Forest Refuge Schedule 2024

Please take note of  our COVID-19 safety protocolshere.
To explore virtual program options, please visit the IMS Online page.

IMS’s Forest Refuge program supports experienced meditators in sustained, longer-term retreat practice. A personal retreat, under the guidance of the following teachers, helps strengthen practice faith, confidence and self-reliance.

Please note

  • A self-sustaining practice is necessary to undertake a Forest Refuge retreat.
  • Before you apply, please make sure you meet the Forest Refuge application requirements. We expect that candidates have participated in at least one six-week structured and teacher-led insight meditation retreat, or six similar one-week retreats.
  • The teaching schedule may change without notice. It is our intention that retreatants will have the opportunity to practice with a variety of experienced and well-qualified insight meditation teachers.
  • When retreat space is limited, priority will be given to those applying for longer stays.

The Forest Refuge: Sustained Practice in Deep Silence

In “The Forest Refuge: Sustained Practice in Deep Silence,” teachers Joseph Goldstein, Winnie Nazarko, Caroline Jones, Ajahn Sucitto, Tara Mulay, and Devin Berry discuss the origins of the Forest Refuge and share their experiences practicing and teaching in this special environment. View the full series of 11 videos here.

Supporting our teachers

Here at IMS, our teachers are continuing the ancient Buddhist monastic tradition of freely offering the teachings while living in the midst of contemporary society. What this means is that they rely on the generosity of retreat participants for a sustainable income.

There is an opportunity at the end of your personal retreat to make an offering to teachers – this is known as teacher dana. At the Forest Refuge, where retreatants often stay for long periods, IMS supplements teacher dana as needed to provide an adequate offering.

Your contributions help teachers to lead a life devoted to teaching both at IMS and in other parts of the world, including communities without the means to donate. Your gifts also allow teachers to take time for their own practice, ensuring that their teachings are continuously enriched.

For availability of specific dates, call 978-355-2063 or email
Registration is closed for this retreat.
July 1 - July 31, 2024

Sayadaw U Jagara & Shaila Catherine

Mettā Samādhi: Lovingkindness as development and support for the Seven Factors of Awakening

Both samādhi (concentration) and mettā bhavana (lovingkindness) are essential features of our awakening journey. This retreat offers a rare opportunity to deepen mettā samādhi for onemonth, with the aim of reinforcing both the qualities of stability, harmony, and luminosity of the mind that characterize samādhi and the care and connection that characterize mettā. States of meditative absorption, known as jhāna, will also be supported within a framework of this non-grasping development of the mind.

Cultivating samādhi requires mindfulness, understanding, and balance, as it matures and serves as a factor of awakening. To this end, wisdom teachings will be offered along with mettā practice, as a foundation to sustain continuity and depth and to support the flourishing of other awakening factors. Through the practice of mettā samādhi supported by and leading to wisdom, beautiful qualities of our heart and mind are awakened both on the cushion and in daily life.

The instructions for this retreat will be structured according to teachings in Saṃyutta Nikāya 46.54.  Please read SN 46.54 prior to the retreat and consider bringing a printout for your personal reference.

Priority will be given to those applying for the full month or longer.

Participants are expected to observe the eight precepts, if they are able to do so.

Registration is still open for this retreat!
August 1 - August 31, 2024

Annie Nugent & Greg Scharf

Wait List
Wait lists often move quickly, so consider registering even if a retreat is full!
September 1 - September 30, 2024

Guy Armstrong & Sally Armstrong

Emptiness and Awareness

The teachings on emptiness have been a central theme in Buddhism since its very early days. Through talks and guided meditations, we will see how to discover the truth of emptiness in the fabric of our immediate experience, all of which is known directly in consciousness. As we inquire further, it becomes apparent that the very nature of consciousness, or awareness, is itself characterized by emptiness. As the heart of sentient life, awareness is always with us, yet we may not have learned how to use it as a focus in meditation. As we deepen our connection to this mysterious capacity for knowing, it becomes a powerful gateway to inner freedom and liberation.

The teachers will offer regular meditation instructions, talks about the teachings, and individual meetings. Collecting and unifying the mind is a powerful support for exploring these themes, so there will be instructions for concentration practice in the first half of the retreat. Participants are expected to follow the sequence of instructions as they are given.

 A minimum stay for the full month of September is required. Participants must have previously attended one or more of Guy & Sally’s Emptiness & Awareness Retreats, and fulfill the Forest Refuge retreat prerequisites. Please document this when you apply.

Applications were due by January 14, 2024 for the selection process.   All future applications will be reviewed for pre-requisites and any approved applications will be added to the waitlist.

Registration is still open for this retreat!
October 1 - October 31, 2024

DaRa Williams & Deborah Helzer

Registration is still open for this retreat!
November 1 - November 30, 2024

Caroline Jones & Dawn Scott

Registration is still open for this retreat!
December 1 - December 31, 2024

Caroline Jones & Mark Nunberg

How to Pick a Forest Refuge Retreat

In this video, Teacher-in-Residence Caroline Jones offers some advice on how to choose a retreat at the Forest Refuge that’s right for you.