Valley Insight Retreats

VIMS Annual December Retreat
Friday Evening, Saturday, Sunday

Led by Doreen Schweizer

December 4, 5, 6

Please note: specific times for each session will be announced shortly.

All Buddhist teachings and practices are intentionally designed to shift our perceptions on and our relationship to our experience of the world. They offer strategies to help us create less suffering and stress for ourselves and for others. When engaged in consistently over a period of time, they change us in eight predictable aspects of our lives. They change our understanding of the way things are; our mental, volitional intentions; our actions; our speech; the way we spend our time; the quantity, quality, and direction of our energy; the clarity and wakefulness of our awareness; and our ability to steady our attentional presence. 

Meditation retreats are particularly supportive to this ongoing process of transformation.

Thanks to the easy access we have to the boundless space of our very own virtual Dharma Hall, this year’s VIMS Annual December Retreat will offer several variations within a two-and-half-day framework. Ideally, this will make the retreat experience available to more people. 

On Friday evening, there will be an introduction and overview with a time to be together in small breakout groups. This can serve as a stand-alone experience or the beginning of a mostly-silent one or two-day retreat. All are welcome.  

Saturday.  During the day, the retreat will focus on the meditative practice of the four Brahma Viharas, with three online practice and discussion opportunities and suggestions for continuing practice at home when offline. 

This day can be taken on its own or in combination with Friday and Sunday. Some prior experience with meditation or permission of the teacher is required.

Saturday evening and Sunday. The program will offer guidance into and practice time with the four emptiness practices of Early Buddhism. There will be one Saturday evening and three Sunday practice and discussion periods online. Again, suggestions will be given for continuing practice when offline. 

Unless they have previous experience with the forms practiced on Sunday, those choosing to participate in this aspect of the retreat should plan on being in the Saturday program as well, because it will build on the foundation of the Brahma Vihara practice.  Friday evening practice is encouraged for all, but is optional.

Please contact us at for questions or to register.

Past Retreats Offered:

Holistic Spirituality: How to Speak to Anyone with Truth and Kindness 
Oren Jay Sofer
Half-Day Online Workshop
Saturday, April 25, 2020

The path of awakening taught by the Buddha includes a wide range of practices to calm the body and mind, to heal the heart, and to respond to need with wisdom and compassion. Silent meditation is only one form of training. In our time together, we will use the foundation of inner practice to build a holistic approach to transformation and engaged action. 

How can we use our spiritual practice as a resource to respond to the challenges of our times with strength and love? How do we bring qualities of integrity, truth, and kindness into our relationships and conversations, staying true to our values while creating conditions for real dialogue?

In this half-day online workshop, we explored an integrated approach to bringing mindfulness and care to our communication. The tools shared are a combination of the core guidelines for Wise Speech offered by the Buddhist tradition, as well as the contemporary discipline of Nonviolent Communication. Together, these practices form a powerful foundation for insight, compassion, and skill so that our conversations can create meaningful change.

Oren Jay Sofer, a member of the Spirit Rock Teachers Council, teaches meditation and communication retreats and workshops nationally. He is a Certified Trainer of Nonviolent Communication and a Somatic Experiencing Practitioner for the healing of trauma. Oren also holds a degree in Comparative Religion from Columbia University and is the founder of Next Step Dharma. He is the author of Say What You Mean: A Mindful Approach to Nonviolent Communication, and coauthor of Teaching Mindfulness to Empower Adolescents.

A Morning Dharma Talk With Judson Brewer
Recording of Judson Brewer’s Talk
Saturday, February 29

A Day Long With Shaila Catherine

Saturday, January 20, 2020

The Art of Not Clinging is a daylong program that will highlight the subtle dynamics of clinging and not-clinging as we practice the art of letting go. The Buddha described four kinds of clinging: 1) clinging to sensual pleasures, 2) to views and opinions, 3) to rituals and observances, and 4) to the concept of self. Meditators may use these four categories to focus their investigation of attachment. Practices of generosity, contentment, relaxation, mindfulness, and concentration support the experience and expression of not-clinging. The day will include sitting and walking meditation and teachings. It is appropriate for both new and experienced practitioners.

Shaila Catherine is the founder of Bodhi Courses, an online Dhamma classroom, and Insight Meditation South Bay, a center for mindfulness, compassion, and wisdom in Silicon Valley, California.

Shaila began meditating in 1980, and has accumulated more than nine years of silent retreat experience. She has practiced with Western and Asian teachers, and devoted several years to studying with masters in India, Nepal, and Thailand.  From 2006-2014 Shaila trained in both samadhi and vipassana under the direction of Venerable Pa-Auk Sayadaw of Myanmar.

Shaila began teaching in 1996.   She leads retreats worldwide, and offers online courses. 


December 14: Doreen Schweizer, Calming Down and Seeing Clearly

September 28: Peg Meyer and Lee Steppacher, Taking Your Practice Outside

August 10: Ajahn Jayanto, Finding Our Real Home

June 29: A Day of Silent Reflection

May 11: Manny Mansbach, Mindful and Brave: Discovering Courage and Fearlessness in an Age of Heightened Anxiety

March 10: Alexis Santos, When Awareness Becomes Natural: Lessons I Learned from Sayadaw U Tejaniya and Beyond


December 8: Doreen Schweizer, Tis the Season: Joy . . . Its Place in the Ethical and Meditation Practices of the Early Buddhist Insight Tradition  A Daylong Retreat with Doreen Schweizer

October 14: Lee Steppacher, Awake in the Wild

September 22: Ajahn Jayanto

May 19: A Day of Silent Reflection

March 10: Rae Hausman, Learning the Skills of Resiliency

January 13: Manny Mansbach, What Would the Buddha Say?: Developing Skillful Speech for Life’s Challenging Conversations


December 9: Doreen Schweizer, Gladdening the Heart

October 14: Lee Steppacher, Awake in Nature: A Daylong Retreat with Lee Steppacher

September 9: Ajahn Jayanto, Buddhism as an Ethical Path

March 26: Shaila Catherine, Developing Right Concentration

January 28: Manny Mansbach,  Five Spiritual Powers


November 19: Andrew Olendzki, Untangling Self: A Buddhist Investigation of Who We Really Are

September 10: Ajahn Jayanto

January 24: Shaila Catherine, Liberating Attitudes


December 5: Doreen Schweizer, Practicing Tranquility in a Busy Season

September 26: Ajahn Jayanto, So this is how it is, right here.

June 14: Peg Meyer and Landon Hall, Everyday Mindfulness

March 13-15: Doreen Schweizer, Who Are We? Softening the Edges of Self with Mindfulness and Kindness [Weekend retreat at Wonderwell, Springfield, NH]


December 13: Ajahn Jayanto, Transforming Our Relationship to Difficulty

October 3-5: Leigh Brasington, The Beautiful Mind: Deepening Concentration Through Jhana Practice [Weekend retreat at Wonderwell, Springfield, NH]

February 28-March 2: Doreen Schweizer, Sustaining Mindfulness: Establishing Clear Awareness and Compassion as the Foundation of Our Lives [Weekend retreat at Wonderwell, Springfield, NH]


April: Winnie Nazarko, The Cultivation of Kindness and Wisdom


March: Chas DiCapua, Awakening Within Your Relationships