VIMC Retreat and Visiting Teacher Archive 2014 -2021

Retreats and Special Events Held in 2021:

August 14, 2021
Workshop on Climate Grief: Holding the Climate Crisis with Heart

A look at the psychological effects of climate change, and how our familiarity with the dharma can help us move forward with greater love and strength in the face of the inevitable grief and anxiety that these crises hold.
with Molly Grover & Ariel Burgess

July 10, 2021
The Mind Illuminated: A Stage-Based Approach to Meditation Practice

During this retreat, Matthew will briefly discuss attention and awareness and how we may practice based on this distinction. He will give a basic introduction and inspiration for thinking about and practicing meditation from a stage-based perspective.  The retreat will also provide a greater appreciation and discernment of when and when not to use a stage-based approach.

with Matthew Immergut

April 9, 10, 11, 2021
Centeredness: A Gift to Ourselves and the World
A (Non-residential) Weekend Online Retreat

Our practice gives us tools to stay present with the swirl of mind states and emotions that naturally arise as well as the centeredness to respond with wisdom and compassion.
with James Baraz

March 20, 2021

Emptiness (Suññatā in Pali) is a very important and often misunderstood teaching in Buddhism. During this afternoon class we will take a look at discourses of the Buddha as well as later teaching that discuss Emptiness. We will attempt to understand not only what the Buddha meant by Emptiness, but also see how later teachings have used this concept to elucidate some of the trickier points of the Dharma. There will be dhamma talks with plenty of time for questions, as well as periods of meditation.
With Leigh Brasington

February 13, 2021
Faith and Intuition

Faith focuses the mind and fuels the heart. Faith opens the way for intuition, which can guide us in leading a life of generosity, skillfulness, and purpose. Einstein said we’ve been given two gifts: rationality and intuition. Our rational minds should serve intuition, and intuition should serve our rational mind. Venerable Pannavati will examine faith and intuition as steps on our spiritual path.
With Vennerable Pannavati

January 30, 2021
Annual Women’s Retreat: Boundless Gratitude

As we enter into 2021, those of us who are alive and well today experience boundless gratitude for the precious human life we have been given and continue to experience.  In open and loving awareness that is our birthright, we also celebrate together the gift of being female as well as dharma practitioners.  In this retreat, designed for those who identify as women, we practice silent meditation, periods of contemplation, mindful movement, and reflection in the community.
With Claire Stanley

January 17, 2021

Chris Germer leads a special Sunday Morning with guided meditation and a talk on the practice of self-compassion and its impact on suffering.

Retreats and Special Events Held in 2020:

December 26, 2020
Writing from Mindfulness

Cheryl Wilfong leads a day of guided meditation, walking, and writing so you can find the wisdom of your deepest voice. Enjoy a quiet day of retreat and writing down the mind. Directions are simple: Sit. Breathe. Write.

November 22, 2020
Ecodharma: A New Buddhist path?

The workshop will focus on the parallels between our usual individual predicament and our present collective predicament; and the ecosattva path.

Many people have suggested that the ecological crisis is as much a spiritual challenge as a technological and economic one. Does this mean that there is also a parallel between the two solutions? Does the Buddhist response to our personal predicament also point the way to resolving our collective one?
With David Loy

October 18, 2020
The Buddha’s Recipe for a Strong, Resilient and Gentle Heart

We are living in a time of great unraveling and uncertainty, calling for us to strengthen the love and resilience in our hearts. The Buddha’s prescription of the four heavenly homes, or the four Brahmaviharas, gives us a template for how to love and care without falling into overwhelm and despair. During this half-day retreat we will pay particular attention to how these four qualities of loving kindness, compassion, appreciative joy, and equanimity work together and support each other and help the heart to be open and fresh to meet what the world manifests with courage and care.
With Rebecca Bradshaw

September 27, 2020
Faith as the Ground and Sustenance of Practice

Faith has been understood as the ground and sustenance of practice in every Buddhist tradition.  This is not a faith that is opposed to reason and understanding.  Rather, it is a faith that grows with reason and experience.  It is a conviction in the good qualities of the Buddha, the teachings of the Buddha, and the community of those who follow the Buddha’s teachings.  It is a serene joy or gladdening made possible by this conviction.  And it is a confidence in one’s ability to make progress on the Buddhist path.
With William Edelglass

August 30,2020
The Live Wire of Authenticity

Lately, we’ve been thinking of dharma practice as a kind of live wire of authenticity, a radical knowing of just exactly this moment as it presences in body, heart, and mind. Join us for a few hours of experiential excavation of our mutually shared (and yet entirely individual) aliveness.
With Devon and Craig Hase

July 19, 2020
Mindful of Race;
A Half-day of Practice for People Who Identify as White

Exploration and conversation of race, to develop awareness of our racialized conditioning in an effort toward supporting the undoing of conditioned internalized racism. Together we will develop a greater awareness of the construct of race and how it impacts our lives and the lives of People of Color, use our meditation practice as a primary container, and support for this exploration.
With Rae Houseman

June 21, 2020
How Shall I Respond?

Current events are so challenging and can be upsetting to the point that it’s hard to know how to respond. The Buddha’s teachings can help us work with our minds to bring some ease to our inner landscape. When we’re able to have more ease and see more clearly, then we are able to respond more appropriately to our circumstances.
With Kim Weeber

May 24, 2020
The Four Foundations of Mindfulness: Strengthening the Power Of Mindfulness While Living In Pandemic Conditions

The Four Foundations or Forms of Presence are 1) the body; 2) feelings; 3) mind states; 4) laws of experience. When facing the enormity of loss and uncertainty, we need more than ever to uncover and strengthen our inner resources.

