Awake in the Wild
with Lee Steppacher
Sunday, October 14 — rain or shine.
“I always enjoy wandering in the nearby fields during the fall, bright light and crisp air, feeling invigorated by the changing of the seasons. As summer wanes and autumn enlivens, nature reminds me that the world is in constant motion. And what is it that is changing in me? When my mind is quiet I can begin to feel the rhythms of the natural world inside myself, and I can rest in that deep connection.”
– Lee Steppacher, teacher and leader of the retreat.
If you too are drawn to spending quiet time outside, you are invited to spend the day, October 14th, exploring your own meditation practice in nature. We will spend time both sitting and wandering through local fields and forest, open to learning what nature has to teach us. We will take inspiration from the Buddha, who gained enlightenment sitting under a tree, engaging in practices that emphasize opening to sensory awareness and our connection to the world around us. We will explore the open views of hills and sky, as well as the up-close observation of life on the ground, letting nature offer perspectives and mysteries that can wake us up.
The retreat is inspired by Awake in the Wild, a mindfulness experience created by Vipassana teacher Mark Coleman. Participants are invited to explore the stillness and wisdom of the world around us and to feel a sense of belonging within it. Lee has studied with Mark and offers this retreat in this spirit.
The retreat will run from 9:30 to 4:00 p.m. at a location in or near Norwich. The day will include walking at a relaxed pace over uneven but not too strenuous ground. Our schedule will be flexible and responsive to the weather conditions. While you should be prepared for hot, cold, and/or rain, we will have some cover and shade if needed.
Space is limited so if you are interested please email Lee Steppacher at firstname.lastname@example.org. The exact location and more detailed information will be sent to those who register.
Daylong Retreat with Ajahn Jayanto
Saturday, September 22
9:00 – 4:00 pm (8:30 am check-in)
St. Barnabas Church Parish Hall
262 Main Street, Norwich, VT
We are so glad that we can again, for the fourth straight year, enjoy the teachings of Ajahn Jayanto, the abbot of the Jetavana Temple Monastery in Temple, New Hampshire. He offers a knowledge and clarity that we especially appreciate.
Continuing the tradition of offering alms for the teaching, we will have the opportunity to offer food to Ajahn Jayanto at 11:30 a.m., followed by an informal potluck lunch. Please feel free to bring a dish. Contributions of food are gratefully appreciated and wholly optional. It is also fine to bring your own bag lunch.
Because space is limited, preregistration is recommended. To register, please send an email to email@example.com. The last retreat with Ajahn Jayanto filled up quickly. Registrations will be honored on a first-come, first-served basis.
There is no registration fee for the retreat, in keeping with the monastic commitment of offering teachings freely. There will be a donation (dana) box in the retreat room. Any dana is greatly appreciated and will be shared between Jetavana Monastery and Valley Insight to help both groups with ongoing expenses.
Born in Boston in 1967, Ajahn Jayanto attended the University of Wisconsin at Madison. In 1989, he joined the monastic community at Amaravati Monastery in the UK, a monastery in the Buddhist Thai Forest Tradition of Ajahn Chah. Ajahn 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 has helped to lead the efforts to establish the Temple Forest Monastery in Temple, New Hampshire, where he now serves as abbot. [For more information: http://forestmonastery.org/]
Past Retreats Offered
A Day of Silent Reflection
Saturday, May 19th
10 a.m. – 3 p.m.
Lyme Center Academy Building
Lyme Center, NH
Silence is a foundation for many contemplation and meditation practices. Often, silence is shared among Buddhists sitting together in meditation, or by others sitting silently––reflecting, contemplating, or praying.
There is an acknowledgement that practicing or contemplating together in silence is a hallmark of spiritual community. We invite anyone who seeks to practice and reflect in silence to join us for an entire day dedicated to meditation.
The Day Begins:
Once a bell rings at 10 a.m., we will sit in silence.
The silence will be punctuated by the ringing of a bell at noon to begin a silent midday meal (please bring a bag lunch); at 1 p.m. to resume sitting in silence; and at 3 p.m. to mark the end of the day. You may engage in walking meditation when so moved; the Lyme Academy Building in Lyme Center offers indoor and outdoor space for walking meditation.
• There will be plenty of chairs for seating, or, if you would like, please bring your own cushion or bench.
• Participants are welcome to come for all or part of the day.
• There is no charge for participation. There will be a donation box to help us cover the cost of rent.
This event was conceived of by Valley Insight Meditation Society, which welcomes all.
To register, or if you have questions about this event, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Workshop: Learning the Skills of Resiliency
Teacher: Rae Houseman
Saturday, March 10, 2018
9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
St. Barnabas Church, Norwich, Vt
This workshop will focus on skillful approaches of working with feelings of overwhelm, emotional dysregulation, and feelings of disconnection. We will build skills to navigate the territory of
these various states in meditation practice through partnered work, guided meditations, and discussions.
