This issue features an audio interview with IMS teacher Kamala Masters, who shares with us ways to keep our practice alive when we’re home from retreat. There’s also an important announcement about IMS’s leadership, a diversity accomplishment, a fun time-lapse video showing the rise of the new Retreat Center dormitory, news of the latest teacher training program, as well as retreat space available and current job openings.
From Bob Agoglia, IMS Executive Director:Recently I spoke with meditation teacher Kamala Masters. Kamala
was first introduced to meditation while raising young children. Unable to undertake longer-term retreats
during those years, she was grateful to learn from one of her teachers how to use daily life tasks for
In this interview, she points out that there’s no point in trying to replicate the retreat environment at
home, since its silence and simplicity are so very different from the demands of our busy daily schedules.
But what we can do is bring the qualities of mindfulness and wisdom that we’ve cultivated on retreat
into our everyday activities. In this way, practice permeates all aspects of our lives.
Download or stream Sky’s inside view
of life at the Forest Refuge.
Kamala will offer an insight meditation course, Awareness and Dhamma Wisdom at IMS’s Retreat Center, August
2-11, 2013, together with Deborah Ratner Helzer and Mark Nunberg.
Also from Bob Agoglia: A poignant moment has arrived in my life: I will be retiring from my position as IMS’s
Executive Director in late July.
My decision to retire was not taken lightly. While I look forward to spending time with my young grandsons
and pursuing many interests, I’ll miss the frequent contact that I’ve been fortunate to have over the
last seven years with members of the IMS community. You have all inspired me with your practice and your
dedication, both to the path of awakening and to IMS itself.
I’m happy to announce that our Board of Directors has appointed Linda Spink to succeed me. Linda will bring
much talent and great heart to this role. She’s been serving on the Board since 2007, so is already familiar
with the organization from both a governance perspective and as a retreatant. Her extensive professional
experience, organizational wisdom and years of practice will benefit IMS significantly. She and I will
overlap for a time in July so that continuity of leadership and direction can be maintained.
Bob continues: I started sitting at IMS more than three decades ago. Since my very first retreat, this has
been my refuge and spiritual home. For the last 11 years, I’ve been honored to serve on the Board and
for the last seven as Executive Director. To have this opportunity for right livelihood has been a great
Over these years, it’s been exciting to witness the tremendous growth of interest in meditation and the path
to liberation. IMS now holds many more retreats varying in duration and themes. An ever-increasing number
and diversity of people are coming through the doors of both our centers, to be taught by an expanding
group of excellent teachers from around the world.
The improvements to our facilities over the last few years are a gift from our community of supporters that
can be enjoyed by us all. At the Retreat Center, the foyer, the lower walking room, the bowling alley
corridor and the dining room have all been refreshed and renovated. Right now, work on our beautiful
new dormitory proceeds rapidly, and once the Catskills renovations are completed by late summer, we will
have accomplished our vision of being able to offer single rooms for every IMS retreatant.
While I’m proud of the changes that I’ve overseen while in a leadership position at IMS, I’m acutely aware
that these developments rest on two factors that have sustained our centers from the very start: the
steady commitment of our teachers and the open-hearted generosity of our sangha.
I will be leaving IMS with a heart filled with gratitude and metta.
For the very first time in IMS’s history, more than a third of all those attending this fall’s Three-Month
Retreat will be people of color. This represents a milestone for our community and perhaps for the broader
Western sangha as well. At this stage, more than 50 people of color will participate in the course –
18 are sitting for the entire three months, 16 for the first six weeks and 18 for the latter half.
For some time now, we’ve consciously endeavored to expand the diversity of our community, so that the wide
range of voices present in our society is included in shaping IMS’s culture and future.
Concerning racial diversity in particular, one area stands out – there is an urgent need for more teachers
of color. And yet, even before senior teachers might extend invitations to apply for teacher training,
qualified meditators must have sat longer-term retreats. In the insight tradition in which IMS is rooted,
this is considered an essential component in developing the skills required to help others work to deepen
wisdom and compassion through meditation.
But for many people of color, a longer-term retreat – of six weeks, three months or more – would be impossible
without substantial financial aid. An initial generous grant from The Frederick P. Lenz Foundation For American Buddhism was recently supplemented by an outpouring of generosity from some IMS friends; these gifts have allowed
us to go forward with this opportunity. We should note that all this is in addition to the usual levels
of financial assistance we offer for all our retreats, regardless of retreatants’ race or ethnicity.
For IMS, making longer-term practice more accessible to all is an exciting next step in the flourishing of
Throughout the winter, work continued on the exterior of the new Retreat Center dormitory, the enclosed walkway
that connects it with the Annex and Catskills, and a new stair tower at the end of the Catskills.
In January, windows and roofing were installed and a black high-tech coating was applied to all outside walls.
This coating stops air and moisture from penetrating the building envelope, resulting in greater heat
efficiency and dampness prevention.
A panorama of the new construction.