In this wholistic approach to mindfulness practice, we nurture our capacity to calm the mind and learn to rest in the present moment. By taking up the practice of the four foundations, we cultivate much-needed discernment and skill in relating to the challenges of ever-changing conditions. And we can discover the fruit of inner freedom which allows us to respond with awareness and compassion rather than habitually react with contraction when encountering the realities of everyday life.
With Michael Grady

April 26, 2020
Cultivating Awareness

Using mindfulness, we cultivate self awareness, yet the Buddha taught not-self. So … what, really, are we aware of?  During this  daylong we will begin by noticing the difference between attention and awareness. We will practice the restful states of seeing, hearing, and feeling. And move toward awareness of Awareness, the state that is sometimes called Presence — the feeling that underlies our sense of aliveness.
With Rae Houseman and Cheryl Wilfong

March 22, 2020
What does it Mean for a Woman to be Free
6th Annual Women’s Daylong Retreat

In this daylong retreat for women, we explore the many facets of freedom during periods of meditation and periods of discussion. We take time to contemplate what the early Buddhist women’s experience of freedom teaches us about our own experience of freedom.  Our day together will also consist of mindful walking and movement, and mindful inquiry using excerpts from the actual text of the Therigatha.

Taught by Claire Stanley

February 16, 2020
Steadying in the Winds of the World

In this ever-increasingly busy world, we can be easily overcome by the pulls and pushes of life. Praise and blame, success and failure, pleasure and pain, fame and disrepute can all tug at the heart and cloud the mind. How do we navigate the pulls of the eight worldly winds in such a way in which we find increasing steadiness in our hearts and minds, or at least compassion for ourselves when we are blown about?
Taught by Gina LaRoche and Rae Houseman

January 18, 2020
A Day of Loving-Kindness Practice
Cultivating a Radiant Heart

The traditional practice of Metta, or Loving-Kindness, supports the cultivation of a radiant quality of heart, one that can meet challenging circumstances with steadiness and kindness. The Buddha originally offered Metta practice as an antidote to fear and anxiety. When we practice Metta, or Loving-Kindness, we offer ourselves the opportunity to soften our hearts and open to our innate capacity to care.
With Rae Houseman

Past Retreat and Special Event Archive 2014-2019


December 28
A Daylong Retreat with Cheryl Wilfong
Writing from Mindfulness

Cheryl Wilfong leads a day of guided meditation, walking, and writing so you can find the wisdom of your deepest voice. Enjoy a quiet day of retreat and writing down the mind. Directions are simple: Sit. Breathe. Write.

November 17
A Daylong Retreat with Michael Grady

In this day long workshop we explore ways to free our hearts and minds from the limitations of living our life burdened by fear, anxiety and self-doubt.

October 20
Tranquil and Alert
A Daylong Retreat with Doreen Schweizer

This retreat was postponed

September 29
A Daylong Retreat with Rebecca Bradshaw
Annata/Not-Self from a Feminine Perspective

Many descriptions of not-self (anatta) in Buddhism come from a deconstructionist, conceptual, more masculine/yang paradigm. In this one day retreat we will approach not-self from the feeling and unitive flavor of the feminine/yin paradigm. We will explore how this more feminine approach assures us that not-self is imbued with the flavor of metta and compassion. Open to all, though some familiarity with Buddhist teachings could be helpful.

Sunday, August 25
with Phoenix Soleil
Nurturing a More Playful Relationship to the Present Moment

In the teachings on Right Effort, the Buddha gave clear guidance on how to abandon unskillful mind states and develop more skillful ones. We are encouraged to ‘turn towards’ suffering – in order to understand it and let go of its underlying causes. Yet sometimes we can adopt an overly serious or heavy attitude towards our experience as we become more aware of ‘where it hurts’. The cultivation of joy and loving-kindness are emphasized repeatedly as supporting factors on this path. These can help us to face the difficulties in our lives with more openness and greater confidence. In this day of mindfulness, we will be exploring ways to nurture curiosity, care, wonder and playfulness toward whatever is arising in the present moment. This can contribute to an improved quality of life and a strengthening of our emotional resiliency.

Sunday, July 16
Special Sunday Morning Sit
Making the Connection between Climate Crisis Awareness and Meditation
with Rae Houseman and Xtinction Rebellion

Xtinction Rebellion is an international movement that uses non-violent civil disobedience to achieve radical change in order to minimize the risk of human extinction and ecological collapse.

Sunday, July 28
with Tara Mulay and Devin Berry
Beyond the Limits of Identity: Boundless Love

The dharma provides us a path to liberation, to understanding our true nature. Suffering arises when we mistakenly take ourselves to be separate. Letting go of constricting self-views, we taste freedom from suffering and can experience transforming self-compassion. The arising of compassion and wisdom allows us to engage, but know the limits of, the identities we inhabit to advocate for our own and our communities’ liberation.

Sunday, May 12
A Daylong Retreat with Oren Jay Sofer
The Art of Mindful Communication: Living Your Values

Mindfulness practice provides a powerful support for clear, kind, and effective conversations. Join author and Dharma teacher Oren Jay Sofer for this exploration of how our spiritual practice can provide a foundation for bringing more compassion, clarity, and connection into our speech and relationships. Oren will be offering teachings from his new book, Say What You Mean: A Mindful Approach to Nonviolent Communication.

In this daylong program, we will explore the foundations of an integrated approach to skillful communication. Drawing on Buddhist concepts of Right Speech, mindfulness practice, and the modern discipline of Nonviolent Communication, this day will offer practical tips to bring more clarity and care to your relationships, and to create the conditions for meaningful collaboration.

April 21, 2019
Special Sunday Morning Sitting with Narayan Helen Liebenson
The Magnanimous Heart

The following is an excerpt from the preface of Narayan’s new book, The Magnanimous Heart:

Meeting life from a meditative perspective, rather than the prevailing cultural view of success and failure, lets us meet the world as a field of learning. From this perspective, the conditions we encounter in our lives invite us to learn what we need to learn, to use this human life wisely.

