Contemplative Retreats for Educators

Walking Meditation at the 2011 Retreat for Educators


Contemplative Retreat for Educators: A Day of Practice

Led by Paul Wapner and Nicole Salimbene
Saturday, May 3, 2014
at Friends Meeting of Washington
Dupont Circle, 2111 Florida Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20008 (view map)
$95 with lunch or $80 without lunch (please bring your own bagged lunch)

Open to all in Higher Education, Elementary and Secondary Education, and College and Graduate Students. Registration closes April 23rd.

Registration has closed

Retreat Schedule | Refund/Ticket Policy | Financial Aid | Lunch | Volunteering

There is more to life than simply increasing its speed. – Gandhi

This retreat offers the opportunity to step back from our frenetic lives, calm the mind, and cultivate a sense of inward clarity. Using mindfulness meditation, gentle art exercises, and other reflective practices, we will explore the challenges of being educators in an age of hyper-responsibility and in which many of us struggle to balance work, family, and personal aspirations.

We will spend much of the day in mindful inquiry and noble silence, practicing various techniques for cultivating greater awareness of ourselves and others, and developing capacities central to education—focused attention, wonder, compassion, and open inquiry. Designed for both beginners and seasoned practitioners, the retreat primes us to re-enter the teaching profession from a place of more lucidity and skillfulness, and with greater integration between our personal and professional lives.

Retreat Schedule

9:00 – 9:30 Registration
9:30 – 10:00 Welcome & Introduction to the Retreat
10:00 – 10:50 Mindfulness in the Classroom
10:50 – 11:00 Break
11:00 – 11:45 Art Practice
11:45 – 12:45 pm Mindful Eating/Lunch
12:45 – 1:45 Mindfulness Practice: Sitting and Walking
1:45 – 2:00 Break
2:00 – 3:30 Art Practice
3:30 – 3:45 Break
3:45 – 4:30 Generous Listening Practice
4:30 – 5:00 Sharing and Closing

Ticket/Refund Policy

  • Prior to April 23, 2014, we can grant 90% refunds for registration cancellations. After April 23, we are unable to grant refunds.
  • Registration closes on Wednesday, April 23, 2014.
  • Registration payments are due by Thursday, April 23.

Financial Aid
We’re sorry–all of our available financial aid has been awarded!   Limited financial aid is available in the form of discounts of up to $40 off the registration fee. Financial aid will be awarded on a rolling basis, and registrants will have the opportunity to apply for financial aid during the registration process.

Participants who choose the ticket option with lunch included will be provided with lunch on the day of the retreat. Lunch options include vegetarian and non-vegetarian meals. Participants with specific food allergies or restrictions are encouraged to bring their own lunch.Participants who choose the ticket option without meals should bring a bagged lunch, as there will not be time to go to a restaurant. Thank you!

If you are interested in volunteering to help set up for the retreat and clean up afterwards (about one hour before and after the retreat), please contact Jennifer Palmer at


Retreat Faculty

Paul Wapner
Paul Wapner
is a Professor in the School of International Service at American University. His research and teaching focus on environmental ethics, transnational activism, environmental thought, and the interior experience of climate change. He serves on the boards of the Lama Foundation, Still Water Mindfulness Practice Community, and RE-volv (a solar energy provider for nonprofits), and has received two fellowships from the Center for Contemplative Mind in Society. Paul is a longtime practitioner of vipassana mediation and various schools of yoga, and leads workshops on contemplative environmentalism.

He is the author of Living through the End of Nature, and Environmental Activism and World Civic Politics, as well as co-editor of Principled World Politics. His forthcoming book, Global Environmental Politics: From Person to Planet will be published this fall.

Nicole Salimbene
Nicole Salimbene is a visual artist, working with unconventional materials to explore themes of sustainability, spirituality and archetypal poetics. Her paintings, installations, photographs, and sculptures draw on sacred and profane images to encourage self-inquiry and contemplation. Her work has been exhibited in juried shows and galleries nationally and internationally, as well as reproduced for publications and purchased for private collections.Nicole has created a unique method for using the artistic process to gain clarity, emotional access, and expansive sensitivity, and has brought this approach to various academic disciplines and professional associations to enrich vocational wellness. She has led workshops in contemplative art-making practices in affiliation with American University, Clark University, the Lama Foundation, and Ghost Ranch. By opening to the practice of making art, participants grow attentive to the symbols, metaphors and materials that hold meaning in their lives.

