Sangha News – February 2016

In This Issue

This issue marks IMS’s 40th anniversary—see a message from our co-founders and watch a celebratory video. Read about our diversity work, the purchase of new land, the completed Retreat Center dining room and upgrades to Shanti House. There’s also information on new apps and articles featuring IMS teachers, retreat space available, and job and volunteer openings.

Gaston Pond in the winter sunlight
Nearby Gaston Pond sparkles with winter sunlight.

IMS Turns 40!

From Our Co-Founders Sharon Salzberg & Joseph Goldstein – Today, Valentine’s Day 2016, marks 40 years since IMS first opened its doors. Back in 1976, we had no idea that tens of thousands of meditators would come to our Retreat Center and Forest Refuge, letting go of the busyness of daily life to explore their minds and open their hearts.

We are grateful to each and every one of you for the steps you are taking toward awakening, and for bringing the fruits of your practice back to your communities.

IMS Turns 40

IMS’s early years: (L) Jack Kornfield, Sharon Salzberg, Jacqueline Mandell-Schwartz and Joseph Goldstein. (C) Ram Dass and others practice walking meditation in the upper walking room, 1976. (R) In addition to Joseph, Sharon and Jack, can you spot Carol Wilson, Guy Armstrong, Michele McDonald and Steve Armstrong? Back in 1978, when this shot was taken, these four served on staff before becoming retreat teachers.

A Celebratory Video – We hope you enjoy this short video in honor of IMS’s 40th anniversary. Teachers, board members, staff and retreatants offer reflections and send birthday wishes.

We’ve also created a new website page, IMS Turns 40, and will be adding material there throughout the year.

The Next Phase of Our Diversity Work

From Executive Director Linda Spink: Last summer, we announced that teachers Gina Sharpe and Larry Yang (and subsequently Lila Kate Wheeler) would be the core faculty for a joint IMS/Spirit Rock teacher training program, scheduled to start in January 2017 for a diverse and multicultural group of trainees..

For well over a decade, Gina and Larry have been at the forefront of efforts across the US insight community to co-create retreats and sangha for people of color. As well as mentoring hundreds of students, they have provided vital leadership to IMS, challenging us to understand what it takes to offer a fully welcoming, diverse and inclusive refuge.

In October, Gina, Larry and Lila withdrew as lead teachers from the teacher training program. Their key message was that IMS and Spirit Rock still have much work to do, on an organizational level, before such a program, as envisioned by them, can succeed.

Their feedback has been a call to action: if our aspirations for training and supporting more people of color as teachers and leaders in our centers and communities are to be realized, aspects of IMS’s predominantly white culture, as expressed through its organizational norms and structure, must be addressed.

Although no one yet knows how a future diverse and multicultural teacher training program might look, we remain fully committed to exploring possibilities, and are in dialogue about these with Gina, Larry, Spirit Rock and others.

Since 2008, IMS has been working to better understand racism and white privilege in the US, and the impact of the dominant white culture at our Retreat Center and Forest Refuge. It’s my hope that this foundation will aid us as we examine and prepare for some organizational shifts.

I realize that changing cultural systems and practices takes a lot of sincere, dedicated energy and time. But my commitment is strong, both personally and professionally, to seeing this endeavor through. Bringing more diversity, equity and inclusion into IMS’s leadership and teaching faculty, as well as into the broader insight community, is essential. Only in this way will the Dharma be truly served.

Diversity Work at IMS

More IMS News

Blessing New Land – Last November, IMS became the proud owner of 152 additional acres of nearby property. This includes beautiful farmland and woods, with some sections extending to the back side of the loop, as well as the old white house across from the Retreat Center on Pleasant Street.

For 40 years we have lived with the risk that someone could develop this land. It is a tremendous relief to know that we are now its stewards, and can protect our retreat environment and the acreage itself for generations to come. We are deeply grateful to those whose generosity helped make the purchase possible.

To set our intention to care for this precious resource, a small blessing ceremony was held the day after the purchase.

