Loading Events

Early Bird Ends: Nov 16th

Online Registration Ends: December 3rd

In-Person Registration Ends: December 10th

Winter Meditation Retreat - Zen

Zen is derived from the Sanskrit word dhyana, which is often translated as ‘absorption’.  Rigorous self-restraint, sitting meditation practice and insight into the nature of mind are central to Zen practice.

Historical context

Zen is a school of Mahayana Buddhism that originated in China, where it was known as the Chán School. It later spread east to Japan and became known as Japanese Zen.

Zen emphasises direct understanding through disciplined spiritual practice and interaction with accomplished masters. In the early traditions of Chán, there was no fixed method or formula for teaching meditation.  Instead, instructions were used to point to the true nature of mind (Buddha-nature). 



  • Due to travel restrictions, this retreat is available In-Person at Clear Sky or Online as a Home Retreat.
  • Please consider flight insurance when booking for this retreat. We welcome you to spend additional nights at Clear Sky, especially if traveling from afar.


Our main priority is to offer a retreat that is accessible and supports your health and safety. 


We currently intend this retreat to be in person assuming by December the COVID situation allows people to travel. We will keep reviewing this – if travel is still not possible we will offer online alternatives.

Why this Retreat?

This winter meditation retreat focuses on Zen. Join this retreat to experience the wisdom of this direct, ancient and powerful meditation practice.

What makes the retreat topic particularly special is that Teachers Catherine Sensei and Qapel (previously know as Doug Sensei) lived in Japan for decades. Students call the teachers Sensei reflecting the strong Japanese influence of these two masters.

Qapel’s teacher, Namgyal Rinpoche, taught him in the Zen style, and asked him to bring Zen teachings to the West.

What will you learn?

Dhyāna is a Sanskrit word translated as training the mind or meditation, with the purpose being to increase awareness and equanimity. You might call this “perfected mindfulness”.  This also reduces one’s  reactive and unconscious ways of living.

This retreat will help you realize:

  • that to understand the nature of mind we must make effective the effort of relaxation.
  • when tranquility through practice is firmly established in your being, you do not turn your back on everyday life.  On the contrary this way of being allows us to be completely available to ourselves and others in a sustainable way.
  • we are not the conscious and elective craftsperson of our thoughts and feelings. They are only phenomena which happen to us.
  • that higher consciousness must be built up in ourselves by means of a special inner effort.

A woman once asked, “Not being taken in by various things – what is it like”?
The Teacher replied, “It is, of course, how it should be.” 

(From ‘Radical Zen – The Sayings of Joshu’ – Translated with a commentary by Yoel Hoffmann) 

White winter landscape and Meditation Retreats in Canada

What Can I expect with this Retreat?

The Course

  • This meditation retreat consists of many hours of consecutive practice each day. Therefore some experience, especially with sitting meditation, is highly recommended.
  • NOTE: If this is your first two-week retreat, advance permission from the teachers is required
  • An open mind and heart, and a spirit of adventure are excellent things to bring!
  • It’s human to have some apprehensions about doing something new, meeting new people, or going to a new place. Particularly when all three happen together. We try to make this as supportive as possible.
  • This is a silent retreat. To deepen your meditation, we ask that participants refrain from reading, using the internet, phone, or listening to music during the course.

The Location – Clear Sky Center

  • Located in the BC Rocky Mountains, Clear Sky offers over 300-acres to deepen your practice and reconnect with nature. Founded by Doug Duncan and Catherine Pawasarat, the centre is home to students from around the globe who are dedicated to co-creating a supportive and innovative space for awakening in our modern world.
group retreat photo
People in retreat

Meet the Teachers


Doug Duncan &
Catherine Pawasarat Sensei

Doug Duncan and Catherine Pawasarat are Dharma and meditation teachers who founded Clear Sky Meditation Centre, BC, Canada. Achariya Doug Duncan received lay ordination from Namgyal Rinpoche in 1978, and is a lineage holder in that teaching. Known for his direct, humourous and compassionate engagement with students, Doug embraces various traditions, contemporary psychology, and science, to mentor all beings to a more awakened state. Catherine Pawasarat has trained daily with Acariya Doug Duncan since 1998 in an intensive spiritual apprenticeship that is rare in the modern West. She received lay ordination from Namgyal Rinpoche in 2003. In addition to Buddhist philosophy and its applications to daily life, Catherine also draws on generative living and the arts. With Doug she is co-founder of Clear Sky Retreat Center in the BC Rockies.

About Clear Sky

Located in the BC rocky mountains, we offer over 300-acres to deepen your practice and reconnect with nature. Founded by Doug Duncan and Catherine Pawasarat, we are home to students from around the globe who are dedicated to co-creating a supportive and innovative space for awakening in our modern world.

Here are some FAQs on how to get here, what to bring and what to expect. 

To help you get acquainted with us, some community members made this short video during our 2019 Buddhas in Action retreat. To learn more about us and our incredible community, click here!

guided meditations in Rocky mountains Canada


Dana: This course is offered by Doug and Catherine Sensei through the ancient principle of generosity, or Dāna. The retreat fee covers the cost of food and accommodation, whereas the Teachings are offered by generosity. Learn more about Dāna here.

Pricing: As a charitable organization, we strive to provide locally sourced organic meals and comfortable accommodations at an affordable price. Fees vary depending on your accommodation choice and early bird pricing.

Please note, we are taking measures to keep us all healthy during this retreat, including:

  • You must have experienced no symptoms associated with COVID-19 in the past 14 days and will be required to take an online assessment prior to your stay.
  • You have not travelled outside of Canada in the past 14 days.
  • Physical distancing (2m) amongst all visiting retreatants will be observed during this retreat.
  • Please bring your own face mask(s) that you will feel comfortable wearing. When physical distancing is not possible during this retreat, you will be asked to wear a mask.
  • Sanitation and hand washing procedures will be explained when you come and must be followed.

Learn more about our COVID-19 Policy here.

Arrival is Friday, December 10 at 4pm. We highly recommend arriving a few days earlier if you are traveling from abroad.

Departure is Saturday, December 31st at 12:00pm.

Airport pickups can be booked when you register for the retreat. On the rare chance that this retreat is cancelled, we highly recommend purchasing travel insurance.

In order to give enough time to rest from travel before the retreat starts, we recommend that domestic travellers arrive one day early, and long distance international travellers arrive two days early.

After the retreat we also suggest staying for at least another day for integration.

Travel Restrictions, COVID-19 Policy: Please contact us – Email [email protected] or (250) 429-3929 for details/options for local participation.