One of the world’s most respected and oldest meditation retreat centers, the Insight Meditation Society (IMS) is an institution situated in the quiet country of central Massachusetts that is dedicated to providing a spiritual refuge to those who need it.

Established in 1975 as a center for the study of Buddhism, the IMS is rooted in the Theravada tradition and offers meditation retreats based on the Theravada Buddhist teachings of ethics, concentration, and wisdom. Retreats are delivered by experienced teachers with expertise in Buddhist meditations known as Vipassana (insight) and Metta (loving kindness) with the aim of developing awareness and compassion and promote greater peace and happiness in the world. IMS offers a yearly schedule of meditation courses and retreats designed for both new and experienced meditators that last from a weekend to three months.

The Retreat Center began a program of silent meditation courses in 1976 and currently provides a year-round schedule of over 30 meditation courses, ranging from a few days to three months. The Forest Refuge was established in 2003 as an independent, informal personal retreat for experienced insight meditators to explore Vipassana (insight) and Metta (loving kindness) within a supportive environment. These escapes range from seven nights to stays of a year or more.

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1.Rooms & Suites

Rooms & Suites
© Insight Meditation Society (IMS)

Accommodations at the Retreat Center include three simply designed dormitories - Bodhi House, Karuna House, and Shanti House, all of which are connected to the main building, meditation hall and dining room via indoor passages. The dormitories feature clean and neat single rooms with twin beds, a pillow and two blankets, sinks, closets and chairs, and central heating and rooms can be locked for privacy and safety.

Accommodations at the Forest Refuge include clean single rooms with twin-size mattresses on wooden bed frames, two pillows and two blankets, linens and towels. Each room has a sink, closet, desk and chair and central heating, and dormitory rooms have keyless locks for privacy and safety.

Modern bathroom blocks are located on each floor of the Retreat Center and the Forest Refuge and feature toilets and shower facilities.

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2.Restaurants / Room Service

Restaurants / Room Service
© Insight Meditation Society (IMS)

The IMS kitchen serves a menu of tasty, nutritious vegetarian meals that support a meditation environment. Breakfast includes oatmeal and an alternative cooked grain, and hard-boiled eggs are served twice a week, while the main meal is served at lunchtime and a lighter dinner in the late afternoon. Delicious cuisine is prepared using organic, locally sourced ingredients hand grown in extensive organic vegetable gardens on the property. The center offers a vegetarian menu of meals that include dairy, and eggs, however, special dietary needs can be accommodated with advance notice. Beverages such as caffeinated and herbal teas, as well as milk, soy milk, and miso paste, are available throughout the day. All meals are served buffet-style, and dietary requirements can be catered for.

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3.Amenities/Recreational Activities

Amenities/Recreational Activities
© Insight Meditation Society (IMS)

Amenities at the Insight Meditation Society (IMS) include comfortable accommodations in the form of single and dormitories rooms with single and twin beds, shared bathrooms with shower facilities and restrooms, a kitchen and dining room that serve three main meals a day, and beautiful grounds in which to relax.

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4.Meditation Sessions

Meditation Sessions
© Insight Meditation Society (IMS)

A variety of meditation sessions is offered at intervals throughout the day, ranging from specialized retreats to a group or individual interviews with the teachers. Retreats begin at 5:30 am and end at 10:00 pm with the day being spent in silence with alternating periods of sitting and walking meditation, as well as one hour of work-as-practice.

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5.Dharma Talks

Dharma Talks
© Insight Meditation Society (IMS)

Guests who are not participating in the retreat sessions can attend evening talks known as dharma talks, which involve group sittings and discussions with teachers about the Buddhist meditations of Vipassana and Metta, and other relative topics.

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6.Work & Self-Retreats

Work & Self-Retreats
© Insight Meditation Society (IMS)

Guests at IMS can enjoy work retreats, which offer meditation practice outside of the meditation hall and involve five hours of silent work-as-practice activities each day. Self-retreats are also available and provide opportunities for personal practice in the soothing and peaceful IMS environment. Self-retreats see guests meditating in silence, observing the Five Precepts, and maintaining continuity of practice with or without the support of a resident teacher. Self-retreats span five days immediately before or after a scheduled course at IMS.

1230 Pleasant Street, Barre MA 01005, Phone: 978-355-4378

Back to: Spiritual Retreats

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Insight Meditation Society in Central Massachusetts