Retreat Information

Chrystal Mountain Society for Eastern and Western Studies - Chrystal Mountain Society for Eastern and Western Studies - Chrystal Mountain Society for Eastern and Western Studies - Chrystal Mountain Society for Eastern and Western Studies

Information on attending retreats sponsored by Crystal Mountain Society

Your Aspiration: The aspiration is about seeing what is present; it is less about removing negativities about you — and more about allowing changes and transformations to occur and not having fixed ideas about what should or should not occur in a retreat. If it is positive practice then confidence in awakening, by you and others, will naturally take place.

Health: Physical health.
The retreat is located in a rugged area with paths on uneven ground so it is important that you be reasonably healthy and able to walk around such a property. If you have any doubts check with a doctor before coming. Please realize that a retreat is not psychotherapy. All participants need to be in a reasonably balanced emotional state. If you are on any medication, or were on medication immediately prior to the retreat, you will be asked to disclose this information as this can help Lama Mark understand your situation. The retreat site is located on a remote island serviced by a small clinic and emergency ambulance service only. Please be sure you have adequate medical health insurance if you are from out of province or out of country.

Site: While on property during the retreat, we ask all the participants to take the five precepts and the Bodhisattva vow as their constant practice. These disciplines, which are common to all schools of Buddhism, are standard for meditation retreats and are to help support the development of fluid, easeful presence, coupled with bright interest and awakeness. Lama Mark will give these precepts at the start of the retreat and teaching on them. Please ask the Retreat Manager for a copy of the five precepts and Bodhisattva vow if you are not familiar with them.

Use of cell phones and laptops will not be permitted during retreats:

These must be deposited with the retreat manager at the start of the retreat. Family emergencies can be phoned into the retreat coordinator or the emergency numbers on your information form.

Kitchen / Cooking /Diet:
If you have dietary requirements for health reasons, we will try to accommodate you. However, part of practicing Buddha Dharma involves cultivating equanimity and learning to accept what comes up and that especially includes food. Catering for a large range of different needs is a lot of work, so please make sure your requests are not whims of the moment. If you do have special needs, please inform the Registrar on your application form.

Dana for the Teacher:
In keeping with traditional practice, Lama Mark does not charge a fee for teaching but lives by Dana (the generosity of students). Dana is a Buddhist teaching about giving and receiving, about generosity and thankfulness, and the interdependence of all beings. It is not a tip or gratuity but is often the teacher's only source of livelihood. It is left up to the participants to assess their own circumstances and to give accordingly, as generously as possible.
A suggested amount is $30 per day; this is only a guideline.

Refund Policy: In order to maintain expenses for the retreat, Crystal Mountain will retain a non- refundable portion of your retreat funds, $100 to $200 (sliding scale). It will be designated to the Practitioner Support Fund and you will be eligible for a tax receipt.

Practitioner Support Fund: The Practitioner Support Fund was created to support individuals financially to attend retreats. Information on how to apply to the fund can be found on

Please consider adding a donation to your retreat fees as an act of generosity. Donations can be made on the website or sent in with your retreat fees.

I have read the “Considerations on Applying for Retreat” and find it acceptable.
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Crystal Mountain is a non-denominational society based in British Columbia, Canada. Founded by students of Venerable Namgyal Rinpoche — a Westerner trained in the Theravada and Vajrayana Buddhist traditions — Crystal Mountain’s purpose is to promote the development of the wholesome, clear, interested mind through study, meditation, and compassionate work. Membership is open to anyone in sympathy with these objectives. While recognizing the value and necessity of preserving and supporting traditional forms, our particular concern is with furthering the development of a Western expression of Buddha Dharma. Crystal Mountain sponsors teaching and retreats in Vancouver and on Galiano Island.

PAYMENTS are to be made after your registration has been accepted.

Retreat Payment Options:
1. Payment can be made by PayPal. If you are using PayPal, once your Retreat Application is submitted via email to the Registrar you will receive a PayPal invoice and it will link you to PayPal.
2. Payment can be made by Cheque. If you are paying by cheque(s), once your Retreat Application is submitted via email to the Registrar, send your cheque to: Gisele Sabourin Please make the cheque payable to: Crystal Mountain Society

Note: If you are Paying by Installments (PayPal or Cheque)
*3 Installment dates: Early Bird: April 1, May 1, June 1.
*3 Installment dates: Regular: After April 1-Arrangements can be made with Registrar

If you are in need of some financial assistance for course fees please see the Practitioner Support Fund application process at or ask the Registrar for more information.

