You are here: Home Community General Information (Deer Park, Practice, Retreats etc.) About Deer Park Monastery (extended)

About Deer Park Monastery (extended)

information about vising us, activities, sample schedule, costs, accommodation, transportation etc.

This 400-acre sanctuary rests peacefully in the chaparral mountains of southern California, surrounded and protected by oaks and the natural landscape. It was established in July 2000 by the Plum Village four-fold Sangha. Now, it is a safe and serene refuge for many practitioners to come and learn the art of mindful living and to practice with a community, a Sangha.

At Deer Park, the residential monastic community and lay community practice together year round under the guidance of our teacher, Thich Nhat Hanh (Thây), in the tradition of engaged Buddhism, practicing mindfulness through out our everyday life. There are two hamlets: Solidity Hamlet (for monks and laymen) and Clarity Hamlet (for nuns and laywomen). The two hamlets come together several times a week to practice. At Deer Park, we are nourished not just by the formal sitting meditation sessions, but also by the practice of meditation in our daily activities outside the meditation hall. We are guided by the teachings of Thây on mindfulness and peace-making. We learn to live together as a community and to take refuge in the wisdom of the Sangha.


We kindly ask you to ready the following information before contacting

our registration office with further questions, thank you.


information includes:


Living Mindfully

Mindfulness is the energy of being aware and awake to the present moment, to life. It is the continuous practice of touching life deeply in every moment. To be mindful is to be truly alive, present and at one with those around you and with what you are doing. We harmonize our body and mind while we wash the dishes, drink our cup of tea, or work in the garden.

Here at the monastery, we do very much the same things as one would in the home: walking, sitting, working and eating, except now we learn to do them with mindfulness and concentration. We practice mindfulness in each moment of the day, whether we are in the kitchen, the toilet, in our room or on the path leading from one place to another. We practice to arrive in the present moment and not to be carried away by the past, the future or by strong emotions.

In practicing together as a Sangha (community of practice), our practice of mindfulness becomes more joyful, relaxed and steady. We are bells of mindfulness for each other, supporting and reminding each other along the path. With the support of the community, we can practice to cultivate peace and joy, within and around us, as a gift for all of those whom we love and care for. We can cultivate our solidity and freedom – solid in our deepest aspiration and free from our fears, misunderstandings and our afflictions.

Visiting Deer Park

Days of Mindfulness

Throughout the year, Thursdays and Sundays are our Days of Mindfulness. These days of practice are open to all friends who would like to come and practice for the day. A Mindfulness Day begins around 9:00 am. Normally we listen to a Dharma Talk (live by Dharma teachers in residence or a cd/dvd of one of Thây's talk), practice walking meditation and mindful eating in silence.

Depending on the season we also have a Dharma Discussion, Total Relaxation, Touching of the Earth or Questions & Answers. The activities conclude around 3:00 pm on Sundays and after lunch on Thursdays. Please arrive early, so you have time to settle and to benefit deeply from the energy of the community. Please remember that this is a practice center – we have come together to learn how to support one another in the practice of mindfulness, the practice of peace and freedom. On the first Sunday of the month (Day of Mindfulness) we have a Recitation Ceremony for the Five Mindfulness Trainings, the Three Refuges and the Two Promises for children. Some Sundays there are some special activities for the children. Together with the children we play and practice, we draw, sing, have snack meditation, learn how to invite the bell, hiking etc. These activities are lead by long term lay practitioners or monastics.

On the Third Sunday of each month we recite the Fourteen Mindfulness Trainings of the Order of Interbeing.

General Retreat

You can come and stay with us at the monastery for a Week-end (Fri-Sun) or longer. Friends, who stay with us participate in the daily activities of the community. Everyone is invited to come and experience life in the monastery. During the year we also conduct special retreats such as: Family Retreat, Teen Camp, Education & Meditation Retreat, Wake Up – Young Adults Retreat, and so on.

Five Mindfulness Trainings

During your stay at Deer Park Monastery, we ask you to practice and observe the Five Mindfulness Trainings (incl. not consuming cigarettes, alcohol and meat). Here you can read the full length text of the Five Mindfulness Trainings.

Practice as a Community:

Since the teaching emphasize on practicing with the Sangha in order to enjoy its collective energy, retreatants are encouraged to participate fully in all scheduled activities. Retreatants will be invited to help during working meditation and after meals with cleaning, washing dishes, working in the garden, etc. In this way we learn how to continue the practice of mindfulness while performing everyday tasks. One day per week, Monday, at Deer Park Monastery is Lazy Day, when there are no scheduled activities and the bells are only invited to announce meal times. Lazy Day is an opportunity to let the day unfold in a natural way while still maintaining mindfulness. You can enjoy taking a walk, reading a book, or just relaxing and enjoying the day in mindfulness within the perimeter of the monastery. With prior arrangement, meditation halls may be used for purposes other than meditation. English and Vietnamese are the principal languages used in Deer Park Monastery. Translation is available for both languages.

