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photo by Ralph Davis

Vipassana Hawai‘i offers a variety of programs aligned with Buddhist Theravadic teachings  in Hawai‘i, the US mainland, Canada, and Southeast Asia. Whether you are a beginner or a seasoned yogi, we provide a diverse range of practice opportunities throughout the year. Click through to learn more about us, or to join our Hawai‘i sangha at Sunday sittings.

Upcoming Retreats


August 24 – September 2, 2018

Vipassana Retreat at Sea to Sky

With Michele McDonald and Jesse Maceo Vega-Frey

Waitlist only.

Vipassana meditation (Insight or Mindfulness practice) is the moment-to-moment investigation of the mind/body process through calm and focused awareness. As insight deepens, wisdom and compassion arise.

Sea to Sky Retreat Centre is a secluded 40-acre site of extraordinary natural beauty in British Columbia’s coastal mountain range.

Sponsored by BCIMS  Sea to Sky Retreat Centre, Daisy Lake, Whistler, British Columbia, Canada

September 13 – 22, 2018

Freedom Through Understanding: Insight as a Path to Peace

With Michele McDonald and Jesse Maceo Vega-Frey

True North Insight, Arnprior, Ottawa, Canada

Waitlist only.

The teachers will be offering Vipassana practice rooted in deepening our understanding of mindfulness as the intention to understand our experience rather than to judge and control it.
Learn to develop a field of awareness that can be narrowed or broadened, that can incline toward clarity or compassion, depending on the needs of the circumstance. Learn to move with courage toward difficulty when mindfulness and equanimity are strong, and to infuse one’s awareness with gentle care when the challenges seem overwhelming.
The practice is grounded firmly in the Theravada teachings of the Buddha and offered in the spirit of our times. All four foundations of mindfulness will be taught so that yogis can access deeper levels of insight and peace.

October 19 – October 27, 2018

Seven-day retreat

With Steven Smith

Blue Mountains Insight Meditation Centre

Medlow Bath – Blue Mountains Australia

Filled. Waitlist only.

Anchored in the Theravadan Buddhist Burmese lineage of Mahasi Sayadaw since 1974, Steven Smith was trained and sanctioned as a teacher by the late revered monk and meditation master Sayadaw U Pandita. Steven teaches Vipassana and the Divine Abodes (loving-kindness, compassion, joy, equanimity) in meditation retreats in Asia, Hawai’i, North America and Australia. He co-founded Vipassana Hawai’i in 1984 and in 1995 founded the MettaDana Project for educational and medical projects in Burma. Also in 1995 Steven helped establish the Kyaswa Valley Retreat Center in Burma, headed by the late Sayadaw U Lakkhana, Abbot of Kyaswa Monastery.

This retreat is suitable for beginners and experienced meditators.

November 2 – 4, 2018

Días de Los Muertos Weekend Vipassana Retreat

With Jesse Maceo Vega-Frey

The Sacred Falls International Meditation Center, Hauula, Hawai’i

Now open.

Reflection on death is one of the many important meditation subjects encouraged by the Buddha and many cultures from around the world take special time to remember and rejoice in the lives of those who have passed away. Join Jesse for a weekend of meditation on death and impermanence while abiding in loving-kindness, compassion, and gratitude for our loved ones who have died. We will take special care to share the merit of our practice with those who have passed away.

Participants are invited to bring photographs or small mementos of deceased loved ones for a communal altar we will create together.

November 9 – 11, 2018

The 7 Factors of Enlightenment: A weekend meditation retreat

With Jesse Maceo Vega-Frey

Lanai, Hawai’i

The 7 Factors of Enlightenment (bojjhanga) are mental qualities repeatedly emphasized by the Buddha as essential to the process of liberation of the heart and mind. Mindfulness, Investigation, Energy, Rapture, Calm, Concentration, and Equanimity each play important roles in the process of insight and as a group they also serve to support one another in skillful balance. Join Jesse for a weekend vipassana meditation retreat, held in silence, where we will explore the many ways understanding and encouraging these qualities can strengthen our practice.

Now open.

November 23 – December 1, 2018

Dhamma: Pure, Deep, and Simple

With Steven Smith and Michele McDonald

Palolo Zen Center, Honolulu, Hawai’i

Filled. Please email to be placed on the waitlist.

Come receive a pure and powerful dhamma-teaching, the practice that awakens wisdom and metta, deeply embodied from the inside. Experience a nine-day Vipassana silent retreat in the beautiful serene Palolo Valley.

Steven Smith and Michele McDonald have been teaching together for over 33 years. Both are founders and guiding teachers for Vipassana Hawai’i.  They offer effective tools to make the practice work for each individual student, liberating the heart-mind with clarity, ease, and authenticity. For more information about the teachers, click here.

December 29, 2018 – January 8, 2019

New Year’s Abiding in the Wild: Nurturing Love, Awareness, and the Heart’s Deep Release

Vipassana Retreat with Mindful Movement

with Steven Smith and assisted by Jake Davis

Mindful movement with Julie Seibt

Jungle Yoga, Thailand

Now open.

We will begin each day sitting together in the stillness of this remote jungle lake, as dawn slowly brings on the indescribable jungle chorus of cicadas and gibbons. Together, we will learn to cultivate seamless awareness in all sense fields, nourished by the dedicated cultivation of the ‘divine abidings’: unconditional friendliness, wise compassion, empathetic joy, and equanimity. In each moment of returning gently to the present, we develop the ability to abide with clarity and kindness in the midst of both subtle and strong emotions.

January 12 – February 2, 2019 

Kyaswa Monastery Fusion Retreat

with Sayadaw U Pannananda, Sayalay Ma Kamala, and Jesse Maceo Vega-Frey 

The Sagaing Hills of Burma (Myanmar)

Now open for registration.

This unique 3-week retreat offers a rare opportunity to practice Metta (loving kindness) and Vipassana (insight) methods with skilled Burmese monastic and Western lay teachers in the Sagaing Hills of Upper Burma. The first 5 days will focus on Metta practice to lay the foundation for a deeper emphasis on Vipassana during the rest of the retreat. 

Filled with centuries-old pagodas, monasteries, and nunneries, the Sagaing Hills are regarded as the spiritual heart of Burma and one of the most important practice centers of Theravada Buddhism. Kyaswa Monastery is itself a 600-year-old practice and study center that plays a vital role in the health and vibrancy of nearby Wachet Village

If you are interested in or have questions about any of the upcoming retreats please feel free to contact us by email.

Please note our Cancellation Policy:
If you cancel more than 45 days prior to the retreat: We will refund all fees less PayPal fees – usually $50.00- $100.00
If you cancel 10-44 days prior to the retreat: We will refund all fees less $200.00. Cancellation insurance recommended.
If you cancel less than 14 days prior to the event: Unfortunately we cannot afford to offer a refund. Last-minute cancellations are costly and sometimes mean that others cannot attend the retreat. 
* Daylong retreats within Hawai”i comply with a different cancellation policy, as noted on the registration pages.