Shaila Catherine leads meditation retreats throughout the year in various locations in the USA and internationally. However, she only introduces students to jhāna practice at retreats that are explicitly designated as jhāna or concentration retreats. At most other retreats, Shaila teaches a blend of concentration and insight without the particular instructions that would lead to meditative absorption.
Shaila generally reserves jhāna training for one or two particular retreats each year, where she presents a systematic and thorough training in jhāna. The retreat that most consistently emphasizes jhāna practice is usually offered in California, co-sponsored by Bodhi Retreats and Insight Meditation South Bay. Attendance at this retreat is limited to a maximum of 34 students to enable Shaila (and her co-teacher) to work closely with each student. Systematic instructions guide students to use the breath as the primary object, nurture skill in focusing on the object, cultivate the five jhāna factors, overcome distraction and other obstacles, and develop the nimitta or sign of concentration.
Since the development of jhāna and concentration occurs in the context of a liberating path, the dhamma teachings at a jhāna retreat will include teachings on insight, liberation, and other aspects of the Buddha’s teaching. Students who wish to train in jhāna practices are expected to have read Focused and Fearless prior to attending this retreat.