The invitation always is: how can I practice in the midst of adversity? That is to say, how can I practice in the midst of a life that does not feel quite right, or in the midst of a life that includes lovely conditions yet still feels incomplete, or in situations in which loss is profound, or at times of struggle with painful emotions, with anxiety and isolation, or with troubling world events. Adversity can mean anything.

The ancient teachings of the Buddha are as applicable today as they were when the Buddha was alive. The human psyche does not seem to have changed. We still long for happiness and peace, and we still mistakenly try to find it in externalities.  -Narayan Helen Liebenson, pg. Xii

Sunday, March 24
A Daylong Retreat with Alexis Santos and Rae Houseman
Compassionate Awareness

“When awareness becomes natural,” as Sayadaw U Tejaniya explains, our practice becomes part of our life, rather than a separate activity or pastime.

Wisdom and compassion are natural to the mind. These qualities are developed when we learn to attend skillfully to our experience with awareness. They arise when the mind is not obscured by confusion and distractedness, anxiety and fear, and endless desires and wants. And yet these afflictive habits of mind are natural as well.

Through relaxing the body and mind, we can come to understand the effortless nature of being mindful. This natural awareness leads to the blossoming of wisdom and compassion.

Sunday, February 17
A Daylong Retreat with Claire Stanley
The Nature of Love and Wisdom: A Retreat for Women

Are Love and Wisdom different or the same? What is the meaning we bring to each of these qualities of heart and mind? How does the feeling of love serve the function of wisdom? In what ways are they the same and how is their pure energy available to us? In this daylong retreat, we explore these questions through the experience of meditation and through discussion. Our day together will consist of silent meditation periods, mindful walking and movement, and mindful inquiry using texts written by women who have touched the pure nature of love and wisdom.

Sunday, January 27
A Daylong Retreat with Rae Houseman
Cultivating Joy and True Confidence: A Daylong Retreat for QTBLGAI2S and Allies

This daylong retreat will focus on the cultivation of joy through practices that celebrate our unique expressions of self and our inherent connectedness with others. We will use the practices of Loving-Kindness and Sympathetic-Joy to support our explorations. As we cultivate our capacity to embrace ourselves more fully, we develop a true sense of confidence. This leads to freedom of expression, deep connection to others, and true integrity in relationship. This day welcomes beginners and senior practitioners from the Queer, Trans, Bisexual, Lesbian, Gay, Asexual, Intersex, Gender Fluid and Allied community. This is a time to cultivate the joy of solidarity and coming together as a practice community.

Retreats Held in 2018:

Saturday, December 29
A Daylong Retreat with Cheryl Wilfong
Writing from Mindfulness

Cheryl Wilfong leads a day of guided meditation, walking, and writing so you can find the wisdom of your deepest voice. Enjoy a quiet day of retreat and writing down the mind. Directions are simple: Sit. Breathe. Write.

Sunday, October 21
A Daylong Retreat with Jill Shepherd
Balancing Effort and Enjoyment

This one-day workshop will explore the balance between effort and enjoyment in insight meditation. Using the example of the Buddha’s own life story, we will discover creative ways to bring more ease, enjoyment and balance into our meditation and our daily lives. Most of the day will be spent practicing silent sitting and walking meditation, with some guided meditation, dyad (pairs) meditation, and opportunities for individual meetings with the teacher.

Sunday, August 26
A Daylong Retreat with Michael Grady
The Dharma and Difficult Emotions

What makes a difficult emotion difficult? We’ll explore this question and the very real potential for transforming our relationship to specific emotions that can cause so much pain and suffering when we are caught by them. By strengthening mindfulness and cultivating a wise and compassionate attitude when emotions such as fear, anxiety, self-judgment, shame, or anger arise, we can discover greater ease, inner freedom, and wisdom.

Thursday, June 28
An Evening Program with David Chernikoff
Aging and Awakening

Although it’s a cliché to say that “aging is not for sissies, like a lot of clichés, it’s true. Aging puts us in direct contact with powerful challenges and experiences of loss. When wisely understood, these inevitable changes become a pathway to profound insight and authentic spiritual maturity. This is a time on our planet when our need for wise elders is as great as it’s ever been. In this talk, David will share Buddhist and other contemplative teachings that enable us to skillfully respond to that need and to find joy and equanimity in the process.

Saturday, June 30
A Half-day Retreat with David Chernikoff
Death as a Spiritual Teacher

“Of all the footprints,” said the Buddha, “that of the elephant is supreme. Similarly, of all mindfulness meditation, that on death is supreme.” This mini-retreat is an opportunity to take the Buddha’s statement into our hearts and to allow it to radically transform the way we live our lives. In a caring, supportive environment, we will combine the stillness of insight meditation with a dharma talk, partner exercises, and a guided reflection. These have the power to awaken us to a felt experience of the preciousness and mystery of this amazing human life.

Sunday, May 20
with Claire Stanley and Rae Houseman
We Have a Choice

In every moment, we have a choice to move in the direction of what’s wholesome, with the activities of our body, speech, and mind. This potential is supported through meditation practice, and the cultivation of lovingkindness and compassion. In this daylong retreat, we will consider three levels of choice and explore practices that support the unfolding of skillful choice(s) and wholesome activities in the midst of our lives.

Saturday, April 21
with Janet Surrey and Florence Meleo-Myer
Cultivating Spiritual Friendship: A Day of Insight Dialogue

The Buddha is said to have called Spiritual Friendship the “whole of the holy life”; one who associates with such Noble Friends will expect to progress on the Path of Awakening. Insight Dialogue is a fully engaged, relational co-meditation practice which develops the Factors of Awakening, including sati and samadhi, in relationship with others. The practice grounds our relationships in the mutual development of wisdom and compassion.  In this retreat we will introduce the six guidelines of Insight Dialogue (Pause, Relax, Open, Trust Emergence, Listen Deeply, Speak the Truth) and explore the practice in dyads and small groups as a foundation of spiritual friendship in the whole of our lives.

