People of Color (POC) Retreat with Alisa Dennis & Sydney Reece

***POC Retreat is currently at capacity. We are accepting applicants to our waitlist.***

Please fill out an application and we will be in touch if a spot opens up

April 18 - April 21, 2019

Dhamma Dena’s 4-day People of Color Retreat in Joshua Tree, California welcomes all self-identified people of color who find nourishment and inspiration in Buddhist teachings and practices.

The desert is an ideal place to reflect upon our awareness of oppressive forces, how they impact us, and to reframe and celebrate our resiliency. The desert can seem like a harsh, inhospitable, and barren environment, and yet, life abounds. During this retreat, we will turn to the desert to learn how nature responds to stress as a way to deepen our appreciation of our own experiences of surviving and thriving.

There is much beauty and wisdom in the desert. The desert embodies spaciousness, patience, tranquility, and equanimity, all qualities we seek to embody ourselves within the Insight tradition. The mystical Joshua Tree, with its gnarled and spindly branches, doesn’t grow straight up, but in whatever direction the wind blows. Its sturdy root systems keep it from tipping over in harsh desert conditions. We are much like the Joshua Tree, symbolizing strength, internal knowing, and the beautiful resilience hat can emerge in the midst of harsh conditions.

As people of color in supportive community, we’ll explore how our own respective experiences with racial, patriarchal, and other forms of oppression have shaped us, and forged beauty, strength, creativity and resourcefulness in our lives and heart-minds.

In our union with Nature, we will connect with the inner and the outer, practice mindfulness of The Four Noble Truths, the Brahma Viharas, and the cultivation of the paramis as wise responses to oppressive forces. Through our commitment to practice, it is possible to transform such forces and relate to ourselves, our communities, and the world from a place of love, compassion, and empowerment.

This retreat will include both silent and talking periods, along with mindful walking. A daily period of optional movement will also be offered.

Costs & Fees

Residential $40 per day = $160 for full retreat

Non Residential $30 per day = $120 for full retreat

Including accommodation and three vegetarian meals daily

Housing is simple; all meals are vegetarian with vegan & gluten-free options.

Work exchange & scholarships available according to need, upon request.


Dāna (दान) is a Sanskrit and Pali word for the virtue of generosity. The Buddha said the teachings were priceless, more valuable than all the jewels in the kingdom and so are offered freely to all. This has amazingly been sustained for 2,600 years. Honoring this tradition, the teachings at Dhamma Dena continue to be offered freely. Teacher support is provided by voluntary donations at the end of a retreat or your time here at the center. These offerings are often the only source of teachers’ income. Registration fees only cover the cost of sustaining buildings and food.

Dāna offerings to teachers and staff are gratefully received.


  1. REGISTER HERE (please click on the underlined words to take you to the registration form)
  2. Pay for retreat using PayPal using the button to the right or send a check to the address below.

The registration form AND the PayPal (or check) must BOTH be filled out for your registration to be processed. If you have not done both then you are not registered.

Dhamma Dena, PO Box 183, Joshua Tree, CA 92252.

Your Registration is not confirmed until we receive your $100 deposit.

Upon receipt of the deposit you will be sent a confirmation letter containing all the essential details about the retreat.

About the Instructors

Alisa Dennis, Ph.D.

Alisa Dennis, Ph.D. discovered meditation through her study of metaphysics and ancient Christian mystical traditions. She practiced within the S.N. Goenka tradition of Vipassana, then studied mindfulness through the Mindful Awareness Research Center (MARC) at UCLA. She completed a multi-year, MBSR- training related to integrating contemplative practices into psychotherapy. She also completed residential training in the Zen Soto tradition. Alisa fell in love with Insight meditation because of its emphasis on heart-opening practices. The warmth, inclusiveness, and commitment to diversity in many Insight communities led her to make Insight her home. Alisa values the unifying and integrating power of Insight practice and its capacity to re-connect us to our natural capacity to meet the moments of our lives with kindness, openness, and flexibility.

Alisa is a licensed clinical psychologist in private practice in the Los Angeles area. In addition to utilizing mindfulness-based therapy, Alisa incorporates the creative arts, including visual art, poetry, psychodrama, and sound.

She offers mindfulness and self-compassion trainings at corporations and community-based organizations. Alisa is a teacher at Insight L.A., of Santa Monica, where she serves on the Teachers’ Council and has led both POC and LGBTQIA sitting groups. She is in the current Spirit Rock Teacher Training Program and both assists and leads residential retreats and daylong programs.

Sydney Reece, M.Ed.

Sydney Reece, M.Ed., is an educator, mindfulness-based stress reduction teacher, meditation teacher and mentor. Sydney works with homeless youth and adults suffering from trauma, relapse and mental health issues. She currently works with formerly incarcerated women as their employment/social enterprise associate. Ms. Reece is a trained and highly practiced facilitator of group process, diversity, recovery and complex trauma; trained through programs at the University of Massachusetts’s School of Medicine’s Oasis Teacher Training Institute, Spirit Rock, InsightLA and Ruth King’s Mindfulness of Race teachings. Sydney is an educator with almost 20 years-experience teaching English Language Arts, advocacy and social justice and student-centered teaching methods both nationally and internationally.