Joy as an Antidote to Fear

A Spring QTPOC-Strong, BIPOC Residential Retreat
with Ramón Honea, Ramona Lisa Ortiz-Smith and Fresh "Lev" White

April 4-9, 2023

A 5 night QTPOC-Strong, BIPOC (including those who self-identify as immigrants and mixed race) residential retreat at Dhamma Dena with Ramón Honea, Ramona Lisa Ortiz-Smith and Fresh "Lev" White.

During this retreat we will explore the Brahma-Viharas, also known as The Four Divine States: loving-kindness, compassion, sympathetic joy, and equanimity, and how these states live and grow within us and how the cultivation of these states can lead us away from fear and towards freedom and true happiness.  We will explore these Devine states through guided meditation, Dharma talks and small group discussions. This retreat will also include altar building, ancestor work, community work and earth based practices in the magical Joshua Tree Desert. 

My name is Ramón Honea. With deep roots in the Bay Area, I am a biracial gay man who finds service and joy in holding space for education and meditation. For twenty years I have worked as a teacher and administrator of public school education. I hold an M.S. in Educational Leadership, a teaching and administrative credential, and a Mindfulness teaching certificate. Currently, I am enrolled in the first  cohort of EBMC’s two-year Spiritual Teacher and Leadership training. I support Founding Director Carol Cano at Braided Wisdom, co-teaching and hosting various classes. Through Braided Wisdom I connect my various cultural learnings with the Buddha-dharma and the teaching of Mindfulness. Due to the COVID pandemic, my job as a residential Retreat Manager at Spirit Rock Meditation Center ended. Thus, my current aspiration is to create an urban and accessible residential retreat center in Oakland for black and brown men+.

Ramona Lisa Ortiz-Smith, MBA and Certified Mindfulness Teacher brings over 25 years of cumulative meditation practice and spiritual studies to her livelihood as a Spiritual Teacher and Leader. Silent Vipassana (insight) meditation retreats and Theravada Buddhist studies are her focus. She is a graduate of Spirit Rock’s Dedicated Practitioners Program, East Bay Meditation Center’s (EBMC) Commit to Dharma program and the Mindfulness Training Institute’s Teacher Certification program. She is currently enrolled in the first cohort of EBMC’s 2-year Spiritual Teacher and Leadership training. Ramona Lisa earned her BA in Business Economics with a minor in Ethnic Studies and her MBA in Management at Mills College. She aims to weave her non-traditional entrepreneurial spirit, “black” feminist thought, business and leadership skills into her meditation practice, Dharma interpretation and teachings with kindness and humor. As a sole proprietress, Ramona Lisa offers various services to mindfulness based organizations and their leadership through her business, Free Spirit (

Fresh “Lev” White is a love and compassion activist. He offers mindfulness, mediation, diversity training, writings, and coaching as tools for shifting all of us towards more authentic, conscious, and compassionate living. From SF Drag King 1999, to SF Pride Grand Marshall 2016, to celebrating his 9th year as a teacher at the East Bay Meditation Center, Lev uses their coaching, leadership, and teaching certifications to entertain, ground us in the present, and prepare us for the work of both meeting and creating our future with seeds of love, compassion and empathy. 

Photos Credit: Monique Arelle