Valley Insight Retreats

Awakening Together, Part 2:
Practice in Insight Dialogue Meditation and Dharma Contemplation

Led by Jan Surrey and Marsha Lawson
Saturday, May 20, 9:00 am – 3:00 pm (in-person only)
Held at UU Congregation of the Upper Valley, 320 Route 5 South, Norwich, VT

Note: this retreat is fully subscribed. We won’t be accepting walk-in registrations.

This retreat will combine the practices of Insight Dialogue and Dharma Contemplation. We’ll explore the Dharma together through direct engagement with each other and with the teachings of the Buddha from the Pali Canon, the collection of suttas in the Theravada Buddhist tradition.

Insight Dialogue aims at helping practitioners develop mindfulness, compassion, and liberating insight through meditation, mindful listening, and speaking. The practice is conducive to building and strengthening spiritual friendship and community, while weaving together meditative awareness and Buddhist teachings. (Here’s more information about Insight Dialogue.

We’ll also introduce Dharma Contemplation, a multilayered relational practice used to explore and engage with texts from the Pali Canon. The practice involves a step-by-step deepening process, as a group engages with these ancient Buddhist texts together, guiding practitioners into the meaning, applicability, depth, and beauty to be found in these texts.

Our guest teachers, Jan Surrey and Marsha Lawson, are offering this day to us as a sangha-building event. This means that if we have a sufficient number of registrants, it will be open only to Valley Insight practitioners, not others in the Upper Valley community or those on the guest teachers’ broader email network.

While this offering builds on a day-long retreat in October 2021, all are welcome — no previous experience with Insight Dialogue is necessary.

Past Retreats


Finding Refuge in Stillness and Community

Friday, Dec 9 and Saturday, Dec 10
Led by Doreen Schweizer and Subha Srinivasan

‘Find a place of rest in the middle of things’ – Frank Ostaseski

In this Valley Insight day-long retreat, offered via Zoom, we will practice resting our hearts together, finding peace and community through the Buddha’s teachings on kindness, compassion, joy, and equanimity. In these difficult times of rapid change, upheaval, and climate crisis, the practices can help soothe the trembling heart and cultivate a stillness from which wise action can emerge.

Reflections on the Buddha’s Teaching

An In-Person, Daylong Retreat with Ajahn Jayanto

Saturday, September 17
In-Person Only
UU Congregation of the Upper Valley

Ajahn Jayanto, an American-born monk and abbot of Jetavana Temple Forest Monastery, a New Hampshire Buddhist monastery in the Thai Forest tradition, will lead a one-day retreat on September 17. The day will consist of periods of sitting and walking meditation, a dharma talk, and time for questions and answers. Ajahn Jayanto’s teachings are offered with great clarity.

Spaces are limited for this in-person retreat, so we ask participants to register in advance (link above) and to notify us if you can’t attend so that others may do so. Everyone must be fully vaccinated and masks will be required when indoors except when eating. There will be no Zoom option.

Forgiveness Retreat: Giving Up All Hope of a Better Past
A Virtual Daylong Retreat with Jacoby Ballard

Saturday, April 9
Held on Zoom
Sponsored by Valley Insight Meditation Society

In this day-long retreat with guest teacher Jacoby Ballard, we will explore the practice of forgiveness, a timeless practice exceedingly relevant for our divided times. Jacoby’s work sits at the intersection of contemplative and embodied practices and social justice, and so we will contemplate the application of forgiveness work with the justice issues of our time: the call for reparations, climate change and climate justice, transphobic policies in school districts, war, and more.

Practicing forgiveness involves forgiving ourselves for the ways in which we have harmed ourselves in thought, word, or deed; considering the ways in which we have each harmed others and asking for forgiveness; forgiving those who have harmed us; and forgiving the First Noble Truth in Buddhism—that dukkha (a Pali word meaning suffering, difficulty, stress) exists in the first place. Forgiveness in each of these directions is profound work that can shift the trajectory of our households, neighborhoods, cities, and world, witnessing pain, processing it, releasing its energy, and learning necessary practices so as to not repeat and perpetuate pain.

You can come with little experience or decades of practice; a broken heart or one resourced and grounded. The time is always ripe for forgiveness. 

Jacoby Ballard teaches yoga and dharma as it intersects with social justice and leads trainings around the country on diversity, equity, and inclusion. As a yoga teacher with 20 years of experience, he leads workshops, retreats, teacher trainings, teaches at conferences, and runs the Resonance mentorship program for certified yoga teachers to find their niche and calling. He has meditated since he was 17 years old, has resided in the Insight tradition for the past 10 years, and trained to teach meditation at the Interdependence Project in New York. In 2008, Jacoby co-founded Third Root Community Health Center in Brooklyn, to work at the nexus of healing and social justice. Since 2006 Jacoby has taught Queer & Trans Yoga as a weekly class, a traveling workshop, and an annual retreat, and has offered yoga at the annual Garrison Institute LGBT Meditation Retreat. Jacoby has taught yoga in schools, hospitals, non profit and business offices, a maximum security prison, a recovery center, a cancer center, LGBT centers, gyms, a veteran’s center, and yoga studios. Jacoby lives with his beloved, his gender-expansive child, and dog companion on land known to Ute, Goshute, Paiute, and Shoshone people as Co’Karni, now understood as Salt Lake City, Utah. He is the author of A Queer Dharma: Yoga and Meditations for Liberation (2021), which you can order here. More at; follow him @JacobyBallard.


December 11: Doreen Schweizer, Daylong Retreat: Cultivating Inner Peace (in person and on Zoom)

October 23: Jan Surrey and Marsha Lawson, Awakening Together:  An Introduction to Insight Dialogue Meditation (on Zoom)

Feb 27: Manny Mansbach,  Faith, Trust and Confidence: Discovering Ease, Empowerment and Fidelity with Practice On and Off the Cushion (on Zoom)


December 4-6: Doreen Schweizer, Changing our Relationship to the Known World (on Zoom)

April 25: Oren Jay Sofer, Holistic Spirituality: How to Speak to Anyone with Truth and Kindness (half-day retreat) (on Zoom)

February 29: Judson Brewer, The Factors of Awakening and Reward-Based Learning (Dharma talk; listen to a recording)

January 20: Shaila Catherine, The Art of Not Clinging


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

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