This workshop is intended to be beneficial to anyone inclined towards developing understanding and skills about being present for our lives in a chaotic and fast paced culture. It’s not necessary to have prior experience with the practice but this daylong workshop is not intended to be used to do personal therapeutic work in the group context.
Rae Houseman is a graduate of the Spirit Rock Community Dharma Leadership Program. She has practiced extensively in Burma in the tradition of Mahasi Sayadaw and Sayadaw U Tejaniya. She holds ann M.A. degree in Somatic Psychology and is a certified Somatic Experiencing Practitioner. Her personal practice is an integration of Somatic Awareness and Insight Meditation. She is also head of coaching for the meditation app, 10% Happier.
REGISTRATION: $25, with scholarships available. There is plenty of parking space at the Church. Email email@example.com for registration and questions. The address for mailing registration fees is:
Valley Insight Meditation Society
P.O. Box 634
Lebanon, NH 03766
What Would the Buddha Say?
Developing Skillful Speech for Life’s Challenging Conversations
Half-day Study Retreat with Manny Mansbach
Saturday, January 13, 2018
1 – 5 pm
St. Barnabas Church, Norwich, VT
“It is spoken at the right time. It is spoken in truth. It is spoken affectionately. It is spoken beneficially. It is spoken with a mind of good-will.”
–– The Buddha
From a foundation of respect and loving awareness, our shared goal in this retreat will be to develop trust in our ability to distinguish between speech that leads to happiness and greater good, and speech that increases suffering. Studying skillful speech in the context of the dharma supports increased confidence in the capacity to know what is true in our experience now, and translating this knowing into wiser and more compassionate speech with family, friends, co-workers, and those with differing viewpoints. We will consider classical teachings that convey the building blocks of skillful speech, and also draw on contemporary teachings that bring forth the power of assertive nonviolence, a way of communicating that is based in empathy and care for all beings, and is consistent with our highest aspirations and the teachings of the Buddha.
Open to beginners and experienced meditators. The day will consist of presentations, discussion and practical exercises involving wise speech, supported by some meditation practice.
The retreat will be held at St. Barnabas Church in Norwich, Vt. There is plenty of parking space at the Church. There is a $15.00 registration fee which can be waived upon request.
Email firstname.lastname@example.org for registration and questions. The address for mailing registration fees is below:
Valley Insight Meditation Society
P.O. Box 634
Lebanon, NH 03766
“We should never underestimate the power of our speech…. Through the words we speak we can change another person’s world in a moment…. Words of love, tenderness, and kindness are urgently needed in a world saturated by so many unwise and divisive words. The realization of peace in our world, our communities, families, and relationships rests upon each of us learning to speak with wisdom.”
Manny Mansbach has been practicing and studying Insight Meditation since 1980. He has been a psychotherapist working primarily with couples and a teacher of therapists-in-training. He is a graduate both of Spirit Rock Meditation Center’s Dedicated Practitioner Program and its Community Dharma Leader Program. He lives in southern Vermont and is a teacher at Vermont Insight Meditation Center. Manny is passionately committed to sharing wise speech skills to promote harmony and empowerment.
GLADDENING THE HEART: A daylong Retreat with Doreen Schweizer
9:00 am – 4:00 pm
St. Thomas Church in Hanover
As the political turmoil continues all around us and the holiday celebrations grow near, it may well be the perfect time to spend a day with others in shared, quiet refuge. Guided by Valley Insight Meditation Society Teacher, Doreen Schweizer, this silent retreat will include gentle instructions from a classical Buddhist teaching on Mindfulness of Breathing (Anapanasati) to give direction to our practice. This teaching offers opportunity to experience a quieting of our own minds and hearts. With calmness, concentration improves, and we lay the foundation for deep insight. The day of ‘social silence’ will include alternating periods of sitting and walking mediation, as well as time for questions and group reflection. This retreat is appropriate for all levels – beginning as well as experienced meditators – but it is not appropriate for those who have not done any meditation before. Participants should bring their own lunch. Hot and cold drinks will be provided.
As the dark of winter approaches, we naturally turn inward; and we know that light will return to our corner of the world, as well as to our hearts. “It is not just a matter of faith; it is a matter of practice.” (Thich Nhat Hanh)
This retreat was held at St. Thomas Church in Hanover. There was a $25 registration which could be waived upon request and the teachings were offered freely with the opportunity of dana for the teacher.
Awake in Nature: A Daylong Retreat with Lee Steppacher
10 am to 5 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.
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.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]