Sample Schedule:

5:00am Wake Up

5:45 Sitting Meditation, Exercise

7:30 Breakfast

9:00 Working Meditation

11:00 Rest

11:30 Walking Meditation

12:30pm Lunch

1:30 Rest, Personal Practice

3:00 DVD Dharma talk, Dharma Sharing or Personal Practice

4:00 Sports & exercise

5:00 Sitting Meditation and Chanting

6:00 Dinner

7:30 Be-In, Happiness Meeting or Personal Practice

9:30 Noble Silence - Rest

Arrival and Departure Day

To help make our practice stable and solid, Friday is our only arrival/departure day each week. An orientation will be offered about our practice to new arrivals Friday evening, so plan to arrive between 3 – 5pm. For our special retreats we ask you to come and participate in the entire retreat (see website for details concerning retreats & dates). In order for your practice to deepen and permeate more fully into our body and consciousness, we recommend a minimum stay of one week. If you cannot stay for one week, you can participate in our Weekend of Mindfulness program, Friday arrival day and Sunday departure day. Initially you can register two weeks maximum.

Staying longer then two (2) weeks:

If you wish to stay longer than two weeks, prior to the close of your second week, please write a letter to the community expressing your motivation to stay longer. We are very happy to have friends practicing with us for longer periods of time, but the community will make the final decision only after your first two weeks at Deer Park, based on your capacity to live in harmony with the Sangha and your commitment to the practice. Thank you for your understanding.

Accommodation, Food and Cost


The lodging in Deer Park Monastery is simple with only shared dormitory rooms. Women stay in Clarity Hamlet with the nuns and the men and couples stay in Solidity Hamlet with the monks. In the rooms, you are provided with a bed and mattress. Please bring bedding, linen and towel.

All bedrooms are heated in the winter.


Except for certain circumstances, pets are not permitted at the practice center.


For our general retreat we have a sliding scale for a bed in dorm from $35 to $65 per night and for camping $25 - $55 per night. Please consult our website and registration form for further information.


We serve three meals each day and are included in the retreat cost. The meals at the monastery are vegan. Unfortunately, we are not able to accommodate people who have special dietary or medical needs.

What to Bring

Overnight visitors are encouraged to bring any items that are necessary for

your comfort such as:

  • water bottle

  • flashlight

  • alarm clock

  • towel

  • bedding and/or sleeping bag

  • pillow

  • personal items

  • shampoo

  • hand soap

  • umbrella

  • good walking/hiking shoes

  • loose and comfortable clothing

  • simple clothing for working meditation

  • warm clothing and footwear, particularly in winter months

  • sun hat in summer and warm hat in winter

  • cloth napkin for meals

Trips into town are not encouraged. In order to support our practice together, we request you leave all your electronics at home.

Driving instructions

From Interstate 5, take CA-78 East towards Ramona/Escondido. Drive to the end of CA-78 East (traffic light at Broadway). Turn left onto Broadway and proceed north for approximately 2.9 miles (through four traffic lights) and turn right on North Avenue. Please drive slowly (15 mph) in consideration of our neighbors. Turn left onto Cindy Jo Lane. Turn at first right onto Melru Lane. Turn at first left into entrance of Deer Park Monastery. Drive up the road (1,5 miles) through an oak grove of Clarity Hamlet and park in the main parking lot. If your confirmation letter indicates that you will be staying in Clarity Hamlet, please walk to the Clarity Hamlet Registration Office, first building on the left. If your confirmation letter indicates that you will be staying in Solidity Hamlet please enjoy your walk up to the registration office in Solidity Hamlet, by the Circular Garden. If you need we will drive our electric cart down to help you bring your luggage to your room.


Nearest Airport: San Diego International Airport (36.7 miles from Deer Park).

Airport shuttles: EZ Ride Shuttle,, 800-777-0585 or 619-297-7463.

Cloud 9, 800-974-8885 or 800-974-3826.

Nearest bus and train station:

Escondido Transit Center, 700 W. Valley Parkway, Escondido, CA 92025, 4.9 miles from Deer Park. North County Transit (bus and train):

Bus: Greyhound:

Public transportation: please refer to the San Diego Commute website,, which will give you bus schedules, travel times and costs with, usually, about four options, including departure and arrival times.

Taxi in Escondido:

Yellow Cab of North County (760) 230-0235

Escondido Taxi Cab (760) 690-2080

Taking a taxi from the Escondido Transit Center to Deer Park Monastery costs approximately $20.

Register for a Retreat

Please register online for general retreat, register online for special retreat, on our web page or write to the address below. We will be available to take your calls during office hours, Tuesday – Saturday, 9 am to 12:00 noon (Pacific Time) . You can fax and e-mail us at any time. (On U.S. Mail envelopes, please write “Registration”.)


Registration Office, Deer Park Monastery

2499 Melru Lane, Escondido, CA 92026-8447

Phone: (760) 291-1003 ext 100; Fax: (760) 291-1010

E-mail:; Web: