December 18-23 (Monday to Saturday), Spirit Rock: Winter Solstice Retreat: Embracing the Dark, Inviting the Light (with Heather Sundberg and John Travis) (5-day residential retreat). In this retreat, we will emphasize centering ourselves at the time of the holidays (with a winter solstice ceremony!), quieting our minds, grounding in our bodies, opening up our hearts, and using inquiry to help give energy to our practice. There will be a special emphasis on opening to the darkness, including to our difficulties and challenges, as well as to the coming light. Waiting list only.

January 4-11: Spirit Rock, Metta Retreat (with Sylvia Boorstein, Konda Mason [yoga], Heather Sundberg, and Larry Yang). Metta, or lovingkindness, practice is the cultivation of the intention of benevolence as the orientation of our heart and minds. It is also a path to wisdom. We develop in our capacity for metta through meditation (practiced steadfastly on retreat) in order for it to manifest in an ongoing way in our daily lives. In this retreat, we will learn the formal practice of metta along with its companion practices of compassion, joy, and equanimity. All four of these practices—known as the Brahma Viharas or Divine Abodes—strengthen self-confidence, self-acceptance, and steadiness of mind and heart, revealing our fundamental disposition toward kindness. Waiting list only.

January 25 (Thursday): Tucson, Arizona (Tucson Insight Meditation), 6:30 to 8 p.m. (meditation, talk, and discussion). Location: Quaker Meeting House, 931 N. Fifth Ave., Tucson. For further info, go to

January 26-28 (Friday to Sunday): Tucson, Arizona (Tucson Community Meditation Center—TCMC), Transforming the Judgmental Mind (non-residential weekend retreat). Friday, 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.; Saturday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Sunday, 9 to 3:30 p.m. Judgments of a reactive and often automatic nature are very strong in most of our lives, and in the dominant culture. They can distort our perceptions, make relationships with others difficult, and undermine our work in the world. In this two-day non-residential retreat, we will explore the nature of such judgments (and their difference from non-reactive discernment) and how to transform them. We will cultivate mindfulness, inquiry, and heart practices such as lovingkindness, forgiveness, and compassion. We will also explore the somatic and social dimensions of judgments and the role of cultivating awakened qualities in transforming judgments. These tools will help us to preserve the intelligence and energy often found in judgments, using them for discernment and compassionate action, while working through judgments' destructive and compulsive aspects, that often rest on unconscious or unexamined limiting beliefs. This retreat will include sitting and walking meditation, including instructions for several guided practices, talks and group discussion, and some basic movement practices, all in the context of a small, supportive community. Location: TCMC, 1231 E. Edison, Tucson. For further info, go to

March 3 (Saturday): Spirit Rock: Through the Dark Night: Breaking Down, Breaking Through, Waking Up (daylong, with Marisa Handler), 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Many of us at some time pass through a “dark night of the soul,” an extended encounter with pain, confusion, and disorientation, sometimes manifesting as depression or breakdown or loss of functioning. In the West, such experiences are often hidden and regarded with shame. In some other cultures, they are viewed as central to individual evolution, bringing transformation, purification, and amazing gifts. On this daylong, we will explore this phenomenon through meditation, short talks, and sharing. We will offer a map of the dark night as part of awakening, identifying perspectives and practices that help us with this process. For further info, go to

Marisa Handler has practiced Insight Meditation in retreats and in her daily life for 15 years. As a writer, singer-songwriter, teacher, and coach she has the necessary tools for healing chronic physical and mental illness, and for deepening our experience of awakening. She is the author of the memoir, Loyal to the Sky, which won a Nautilus Gold Award for world-changing books, and her essays, fiction, and poetry have appeared in numerous publications. She teaches Creative Writing at Mills College and Stanford University as well as workshops at Esalen and CIIS. She is also a committed practitioner of Byron Katie's The Work, Authentic Movement, and Biodanza.

March 18, 25 (Sundays): San Rafael: Marin Sunday Sangha, 5:45 to 8 p.m.: Movement, meditation, discussion. Sangha founded by Phillip Moffitt and held at St. Luke’s Presbyterian Church, 10 Bayview Drive, San Rafael, CA 94901. For further info, go to

March 24 (Saturday), San Rafael: Marin Sangha Daylong, 9:30 to 4:30 p.m.: Location: St. Luke’s Presbyterian Church, 10 Bayview Drive, San Rafael, CA 94901. Open to those who have attended at least one Marin Sangha Sunday gathering. For further info, go to

April 1 (Sunday): San Rafael: Marin Sunday Sangha, 5:45 to 8 p.m.: Movement, meditation, discussion. Sangha founded by Phillip Moffitt and held at St. Luke’s Presbyterian Church, 10 Bayview Drive, San Rafael, CA 94901. For further info, go to


April 7: Spirit Rock, Transforming the Judgmental Mind (daylong), 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Judgments of a reactive and compulsive nature are very strong in most of our lives. They can distort our perceptions, make relationships with others difficult, and undermine our work. We will examine what judgments are and how to work with them, using mindfulness, “heart” practices, and inquiry, helping us to preserve the discernment often found in judgments, while working through the destructive aspects of judgments. We will also explore how we internalize the judgments of our society in a number of ways, particularly related to race, gender, sexual orientation, etc. Participants will have the option of regular follow-up sessions. For further info, go to

