Finding a succinct description for the Springwater Center is difficult, as it is most often defined by what it is not. Springwater is run by Toni Packer, a former teacher at the Zen Center who was led to question her affiliation with formal Bhuddist Zen after due to her concerns for issues of tradition and authority. The goal of the center is not enlightenment, the end of suffering, nor the annhilation of ego. There are no koans, dogmatic mantras, or postures. Instead the focus is 'sorting through the raw material of our everyday lives.'
The center is located 45 minutes south of the city, on 200 acres of rural land, of which visitors are free to wander the 'open fields and woods, soft rolling hills, hardwood and evergreen forests, ponds, meadows, and a stream cascading through a hemlock-shaded ravine.' All retreat events are optional. You may attend group sittings, stay alone in your room, or head outdoors. Though generally quiet, the center's web site notes that visitors 'should expect to hear conversations as well as the occasional ordinary sounds of daily life (kitchen appliances, computers, vacuum cleaners, power tools, music, television, laughter).'
At times it is possible to work in exchange for room and board.
All meals are vegetarian.