Sunday, March 25
with Manny Mansbach
Facets of Love: Empowering Practice with the Divine Abodes

We are not here to perfect ourselves. We are here to perfect our love.”  –Jack Kornfield

The Buddha said that the greatest protection in all the world is love and kindness. One of the most empowering and helpful things a human being can do is to establish a mind and heart that is firmly rooted in friendliness regardless of what is happening around us, or to us. With the capacity to remain centered in the goodwill of the Brahma-Viharas or Divine Abodes, when we encounter life’s uncertainties and challenges, we are less prone to becoming destabilized and descending into ill will and “othering”, leaving the mind freer to make sound judgments about how to respond.

In this daylong retreat we will cultivate these Brahma-Viharas: boundless friendliness, compassionate responsiveness, appreciative joy, and the sublime balance of equanimity. Along with some silent practice, we will practice meditations that help to develop the qualities of the Divine Abodes, directing steadfast friendliness to self, others and to all beings, to suffering and success, and finally to welcoming all of our experience–the full truth of our lives–with a wise and caring heart.

Sunday, February 25
with Rae Houseman
Using Inquiry in the Practice

In this daylong retreat, we will be exploring skillful ways to use inquiry to support our practice. Inquiry is a simple practice of interjecting questions every so often and, with the observing mind, seeing what can be known. This practice can help direct the mind to the present moment experience and it can support clearer seeing of what is happening. Inquiry practice is something that can be used in both formal meditation practice and in our daily life activities in support of the cultivation of mindfulness.

Sunday, January 28
with Claire Stanley
The Heart Awakened: A Retreat for Women

How do we find freedom and awakening within the perimeters of our lives as women since we often live in and through relationships that bind us to people, places, time, and responsibility? The truth is that the heart can discover its true awakened nature in the midst of everything.  In this daylong retreat, we explore how compassion can awaken the heart leading us to freedom and ease of well being. This daylong retreat consists of silent meditation periods, mindful walking and movement, and mindful inquiry using texts written by women who uncovered the heart awakened.

Retreats Held in 2017:

Saturday, December 30
with Cheryl Wilfong
Writing from Mindfulness

Cheryl Wilfong leads a day of guided meditation, walking, and writing so you can find the wisdom of your deepest voice. Enjoy a quiet day of retreat and writing down the mind. Directions are simple: Sit. Breathe. Write.

Cheryl Wilfong completed the Community Dharma Leader training program at Spirit Rock in 2008 and the Integrated Study and Practice Program at the Barre Center for Buddhist Studies in 2009. She has been studying with Matt Flickstein since 2008 and Shinzen Young since 2009.

Sunday, November 12
with Mu Soeng
Past and Future

This half-day study retreat hopes to generate an open-ended conversation about our central human preoccupation with past and future, and how Buddhist thought and practice, especially the eightfold path, help us in dealing with the oppressive nature of that preoccupation.

Mu Soeng is Program Director and Resident Scholar at BCBS. He trained in the (Korean) Zen tradition and was a monk for eleven years. He is the author of Thousand Peaks: Korean Zen (Tradition and Teachers); The Diamond Sutra: Transforming the Way We Perceive the World; Trust in Mind: The Rebellion of Chinese Zen; and The Heart of the Universe: Exploring the Heart Sutra.

Sunday, October 1
with James Baraz
The Joy of Letting Go

Just what does the phrase “let go” mean? Renunciation (nekkhama in Pali), one of the ten perfections, is often thought of as sacrifice, as something we should do because it’s “good for us” though not particularly uplifting. Actually, the Buddha spoke of this quality as leading to true contentment and happiness. During this half-day retreat, which includes periods of silent sitting and walking meditation, we will explore the theme of how renunciation is related to joy. We will discuss:
– what letting go means
– how letting go leads to simplicity and balance
– how letting go manifests as the perfection of generosity
Practices will be offered to work with letting go in our daily life.

James Baraz is a founding teacher of Spirit Rock Meditation Center. James started the Community Dharma Leader program, the Kalyana Mitta Network, helped create the Heavenly Messengers Training Program and is teacher-advisor to the Spirit Rock Family program and leads. He is the co-author with Shoshana Alexander of Awakening Joy: Ten Steps to Happiness and leads a popular online course by that name:

Sunday, August 10
with Ajahn Jayanto
‘Being with This’: A Day of Practice

This retreat day of noble silence will consist of periods of sitting and walking meditation, a dharma talk by Ajahn Jayanto, and time for questions and answers. The traditional offering and blessing of the meal will be at 11am.

Ajahn Jayanto, abbot of Temple (NH) Forest Monastery, joined the monastic community of Ajahn Sumedho as a postulant at Amaravati Monastery in England in 1989. Taking bhikkhu (monk) ordination at the related Cittaviveka Monastery in 1991, he trained there and at Aruna Ratanagiri Monastery until 1997, at which point he embarked on a period of practice in Thailand and other Asian Buddhist countries. He returned to the UK in 2006, where he lived at Amaravati until moving to Temple in 2014. Since 2009 Ajahn Jayanto has helped to lead the efforts to establish a branch monastery in the Thai Forest Tradition of Ajahn Chah, here in New England, and he now serves as abbot of Temple Forest Monastery.

Sunday, August 6 (cancelled)
with Chas DiCapua
How The Dharma Can Inform Our Response To The World

Regardless of where one falls on the political or social spectrum, the conditions in our country and in the world are very challenging at this time. What are we to do? What is the correct response? I hear these questions frequently from students. During this day long retreat, in silence and in dialogue, we will explore how the teachings of the Buddha can inform our response.  The retreat will be held from a non-partisan view point, and dialogue will be Dharma oriented rather than politically driven.

