chenrezig! But kitties are fun too – I’d love one of those – very therapeutic. I think you’re right about the last sentence. Wish I’d done it before and hope I keep it up.

  2. Peter June 18, 2014 at 10:46 pm - Reply

    Hey Annabel, I love to retreat too. The place is nice but the rules are little tough. No violence is the primary rule of Buddhist culture. Thanks for sharing the post.

    • Annabel Candy June 19, 2014 at 10:39 am - Reply

      Hi Peter,

      Well the rules were fine for me but I know some people need their glass of wine. The violence rule should be universal and everywhere – not just for Buddhists :)

  3. Seana June 19, 2014 at 9:16 pm - Reply

    This sounds a good spot. I can very much see myself fitting in well at the cafe… and yes a retreat from home life is a retreat indeed… after which we are able to march forward once more. Paul and I are heading off the week after he gets home for two nights… an escape I am calling it. Look forward to hearing about the course part too.

  4. Larry June 22, 2014 at 4:10 pm - Reply

    Don’t feel selfish about getting away … not all of us are extroverts, and the ones that are poorly understand the mental health needs of the introvert. Besides, I’d throw away the trappings of the modern world for some of that cheesecake! :)

    • Annabel Candy June 22, 2014 at 6:26 pm - Reply

      Hi Larry, I agree – they’re onto something good with their cakes :)

  5. Linda ~ Journey Jottings June 22, 2014 at 11:10 pm - Reply

    The amazing thing about time away from routine is how your time totally slows down –
    Days that disappear in a blur when you’re racing around like a maniac satisfying everyone else’s demands when at home, spread out into a distant floaty horizon!
    I don’t understand why “we” Mums feel that some ‘me’ time is selfish when that is all that everyone around us is solely concerned with :/
    Here’s to the next retreat :)

    • Annabel Candy June 23, 2014 at 8:53 am - Reply

      Hi Linda,

      So true about time slowing down. Less rush, more time to just be! Yes I need to make these retreats a regular event and work on overcoming feeling selfish ;)

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