April 8-15 (Sunday to Sunday): Insight Retreat Center (Santa Cruz Mountains), Metta Retreat (with Nikki Mirghafori). A silent mindfulness retreat with alternating sitting and walking meditation, instruction, dharma talks, work meditation, and practice discussion with the teachers. Suitable for both beginners and experienced practitioners. Registration opens December 8, 2017. For further info, go to

April 23-28 (Monday to Saturday), Berkeley: Mindful Communication: A Wise Speech Retreat (with Oren Sofer), non-residential 6-day retreat, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily.Integrating our meditation practice with our speech and communication is one of the main ways to bring deeply-held values into our daily lives and actions in the world. In this retreat, we will connect mindfulness and lovingkindness practice, the Buddha's teachings on wise speech, and the contemporary discipline of Nonviolent Communication (NVC). Collectively, these practices form a powerful foundation for cultivating awareness and empathy, strengthen our ability to stay present in challenging situations, and develop our capacity to listen and speak from the heart. The retreat will include periods of silent meditation and interactive speech exercises. This retreat is designed both for those who want to bring more attention to speech as a spiritual practice, and for those who have emphasized communication and want further grounding in meditation. NVC will be taught at a basic level; reading Marshall Rosenberg’s Nonviolent Communication is recommended. Participants will have the option of continuing with follow-up sessions after the retreat. Location: Sacred Streams, 2149 Byron St., Berkeley, CA (15 minute walk from North Berkeley BART). Cost: $300 + Dana-- some scholarships available. Info/Registration: To be announced.

May 13-20 (Sunday to Sunday): Spirit Rock, Settling, Seeing, and Spacious Awareness (with Susie Harrington): In the context of a small retreat, we will train in three inter-related modes of practice. First, we will settle and stabilize our minds and bodies, becoming more concentrated, through both sitting and moving forms of meditation, including regular Qigong. As we settle, we then become better able to examine closely both our experiences of our bodies, thoughts, and emotions, and the general patterns of experience, both more personal and more universal. We see more clearly when we are reactive, when we suffer, when there is a thick sense of self, and we learn to be more with the impermanent flow of experience. We can also tune in more, as we settle and see, to an increasingly unconfined and luminous awareness beyond reactivity, that is a source of freedom, wisdom, and compassion, both in retreat practice and daily life. Spirit Rock extends a special invitation to young adults (age 18-26) who wish to attend this retreat at a rate of $35 per night, on a first come, first serve basis. A limited number of special rates are available, please apply early. For further info:

June 4-10 (Monday to Sunday): Spirit Rock, Aging, Dying, and Awakening (with Eugene Cash and Anna Douglas). Living life fully includes aging and dying. It's a natural process, and ripe with spiritual possibilities. Aging brings loss; what we once assumed to be "ours" slips away, revealing the pervasive truth of impermanence. But even as our memory slides, our cognitive speed slows down, and our bodies become more fragile, qualities of the heart reveal themselves. We see that the potential for wisdom and compassion does not depend on the state of the body or on our age, but rather on the training of the mind to abide in timeless awareness. It is best to begin this training before you are ill or dying. Then, like a treasured friend, your own mind can accompany you through the challenges of aging, loss, illness and dying. Right now, we know we will die but we do not know when or how. Through engaging in a variety of contemplations on death in the communal space of retreat, our confidence in our capacity to meet death peacefully increases.

Join a group of your peers who are interested in life after 55 as a new stage of life, one which offers opportunities for deepening in wisdom and compassion, and loosening our fears around dying. Teachings will offer a blend of the traditional ancient wisdom of the Buddha Dharma with more contemporary views and resources for helping us prepare for death. This is a silent retreat with one period a day of interactive contemplative inquiry in dyads or small groups. In addition, there will be daily instructions in mindfulness, meetings with the teachers, dharma talks and qigong. Prerequisites: Completion of at least one 5- to 7-night silent insight meditation retreat. Participants must be age 55 or above. For further info, go to

June 24 (Sunday): San Rafael: Marin Sunday Sangha, 5:45 to 8 p.m.: Movement, meditation, discussion. Sangha founded by Phillip Moffitt and held at St. Luke’s Presbyterian Church, 10 Bayview Drive, San Rafael, CA 94901. For further info, go to

Further retreats in 2018:

July 23-28 (tentative): Berkeley: Buddhist Practice and Nonviolence Training (with Kazu Haga and Mushim Ikeda)

August 19-28: Spirit Rock, Concentration Retreat (with Sally Armstrong, Susie Harrington, and Phillip Moffitt)

September 17-23: Spirit Rock, Transforming the Judgmental Mind (with Eve Decker, Robin Gayle, and Shahara Godfrey)

October 1-7: Vallecitos, New Mexico: Mindful Communication (with Oren Sofer)

October 28 - Nov. 6: Southern Dharma (near Asheville, North Carolina), Settling, Seeing, and Spacious Awareness

December 17-23: Spirit Rock, Winter Solstice Retreat (with Heather Sundberg and John Travis)

Ongoing Wednesdays Class, Spirit Rock, Woodacre, CA: 10 a.m. to noon morning class: Share teaching with Sylvia Boorstein (most Wednesdays, either Sylvia or I will teach): 45 minute meditation, talk and discussion. Donald will be teaching further dates TBD.

Donald’s Talks Are Available At:

Dharma Seed ( /)

Audio Dharma (

Benicia Sangha (

and other sites.