March 1, 2021

Living Dharma: A Path of Connection | An Insight Meditation Retreat for Beginners

Living Dharma: A Path of Connection

An Insight Meditation Retreat for Beginners

Michael Grady, Jean Esther, Tara Mulay
Friday, May 14 – Monday, May 17

Meeting format (During program sessions, you will be able to see and hear the teacher, as well as other program participants, and they will be able to see and hear you).

After the challenges of the past year, many of us need an opportunity for renewal, for development of our innate potential for compassion and connectedness.  On this retreat, we will explore how insight meditation practice can strengthen our capacities for connection by nurturing inner resources of mindfulness, lovingkindness, and wisdom.

Each day of the retreat, we will practice developing one of these resources, with an emphasis on cultivating continuity throughout the day.  On day one, Michael Grady will provide instruction on mindfulness meditation.  On day two, Tara Mulay will offer guidance on lovingkindness meditation.  On day three, Jean Esther will lead participants in wisdom practices.

This in-home retreat is suitable for very new Insight Meditation students, those who are relatively new, and more experienced meditators who feel they could benefit from the support of group practice in a retreat format.  The schedule will include guided meditation periods of 20 to 30 minutes, short dharma talks, and periods for discussion.


For this course, sliding scale fees are $120, $155, $195, or $300. We also offer a scholarship fee of $60, and no-fee enrollment for those who request a fee-waiver. Our “Pay What You Can Afford” system supports the cultivation of a dynamic and inclusive community and contributes to the health and vibrancy of the sangha. Select the rate of your choice when you register. Email for more information or to request a no-fee enrollment.

13 continuing education credits are available for psychologists, social workers and nurses. Please check our CE page for more information.

Please note that you must register before the 7:00 pm Opening Session on Friday, May 14, to be eligible for CEs.

A note on dana (generosity)
Most IMS teachers—like insight teachers around the world—rely on the generosity of students for their livelihood, and receive no compensation from course fees. All IMS online teachers receive a modest dana advance from IMS to guarantee a minimum level of financial support. (Click here to learn more about the dana practice.) There will be an opportunity to offer a contribution to your teachers at the end of this course.



Daily Schedule – times listed in Eastern Time (ET)
Note: all bolded sessions are online and will be recorded and posted so you can view it later if you missed one.

Friday, May 14

7 – 8 pm – Opening Session with Michael, Tara and Jean

Saturday – Monday, May 15-17

Mindfulness with Michael Grady (Saturday)
Lovingkindness with Tara Mulay (Sunday)
Wisdom Practices with Jean Esther (Monday)

10 – 11:15 – Dharma Talk/Guided Meditation
11:15 – 12 noon –  Walking Meditation
12 – 1 pm –  Guided Meditation & Discussion
1 pm – Lunch
2:30 – 3:00 pm – Sitting Meditation
3:00 – 3:30 pm – Walking Meditation
3:30 – 4:15 pm –  Dharma talk
4:15 – 5:00 pm – Walking Meditation
5 – 6 pm – Guided Meditation & Discussion

Monday 5 – 6 pm – Closing Session with Tara, Jean and Michael


Teacher Bios

Michael Grady began practicing Insight Meditation with Joseph Goldstein and Sharon Salzberg in 1974 when they first returned from Asia. He has also been a student of the late Chan master Sheng Yen who taught the practice of Silent Illumination – a practice which emphasizes relaxing the body and mind while practicing awareness without expectations or an agenda. Michael is a Core teacher at IMS in Barre, MA and was a Guiding Teacher at the Cambridge Insight Meditation Center for more than 20 years. Having taught extensively in both intensive retreats and in an urban dharma center, Michael encourages an attitude towards practice which is wholistic – that all of life is viewed as an opportunity for awakening to freedom.

Jean Esther, MSW LICSW, has trained in meditation since 1975 and has been a practicing psychotherapist for over 37 years. She is a guiding teacher of True North Insight Meditation Centre in Canada, teaches at Insight Meditation Center of Pioneer Valley , MA, Inward Bound Mindfulness Education (IBME) and elsewhere across North America. Her teachings integrate psychological understanding and somatic awareness with Buddhist teachings on love and wisdom.

Tara Mulay’s teachings stem from the lineage of Mahasi Sayadaw. She has gratefully drawn influence from many other teachers within and outside of the Mahasi lineage, including Howard Cohn, Kamala Masters, Gil Fronsdal, Joseph Goldstein, Sayadaw U Tejaniya, and Ayya Anandabodhi. Tara practiced criminal defense law in California for over 20 years.  She was a leader of Mission Dharma in San Francisco, and in 2016 she co-founded the San Francisco People of Color Insight Sangha. She remained a core teacher with the group until the spring of 2019, when she relocated to Western Massachusetts. She currently serves on the Board of Directors of Insight World Aid.  Tara is of South Asian (Indian) descent. She felt initially drawn to dharma practice upon encountering the Buddha’s teachings rejecting social caste as a measure of worth and of capacity for awakening. She believes classical Buddhist practices, designed to cultivate compassion, non-greed, non-hatred, and non-delusion, are uniquely potent vehicles for empowering people in marginalized communities and effecting social change.

Information you might find helpful:
Guidelines For Your Home Retreat
IMS Online Program Etiquette
IMS Online FAQ’s