Awake in Nature: A Daylong Retreat with Lee Steppacher
10 am to 4 pm
(Rain Date, October 21)
Spend a day walking in the Upper Valley, one to two miles at a relaxed pace, possibly on uneven terrain––but with no mountains! If you have any physical concerns, please let Lee know so that you can discuss them.
To register, email Lee at email@example.com. A confirmation will be sent with specifics about location and a list of things to bring. Lee will be out of contact from 9/15 through 9/25 and will respond on her return.
Past Retreats Offered
Retreat with Ajahn Jayanto
Buddhism as an Ethical Path, September 9, 2017
Ajahn Jayanto, the abbott of Jetavana Temple Forest Monastery, a New Hampshire Buddhist monastery in the Thai Forest Tradition, led a one-day retreat. Aj. Jayanto ordained as a bhikkhu (monk) in 1991 and in 1997 embarked on a period of practice in Thailand and other Asian Buddhist countries. Since 2009 he helped to lead the efforts to establish the Temple Forest Monastery in Temple, NH. [For more information: http://forestmonastery.org/]
Shaila Catherine led a daylong, silent retreat on Sunday, March 26, 2017 at the AVA Gallery in Lebanon. The reteat’s title was “Developing Right Concentration: A Day of Meditation with Shaila Catherine”. Her dharma instruction illuminated the role that right concentration plays in the path of awakening. Shaila Catherine is the founder of Bodhi Courses, an online Dhamma classroom, and Insight Meditation South Bay, a Buddhist meditation center in Silicon Valley in California. She also teaches at the Barre Center for Buddhist Studies, and leads retreats at Insight Meditation Society’s Retreat Center and Forest Refuge. She has written two books on jhana practice.
Manny Mansbach, VT Insight teacher, offered a half day retreat on the Five Spiritual Powers on Jan. 28, 2017. Confidence, Persistent Effort, Mindfulness, Concentration and Wisdom are qualities that all of us have to some degree, and are skills that we develop further on the Buddha’s Ennobling Eightfold Path. The Buddha recognized these five universal human capacities and encouraged us to use them to reduce suffering by developing the crafts of meditation and skillful living. Manny led an investigation of how these five qualities work together to support a movement toward freedom.
Daylong Retreat with Andrew Olendzki
A daylong teaching retreat was offered by Buddhist scholar Andrew Olendzki on November 19, 2016. Andrew Olendzki left college teaching to become the first executive director of the Insight Meditation Society in Barre and then helped to establish and develop the Barre Center for Buddhist Studies, where he served as the executive director for twenty-three years. Currently, he is an independent scholar, teacher, and creator of the Integrated Dharma Institute. He is the author of the book Unlimiting Mind. and Untangling Self: A Buddhist Investigation of Who We Really Are. Andy spoke from the material in his new book, which addresses the topic of Self and Not Self and the relevance of the Buddhist understanding of the question of Self to our daily lives. He also shared his current work on meditation practices in Early Buddhist teachings through directed meditations throughout the day.
It was a gift to all of us in the Upper Valley to have Andrew Olendzki spend the day with us.
Reflections on the Buddha’s Teaching:
A Daylong Retreat with Ajahn Jayanto, co-abbot of Jetavana Temple Forest Monastery was offered on Saturday, September 10, 2016. Once again VIMS was very fortunate to have Ajahn Jayanto, co-abbott of Jetavana Monastery in Temple, New Hampshire, teach a daylong retreat.
Shaila Catherine led a daylong on Sunday, January 24, 2016 at the AVA Gallery in Lebanon, NH. The title of the retreat was “Liberating Attitudes”. This program explored liberation from the perspective of the attitudes and approaches that support the experience of release, peace, and awakening. The day included instructions and dhamma teachings to nurture the development of mindfulness and loving kindness. Shaila Catherine is the founder of Bodhi Courses, an online Dhamma classroom (bodhicourses.org), and Insight Meditation South Bay, a Buddhist meditation center in Silicon Valley in California (imsb.org).
Daylong Retreat with Doreen Schweizer
“Practicing Tranquility in a Busy Season”, December 5, 2015
The days are darkening, and our anticipation of the often busy, holiday season can become complicated by stirred up emotions, expectations and scheduled events. Join us as we stop for a moment. A full day of shared meditation practice will give us a chance to settle down and get in touch with the quiet just below the surface of our lives; it will give us direct access to the promised peace, joy, and good will. Stillness is accessible to us in simple and intentional ways. It nourishes us.
Daylong Retreat with Ajahn Jayanto
“So this is how it is, right here.” With this phrase Ajahn Jayanto, abbot of the Jetavana Temple Forest Monastery, encouraged over thirty meditators to step back from our hectic lives and reflect on the present moment. Saturday September 26, 2015 was a day of beautiful moments smoothly coordinated by the VIMS retreat team. Ajahn Jayanto graciously invited all to visit the monastery in Temple, New Hampshire, and we look forward to his return visit to our sangha.