Chas DiCapua has been practicing mindfulness and Buddhist meditation, primarily in the Theravada school, for over 25 years, including over 2 years of combined time in silent, intensive retreat.  He has trained with Burmese meditation masters, western monastics of the Thai Forest tradition and senior western Vipassana teachers.  In 2003 Chas was invited to be the Resident Teacher at the Insight Meditation Society in Barre, MA where he continues to serve in that role. 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.

Sunday, July 23
with Michael Grady
Letting Go of Fear

Within the framework of the Buddha’s teaching of the Four Noble Truths, and drawing on methods grounded in Vipassana practice and inquiry, we will explore ways to respond to fear with mindfulness, equanimity, and wisdom. The emphasis of this retreat will be learning to free ourselves of the burden of fear by developing skillful means and a more open-hearted attitude in working with various fears, anxiety, worry, and self-doubt when these habits of mind arise in everyday life.

Michael Grady is a core teacher at the Insight Meditation Society and has been a guiding teacher for more than 20 years at the Cambridge Insight Meditation Center, an urban dharma center that emphasizes contemplative practice in daily life. Michael began practicing Insight meditation in 1974 with Joseph Goldstein and Sharon Salzberg. More recently, he trained with the late Master Sheng Yen and was introduced to the practice of Silent Illumination in the Chan tradition. This practice emphasizes cultivating a wise and compassionate attitude in dharma practice, as well as including all of life as an opportunity for awakening.

Sunday, June 11
with Manny Mansbach
Tending the Undefended Heart

So much of our life force goes into protecting ourselves from real or perceived danger, bracing ourselves against the winds of life, trying to look acceptable to ourselves and in the eyes of others. We cover over our hearts with protective gear. Some of this is due to our biological wiring, and is also necessary, especially when we haven’t had the resources or support to safely navigate things like family dysfunction, harsh criticism and bullying, highly competitive schools and workplaces, and the contemporary landscape of poisonous partisan politics. All this can make arriving in the present moment difficult. Alternatively, we can join together in a meditation practice that establishes an atmosphere of safety and kindness in which we cultivate an undefended heart, listening more carefully to the undercurrents of our being, the subtle impressions in the body and the longings of our hearts.

Saturday, May 13
with Claire Stanley and Janet Surrey
To Embody Courage and Compassion: A Daylong Retreat for Women

The Buddhist path and practice support the development of courage and compassion in the midst of all circumstances, during even the most difficult of times. Now, more than ever, we need the support of this path and practice, as well as the support of one another. This retreat day consists of silent meditation periods, mindful walking and movement, as well as Insight Dialogue using texts written by women on developing and embodying courage and compassion.

Janet Surrey, PhD is an Insight Dialogue Teacher. She teaches Insight Dialogue retreats worldwide and leads a monthly practice group in the Boston area. She has studied with a number of Vipassana teachers for over 25 years, and has worked with Gregory Kramer since 2007. Jan is a practicing clinical psychologist and founding scholar of the Jean Baker Miller Training Institute at the Wellesley Centers for Women. She is on the faculty and board of the Institute for Meditation and Psychotherapy. She is the author of recently published book, The Buddha’s Wife: The Path of Awakening Together.

April 21 – 23
with Cheryl Wilfong and Manny Mansbach
Cultivating a Balanced and Responsive Heart in Challenging Times

Join VIMC teachers Cheryl Wilfong and Manny Mansbach and the VIMC community for a non-residential weekend retreat dedicated to Cultivating a Balanced and Responsive Heart in Challenging Times.

The dharma offers us teachings to settle and inform the mind and heart with wholesome qualities. It is essential that we nurture our capacity to return to a heart that is at ease in a world of heightened conflict and divisiveness. Our weekend non-residential retreat format presents the opportunity to attend to what arises internally in more depth, while also moving back and forth between the silent retreat and our lives as householders.

Sunday, March 26
with Rae Houseman and Matthew Hepburn
Right View

It is said that the whole of the Buddhist path begins and ends with Right View or Understanding. This essential teaching invites us to explore the basic aspects of our lives: do we understand how life unfolds here on this plane of existence? do we live in alignment with our understanding? do we know how to clearly see what is most important and to act upon it? This daylong retreat will be a time to cultivate. Right View through formal sitting and walking practice, dharma discussions, and group sharing.

Rae Houseman is currently finishing the Community Dharma Leader program offered through Spirit Rock Meditation Center. Rae started exploring mindfulness and the potential benefits of mindfulness practices more than 20 years ago.

Matthew Hepburn has been exploring life through meditation since 2008. He is currently an assisting teacher at IMS in Barre, Massachusetts and teaches at Cambridge Insight Meditation Center.

Saturday, February 25
with Cheryl Wilfong
Writing from Mindfulness

Cheryl will lead a day of guided meditation, walking, and writing so you can find the wisdom of your deepest voice. Enjoy a quiet day of retreat and writing down the mind. Directions are simple: Sit. Breathe. Write. Open to beginners and experienced meditators.

Cheryl Wilfong, VIMC teacher, author of The Meditative Gardener: Cultivating Mindfulness of Body, Feelings, & Mind, is the winner of 8 book awards.  Her blog, The Meditative Gardener, was recently awarded the designation as one of the top meditation blogs to follow in 2017.

Retreats Held in 2016:

Sunday, October 23
with Rae Houseman
Working Skillfully with Trauma

This daylong workshop will focus on skillful approaches to navigating trauma within the context of meditation. It will include an introduction to the concept of trauma and the effects of trauma on the nervous system. We will build our skills to navigate this territory in meditation practice through partnered work, guided meditations and group discussions.

Rae Houseman holds a Master of Arts in Somatic Psychology and is a certified Somatic Experiencing Practitioner. She is currently a participant in the Community Dharma Leader program offered through Spirit Rock Meditation Center. Rae started exploring mindfulness and the potential benefits of mindfulness practices more than 20 years ago and has had a regular meditation practice for more than 10 years, practicing intensively in Burma and in Insight Meditation centers in the U.S.

