Visiting the Hermitage

Information for Visitors & Volunteers

Aranya Bodhi is a rustic, off-grid hermitage for monastic women practicing in the Theravada forest tradition. It is a secluded natural setting, ideal for a reclusive life of meditation in nature. 

In 2017 we welcome residential visits of two to four weeks, including daily meditation, Dhamma study and mindful service.  This is ideal for one who wishes to experience the Theravada bhikkhuni form of practice ... who has experienced the transformative power of Vipassana meditation ... who loves the forest and practicing in nature ... and who is a monastic woman, a monastic life aspirant or a friend or supporter of our women's monastic sangha. 

To protect the meditative space, we ask our friends to contact us before visiting. There is an application process, and when possible we ask first time visitors to first come for a day visit or for a short stay of a few days. 

The rustic facilities and reality of the rugged and wild forest environment are challenging for some. However, visitors over the past year have noted the large and small improvements to our physical setting.  Gone now are the old trailers, replaced by new buildings of standard construction that have sheltered us with much more ease through the past several winter rainy seasons.  The redwood forest life challenges of mold, mildew, rain and rodents that marked our first few years are much more easeful with these new and easy to maintain structures.

There is pure potable water on-tap, solar electric, and kitchen and shower facilities that look and feel like an ordinary home in town ... except that one can step out the door and be in the deep silence of a magnificent forest.

All this progress with the physical set-up has allowed us to pause on construction projects, leaving our daily life more balanced and quiet.  The time available for supported personal retreat is gradually increasing. Besides our daily formal practice at the hermitage, there are monthly full moon and new moon day-long retreats at our monastery, which is not far away at the western foot of Sonoma Mountain in Penngrove. We also join with the Dhammadharini community from the monastery for alms rounds in Sebastopol twice a month.  For fun and inspiration, a few of us are creating a Dhammapada study guide, translating, analyzing and reflecting on one verse per day.  

There is regular inter-visitation with the Dhammadharini Monastery in Penngrove, and many women find it fruitful to alternate periods at  Aranya Bodhi with periods at the monastery.  More information about visiting the monastery is available via the monastery tab under "About" at the top of every page here on this site.

At both our hermitage and monastery, visitors, volunteers and our residents engage in a mix of mindful service and meditation practice.

The links on the upper right of this page have important information for our guests.  Please read them carefully. If you have visited before, much of this may be familiar, but please read again as we have revised this information.