At Akashavana the facilities are simple and off grid in keeping with the practice of going forth. This includes using rain and spring water and solar generated energy. You will be living close to the elements in rugged and beautiful mountains – a wonderful context in which to be on retreat.
If you think you may have difficulties with the facilities or the environment, please get in touch. Drawing on experiences of past retreatants we can send you some helpful tips to make your stay a positive one.
Please read the following information well in advance to help you fully prepare for your retreat.
What to bring
We ask you to think carefully and bring all that you anticipate needing for the entire retreat. We provide bulky items like a shampoo and body-wash which is eco-friendly and other toiletries, such as soap, insect repellant and sunscreen lotion so you do not need to bring these. This can be another practice of simplicity, going forth from your favourite toiletries! There is a small ‘tienda’ (shop) where you can buy basic stationery, deodorants, toothpaste, sanitary ware etc. by dana contributions. Please do not bring wet wipes as they are not biodegradable (we are separating them out from the usuable compost five years on!). We prefer that you do not make requests for shopping while on retreat, except in cases of need eg. unforeseen medication. Please bring a spare set of glasses if you wear them, and have hearing aids serviced before you come -bringing spare batteries with you.
What NOT to bring
A lot of effort has gone into creating this place far away from the worldly dynamics of having to be in touch with everyone and everything. Such places are scarce and we’d like to protect this one, so we ask you not to use mobile devices once you are on the mountain. If you like to take photos, please bring a separate camera – not one which is part of a mobile device. Please be sensitive if you do take photos. Others on retreat will be having their own experience and may find being photographed invasive, so please don’t photograph other retreatants without their permission. We also have a policy of not circulating publicly any photos of Akashavana that show the shrine room, or the path to the shrine room, or other special places, please check with the retreat team what is appropriate.
Please turn off all mobile phones, iPads, tablets etc before you arrive at the retreat. We have notebooks and pens available for taking notes. This is a precious opportunity to let go into the spacious realm of Akashavana away from the world and all that it brings with it. The team will be happy to look after your mobile technology for you throughout the retreat and they will make sure that everything is charged up ready for your homeward journey.
Make sure that someone who might want to be in touch with you (in case of emergencies at home) has the community contact details:
mobile phone: 0034 627 147 038, satellite phone: 0034 978 090 263
email: [email protected]
The community will check phone and email for messages every day.
The Guardia Civil asks us to register our guests just as in every hotel and we are required to keep those details for the duration of your stay. So we ask you to fill in the form (two pages!) which you can download here Guardia Civil. If for medical reasons you have a restricted diet please include that on the form. It’s a word document which you have to save on your desk top and when filled in save it again and email it to us at: [email protected].
In March/April be prepared for the weather to be chilly when it can go down to about 5C (it can snow!), before warming up to hot in July/August (up to 35C-40C). Then it very gradually cools down again over the months to November. Washing will all be by hand and we need to be economical with water, so it is best to bring clothes that are easy to wash and dry. In autumn it is a good idea to bring layers including some warm clothes for evenings and night time.
For walking we recommend comfortable clothing and a waterproof coat. Walking boots are recommended for walking further than around the immediate environs of the house, where sandals or light shoes are OK. Bring indoor shoes or slippers, the floors are tiled so cool underfoot.
The shrine room has mats, blankets, and cushions (both foam and buckwheat). There are also chairs and a few stools.
We provide duvets, blankets, pillows, bed linen and hot water bottles.
We can provide one towel for each retreatant. Bring a couple of facecloths: these enable you to wash with less water.
Windows are fitted with insect screens, but inevitably some insects do get inside. We can provide insect repellent.
We need to be economical with electricity, so please only bring electrical equipment that can be powered by battery. Don’t bring your hairdryer, electric toothbrush, laptops/ tablets etc. as they are very heavy on power.
Head torches are essential. We provide battery chargers if you want to bring rechargeable batteries. The path to the shrine room is dark early mornings and late at night and a head torch is much safer than a carried one. Also if you like to read in bed then you’ll need your head torch then too as the solar power cannot support bedside lamps.
Please bring your own stationery. However, there will be notepads, pens and envelopes available in our little shop/tienda.
We have a small supply of art materials – you may wish to bring some with you.
You can borrow walking poles, we’ve accumulated about 10.
Generally the yoga mats are only for use in the shrine room. However we have some mats for outdoor use.
Please bring your own medicines, sufficient for the length of the retreat, whatever you would normally need. If you are at all prone to hay fever please do bring antihistamines. We can shop for any unanticipated medications.
Post / courier
Please note that post Brexit, we are currently experiencing difficulties & random customs charges on parcels being sent by courier or postal service from the UK. We would therefore advise against sending anything other than a letter or card to our address.
Please address post to our new PO Box as below
(NB: it is important to include Joanne Bailey in the address. If your letter or card is for someone else, please also write their name clearly on the reverse of the envelope):
Joanne Bailey (Mas de Lluc),
Apto Correos 45
N.B. If it is really important that you send a parcel to us, please contact the community by email to discuss prior to sending so that we have the best chance possible of receiving it.