“Everyday Mindfulness”, June 14, 2015, AVA Gallery
This retreat was led by Peg Meyer and Landon Hall, who drew from MBSR (Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction) offerings, along with teachings from the Insight Meditation tradition. It was also the conclusion of their course “Everyday Mindfulness”. Peg and Landon offered a day of extended practice that included a body scan, sitting meditation, walking meditation, and mindful movement. The day was spent in noble silence.
Who are We? Softening the Edges of Self with Mindfulness and Kindness
In March, 2015, thirty of us gathered at the Wonderwell Mountain Refuge from Friday afternoon through Sunday lunchtime for our VIMS annual weekend retreat. Together we took refuge from the momentum of our busy lives in order to refresh our meditation practice and our connection with the clarity of a wisdom teaching, which can help guide our lives. Led by Doreen, it was again a rare opportunity to live in an active community while holding Noble Silence, i.e., a continuous thirty-eight hours in which we did not engage in social speech. Such periods of “friendly” silence were encouraged by the Buddha because they can give rise to a deep rest from the habitual reactivity of the nervous system and allow clear awareness to be cultivated and sustained.
The basic schedule was a flow of sitting and walking periods, interspersed with meals and free time. Everyone had a light housekeeping job, which offered the opportunity to be mindful while functioning purposefully, in silence. Each person was invited to join a small group to talk with Doreen and others about their retreat experience. Doreen guided many sits, led us in gentle movement, and gave a formal dhamma talk in which she described the Buddha’s teaching on the Five Aggregates of Clinging. These are five categories of experience which, when unnoticed, can foster a rigid sense of self. Doreen also encouraged us to notice the process of these categories in our meditations. In order to stabilize the mind for such investigation, she also suggested we notice and thereby cultivate the Seven Factors of Awakening as they arise in the mind. Overall, the felt experience of being in touch with the body (in all four postures) and the processes of the mind was the weekend’s focus, supported by Wonderwell’s staff and the beautiful retreat center itself. In this way, the weekend was of benefit to both experienced and beginning meditators. “It is in the sanctuary of nature’s silent places, with true mindfulness, that the liberation of the heart can be attained.” attributed to the Buddha
Who Are We? Softening the Edges of Self with Mindfulness and Kindness March 13-15, 2015 ; The Annual VIMS Weekend Retreat, led by Doreen Schweizer
Venue: Wonderwell Mountain Refuge in Springfield, NH
In this retreat, concentration and metta practices will provide a base for developing insight into the nature of what we tend to think of as “our self.” This will be a silent retreat, not a study retreat; the theme will be explored implicitly through meditation practice. There will be meditation instruction suitable for beginners with periods of walking and sitting practice, as well as opportunities for simple, guided mindful movement. The quiet beauty, comfort, and wholesome food provided by Wonderwell will support our efforts. All levels of experience are welcome.
Noble silence will be held from Friday evening until lunch on Sunday.
The retreat registration fee of $250 covers room and board (three meals on Saturday, breakfast and lunch on Sunday). In keeping with the Buddhist Insight tradition, this does not include payment for the teacher. Donations (dana) to support Doreen’s efforts can be offered at the end of the retreat.
Wonderwell has double rooms and a dormitory. We will assign rooms as we receive paid-in-full registrations. If you prefer a double room, we suggest you register as soon as possible.
Some scholarship aid will be available.
Transforming Our Relationship to Difficulty
Guest Teacher: Ajahn Jayanto
December 13, 2014
Ajahn Jayanto is abbot of the Temple Forest Monastery in Temple, NH. The day consisted of talks and guidance from Ajahn Jayanto, sitting and walking meditation, and periods of silence.
Doreen Schweizer wrote the following summary: The retreat gave the thirty-eight of us attending the great gift of a daylong pause in the midst of the often busy, high-powered momentum of the holiday season. In guiding the practice Ajahn Jyanto encouraged us, again and again, to stop our forward motion in order to turn towards the present moment with a friendly, welcoming attitude. We can gradually develop a softer relationship with all the situations of our lives, even those which are problematic. After lunch, he hosted an informal Q&A in which questions were kindly and wisely addressed. In relation to one question about “not-self,” Ajahn passed on a suggestion once given to him: Begin to look for the arising of Self in your daily life. When is it present? When is it not? What conditions give rise to it? How does it feel when present? In the body? The attitude? The mood? What mental stories are present?
The Beautiful Mind: Deepening Concentration Through Jhana Practice
Guest Teacher Leigh Brasington
October 3 – 5, 2014
The Wonderwell Mountain Refuge, Springfield, NH
In the slow beauty of fall in New England, this retreat will help us still the mind through the focused practice of jhana meditation. Valley Insight is privileged to have master teacher Leigh Brasington to guide us on our way as we explore the jhanas, sometimes referred to as The Beautiful Mind.
