Victoria Insight Meditation Society FAQ

Sunday Night Sit:

What is the location of your Sunday Night meetings?

Lynn Wylie/Helga Beer Yoga Studio, #202 – 1600 Bay Street (Shakespeare St. entrance).

What time do you start?

7pm. It is appreciated if meditators can arrive a few minutes early. If this is your first meeting it is helpful to arrive 10 minutes early to have time to ask any questions you may have and   settle in.

How long are the meetings?

Sunday sits last for 1.5 hours from 7pm to 8:30 pm.

What is the format for these meetings?

Meetings start promptly at 7 pm. There is a silent  meditation sit and this may be followed by a short reflection, at the discretion of the evening’s facilitator. There is always the opportunity for questions and discussion as they may arise.

I can’t sit cross –legged on the floor, can I use a chair?

Yes, there is space to do both. Chairs are provided and mats and cushions are available for those who sit on the floor.

Is there a cost to attending your meetings?

There is no cost. This in keeping with the Buddhist tradition of offering teachings and space to meditate free of charge. In the Buddhist tradition, the practice of Dana (generosity) is made available at the venue for those who wish to make a donation towards the cost of hiring the venue.  When there is a visiting teacher, any donations are given to the teacher.

I am not a Buddhist, are your meetings open to non-Buddhists?

Absolutely, the only requirement is a willingness to meditate in silence with others.  

Do I have to practice Insight Meditation, or can I choose my preferred meditation method?

The Society follows  practices within the Theravada Buddhist Tradition and respects practitioners of all meditation disciplines. Samatha (calming) and Vipassana (insight)  as well as good will, compassion, sympathetic joy and equanimity meditation practices are routinely taught.

Do you offer instruction for new meditators on Sunday nights?

Our facilitator is usually happy to provide some guided meditation for those that have little meditation experience. It is helpful to let the facilitator know at the beginning of the evening that you would find this helpful.

Do you always have guest speakers?

Many of the Sunday evening sits are facilitated by volunteer facilitators or our own Community Dharma Leaders.  From time to time we may have a guest speaker. The facilitators for the month are listed on our website. Please reference the website for more details.

Do you chant?

Occasionally a facilitator may suggest a chant as part of the evening.

Do I have access to a teacher at these events?

One to one time with a teacher is not available on Sunday evenings.  However, informal discussion is possible before and after the sitting. It is possible to contact a teacher from the Victoria Insight Meditation Society via the “Contact us” link on the web site

Do you have disabled access?

Yes.  There is an elevator in the main entrance of the building and the floor is level.

Weekend retreats

What is the location of your weekend retreats?

The majority of our retreats take place at Goward House, 2495 Arbutus Road, Victoria, BC. Occasionally during the summer a weekend retreat takes place on the University of Victoria campus.

What time do you start?

Weekend retreats start at 9 am sharp. Early arrival is encouraged particularly for retreats with a large number of participants. Retreats usually finish at 4:30 pm on the first day, and 4:00 pm on the second day.

How long are the retreats?

Our retreats are one or two days, at weekends. There are occasional Friday evening talks by the weekend retreat teacher, and sometimes on the Sunday evening after the weekend retreat has finished, the teacher will facilitate the regular Sunday evening sit.

How do I register for your retreats?

Please go to the web site home page. On the right under the heading “Calendar” is a link called “Victoria IMS Retreats”. Clicking on that takes you to the dates of future retreats and is the place to register once registration is open. The dates when registration is open are also on that page.

What do I do if I register but then need to cancel?

Reply to the invitation to register email you were sent. OR

Go to the home page and at the top of the page is a “Contact Victoria IMS” tab click on that to e-mail the Society.

Can I register other people?

Yes you can. Once you have clicked on the link to register there are options to add someone else under your registration.

Do I have to stay for the whole retreat?

It is requested that registrants register for both days as our retreats are very popular and we often have a waiting list. If at the time of the retreat it is not possible for you to stay for both days we encourage you to come for the time that you are able to.

Is there a seating capacity for your meditation retreats?

We have a maximum of 100 places.

I can’t sit cross –legged on the floor, can I use a chair?

Yes there are plenty of chairs available.
We recommend that you bring a blanket to go beneath your feet as we ask participants to remove their shoes and the floor can be cold. Please bring whatever you need (blanket, shawl, cushion) to allow you to sit comfortably.

Is there a cost to attending your weekend retreats?

The teachings are offered freely. There are no registration fees. On the day of the retreat, you may offer financial contributions to the teacher or in the case of monastics to the monastery, and to Victoria IMS for operational costs. Suggested donation to Victoria IMS is $40 for a two-day retreat and $20 for a one-day retreat.

I am not a Buddhist, are your meetings open to non-Buddhists?

Absolutely. Whilst the teachings are usually based on the practice of Theravada Buddhism, people from all faiths find our retreats valuable.

Do you provide food at these events?

Participants bring their own lunch and beverages; however, for those who might have forgotten there are some tea bags and paper cups available. Meals are taken during scheduled lunch breaks only. Further details of what to bring and retreat etiquette are on the web site at the time of registration.

Do I have to practice Insight Meditation, or can I choose my preferred meditation method?

Yes, any method held in silence is acceptable

Do you offer instruction for new meditators on these retreats?

Very often teachers will provide guided meditation(s) on these retreats.

Is there disabled access to these venues?

There is disabled access at Goward House and at the University of Victoria campus.

Do I have access to a teacher at these retreats?

Most teachers schedule in small group interviews to offer individuals the chance to ask questions.

Do you provide accommodation?

We do not provide accommodation.  You may find this link helpful.
It is to the University of Victoria visitor housing.
Our retreats are within walking distance of UVic. 


Are you affiliated with other Insight Meditation Societies/Teachers?

The Society is based in the Theravada school of Buddhism.
We invite Theravada teachers, both lay and monastic to lead retreats and give public talks.

Do you have your own teachers?

VictoriaIMS invites monastics, Community Dharma Leaders and Meditation  teachers trained through the Spirit Rock or Insight Meditation Society teacher training program to teach retreats.
Information about teachers leading retreats for this current year can be found on our website here.

Do you put on meditation instruction classes?

Currently we are not offering meditation classes.

Do I have to be a Buddhist to attend your events?

No.  People from all walks of life and spiritual disciplines benefit from attending our events.

How do I volunteer?

Please visit our web page and, at the top of the page, click on the tab entitled “Contact Victoria IMS”. Providing details of your specific areas of interest/expertise would be helpful.

I am looking for a local sitting group, are there any connected to your organisation?

There are a number of home sitting groups. Please go to this link that lists community sitting groups led by participants of Victoria IMS programs.

How do I make a donation?

We appreciate your generosity.
You can make a donation at the Sunday Night sit or at a retreat.
Please contact the Society via the link (Contact Victoria IMS) on the home page on the web site for further details.