Valley Insight Retreats

Saturday, April 25, 2020

Holistic Spirituality: How to Speak to Anyone with Truth and Kindness 

Oren Jay Sofer

Half-Day Online Workshop
Saturday, April 25, 2020
1:00 to 4:30pm ET

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 will explore an integrated approach to bringing mindfulness and care to our communication. The tools shared will be 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.

This event is appropriate for meditators at all levels of experience. All are welcome; no prior experience necessary. 

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.

This program will be held online via Zoom from 1:00-4:30pm ET. A link with simple instructions will be sent to all registrants before the program. We will take several short breaks, including a longer break half-way through. 

NOTE: This workshop is both a stand-alone program and Part 3 of a series of three online, half-day workshops offered by Oren Jay Sofer.  Information and Registration for the three-part series is available here.

Press the Register Here button for the Valley Insight workshop. 

Register / Registration Fee

1) Register with your name and email using this form.

Past Retreats Offered:

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. 


Calming Down and Seeing Clearly
A Daylong Retreat with Doreen Schweizer
December 14, 2019
9:00 am – 4:00 pm

In these deeply troubled times, we often long for rest and ease, even as a wakeful attentiveness is called for. The early Buddhist meditation teaching called Mindfulness of the In and Out Breath (the Anapanasati Sutta) offers us access to both tranquility and insight.  With mindful awareness of the injustices and suffering all around and within us, this practice helps cultivate mental qualities that can strengthen our resiliency and allow us greater access to compassion and wise action. These important qualities are referred to as “the seven awakening factors.”

This day-long meditation retreat will offer formal training in this ancient teaching in the manner currently being taught by Bhikkhu Analayo. Analyo’s freely offered guided audios and his recently published book will provide participants with an important way to deepen the practice on their own after this introduction.

Doreen Schweizer is the senior teacher for Valley Insight Meditation Society (VIMS)

Breathing with the Earth
Peg Meyer and Lee Steppacher
September 28, 2019
9:30 am-4:00 pm

Here is an invitation to take your meditation practice outside.  Autumn is a poignant time to observe the change of seasons. As summer wanes and autumn enlivens, nature reminds us that the world is in constant motion. When our mind is quiet we can begin to feel the rhythms of the natural world inside ourselves, and rest in that deep interconnection.

If you are drawn to spending quiet time outside, you are invited to spend Saturday September 28th exploring your own meditation practice in nature.   We will spend time both sitting and wandering through local fields and forest, open to learn what nature has to teach us.  We will engage 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.

We will be sitting and walking for up to 2 miles at a relaxed pace over uneven ground, but not too strenuous.

Finding Our Real Home
Ajahn Jayanto
Saturday, August 10  9:00 – 4:00 pm
St. Barnabas Church Parish Hall, Norwich, VT

For the fifth straight year we were able to benefit from 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. 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:

A Day of Silent Reflection
Saturday, June 29 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. We invite anyone who seeks to practice and reflect in silence to join us for an entire day dedicated to meditation.

Once a bell rings at 10 am, we will sit in silence, punctuated by the ringing of a bell at noon for a silent lunch and another at 1:00 to signal its end. A final bell at 3:00 pm will mark the end of the day. Come for the entire day — or for a part of it.

Mindful and Brave:
Discovering Courage and Fearlessness in an Age of Heightened Anxiety
Study and Practice Retreat with Manny Mansbach

Saturday, May 11, 2019, 9:30 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
St. Barnabas Episcopal Church Parish Hall, Norwich, Vermont

People experience fear for many reasons, both natural and unnatural. From our biological wiring to early trauma and disconnection from our basic goodness, as well as social, environmental, and political ills, fear abounds in the hearts of human beings. Contemplating the nature of fear can help us relax our grip and lead us to discover a deeply courageous heart that can protect us and help us thrive in any set of conditions.

Popular presentation of the Insight Meditation tradition tends to emphasize gentle or yin qualities such as kindness and metta. Courage is related to several of the paramis in our tradition—especially determination, energy, and patience. It is vital to attend directly to cultivating qualities such as courage and bravery to fully empower our practice and our lives.

In this daylong retreat, new and experienced meditators alike will investigate how we establish ourselves on four related pathways of freedom: from fear of ourselves to basic fearlessness, from fear of others to fearless compassion, from fear of openness to transcendent fearlessness, and finally from fear of empowered expression to fearless action in the world. These pathways illuminate the way toward more confident engagement and courageous leadership in both our inner and worldly lives.

Manny Mansbach has been practicing and studying Insight Meditation since 1980. He is a graduate both of Spirit Rock Meditation Center’s Dedicated Practitioner Program and its Community Dharma Leader Program. Manny has had the good fortune of studying with many revered Vipassana teachers, as well as Tibetan teachers.

Manny is committed to helping people remember and express their basic goodness, and to gain confidence in the beauty and power of the Buddha’s teachings of profound understanding and boundless kindness. He believes in nurturing the connections between transformative inner work such as meditation and therapy; community/sangha; and nonviolent social transformation.

When Awareness Becomes Natural:
Lessons I Learned from Sayadaw U Tejaniya and Beyond.

Alexis Santos

Sunday, March 10, 2019, 9 am to 4 pm
183 Dorchester Road, Lyme NH 03768

We feel very fortunate to have Alexis join us during his stay teaching at the Forest Refuge in Barre, MA.

About Alexis:
Alexis has been in the field of mindfulness and meditation since 2001. After graduating from Harvard in 1995, he spent several years in medical school before leaving his chosen career as a doctor to seek out a different path. It was while traveling in India that he was introduced to insight meditation.

Since that time, Alexis has practiced in many meditative styles and traditions, including with Sayadaw U Tejaniya, the Thai Forest tradition with Ajahn Sumedho, the Tibetan tradition with Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche and within the lay Western insight community where he continues to learn from the growing diversity of voices.

Alexis’s primary teacher has been Sayadaw U Tejaniya ( from the Burmese Theravada tradition), and with whom he ordained as a Buddhist monk from 2003 – 2005. Sayadaw encouraged Alexis to teach in 2012. Alexis also completed the Spirit Rock/IMS four-year teacher training program with Jack Kornfield and others, including mentors Joseph Goldstein and Carol Wilson.

Alexis teaches meditation at retreat centers throughout the US and Europe. He is a featured teacher in the 10% Happier meditation app and has developed guided mindfulness exercises for Lumosity.

Alexis’s teaching style is natural and uncrafted. He brings a practical, intuitive and compassionate approach to the development of wisdom. You can listen to a dharma talk at:


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