Included in Fees charged by Crystal Mountain:

The fees charged by Crystal Mountain cover expenses to provide the Teaching. This includes all the meals, services to provide the meals (propane, etc.) and sundry supplies to run the retreat centre for the month. The fees are not payment for the Teaching itself.

Dana for the Teacher:
In keeping with traditional practice, the Teacher does not charge a fee for teaching but lives by Dana (the generosity of students). Dana is a Buddhist teaching about giving and receiving, about generosity and thankfulness, and the interdependence of all beings. It is not a tip or gratuity and is often the teacher's only source of livelihood. It is left up to the participants to assess their own financial circumstances and to give accordingly, as generously as possible. A suggested amount of $30.00 per day can be considered. This is a guide only. Please bring the Dana with you when you come to the retreat. You may give your Dana to the onsite course coordinator at the beginning of the retreat. In addition, a bowl will be available to receive donations / Dana for the teacher in the Meditation tent and for teachings at the Lama’s house. If there is a Wongkur, donations are welcomed.

Not included in the fees: Dana for the Teacher, your travel costs, any books or text that is required by Lama Mark


REFUND POLICY August 2016, revised March 2019

All refunds are issued at the discretion of the board/course registrars on an individual basis. Decisions may be Appealed for reconsideration.

Any portion of a fee that is deemed non-refundable will be eligible for an Income Tax Deduction Receipt if no value of services is received by the donor, as per Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) regulations.

NON-REFUNDABLE DEPOSITS: Non-refundable deposits are non-refundable. No refund is given.

REFUND OF COURSE FEES: Course fees are refunded, as possible, on the following basis:

  1. Any portion of fees that have been spent for their intended purpose (i.e. housing, food purchase etc.) may not be refunded. i.e. – if a contract for housing has been entered into by CMS on the retreatant’s behalf, the fee paid for housing will be deemed non-refundable.

  2. If REASONABLE NOTICE of withdrawal is given to the course registrar all attempts will be made to fill your spot and refund a maximum amount of the fee paid.

  3. NO SHOWS: if less than one week’s notice of withdrawal is given to the course registrar, a maximum of a 50% refund will be issued, if funds are available as per 1 and 2.

  4. Refund decisions may be deferred until the conclusion of the retreat as excess funds may allow for a greater refund possibility.

  5. Apologies to the Lama does not constitute notice to the registrar.

  6. Consideration will be given for emergencies.


  1. DONATION OF MEMBERSHIP: CMS by-laws state no refund of membership funds will be given.

  2. DONATIONS are NON-REFUNDABLE as per CRA regulations.

Crystal Mountain Society is not a business. The Society exists as a vehicle to support the study and practice of the three cycles of Buddhadharma. All courses are offered by the generosity of the Teacher and the volunteers who provide support, with no paid staff. The success of any retreat is dependent on the co-operation and participation of everyone attending. Fees are calculated to be as reasonable as possible. No profit is built into any fees.

Crystal Mountain is a non-denominational charitable and educational society Registered in British Columbia in 1981 Founded to promote the development of the wholesome, clear, interested mind through study, meditation, and compassionate work.

The Crystal Mountain Study and Retreat Centre were established in 1980. The Centre is a rustic, forest-style retreat facility with simple amenities, located in a beautiful secluded valley at the north end of Galiano Island – a setting ideal for contemplative pursuits. In December 1999, responding to a growing interest in retreat activities, Crystal Mountain acquired additional land and tripled in size from 20 to 61 acres. Our programs currently run only during the summer season. All programs, building, maintenance and organization, in keeping with the teachings of the lineage, rising from a base of generosity, are run on a volunteer basis. Donations to support the work on the land are always appreciated.

Tent sites are also available on a first come first serve basis (please bring your own tent). Offsite accommodation: It is highly recommended that all retreat participants stay on the Crystal Mountain Retreat site. There is NO cost to stay on the Crystal Mountain land. If someone is considering renting off-site accommodation, to please check with the registrar prior to making a commitment, as this requires prior approval.
PLEASE NOTE: The retreat centre has no electricity. The kitchen, fridge and stove are run by propane as does the hot water tank. The shower room has a hot water shower. Volunteers form the heart of each and every retreat held on at Crystal Mountain Retreat Centre. The cooks, shoppers and daily maintenance jobs are all volunteer positions. If you feel called to help in this way, please contact the registrar.

