Silent Retreat
Bolinas, California
February 12-18, 2020






















GRI is hosting the Silent Retreat in Bolinas for the 7th year. If you feel drawn to spending several days in silence, you are welcome to join us. Silence is a wonderful way to come to stillness. Silence helps to slow down. Through silence we become more aware and we start noticing our environment and our life in a different way. Silence dusts the mirror of our soul and helps to grow closer to our essence.


We will spend five days in silence, starting Wednesday evening (Feb 12) after supper and ending Tuesday morning (Feb 18), with a sharing on Monday evening.  External silence, the absence of words and a quiet environment, helps to come closer to an internal silence, one where the racing thoughts slow down and we can really listen to ourselves and be in touch with our environment in different ways. We will try to leave behind what distracts us from internal silence and we will engage what helps foster stillness. Generally speaking, this may mean that we leave behind books, computers and phones and we engage in walks, journal writing, art, meditation, yoga etc. Of course, our individual journeys vary in what helps and hinders our silence. 


For many of us it is not easy to be silent and to become still. Paradoxically, practicing silence in groups is easier than doing this alone. Therefore, we will form some kind of a silent community by being in the same house and sharing our meals together.  In addition, a couple of times a day there will be an opportunity to spend 30 minutes as a group in silence in the same space, for those who wish. The rest of the journey is an individual one. 


When we enter into silence, we enter a bit into the Unknown. We do not know what will happen, the journey will likely be with ups and downs. If at any time during the retreat you will be helped by a brief conversation to enter or re-enter the space of internal silence, I am available on an as needed basis. 


Commonweal is a wonderful location to do a silent retreat. It is in Northern California, about 90 minutes from either San Francisco or Oakland’s airports. It is located on a 60-acre site at the edge of the Pacific Ocean in the Point Reyes National Seashore. 


As a group of maximum twelve, we have Pacific House to ourselves. It has twelve private bedrooms and five shared bathrooms. There is a fully equipped kitchen. People eat breakfast and lunch on their own. The evening meal is taken together, typically prepared by one of us. More details to follow as the retreat draws closer.  


I am really looking forward to the retreat and to meeting the silent community we will create together. Below you will find some additional practical information. Reservations on a first come first serve basis. Feel free to forward this document to people whom you think may be interested. 


Warm regards,



Practical information:

  • The cost of the retreat is $1100. The fee includes accommodations in an amazing environment and simple meals. In order to reserve a place, please send an email to We will send you an invoice by Paypal. A non-refundable deposit of $250 is due immediately and we expect additional funds of before the beginning of the retreat. Finances should not be an impediment to attend the retreat, payment plans are available. If you wish, feel free to send your check to: GRI, 4323 Santa Moncia Ave, San Diego, CA 92107.

  • Arrival is Wednesday, February 12 between 3:00 and 5:00 pm. Departure is Tuesday, February 18 in the morning. There is no program on Tuesday morning.

  • Location address: Commonweal, 451 Mesa Road, Bolinas, CA 92924.

  • We could probably coordinate transportation from and to SF airport for a shared fee. The please plan to arrive at the airport between 1:00 and 3:00 pm. Let me know if this would be helpful to you.

  • The weather in Bolinas is unpredictable, often windy and rainy. Bring layers and warm clothes. 

  • Website Commonweal:

  • Click here for driving directions.

  • Website Group Relations International:

  • For questions, please contact René Molenkamp at, or by phone at 1-619-519-0463. 


The program is an initiative of Group Relations International, an organization that simply works on a better world. Our focus is on group relations and community, social justice and spirituality.


René Molenkamp

Many of you know that silence is a relatively important aspect in my life. It started over 30 years ago when I learned to meditate as a member of the Jesuits and eventually resulted in participating in and directing up to 30-day silent retreats. More recently I have organized five-day silent retreats and days of silence. I spend considerable time in stillness.

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