December 2, 2020

Recognizing Natural Awareness: Insight Meditation Retreat

Recognizing Natural Awareness: Insight Meditation Retreat

Greg Scharf, Carol Wilson, Tara Mulay, Devin Berry

Wednesday, February 10 – Sunday, February 14

Both Webinar and Meeting Format (Some program sessions allow you to see and hear only the teacher, while other program sessions will allow you to see and hear the teacher as well as other program participants).

Meditation can be seen as the process of learning to recognize and trust a natural quality of awareness that is available to all of us in any moment, no matter what is happening in our experience. This awareness allows us to open to and connect with the truth of each moment. As we gain confidence in the mind’s ability to recognize this natural awareness, we begin to release the burden of trying to control, manipulate, or fix experience so that it meets our ideas of the way it should be, and relax into the truth of the way it actually is. Clear seeing and wisdom arise naturally and we see directly for ourselves what leads to well-being and freedom and what leads to suffering, both in our own life and in the world around us. Through this process we begin to live our lives from a place of greater balance, integrity, confidence, and connection.

This 5-day retreat is open to both beginners and experienced practitioners and will include meditation instruction, dharma talks, and time for questions and practice discussion.

For this course, sliding scale fees are $160, $210, $260, or $400. We also offer a scholarship fee of $80, 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.

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 – all times listed in Eastern Standard Time EST (and in Pacific Standard Time PST)
Note: all sessions (except afternoon interactive sessions) will be recorded and posted so you can view it later if you miss one.

Wednesday, February 10
2:30 pm – 3:30 pm (11:30 am – 12:30 pm) Opening Session
5 pm – 6 pm (2 pm – 3 pm) Meditation & Instructions

Thursday, February 11 – Saturday, February 13
11 am – 12 noon (8 am – 9 am) Sitting & Instructions
12:15 pm – 1:00 pm (9:15 am -10 am) Mindful Movement (optional)
2 pm – 3 pm (11 am – 12 noon) Sitting with reflection
5 pm – 6 pm (2 pm – 3 pm) Q&A
7 pm – 8 pm (4 pm – 5 pm) Dharma Talk

Sunday, February 14
11:30 am – 12:30 pm (8:30 am – 9:30 am) Meditation
2 pm – 3 pm (11 am – 12 noon) Closing Session, January 1


Teacher Bios

Greg Scharf began meditating in 1992 at retreats taught by senior teachers from the Insight Meditation Society and Spirit Rock Meditation Center. Drawn to practice and travel in Asia, he developed a long-term relationship with practice and service in Burma (Myanmar), and discovered a deep heart connection with Indian devotional traditions, both of which continue to this day. In the Fall of 1998 Greg ordained as a Buddhist monk and continued his training in robes through 1999.

Greg began teaching residential meditation retreats in 2007 and currently teaches both in the US and abroad. He is particularly interested in teaching longer, intensive retreats and has been teaching the Three-Month Retreat at Insight Meditation Society, and the month-long retreats at Spirit Rock Meditation Center for many years. In addition, Greg currently serves as a Guiding Teacher at IMS.

Greg’s teaching emphasizes the understanding that the meditative process is fundamentally an exploration of Nature and natural processes. In his teaching, he stresses the critical importance of bringing the qualities of kindness, compassion, and a sense of humor to meditation practice.

Carol Wilson first began practicing Vipassana or Insight meditation in 1971, with S.N. Goenka, in Bodh Gaya, India. Since then she has studied and practiced with a number of Theravada teachers, both Asian and Western. She has been particularly influenced by the teachings and practice styles of Sayadaw U Pandita, and in the past ten years, of Ashin U Tejaniya. In the 1980s she spent a year in Thailand as a Buddhist nun, which she continues to appreciate as an immensely valuable and inspiring experience.

Carol has been sharing vipassana and metta retreat teachings since 1986, both in the United States and abroad. She feels a strong commitment to supporting the conditions for long intensive retreats to take place, and for many years she has been teaching the three-month retreat at Insight Meditation Society as well as a month long retreat at Spirit Rock Meditation Center. She is currently a guiding teacher at IMS.

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.

Devin Berry has been meditating for over 20 years. His practice is primarily informed by the classical teachings of early Buddhism and the Insight Meditation tradition. He has undertaken many periods of silent long-term retreat practice. Devin completed the Dedicated Practitioners Program at Spirit Rock Meditation Center, where he is a visiting teacher. He is currently in the 2017-2021 Insight Meditation Society Teacher Training Program. Devin served as a core leader with San Francisco POC Insight Sangha. He is a community teacher at East Bay Meditation Center in Oakland, CA where he co-founded the teen sangha and the Men of Color sangha. Devin currently serves on the Board of Directors of Insight World Aid. He has recently relocated to Western Massachusetts and teaches nationally.

Devin is passionate about the power of witnessing and storytelling as a liberation tool. He is deeply committed to the personal and collective liberation of marginalized communities knowing that through the integration of reflection and insight, clarity and wisdom give rise to wise action.