LGBT & Gender Non-Conforming Online Queer Retreat

October 1-7, 2020 | October 8-13 Extended Retreat

We will be gathering for a virtual one-week Vipassana Retreat, creating a container for those who identify as LGBTQIA & Gener non-conforming. Dhamma Dena will be hosting this online retreat with teachers Arinna Weisman, Leslie Booker and Ian Challis. This week is a wonderful opportunity to practice together in support of opening into love and wisdom. Open to beginners and long standing students.

There will be guided sittings, walking and movement meditation, group sharing and dharma talks. This retreat will be primarily in silence.

Coming Together to Hold Ourselves and the World in Presence and Caring.

Zen Master Aitkin Roshi said, ‘You are a unique precious being never to be repeated who is always deserving of respect and love. Treat yourself this way’.

How do we live with this intention and expression of the Dharma as we face the challenges and deaths caused by the Covid 19 virus and the violence expressed by the police that has been highlighted? How do those of us with privilege hold the unequal protection we have benefited from?

It might feel counterintuitive to take refuge in our capacity to turn towards mindfulness joy and love. And yet our wisdom knows they are the direct antidote for healing ourselves and the world. They resource us and guide us to embody a vision of respect and connection. No matter what we have thought or said, felt or acted out we are invited to come together as sangha to practice.

Where ever we find ourselves, we are called to offer ourselves and each other this intention and vision. During this weeks practice we will explore how to return or deepen into this path.

Click the button below for more information and to register.


Leslie Booker

Booker brings her heart and wisdom to the intersection of Dharma + Embodied Wisdom + Activism. She shares her expertise nationally as a guest lecturer at conferences, universities, and Dharma centers, on expanding our vision around culturally responsive teaching, and changing the paradigm of self and community care. She has spoken at Mind & Life Institute’s International Symposium, Contemplative Minds in Higher Education, Mindfulness in America, and Omega Institute’s Mindfulness in Education conferences, along with other pioneers in the mindfulness field such as Jon Kabat-Zinn, Dr. Daniel Siegel, Linda Lantieri, and His Holiness, the Dalai Lama. Booker has been a featured speaker and facilitator at the Fetzer Institute, Vassar and Pitzer Colleges, as well as with the Peace Corps and Teacher’s College at Columbia University, and the Contemplative Sciences Center at the University of Virginia.

She began sharing practice with vulnerable populations in 2005, and was a senior teacher and Director of Teacher Trainings with Lineage Project, where she worked with incarcerated and vulnerable youth for ten years. During this time, she also facilitated a mindfulness and cognitive-based therapy intervention on Riker’s Island from 2009-2011, a partnership between New York University and the National Institute of Health.

She is a co-founder of the Yoga Service Council at Omega Institute and the Meditation Working Group of Occupy Wall Street. Booker is a co-author of Best Practices for Yoga in a Criminal Justice Setting, a contributor to Georgetown Law’s Center on Poverty and Inequality’s report: Gender & Trauma—Somatic Interventions for Girls in Juvenile Justice, YOGA: The Secret of Life, and Sharon Salzberg’s book Happiness at Work. She is a graduate of Spirit Rock’s Mindful Yoga and Meditation training (2012), Community Dharma Leaders’ Training (2017), and will complete Spirit Rock’s four year Retreat Teacher Training in 2020.

Arinna Weisman

Arinna Weisman has studied insight meditation since 1979 and has been teaching since 1989. Her root teacher is Ruth Denison who was empowered by the great teacher U Bha Khin. She is the founding teacher of Insight Meditation Center of the Pioneer Valley. She is co-author of the book, A Beginner’s Guide to Insight Meditation and a contributor to Women Practicing Buddhism; American Experiences, edited by Peter Gregory and Susanne Mrozik.

Her dharma practice and teaching have been infused with her political and environmental activism. She was the first out queer teacher with Eric Kolvig to lead insight meditation retreats for the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, Gender Queer community. She also leads ‘Uncovering the Heart Retreats’ integrating the practice of awareness of the social dynamics of inequity with the dharma practice of liberation.

Teacher's Assistants

Ian Challis is highly trained in teaching Mindfulness meditation, including the world renowned program Mindfulness –Based Stress Reduction. Ian has practiced mindfulness meditation intensively for the last 12 years. He is a regular teacher at Insight Community of the Desert in Palm Springs, where he is also a founding board member and past president. In 2017 he graduated from Spirit Rock Meditation Center’s selective CDL training program. He is currently enrolled in the Mindfulness Based Training Institute of UC San Diego in the MBSR pathway. Trained in Architecture, he has had a long and successful career as an entrepreneurial product designer and manufacturer in the gift and home décor sectors. A native of Seattle, he now makes his home in Palm Springs and he is passionate about bringing mindfulness practices to our desert communities.

Melissa Pak Coats is assisting this retreat after a year and a half of dedicated practice at monasteries in Myanmar, partially as a monastic. She is a long time EBMC POC sangha member who helped start POC retreats and affinity groups at Dhamma Dena. She has practiced in a variety of Buddhist traditions and healing modalities over the last decade.