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 still open for this retreat!
January 1 - January 31, 2024

Winnie Nazarko & Tara Mulay

Please note: Arrivals and departures are not possible January 24 – 31, 2024.

Registration is still open for this retreat!
February 1 - February 29, 2024

Caroline Jones & Jeanne Corrigal

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

Rebecca Bradshaw & Roxanne Dault

In the quiet of winter morphing into the vibrancy of spring, Rebecca and Roxanne will share a somatic and heart centered orientation to meditation practice. By grounding ourselves in our sense world with kind hearted presence, we develop compassion and wisdom leading to the unbinding of the heart mind.

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

Caroline Jones & Devin Berry

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

Caroline Jones & Jill Shepherd

Registration is held via lottery for this retreat.
June 1 - June 30, 2024

Carol Wilson & Andrea Fella

Awareness and Wisdom Retreat

The teachings for this month will explore the four foundations of mindfulness with open awareness and receptive attention, with an emphasis on recognizing the attitude of mind and cultivating the perspective of wise view. The teachings will be influenced by both teachers’ practice with Sayadaw U Tejaniya. We request that you agree to work with the instructions offered during the retreat.

Practice discussion meetings will primarily be in small groups, meeting twice a week. The teachers will offer some sign-up interviews, so there will be a chance for a private meeting if there is something you don’t feel comfortable bringing up in the group.

A minimum stay for the full month of June is required.

A lottery will be conducted for this course; applications are due by October 1, 2023

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

Sayadaw U Jagara & Nikki Mirghafori

Cultivating Metta Samadhi: Supported By and In Service of Wisdom

The role of samadhi (unification of mind, concentration), however it is accessed, is essential in our spiritual journey. So is the cultivation of metta bhavana (benevolence, lovingkindness). This retreat offers an opportunity rarely offered to practitioners in the West, namely, deepening metta samadhi for one month. Our purpose is reinforcing the qualities of stability, harmony, and luminosity of mind-heart that characterize samadhi, and a care and connection that characterize metta, in particular. States of meditative absorption, known as jhana, will also be supported within a framework of healthy, non-grasping development.

Cultivating samadhi is not a goal in and of itself, but it is the establishment of a necessary awakening factor. Developing samadhi requires mindfulness, understanding, and balance. To this end, wisdom teachings will be offered as a foundation to sustain continuity and depth, and to support the flourishing of other awakening factors. We hope that through the practice of metta samadhi, supported by and leading to wisdom, beautiful qualities of our heart and mind are awakened both on the cushion and especially in the way we live our lives and serve.

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

Registration is still open for this retreat!
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 are due by January 14, 2024.  All applications will be reviewed for pre-requisites and you will be notified of your application’s status by January 31, 2024.

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.