Sunday, September 25
with Rebecca Bradshaw
Better Than, Equal to, and Less Than:
the Buddha’s Teachings on Judging and Comparing

In this one-day retreat we will have the opportunity to hear and practice with the Buddha’s teaching on mana: comparing ourselves with others, a deeply ingrained pattern based in survival conditioning that we all share. We will explore the antidote to mana in a deep and abiding trust and confidence in our own experience.

Rebecca Bradshaw is the Guiding Teacher at the Insight Meditation Center of Pioneer Valley in Easthampton, MA. She has been practicing Vipassana meditation since 1983 in the United States and Myanmar (Burma) and teaching since 1993. Rebecca has a master’s degree in Counseling Psychology, is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor (LMHC), and works as a psychotherapist with meditators interested in supplementing their meditation practice with psychotherapeutic work. Her teaching explores the convergence of love and wisdom.

Sunday, August 28
with Manny Mansbach, VIMC Teacher
Cultivating the Five Spiritual Powers

The Five Spiritual Powers or Faculties—Confidence, Persistent Effort, Mindfulness, Concentration and Wise Discernment—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 taught us how to use them to develop the craft of meditation and skillful living—empowering us to engage with our suffering in such a way as to be freed from it.

Manny Mansbach has been practicing and studying Insight Meditation since 1980. Manny teaches Insight (Vipassana) Meditation with Vermont Insight Meditation Center in Brattleboro, VT, in Bellows Falls, VT and elsewhere in New England. “I am committed to helping people remember and express their basic goodness, and to gain confidence in their capacity to know the beauty and power of the Buddha’s teachings of liberating understanding and boundless kindness.”

Sunday, July 31
Retreat with Jan Surrey and Florence Meleo-Meyer
Insight Dialogue: Awakening Together Under the Bodhi Tree

This daylong retreat will introduce the meditation guidelines of Insight Dialogue and offer an opportunity to explore the possibilities of a fully engaged co-meditation practice.  We will explore the origins of suffering within relationship as well as the great potential of cultivating together in relationships the mental factors of awakening, including mindfulness, concentration,equanimity and loving kindness.  We will investigate Speaking and Listening as meditative practices held and nourished by the deep foundation of silent practice.

Sunday, May 22
Half-Day Study Retreat with Mu Soeng
Desire is a Choice

The Buddha spoke of good desire and bad desire. Bad desire keeps us in the clutches of suffering. Good desire leads to liberation. Liberation is a choice; through personal effort; through the choice of wholesome striving. This study retreat explores the spectrum of desire in Buddha’s teachings and how different choices are available to us in each iteration. This study retreat will consist of a few sitting meditations, presentations by Mu Soeng, and group discussion.

Sunday, April 17
Daylong Retreat with Chas DiCapua
Learning From Our Bodies

Through mindfulness of the body, we learn to reclaim our bodies as being central to our life experience and inhabit them with an increased awareness. This gives us access, via direct experience, to happiness, suffering and what leads to each. The body never lies and gives us honest feedback about what is wholesome and unwholesome in the heart and mind if we are present enough to receive it. The morning will be spent finding the optimal way for each person to contact and inhabit their body with awareness and ease. We will then practice “listening” to the body so as to glean the wisdom it has to offer.

March 18, 19, 20
VIMC 2nd Non-residential Weekend Retreat
with VIMC Teachers: Jack Millett, Manny Mansbach and Cheryl Wilfong
Practicing Together: Taking Refuge in Buddha, Dharma, Sangha

Join the VIMC community for a weekend dedicated to the shared practice and exploration of Taking Refuge in Buddha, Dharma and Sangha. The Buddha identified these three gateways to freedom, often called the “Triple Gem”, as areas of sanctuary upon which we can rest our practice and lives. By recognizing and abandoning our habitual ways of trying to pseudo-soothe and obtain security in unwholesome identifications and behaviors, and re-orienting toward taking refuge in that which is truly nourishing and ennobling, we can awaken presence and discover greater freedom.

Sunday, February 28
Daylong Retreat with Claire Stanley
Boundless and Connected: a Daylong Retreat for Women

Most women, throughout the centuries as well as today, live through a way of knowing and being in the world that is connected with others in relationship. The path of the Dharma, particularly in the aspect of meditation, is about connection to oneself often in silence.  Within the depth of meditation or within study and practice of the Dharma in our lives, we also open to the boundless quality of heart and mind. In this daylong retreat, we explore both qualities – that which is connected and that which is boundless.  The day consists of silent meditation periods, mindful walking and movement, as well as mindful inquiry using texts written by women about the connected and boundless nature of their lives and of awakening.

Sunday, January 17
Daylong Retreat with James Baraz
Equanimity: Finding Balance in Our Practice

Equanimity or Upekkha is a highly valued quality in Buddhist teachings. It is one of the Four Divine Abodes (along with loving-kindness, compassion and joy), one of the Seven Factors of Enlightenment, one of the Ten Paramitas. When highly developed it is the precursor to the experience of awakening. But what is equanimity? How can we cultivate it in our meditation practice? Even more how can we access it in our daily life, especially in times like these with so much uncertainty, fear and sadness over the suffering in the world?

Retreats Held in 2015:

December 26
Daylong Retreat with Cheryl Wilfong

Cheryl Wilfong, author of The Meditative Gardener: Cultivating Mindfulness of Body, Feelings, and Mind leads a day of guided meditation, walking, and writing so you can find the wisdom of your deepest voice. Enjoy a quiet day of retreat and writing down the mind. Directions are simple: Sit. Breathe. Write.