When spring arrives and the weather is warm enough, siding will be added. But for now, the exterior is
considered ‘buttoned up,’ allowing for interior work to proceed in earnest. Individual rooms in the
new dormitory have been framed. Rough plumbing, electrical, heating, sprinkler system and ventilation
work has been completed, and some bathroom fixtures have been installed. Now, insulation, soundproofing
and drywall are being put in place.
We’ve been pleased to hear from our retreatants that they’ve found construction noise to be much less
noticeable than anticipated.
Framing of new dormitory rooms.
On the second floor, a small sitting area will overlook the grounds.
Watch the new dormitory take shape before your eyes – see several months of construction in just over one
Valentine’s Day marked IMS’s 37th birthday. To celebrate this milestone, cooks at both our centers offered
delicious and beautifully-decorated cakes to retreatants, teachers and staff.
The Forest Refuge recently acquired two bells made from recycled steel. After they were hung in place,
IMS co-founder Joseph Goldstein, together with one of our cooks, conducted a celebratory initial
ringing. The sound is lovely and resonant – the bells’ exceptionally high quality material makes
for rich, sonorous tones. The Forest Refuge cooks are continuing the tradition of ringing the bells
each day to announce that lunch is ready.
Cook Lisa Marselle (L) and Joseph Goldstein (R) ring the new Forest Refuge bells for the first time.
Did you know that IMS’s website offers a range of “>resources in addition to retreat information and registration? You might
like to take a look at our recipes section
– more dishes have been added over the last few months.
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One of the photos in our ‘Virtual Tour’ IMS 1976-1986 shows revered Burmese meditation master Ven. Mahasi Sayadaw (center, back row) conducting
a teaching authorization ceremony in 1979 with IMS’s three founders (L-R, front row) Sharon
Salzberg, Joseph Goldstein and Jack Kornfield, and Jacqueline Mandell-Schwartz.
An important aspect of the future of insight meditation is underway – a new four-year Teacher Training
Program has just started. Altogether, 26 dedicated practitioners from around the world will be
instructed and mentored by senior IMS and Spirit Rock teachers.
(L-R) Back row: Trainees DaRa Williams, Jaya Rudgard, Ñaniko Oren Sofer, Matthew Brensilver,
Kate Janke, Brian Lesage, Alex Haley, John Martin, Tim Geil and Brent Morton with teacher
Phillip Moffitt. Middle: Teacher Jack Kornfield with trainees Max Erdstein, Erin Hill-Selover,
Anne Cushman, Beth Sternlieb, Christiane Wolf, Nikki Mirghafori, Alexis Santos, Keri Pederson
and JoAnna Harper. Kneeling: Teacher Andrea Fella with trainees Erin Treat, Susie Harrington,
Bonnie Duran, Bart van Melik, Emily Horn, Vinny Ferraro and Jill Shepherd.
Winnie Nazarko (L) and Gloria Taraniya Ambrosia (R) guided Forest Refuge retreatants throughout January.
This month, Akincano (L) and Andrea Fella (R) are offering the teachings.
To download or stream recent Forest Refuge teacher talks and morning reflections, clickhere.
The year started with a Martin Luther King, Jr. Weekend retreat led by Spring Washam (L) and Mark Coleman.
Despite a significant snowstorm that began on opening day, a full house of retreatants overcame weather obstacles to travel to IMS for the popular Metta (Lovingkindness) course offered by Sharon Salzberg (L), Mark Coleman (C) and Gina Sharpe (R).
A bright winter’s landscape at the Forest Refuge.
At the Retreat Center,
space is still available in our annual Women in Meditation course, offered by Christina Feldman,
Narayan Liebenson Grady and Maddy Klyne, March 8-15.
Carol Wilson and Steve Armstrong will help us train in awareness and wisdom throughout their retreat,
Through Dhamma Eyes, March 29 – April 7.
Openings are also available in a weekend insight meditation course, Awareness, Pure and Simple led
by Maddy Klyne and Chas DiCapua, April 19-21.
Participants in Kindhearted Awareness, taught by Rebecca Bradshaw and Greg Scharf, April 26 – May
1, will explore infusing mindfulness with kindness. This will help us to connect with and accept
all life’s experiences.
Nearby Gaston Pond
If you’re interested in deepening your practice while working with others with similar values, please
consider joining our staff. We currently have two openings: one for a Facilities Worker to help us support retreats and care for our buildings and grounds. The other is a part-time
position (20 hours per week) for an experienced
Administrative Assistant to support the activities of our Human Resources department and Executive Director. Both offer
optional housing on-site.
As winter in IMS’s neck of the woods gives its last hurrah for this year, IMS extends warm wishes
to all our friends across the globe. May our world be peaceful. May our hearts be at ease. May
our practice benefit all.
You can find an archive of Sangha News on our website. If you change your email address, please let
us know, so that you’ll continue to receive this publication.
IMS is a spiritual refuge for all who seek freedom of mind and heart. We offer meditation retreats
rooted in the Theravada Buddhist teachings of ethics, concentration and wisdom. These practices
help develop awareness and compassion in ourselves, giving rise to greater peace and happiness
in the world.