MEDITATION-RETREAT-IN-SYDNEY-SUNNATARAM-FOREST-MONASTERY

Best Weekend Meditation Retreat In Sydney At Sunnataram Forest Monastery

We’ve found the best meditation retreat in Sydney at Sunnataram Forest Monastery in Bundanoon near Kangaroo Valley. This donation based meditation retreat in NSW is accessible for everyone and will leave you feel recharged, calmer and wanting to come back time and time again like I did!

Do you ever feel like you just need a break from everyday life? Somewhere where you can just stop, get a good sleep and have a bit of me time? Well, I think I’ve found just the place!

I heard about a Buddhist meditation retreat in NSW called Sunnataram Forest Monastery a couple of years ago. The retreat tends to take place once a month from a Friday night until Sunday afternoon. There are longer retreats on the Long Weekends and Christmas Holidays as well.

The best thing is, you don’t need public transport to go to this meditation course in Sydney. You can catch the train to Bundanoon and get picked up from there if needed.

If you’re interested in visiting but just for the day, you can visit the beautiful gardens, pagoda and lunch offering each Sunday lunchtime.

As it’s based in the small town of Bundanoon near Kangaroo Valley, Sunnataram Forest Monastery is home to the most spectacular view over looking the valley and out towards Jervis Bay in the distance.Beautiful views at Sunnataram Forest Monastery


Things I knew About The Meditation Retreat In Sydney

Absolutely gorgeous gardens at Sunnataram Forest Monastery

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I knew it was a silent meditation retreat. Pretty much everyone I know always says, “I couldn’t do that, not speak for 2 days!”. To me, this is bliss. Gone are the awkward chit chat with the other people attending, it was an opportunity for me to switch off. I think people find it too confronting as there’s no distractions, just you and your mind for 2 days. That’s no phones, no internet, no TV, nothing.

The reason why meditation retreats are silent is because they actually need to be so you’re able to really get something out of it. It gives you the time and space to clear all of the junk from your mind. It’s like a reboot of the mind. People go on diets, exercise hard, and so on, this is just a version of that to detox the mind in the path to peace and happiness that’s not a quick fix like the others. 

It’s donation based although they recommended $55 a night so that’s $110 for a 2 day meditation course.

The food is also vegetarian so I was unsure how much would be vegan but thought I could always get around it somehow.

I also knew it wasn’t going to be just sitting meditation, but with a mixture of Tai Chi, walking meditation, Dhama talks and chanting.

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Walking meditation

Here’s the course schedule:

Friday

  • Arrive by 6:30pm
  • 7pm Chanting, meditation and orientation
  • 9pm sleep

Saturday

  • 5am Wake Up
  • 5:30am Morning Chanting (30 minutes or so) & Meditation (1 hour)
  • 7am Breakfast
  • 8am Tai Chi
  • 9am Walking Meditation (outside, 40 minutes) meditation and talk (1.5 hours)
  • 11am Lunch and sleep
  • 2pm Walking meditation (outside 40 minutes) meditation and talk (1.5 hours
  • 4pm Help out the Monastery with jobs
  • 5pm Soup
  • 6pm Evening chanting and meditation
  • 8pm-9pm bed time!

Sunday

  • The same as Saturday:
  • 11am lunch and pack up
  • 1pm talk
  • 2pm finish!

What To Expect At Sunnataram Forest Monestary

As soon as we arrived I was in absolute awe of the Pagoda which was all lit up. It looked incredible against the darkness of the night sky lit up by thousands of stars. During the evening, we were able to do a walking meditation around the Pagoda and it was amazing. It certainly felt very special, walking in the dark in the quiet and amongst the stars.

The beautiful pagoda at Sunnataram Forest Monastery, Bundanoon 

Sunnatarum Monastery
All wrapped up for a talk before walking meditation. Can you spot which one is me? 