September 27
with Rebecca Bradshaw
Clinging and Non-Clinging With Our Sense Experience

The Buddha taught that the deepest happiness and peace comes from non-clinging or letting go. In this one-day retreat we will explore how this truth can manifest in our very lives by investigating our relationship to sense experiences. We will explore the Buddhist understanding of clinging or holding on to passing experiences, and non-clinging or having space around sense experience. In this way we will increase our capacity to connect intimately and freely with life: seeing, hearing, tasting, smelling, tactile sense, and thinking and emotions.

Rebecca Bradshaw is the Guiding Teacher at the Insight Meditation Center of Pioneer Valley in Easthampton, MA. She has been practicing Vipassana meditation since 1983 in the United States and Myanmar (Burma) and teaching since 1993. Rebecca has a master’s degree in Counseling Psychology, is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor (LMHC), and works as a psychotherapist with meditators interested in supplementing their meditation practice with psychotherapeutic work. Her teaching explores the convergence of love and wisdom.

August 9
With Oren Sofer
Innate Empathy: Dharma, Relationship, and Inner Resilience

A fully embodied and integrated experience of empathy – the felt, emotional resonance with experience – can deepen our relationships, transform our spiritual and meditation practices, and enhance the quality of our daily lives. Join Oren for this innovative daylong integrating Dharma practice and Nonviolent Communication. Through a combination of imagery, movement, guided reflection, and interactive exercises you will deepen your innate sense of empathy, develop ways to invoke empathy not only in meditation practice, but in all your relationships, and strengthen your capacity to stay present in all circumstances.

Oren J. Sofer is a teacher and practitioner of Buddhist mediation, Nonviolent Communication (NVC) and Somatics. He has practiced meditation in the Theravada Buddhist tradition since 1997. He holds a degree in Comparative Religion from Columbia University, is a Somatic Experiencing Practitioner for healing trauma, and a current participant in the IMS-Spirit Rock Teacher Training Program.  His work and teaching brings a strong emphasis to living the path of awakening in our daily lives.

July 12
With Tony Bernhard
Engaging the Dhammapada

The Dhammapada is the most translated text in the Pali Canon and the most familiar collection of the Buddha’s wisdom. It presents what seem to be the Buddha’s earliest teachings, before they evolved into the more formulaic lessons of the 4 Truths, 3 Characteristics, 7 Factors of Enlightenment, etc. This daylong will introduce the Dhammapada in the context of early scriptures and explore a selection of verses that articulate some of the unique elements that have made it the most recognized anthology of the Buddha’s teachings.

June 21
With Cheryl Wilfong
Writing from Mindfulness

Cheryl Wilfong leads a day of guided meditation, walking and writing so you can find the wisdom of your deepest voice. Enjoy a quiet day of retreat and writing down the mind. A relaxed mind is a creative mind. Directions are simple: Sit. Breathe.Write.

Cheryl Wilfong, VIMC teacher, author of The Meditative Gardener: Cultivating Mindfulness of Body, Feelings, & Mind.

February 22
With Claire Stanley
The Feminine Face of Awakening: A Daylong Retreat for Women

Countless women since the time of the Buddha have realized full awakening. During this daylong for and about women, we explore the feminine face of awakening and take refuge in walking this path of wisdom and compassion together for the benefit of all beings. The day consists of silent meditation periods, mindful walking and movement, as well as mindful inquiry using texts written by women who capture moments of their experience of awakening.  In contemplating their stories, we open to the capacity and courage within us, individually and collectively. The strength and beauty held within the circle of women supports each of us to touch the power to heal, transform, and to awaken.

January 25
With Manny Mansbach
Exploring Intention and Karma

In recent years, the term karma has leaked into pop culture, and is sometimes used conversationally to explain results or outcomes in our lives (as in “good karma” and “bad karma”), sometimes in unhelpfully fatalistic tones. But little attention is paid to the input side of the equation. How do these seedlings arise, if not from seeds?

A key is how we respond to what arises in our lives. When our intentions are guided by greed, fear and anger, and we act from these, we ensure the continuation or strengthening of unwholesome patterns that cause suffering. When our motivation is informed by qualities such as respect, kindness, and generosity, and we learn through practice to act from these intentions, our future will take shape rooted in goodness.

Practicing together to notice our motivations with honesty and clarity, and to pause with mindfulness, we can recalibrate our course and spare ourselves (and others!) quite a bit of suffering. When we begin to purify our intention and live closer to our highest aspirations, we reduce doubt, increase confidence and self-respect, and can begin to trust that we are doing the best we can. We become empowered to create a vital and purposeful life from the inside out, manifesting what we truly love and care about. To understand karma and intention is to understand the formula for happiness.

Manny Mansbach has been practicing and studying Vipassana Meditation since 1980. He has been a social activist, a mindfulness-based psychotherapist working primarily with couples, and a teacher of therapists in training. Manny is a graduate both of Spirit Rock Meditation Center’s Dedicated Practitioner Program and its Community Dharma Leader Program. He currently lives and teaches in New England. Manny is passionately interested in wise speech as a crucial skill in promoting harmony and empowerment.

Retreats Held in 2014:

Cheryl Wilfong
Writing from Mindfulness
December 27

Cheryl Wilfong leads a day of guided meditation, walking, and writing so you can find the wisdom of your deepest voice. Enjoy a quiet day of retreat and writing down the mind. Directions are simple: Sit. Breathe. Write.

Returning to the Source
A Half-Day Retreat with Mu Soeng
October 26

There seems to be a compelling human need to look for a “source of it all.” Many call it a spiritual search. The consequences of this search are an enchantment with certainty and order in which we can take “refuge.” With this enchantment, we create views about the self and the world, and project our longings onto those views. Buddhist teachings speak of the source but as a way to deconstruct all longings and wishes and returning us to the deepest source of contentment in our mind-body organism. This workshop will consist of talks, discussion, and group meditation.
Mu Soeng is the program director and a resident scholar at Barre Center for Buddhist Studies in Barre, Massachusetts. He trained in the Korean Zen tradition and was a monk for eleven years. He is a well-known author of a number of books on Buddhist thought and practice, including Trust in Mind and The Heart of the Universe: A Commentary on the Heart Sutra.

