Love and Kindness in the Desert: A People of Color Retreat with Alisa Dennis, Ph.D. & Pawan Bareja, Ph.D.

This 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 2-5, 2020

Dhamma Dena warmly welcomes all self-identified People of Color (POC) who are nourished by Buddhist teachings of Loving Kindness and Compassion. These practices help us relate to ourselves and the world from a place of love, clarity, and empowerment.

Loving kindness supports our hearts’ natural capacity to respond with love, warmth, and tenderness. Over time, we develop a sense of inter-connectedness with all creation.

Compassion practice gently turns us towards the suffering that can come from living in an unfriendly world. It helps us meet our inner critic and the world with clear-seeing and kindness.

This retreat will include silent sitting, walking periods, Dharma talks, and group discussions.

Costs & Fees

Residential sliding scale: $135 - $195 for full retreat

Non-residential sliding scale: $90 - $135 for full retreat

Including accommodation and three vegetarian meals daily

Housing is simple, most in double-occupancy rooms; all meals are vegetarian with vegan & gluten-free options.

Dhamma Dena is committed to building accessibility by supporting all those who want to come to the center, no matter what their economic status.

According to the ancient tradition of dana, those who carry on the teachings of the Buddha are supported through the generosity of the community; thus dana to support the teachers, manager and cook at Dhamma Dena may be offered at the conclusion of the retreat.

Work exchange & scholarships available according to need, upon request. Due to our current focus on overdue repair and maintenance we ask those who need financial assistance pay at least $10 per day to cover our food costs. A deposit is required to reserve your spot. If this is a hardship please contact us.

If you are able to pay more in order to cover the costs of someone who is not able to, this is very much appreciated. Payment can come in as many installments as is necessary.


  1. Fill out registration form (please click on the box to the right to take you to the registration form).
  2. Pay for the retreat using the link to the right or send a check to the address below. Please do not use our email address to pay through PayPal directly.

The registration form AND online donation (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 deposit. Your deposit is also non-refundable if you cancel within 2 weeks of the retreat except under extreme circumstances.

Within 2 weeks after the receipt of your deposit you will be sent a confirmation letter containing all the essential details about the retreat.

Refund, Waitlist and Transfer Policy


If you are applying for a scholarship, we also encourage you to apply for support from The Open Dharma Foundation. They have scholarships of $300 that can be used for tuition, dana for teachers, transportation costs, or anything else that would inhibit you from attending the retreat. Let us know if you are planning on applying, and we can write a letter of support for you. Scholarship applications are reviewed each month on the 15th so please plan accordingly.


Dāna (दान) is a Sanskrit and Pali word connoting the virtue of generosity, charity or giving of alms. The teachings, valuable beyond measure, are offered out of generosity.

Your registration cost covers food and lodging only. According to the ancient tradition of dana those who carry on the teachings of the Buddha are supported through the generosity of the community; thus dana to support the teachings may be offered at the conclusion of the retreat.

Dāna offerings to teachers and staff are gratefully received. They rely on these voluntary financial contributions given to them by participants.

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.

Pawan Bareja, Ph.D.

Pawan Bareja, Ph.D. has practiced Vipassana meditation since 2001. She is a Buddhist Ritual Minister and a Community Dharma Leader at Spirit Rock. She is currently in the Spirit Rock Teacher Training program. She has taught classes and daylongs on healing trauma using mindfulness at Spirit Rock, San Francisco Insight, EBMC, SFDC and Esalen. In her private practice as Trauma Resolution Practitioner, Pawan works with a diverse population of clients and teaches mindfulness meditation. For the past 14 years, Pawan has been a senior assistant at Somatic Experiencing trauma healing trainings and has traveled to India to teach this work to professional care providers.