Accommodation and facilities
The accommodation is in shared rooms – there are no single rooms. If you wish to camp, a bedspace may be kept for you in the house, if numbers allow.
If you want to camp be aware that the weather (wind, sun, rain) at Akashavana is hard on tents that are up for several weeks. Camping mattresses, duvets and pillows are available, please let the community know if you are intending to camp.
Power is provided by solar panels with a back up generator and water comes from a spring plus a rainwater tank. We need to be economical in our use of both and we have found it is perfectly possible to wash in a few jugs of water.
There are some indoor toilets and showers, as well as outdoor composting toilets and washing facilities. In general, it is great to use the outside facilities, using rainwater instead of spring water.
The communal rooms and shrine room have woodburning stoves for when the weather turns cold. We will all need to collect the wood for these stoves. We have plenty of hot water bottles too!
The standard menu is vegan using fresh local produce and offers a healthy, balanced and tasty diet. There is a rich abundance of fruit and vegetables here. Most bulk dry goods are organic where the budget allows. There are some foods that are considered retreat staples in the UK which are expensive and difficult to obtain or unavailable in rural Spain, e.g. oat cakes, tahini, decaffeinated black tea and Marmite. If you cannot live without any of these we ask you to bring your own. We supply yeast flakes for B12 or you can bring your own tablets.
If you require a specific diet for medical reasons please contact the community at least one month in advance to check what is available and if you might need to bring some specific supplies yourself.
If there are particular texts to bring with you, then the retreat leader will let you know.
Akashavana has a good library of Dharma books –the list will be emailed to you. We appreciate all donations that help increase our collection of Dharma texts. Ask the community which books would be appreciated.
There is no smoking allowed anywhere on Akashavana land for reasons of fire hazard.
Health and Insurance and Visas
Akashavana is very beautiful and also very rugged and remote. The terrain is rocky and steep and the track up the mountain is also rugged. It is important that you understand and accept the implications of this should you need medical care either for a slip or strain or for an ongoing or acute condition. The nearest doctor is at Penarroya 8km/25 mins away; Valderobbres at 50 mins away has a health centre open 24 hours, and the nearest hospital is in Alcaniz which takes 1 hour 20 minutes by car.
The European Health Card [EHIC] is sufficient for EU residents. Currently for UK citizens, the GHIC (Global Health Card) is also available – allow at least a month for your application to be processed. This can also be applied for online at www.gov.uk
For nationals outside the EU you may want to investigate health insurance, or be prepared to pay for treatment.
As for travel insurance, we STRONGLY recommend that you have some. We also suggest that you look specifically at whether the insurance covers walks below 2000 metres if you plan to be exploring the scenery here (some policies ask for this info specifically).
If you are from outside Europe, visa requirements will need checking. If you intend to travel within Europe make sure you have a visa that covers the whole time you will be away.
NB: Wherever you are travelling from, we strongly advise that you check current entry requirements for Spain. This Spanish website is a reliable and current source of information. https://travelsafe.spain.info/es/
At time of writing, Spain requires proof of Covid vaccination or recovery from Covid within 270 days prior to travel. Be aware that entry requirements can change so please do check before travelling.
CHECKLIST FOR AKASHAVANA RETREAT
Before leaving home:
+Pay retreat fee
+ Inform family and friends you are out of contact and give them the
emergency number 0034 978 090 263 and email address of the community: [email protected]
+ Inform all relevant authorities and leave your financial affairs in order
+ Email your data for the Guardia Civil to the community: [email protected]
+ Valid Passport or sufficient ID document (if only travelling within Europe)
+ A visa if you are from outside the EU.
+ Train, coach or air ticket, including return
+ European Health Insurance Card, and/or medical insurance
+ Travel insurance
+ Euros for journey, overnight stays and expenses, if any
+ Euros for expenses during retreat (there is a small shop for essentials)
Clothes +Order robe (for ordination retreats)
+ Underwear including thermals and socks
+ T shirts
+ Warm jumper/fleece
+ Warm trousers/skirt
+ Light shorts/skirt/trousers
+ Long sleeved shirt for sun protection
+ Indoor shoes/slippers
+ Sandals (strong ones)
+ Strong walking boots
+ Waterproof coat and overtrousers
+ Sun hat and sunglasses ESSENTIAL
+ Nightwear -both warm and cool
+ Meditation stool –check first if you can borrow one
+ Yoga equipment –check first if you can borrow one
+ Toiletries, except bulky items -we will provide ecological shampoo, shower gel, soap and also sunscreen lotion
+ Towels and facecloths –remember: one big towel will be provided
+ Torch is essential -LED headlamp recommended
+ Stationery, art supplies
+ Walking poles –check first if you can borrow them
+ Small rucksack or daypack
+ water bottle for drinks (hot water bottles are provided for your bed)
+ Tent if you plan to camp