One thing I knew was it was going to be cold. I mean really cold because I went there in June, that’s winter in Australia and it was in the middle of the mountains! Luckily I was put into a female dorm which had a fireplace to keep us warm. If you’re thinking of going, take warm clothes and UGG boots no matter what time of the year it is.  

The food is amazing, like seriously amazing and most of it is vegan friendly too. Think a mix of Thai and Indian food that just all worked incredibly well together with loads of fruit as well.

The dining area

The teachers are just magical and taught us a lot. What I really loved was how they related pretty much everything into the modern world. Talking about Instagram to TV Shows like The Voice, they knew it all. Their purpose was to teach us the act of loving kindness and mindfulness with their visual stories and it worked…really well.

These are the incredible teachers at Sunnataram Forest Monastery.


Favourite Part of the Sydney Meditation Course

Being able to sit and enjoy the quietness and beauty of the monastery. The view out to Jervis Bay was absolutely stunning.

Spending two days looking out to this view isn’t a bad thing!

The amount of wild animals that would gather at the meditation retreat is completely magical. From wombats (I saw my first ever wombat walking right next to me!), peacocks, ducks, rosellas, kangaroos…the list goes on. It was like a scene from a Disney movie. Every morning the animals would congregate by the fire waiting to be fed and the teacher would stand with food in his hands and they would just swarm around him. It was pretty amazing!

I also absolutely loved Tai Chi. It was my first time doing it and and beautiful form of meditation in itself that really helped me focus and clear the mind.

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What Did I Learn At Sunnataram Forest Monastery?

It’s amazing what you can teach yourself in just a few days. Everyone’s experiences were going to be completely different but I got a lot out of it and learnt a lot about myself and how to make small proactive changes for a better life.

I came back from the retreat absolutely beaming and full of life and have learnt how to deal with situations in a better light than before. I’m also keen to incorporate Tai Chi into my life as well.


Why Should you go to Sunnataram Forest Monastery?

You can even take a plant home, just donate what you think it’s worth

If you’re feeling a bit lost or you just need a few days away (there were a few people there who attended who just needed time out from their families for a couple of days) then this is the place to rejuvenate.  

It’s also a fantastic retreat if you’ve just started meditating as the Monks explain everything in a very relate-able way so it’s easy to understand. There were people there of all levels on the retreat.

I couldn’t recommend it enough so much so that I’ve already been back twice since I originally wrote this article!

Sunnataram Monastery

When I returned to work the next day, it was interesting seeing everyone say the usual “weekend wasn’t long enough” whereas for me it felt like I had been away for ages in a really, really good way 🙂

Have you been to Sunnataram or any other meditation retreat near Sydney? Let me know in the comments below.


Best Meditation Retreat In Sydney

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  1. Hi Annie,

    I know you posted this comment awhile back so I wanted to check-in. Is the Sunnataram still something you would recommend?

    Thanks for sharing ?
    Dom

    1. Definitely. It’s easily one of THE best places in Sydney. It’s donation based and you’ll get a lot out of it. Best of all is the peace and quiet. Hope you manage to go to one of their retreats!

  2. Hello Annie, My daughter lives in Sydney and I’m coming from London to visit from December on till March. We have not seen each other for a year. Louisa my daughter has been going through abit of a rough time lately, and this magical place will be just the right tonic my daughter needs. Annie, could you please email me the best way to make a booking please. And would you please recommend any other similar retreats run by monks. Thank you very much for posting such an interesting topic. Many thanks. Lisa xxxx

  3. Hi Lisa, glad you found this post. It really is a beautiful place and easily one of my favourite places near Sydney. I’m sure your daughter will love it as much as we do. You can book here:
    https://www.sunnataram.org/meditation-retreats/application-form
    The only other retreat I can think of is in Blue Mountains which I’ve also been to. They run courses of all lengths from 1 day to 12 days and longer. You can check it out here : https://www.dhamma.org/en/schedules/schbhumi
    Thanks!
    Annie

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