Retreat Support Associate (Residential)

Campus Operations · Woodacre, California
Department Campus Operations
Employment Type Stipend
Minimum Experience Mid-level
Compensation Annual Stipend and Generous Benefits Package

Set among 400-plus acres of serene oak woodlands in the secluded hills of West Marin County, California, Spirit Rock Meditation Center is a refuge from everyday life where it's truly possible to quiet the mind, soften the heart and see life in a new way. Spirit Rock’s vision is to bring people to a depth of realization of the Buddha’s path. This vision is realized by Spirit Rock’s mission of providing individuals with teachings to manifest wisdom. Spirit Rock offers Dharma teachings, insight meditation retreats and programs to all levels of practitioners.

We know by experience, prioritizing diversity and inclusion throughout our hiring process allows equitable treatment and accessibility to everyone seeking employment at SRMC. We strive to create a workplace culture that reflects the communities we serve and empowers everyone to bring their full and authentic selves to our teams. All employees have the responsibility to treat fellow employees with the utmost of respect and dignity, at all times.

 In conjunction with our Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI Plan) Spirit Rock Meditation Center (SRMC) is committed to a diverse workplace environment where everyone is welcome. We honor and celebrate different ideas, voices, perspectives and backgrounds that help us create a robust and innovative multicultural organization.

Summary of Job

Spirit Rock is seeking mature candidates, well-established in Theravada Buddhist meditation practices and studies, for its Retreat Support Associate role. This is a new and unique opportunity to live at Spirit Rock and support the physical and emotional well-being of residential retreatants during intensive meditation practice. Successful applicants must be comfortable with uncertainty and remain flexible as you help develop this role over time.  

This position is part of Spirit Rock’s Resident Staff Dharma program. This work/study program allows participants to work, practice and live at Spirit Rock. The goals of the residential program are to grow in spiritual understanding and wisdom, and to learn how to practice living the teachings of the dharma in work and community.  

Qualified candidates who self-identify as a Black Indigenous Person of Color (BIPOC) and/or are part of the LGBTQI community are especially encouraged to apply. 

Current Openings

  • Two openings both starting July 19, 2021. One lasting for 12-months and the other for 18-months. These positions are a commitment to extended service. Careful planning and notice is required for time off.
  • Positions may be extended upon invitation by Spirit Rock.  

Specific Responsibilities

Support the physical and emotional welfare of practitioners during residential retreats. This may range from picking up prescriptions or accompanying a sick or injured person to the Emergency Room, to minimizing a participants emotional distress (i.e. talking with them over tea, taking a walk with them, sitting with them in silence etc) so they can either continue their retreat, or leave the retreat to return to the support of family and/or an appropriate therapeutic environment. 

The Retreat Support Associates are a team of two who work in conjunction with meditation teachers and staff. The Associates work closely together and coordinate with each other to ensure continuous year-round coverage of responsibilities.


  • Be engaged in on-call service for approximately 25 hours per week. This involves working flexible days and hours (sometimes in the middle of the night)  to provide attention and support to individual practitioners, helping to minimize potential emotional distress, as guided by retreat teachers. Duties can be scheduled on short notice.
  • Alternate on-call shifts with varying degrees of responsibility, spending significant amounts of time on call, being available for non-scheduled duties which may range from simple requests for practical assistance to emergency situations.
  • Work closely with teaching teams and other Retreat Operations staff regarding any current or potential practitioner medical or psychological situations of concern.
  • Attend some meditation instruction sessions and dharma talks to be a familiar presence for retreatants and to remain aware of the scope and type of meditation instructions being offered.
  • Demonstrate flexibility and adaptability in responding to varying situations and working under the direction of a diverse group of teaching teams.
  • Maintain productive working relationships and work well in a collaborative teamwork atmosphere. Duties are alternated and shared between the two Retreat Support Associates so as to provide consistent coverage as well as limited time off for each person.


  • Room and board at Spirit Rock is provided.
  • Employer paid medical, dental and chiropractic/acupuncture plans.
  • A bi-weekly stipend.
  • Participation in the Spirit Rock Residential Staff Dharma program.
  • Paid vacation and sick time.
  • Ten days of free retreat time at Spirit Rock within one-year of employment.

Guidance and Support

  • Receive guidance on various aspects of the retreat experience from Spirit Rock teachers.
  • Attend emergency preparedness trainings including first aid/CPR as well as mental health first aid and others.


    • Understanding of physical, psychological and emotional states that may arise as a result of intensive meditation practice and capacity to distinguish between healthy and unhealthy states.
    • Meditation Experience: Insight meditation retreat experience, in the Theravada Buddhist tradition; long term retreat experience and recent retreat experience at Spirit Rock, IMS or Insight Retreat Center preferred.
    • Commitment to understanding and practicing the teachings of the Buddha across all aspects of daily life, including the ethical guidelines of the Five Precepts.
    • Previous involvement in a Vipassana meditation training program is preferred, including but not limited to: Spirit Rock or IMS Teacher Training, Community Dharma Leader, Dedicated Practitioner Programs, or similar.
    • Computer skills in MS Office Suite with administrative skills including documentation. 


    • Confidence handling a range of medical issues, including emergencies and non-urgent care.
    • Ability to stay calm and make decisions under pressure.
    • Excellent communication and interpersonal skills.
    • Ability to interact compassionately with and be sensitive to a wide range of people across all backgrounds; training in diversity and cross-cultural issues preferred.
    • Ability to work well in a collaborative teamwork atmosphere.
    • Flexible and comfortable with changing needs and priorities.
    • Comfortable driving at night and in adverse weather conditions.
    • Discretion and skill in handling confidential information.
    • Training which develops the capacity to skillfully guide those in distress is preferred, including but not limited to: counseling, chaplaincy, MBSR, somatic experiencing, non-violent communication, etc.
    • Background in psychology or in the mental health field is a plus. 
    • Previous on-call experience a plus. 


    • Current driver’s license with a clean driving record.
    • Prior authorization to work in the US.

    All operations staff work together to complete the needed duties while we are ramping up post-COVID shut-down and always during normal circumstances when someone is on vacation, retreat or out sick. This means you may have to take on tasks outside the normal scope of your job. Flexibility and an attitude of service are a requirement for this role.

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    • Location
      Woodacre, California
    • Department
      Campus Operations
    • Employment Type
    • Minimum Experience
    • Compensation
      Annual Stipend and Generous Benefits Package