We have an open-air, roofed kitchen facility with propane stove, oven, fridge and sink. There is an adequate supply of plates, cutlery, pots, pans, and tea and coffee pots. Every attempt is made to locate a volunteer cook for each course. Please contact the coordinator if you are willing to apply. Course fees can be reduced. We are usually fortunate to have people step forward willing to focus their meditation on the generous act of service to others. If no cook is found, a cooking schedule will be made between participants.

As well, a shopper or two is needed each course. The Lama will seal the retreat site at the beginning of the course and entrance will be restricted. A designated shopper will purchase kitchen supplies and personal items for special needs. Please bring cash, there is no bank on the island. Please anticipate your needs and bring as many personal items you anticipate you will need for the full retreat.

There is a small washing room with sink and shower. Please bring your own toiletries, towels and BIODEGRADEABLE soap. Toilets are non-flush, drop loo style. (outhouses!)

Washing and drinking water is pumped from a ground well. We are fortunate to have an adequate supply of very good water even in dry summers.

There are no washing machines as there is no electricity, but there is a clothes-line on which to hang your hand washed items to dry.

Weather in the Pacific Northwest is unpredictable and can quickly change. Bring layers of clothing, including warm outerwear & rain-gear.

Shared Spaces:
Though we will all have private rooms/tents, we will be sharing public spaces. Please be respectful of your fellow retreatants: keep talk to a minimum and practice awareness & generosity. It can be uncomfortable at first to avoid eye contact as it goes against our socialization; with practice you learn the benefits. Please remember those working in the kitchen are in retreat too. Direct your questions/needs to the retreat manager.

● watch or clock
● flashlight and extra batteries
● recommended reading, if any
● notebooks and pens
● clothing, layers for warmth, loose comfortable for sitting and exercise, rain gear and shoes
● toiletries, biodegradable soaps, mosquito repellant, sun screen, enough *personal items to last the full retreat
● towels, face cloth
● umbrella, sun hat, etc.
● any musical bells, bowls or drums appropriate for Wongkur
● Dana, (cash or cheque)
● Mala
● Emergency Fund cash, just in case

● tent, sleeping bag, etc. (contact the registrar if you have questions about camping supplies required)
● napkin with a ring (to save trees by not using paper napkins)
● hot water bottle (for cold nights)
● insulated travel mug
● slippers 
● yoga mat
● sun shower

Things NOT to bring:

● pets
● laptops
● radios
● reading material (other than suggested materials by Lama Mark)
● musical instruments
● cell phones

Emergency Numbers:
There will be a cell phone on the land for any emergencies that may arise. If anyone needs to contact you while you are in retreat there are a number of people on Galiano Island who can get a message to us on the retreat site. Emergency #'s will be provided to you prior to the retreat

From Vancouver:
The Tsawwassen Ferry Terminal is a 45-minute drive south of downtown Vancouver. The ride on the “Southern Gulf Island Ferry” to Galiano Island is about 50 minutes. Please note: there are a limited number of ferries sailing from Tsawwassen to Galiano Island in the summer. Please check the schedules at or call 1-888-223-3779. It is critical to make reservations with BC Ferries if you are bringing a car. No reservation means you may not make the ferry as the summer months are heavily booked. Foot passengers do not require reservations, although arriving early will ensure there are tickets available.

From Vancouver Island:
The Swartz Bay Ferry Terminal is a 40-minute drive from downtown Victoria; about 10 minutes from the Victoria International Airport. The ride to Galiano Island is 65 minutes if it is direct, so check the schedules at

Getting to the Retreat Center from Sturdies Bay on Galiano Island:

From the ferry terminal at Sturdies Bay, follow Sturdies Bay Road to the junction at Porlier Pass Dr. (just past the Hummingbird Pub about 2 km) turn right and continue on Porlier Pass Dr. to the North End of the island (approx. 25 minutes from the ferry). You will pass Madrona Lodge on the same road (approx 15 minutes from the ferry) and Bodega Resort is about 3 minutes from Madrona, at Cook Rd. Once you’ve passed Cook Rd., keep an eye out for Spotlight Rd sign on your left. The NEW beautifully handcrafted wooden “Crystal Mountain” sign is just past Spotlight Road on your right. Follow the dirt road all the way up to the oval parking area.

Should you require any additional assistance with your registration package or have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact the Registrar.


As a meditator living in the heart of Vancouver, I can’t express how fortunate I feel to join others in this beautiful environment to regain my sense of equilibrium and refresh my commitment to a compassionate life.  Renata Healy