“The Center is a great guide to developing contemplative practices. ‘Poetry and Meditation,’ the experimental course I taught in Spring 2000 at West Point as a Fellow of the Center, changed much of what I thought I knew about teaching and learning, and by doing that, changed my life.”

— Marilyn Nelson, chancellor, Academy of American Poets; author, A Wreath for Emmett Till and Carver: A Life in Poems

“The point of contemplative practice is not to elevate an isolated set of activities over the rest of life but to electrify the spiritual impulse that animates all of life.”

— Robert Wuthnow, Princeton University

Past Retreats:

Contemplative One-Day Retreat for Educators: Mindfulness, Lovingkindness, and Simple Yoga
Saturday, February 22, 2014
Amherst College, Amherst, MA
with Mirabai Bush and Anna Neiman Passalacqua
November 18 – 21, 2012
Garrison Institute, Garrison, NY
With Mirabai Bush, Paul Wapner, and Anna Neiman Passalacqua
Read the report (.pdf)
November 17 – 20, 2011
Garrison Institute, Garrison, NY
With Mirabai Bush, Arthur Zajonc, and Anna Neiman Passalacqua
Read the report (.pdf)
November 11 – 14, 2010
Garrison Institute, Garrison, NY
With Mirabai Bush, Arthur Zajonc, and Sunanda Markus
Read the report (.pdf)
November 12 – 15, 2009
Marconi Conference Center, Marshall, CA
With Mirabai Bush and Arthur Zajonc
Read the report (.pdf)
November 13-16, 2008
Menla Mountain Retreat Center, Phoenicia, NY
With Mirabai Bush, Arthur Zajonc, and Sunanda Markus
Read the report (.pdf)


Past Retreat Faculty

Mirabai Bush was a co-founder of the Center for Contemplative Mind in Society and served as Executive Director until 2008. Under her direction, The Center developed its programs in education, law, business, and activism and its network of thousands of people integrating contemplative practice and perspective into their lives and work.

Mirabai holds a unique background of organizational management, teaching, and spiritual practice. A founding board member of the Seva Foundation, an international public health organization, she directed the Seva Guatemala Project, which supports sustainable agriculture and integrated community development. Also at Seva, she co-developed Sustaining Compassion, Sustaining the Earth, a series of retreats and events for grassroots environmental activists on the interconnection of spirit and action. She is co-author, with Ram Dass, of Compassion in Action: Setting Out on the Path of Service, published by Random House.

Mirabai has organized, facilitated, and taught workshops, weekends, and courses on spirit and action for more than 20 years at institutions including Omega Institute, Naropa Institute, Findhorne, Zen Mountain Monastery, University of Massachusetts, San Francisco Zen Center, Buddhist Study Center at Barre, MA, Insight Meditation Society, and the Lama Foundation. She has a special interest in the uncovering and recovery of women’s spiritual wisdom to inform work for social change. She has taught women’s groups with Clarissa Pinkola Estes, Sharon Salzberg, Joan Halifax, Margo Adler, Starhawk, Jean Shinoda Bolen, Vicky Noble, and other leaders.

Her spiritual studies include meditation study at the Burmese Vihara in Bodh Gaya, India, with Shri S.N. Goenka and Anagarika Munindra; bhakti yoga with Hindu teacher Neemkaroli Baba; and studies with Tibetan lamas Kalu Rinpoche, Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche, Kyabje Gehlek Rinpoche, Tsoknyi Rinpoche, and others. She also did five years of intensive practice in Iyengar yoga and five years of Aikido with Kanai Sensei. Her earlier religious study included 20 years of Catholic schooling, ending with Georgetown University graduate study in medieval literature. She holds an ABD in American literature from the State University of New York at Buffalo.