Blessing the New Land
Teachers Greg Scharf, Bonnie Duran and Joseph Goldstein led a group of staff and other teachers in a ceremony to bless the new land and offer prayers to the ancestors.

Finishing Touches – The final stage of our Retreat Center dining room renovations was completed in late December with the installation of an acoustical ceiling treatment. This has already greatly reduced noise, especially on course opening and closing days.

Renovated Retreat Center Dining Room
The Retreat Center main dining room with its new lighting, fir trim and acoustical ceiling treatment.

Shanti House Improvements – Good news—last December, thanks to the generosity of many in our community, we met our $90,000 goal to renovate Shanti House. Hot on the heels of this, work began in late January.

All hallway and stairwell surfaces have now received a fresh coat of paint. Hall and stairway carpeting has been removed and hardwood floors have been installed. Remaining elements of the project will continue, with minimal impact on retreats, until the improvements are fully completed. Over coming months, all room interiors will be painted, hallway lighting functionality will be upgraded to address brightness and energy usage, and we’ll look at modifications to soften sound.

Shanti House Update
A fresh coat of paint and new wood floors in Shanti House.

Seeking Your Participation – More videos in honor of IMS’s 40th birthday are in the works. If you or your sitting group or sangha would like to send us a short clip, we’d love to receive it. You can tell a brief inspiring anecdote from retreat time here, send good wishes or say what IMS means to you.

The footage we receive may be woven into our videos, or shared during the year via our social media, website, or in upcoming issues of Sangha News.

To take part, simply shoot the footage, 10–15 seconds max, in a horizontal or wide frame orientation (not vertical or tall frame). A smartphone or tablet is fine for this—you don’t have to worry about using more substantial equipment. Then email your message to, and we’ll take it from there.

Dharma Updates

Apps Featuring IMS Teachers – ABC anchor Dan Harris has teamed up again with Joseph Goldstein, this time for Part 2 of their 10% Happier app. In addition, Sharon Salzberg joins Dan for 10% Nicer. And, coming later this month, Oren Sofer and Dan will offer guidance on Effective Communication. Scroll down here for more info on these helpful meditation resources.

An Interview with Joseph Goldstein – The Spring issue of Tricycle magazine features an interview with Joseph Goldstein. In Who Knows?, Joseph reflects on 50 years of practice and over four decades of teaching.

A Profile of Sharon Salzberg – The March issue of Lion’s Roar (formerly Shambhala Sun) includes the profile, How Sharon Salzberg Found Real Happiness.

Program Highlights

Recent and Current Retreats – At the Forest Refuge, deep peace surrounds the center as winter unfolds outdoors and hearts unfold indoors.

Retreat Center with Snow

At the Retreat Center, the 2016 schedule of courses is underway.

Mindfulness Liberation Retreat
In January, Jaya Rudgard (L) and Yuka Nakamura (R) assisted teachers Christina Feldman and Chris Cullen for IMS’s annual retreat for mindfulness-based professionals, Mindfulness, Insight, Liberation: The Foundations of Mindfulness-Based Modalities and Research.

Retreat Space Available – For the Forest Refuge, see our website for the full schedule of teachers, retreat guidelines, and the application process. For more information, please email or call us at 978-355-2063.

Visit our Audio page to download or stream recent Forest Refuge teacher talks.

Retreat Space Available

At the Retreat Center, there are still openings in several upcoming winter and spring courses:

If you are 18–26 years old, spaces are available at our You Choose rate for some retreats this year. Find out more here.

Serving Our Sangha

Job Openings – For anyone interested in a position at IMS, and reaping the benefits of the rich learning that staff life offers, check out our job openings:

Please pass on word of these job opportunities to others.

Volunteering – We’re looking for month-long Working Guests to provide extra support in our Kitchen and Housekeeping departments—check out availability here.

Wishing You Well

May lovingkindness, peace and wisdom take deeper root in our lives and in our communities.

Lovingkindness, Wisdom, and Peace