These stages of practice in Vipassana meditation are the cornerstone of cultivating right concentration on the eightfold path. Does practicing them bring the peace of mind and ease of heart we might have been searching for at the outset of our meditation journey? Perhaps, but jhana states, too, are impermanent and subject to change. They are not the end goal of our practice. What then is the point of these deep concentration experiences?
The Buddha suggests: “When the mind is thus concentrated and infused with mindfulness, one directs and inclines the mind towards ‘seeing things as they are’.” Leigh explains that the jhanas are like a whetstone sharpening the mind for Insight practice and deepening our understanding of the four foundations of mindfulness: mindfulness of the body, of feelings, of the mind, and of phenomena themselves. Working with the jhanas brings us
About the Teacher
LEIGH BRASINGTON is a classical Buddhist scholar and practitioner as well as a wonderful storyteller. He knows the early Buddhist Suttas intimately—the collected teaching stories of the Buddha, rich in similes and history. While staying true to the essence of the teachings, Leigh often uses contemporary examples in order to explain “The Gradual Training,” which guides us toward awakening while helping us live a fully engaged and happy life here and now. A retired software engineer, Leigh has been practicing meditation since 1985 and is the senior American student of the late Ven. Ayya Khema, teacher in the Theravadan tradition of Buddhism. She confirmed his practice and requested that he begin teaching with her, in 1994. Leigh has been leading retreats on his own since 1997 in both Europe and North America.
About the Retreat, Friday Through Sunday
Noble silence will be held from 9:00 pm Friday, up until lunch on Sunday.
Meditation practitioners of any level and all traditions are welcome.
Registration will open at 4:00 pm on Friday.
The retreat fee of $199 includes room and board (three meals on Saturday,breakfast and lunch on Sunday). In keeping with the Buddhist Insight tradition, this does not include payment for the teacher. Donations to support his efforts can be offered separately in a dana box at the end of the retreat. Scholarships may be available on request.
The full retreat fee of $199 includes room and board (three meals on Saturday, breakfast and lunch on Sunday). Leigh Brasington is a senior teacher in the Insight Meditation Community and has a wide national and international following. This retreat is likely to fill up quickly.
Weekend Residential Retreat – 2014
Establishing Clear Awareness and Compassion as the Foundation of Our Lives
February 28 – March 2, 2014
Led by Doreen Schweizer
Venue: Wonderwell in Springfield, NH
With mindfulness established as central in our daily mental stance, we find a balanced attitude, which guides us towards both peace of mind and wise, compassionate action. This retreat will use one of the Buddha’s basic teachings to explore and practice Mindfulness, in order to familiarize the mind more deeply with this state. The Satipatthana Sutta, which is most often translated as “The Four Foundations of Mindfulness,” provides a clear method for establishing mindfulness as a continuous presence in our lives. The retreat will be held in “noble silence” with alternate periods of sitting and walking meditation along with instruction from the teacher. Optional periods of guided, gentle yoga will also be offered. There will be ample time for questions and for individual guidance from the teacher.
Daylong Retreat – April, 2013
The Cultivation of Kindness and Wisdom
with Winnie Nazarko, teacher, IMS Retreat Center and Forest Refuge
Winnie Nazarko started dharma practice 30 years ago, asking, ‘Why does there have to be suffering in the world?’ A graduate of the Insight Meditation Society/Spirit Rock Teacher Training Program, she teaches to help individuals realize their full potential for clarity, balance, kindness and wisdom. Winnie teaches with Joseph Goldstein during the IMS 3-month retreat, is a teacher at the Forest Refuge, and has taught with Jack Kornfield at Kripalu. Listen or download her talks on Dharmaseed. Among her 29 posted talks, you might enjoy “Are You Trying Hard Enough?” “The Problem with Greed,” “The Truth in Ordinary Things,” and “Agendas and Judgments.”
There will be silent periods of sitting and walking meditation, and dharma reflections from the teacher. This retreat will be appropriate for meditators of all experience levels. Winnie will be offering instructions in two primary practices, insight meditation and loving-kindness meditation.
Daylong Retreat – March, 2012
‘Awakening Within Your Relationships’
With Chas DiCapua, Resident Teacher, Insight Meditation Society
Chas has been practicing mindfulness and Buddhist meditation, primarily in the Theravada school, for over 20 years. He has trained with Burmese meditation masters, western monastics of the Thai Forest tradition and senior western Vipassana teachers. Chas has spent over 2 years of combined time in silent, intensive retreat. In 2003 Chas was invited to be the Resident Teacher at the Insight Meditation Society where he continues to serve in that role. He is a graduate of the four year Insight Meditation Society / Spirit Rock Teacher Training Program led by Jack Kornfield, Joseph Goldstein and others. He is interested in how the basic material of our everyday lives, including relationships, can be used as a vehicle for awakening.
Chas teaches retreats at IMS, at various centers and sanghas throughout the country, and offers Spiritual Counseling for individuals. To listen to his talk titled “The Illusion of Not Good Enough” click here. You will need to scroll down the page to the Visiting Teachers listed in alpha order.