Before entering the foundation world, Mirabai was the first professional woman to work on the Saturn-Apollo moonflight at Cape Canaveral and later co-founded and directed Illuminations, Inc., from 1973 to 1985 in Cambridge, MA. Her innovative business approaches, based on mindfulness practice, were reported in Newsweek, Inc., Fortune, and the Boston Business Journal. She has also worked on educational programs with inner-city youth of color.

Mirabai has trekked, traveled, and lived in many countries, including Guatemala, Mexico, Costa Rica, India, Nepal, Morocco, Ireland, England, Scotland, Afghanistan, Iran, Turkey, Germany, Austria, Italy, Pakistan, and the Caribbean. She is an organic gardener in Western Massachusetts and the mother of one adult son, Owen.

Paul Wapner is Professor of Global Environmental Politics at the School of International Service at American University, and author of Living Through the End of Nature: The Future of American Environmentalism and Environmental Activism and World Civic Politics. His research focuses on Environmental Thought, Transnational Environmental Activism, Environmental Ethics, and Global Environmental Politics. Paul Wapner is a 2008 Contemplative Practice Fellow.
Arthur Zajonc Arthur is the President of the Mind & Life Institute and was previously the Andrew Mellon professor of physics and interdisciplinary studies at Amherst College, where he taught since 1978. He received his B.S. and Ph.D. in physics from the University of Michigan. He has been visiting professor and research scientist at the Ecole Normale Superieure in Paris, the Max Planck Institute for Quantum Optics, and the universities of Rochester, and Hannover. He has been Fulbright professor at the University of Innsbruck in Austria.

His research has included studies in electron-atom physics, parity violation in atoms, quantum optics, the experimental foundations of quantum physics, and the relationship between science, the humanities and the contemplative traditions. He has written extensively on Goethe’s science work. He is author of the book Catching the Light, co-author of The Quantum Challenge, and co-editor of Goethe’s Way of Science. In 1997 he served as scientific coordinator for the Mind and Life dialogue published as The New Physics and Cosmology: Dialogues with the Dalai Lama. He again organized the 2002 dialogue with the Dalai Lama, “The Nature of Matter, the Nature of Life,” and acted as moderator at MIT for the “Investigating the Mind” Mind and Life dialogue in 2003. The proceedings of the Mind and Life-MIT meeting were published under the title The Dalai Lama at MIT.

He previously directed the Center for Contemplative Mind in Society. Out of this work and his long-standing meditative practice, Zajonc has authored Meditation as Contemplative Inquiry: When Knowing Becomes Love. He has co-authored a book with Parker Palmer, The Heart of Higher Education: A Call to Renewal. Zajonc blogs for Psychology Today on meditation. He has also been General Secretary of the Anthroposophical Society in America, a co-founder of the Kira Institute, president of the Lindisfarne Association, and a senior program director at the Fetzer Institute.

Anna Neiman Passalacqua teaches Hatha yoga and Peaceful Weight Loss™ through Yoga. After working at the Center for Contemplative Mind in Society, Anna began teaching yoga full time with a focus on yoga therapeutics. In addition to teaching group yoga classes, Anna works with private clients of all ages, helping them to connect with their own best selves and make lifelong change. Based in Northampton, Massachusetts, Anna has coordinated and taught yoga retreats at centers including Kripalu, Yogaville, and Garrison Institute. Her yoga sessions are an opportunity to move, stretch, and enhance body awareness. The sessions are designed for all levels.
Sunanda Markus Sunanda Markus has served as program coordinator for the Academic Program of the Center for Contemplative Mind in Society for 8 years. She also works as the Managing Director of Nights Publications Inc. in Montreal, Quebec.

Her non-profit experience includes serving on the boards of the Seva Foundation, Seva Service Society, the Insight Meditation Society, the Eyak Preservation Council, the Montreal Zen Centre, and the Learning Alliance. As a board member for Seva Foundation she served as chairperson for 3 years and was also an active member of the Seva Guatemala Project which supports integrated community development.

She took her first course in meditation in 1972 in India with the Theravadan Buddhist teacher Shri S.N. Goenka and has been a student of Vipassana meditation since then. She also studied bhakti yoga in India with Hindu teacher Neemkaroli Baba and has been a student of yoga for over twenty years.