Mindfulness of Thinking and Thought
With Rebecca Bradshaw
September 28

Thinking is a huge part of our reality; understanding how to relate to it with wisdom and skillfulness is an important part of the meditative path. During this daylong retreat, we will get interested in exploring the nature of thought; what is thought? how do we get entangled in it? how can we become free without rejecting it? We’ll cultivate a relationship to thinking that gives us more choice and freedom. The day will include a dharma talk and discussion, detailed meditation instructions on mindfulness of thinking, and practice pointers for both beginning and more experienced students.
Rebecca Bradshaw is the Guiding Teacher of the Insight Meditation Center of Pioneer Valley in Easthampton, Massachusetts, and one of the Guiding Teachers at the Insight Meditation Center in Barre, MA. She has been practicing Vipassana meditation since 1983 in the United States and Myanmar (Burma) and teaching since 1993. She completed her dharma teacher training at Insight Meditation Society in Barre, Massachusetts, where she is part of the three month retreat teacher team, leads retreats for young adults, and serves as a member of the diversity committee. She also teaches at other locations in the United States and abroad, including Spanish language retreats, bringing a style that explores the convergence of love and wisdom. Rebecca has a master’s degree in Counseling Psychology and is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor (LMHC).

Dependent Origination
With Leigh Brasington
August 2

Dependent Origination: “He who sees dependent origination sees the Dhamma; he who sees the Dhamma sees dependent origination.” ~Majjhima Nikaya 28. This teaching on the interdependence of phenomena is the heart of the Buddha’s wisdom teachings. It is often described as a chain of 12 links – which we will look at in detail, but it also has many other important implications that we will also discuss.
Leigh Brasington has been practicing meditation since 1985 and is the senior American student of the late Ven. Ayya Khema. She confirmed his practice and requested that he begin teaching. Leigh assisted Ven. Ayya Khema starting in 1994, and has been leading retreats on his own since 1997 in both Europe and North America. Leigh currently resides in Barre, MA either on retreat at the Forest Refuge or studying at BCBS.

Workshop: Adapting Mindfulness Practices for Young People
With Christopher Willard
June 15

As our own practice blossoms, more of us are seeking ways to share mindfulness with the young people in our lives to prepare them for a world that is often less than compassionate. We cannot always protect them from the suffering of life, but we can offer them the lifelong gift of mindful awareness to ease their way through their lives. We know that mindfulness builds resilience for dealing with life’s challenges from childhood onward, helping cultivate emotional, cognitive and spiritual intelligence in place of stress, confusion and distraction.
Christopher Willard works as a psychologist at Tufts University and as a private practice therapist with a focus in mindfulness for young people and a specialty in working with young people with learning issues and anxiety. Dr. Willard trains teachers, therapists and medical professional in mindfulness practices through the Institute for Meditation and Psychotherapy. He is the author of Child’s Mind: Mindfulness practices to help our children be more focused, calm and relaxed.

Sustaining Mindfulness
With Doreen Schweizer
May 18

Mindfulness is a simple mental phenomenon accessible to all of us. It is experienced as a clear, bright awareness accompanied by an uncluttered, non-judgmental knowing. It is an ordinary mental occurrence, which when practiced and stabilized, becomes extraordinary. While mindfulness can be accessed easily, it is with heartfelt momentum that we are able to sustain mindfulness throughout our days and our lives. This daylong focuses on establishing and sustaining mindfulness as primary in our daily mental stance, so that we find a balanced attitude, that guides us towards both peace of mind and wise, compassionate action.
Doreen Schweizer is the guiding teacher for Valley Insight Meditation Society, in Lebanon, New Hampshire. She has been practicing meditation and yoga since 1969 and teaching in a variety of settings and formats since 1987.

Working Skillfully with Judging Mind
With Manny Mansbach
March 23

As most meditators know, one of the most common and unfortunate pastimes of the untrained western mind is to criticize and find fault with self, others, and even the wholesome and liberating Noble Eightfold Path, causing enormous confusion, suffering and division. This day will be devoted to recognizing and meeting the forces of destructive judgment—beginning with our own inner dialogue—with kindness and clarity.

Reclaiming Feminine Wisdom: A Daylong Retreat for Women
With Claire Stanley
February 23

This retreat is for and about women and their wisdom.  Opening to the power and strength of the Feminine, we will explore how each of us embodies and can practice the wisdom of a Buddha.  Through guided meditations, mindful movement and mindful inquiry we will spend the day connecting deeply with ourselves and with the wisdom from women like ourselves throughout the ages who have walked this path.  Short stories from the Pali Canon and from the life of Dipa Ma will be discussed as part of this daylong. We will also explore living this practice as a woman today in the 21st century.

Compassionate Action
With Kate Wylie
January 26

Compassion commonly arises out of meditation practice. Ultimately it is the quality most highly prized on this path. We are encouraged to meditate not just to end our own suffering but the suffering of all people. Given this lofty possibility, we might wonder how to proceed. Our actions can come out of a sense of pity that diminishes others rather than out of real wisdom. We might have a sneaky agenda to improve our own self-esteem or to appear virtuous in the minds of others. We can get quite confused and not act at all. When we realize that compassion sees no distinction between self and other, then the way to act seem clearer and free of burdens.

Kate Wylie will lead the retreat. She has been teaching meditation since 1997 and practiced at IMS and other Theravada centers beginning in 1975. Her current teacher, Tsoknyi Rinpoche, is from the Tibetan Vajrayana tradition. Kate was a psychotherapist for more than 30 years exploring the effects of social oppression on individuals and integrating meditation in her practice. She currently teaches meditation at a jail in New Hampshire

For a list of visiting speakers and retreat teachers prior to 2014 click here>>