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Vipassana Hawai‘i offers a variety of programs aligned with Buddhist Theravada 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 online for our Sunday sittings.

Invigorating our Hearts 2022: A Month-Long Practice Period in the Brahma Viharas @ Online
Jan 7 @ 8:50 pm – Feb 4 @ 9:50 pm


Invigorating our Hearts

A Month-Long Practice Period

in the Brahma Viharas

~ January 7th – February 4th, 2022 ~

in 4 Weekend ONLINE Teaching Sessions

~ January 7-9, 14-16, 21-23, 28-30 ~

with Michele McDonald, Steven Smith, Jesse Maceo Vega-Frey, and Darine Monroy

People are invited to join for Full-Time Intensive Retreat options or Weekend-Only options.

~ Weekend yogis are invited to register for ANY or ALL of the 4 Weekend sessions.

~ Full-Time Intensive Retreat (FTIR) yogis are invited to continue the weekend’s teachings into the week and sit on self-retreat between the weekends.

Weekend registration is open immediately.

From December 6th-13th, FTIR registration will be open for yogis who can sit for the entire month.

On December 13th, registration will open for people who can sit for any of the 4 weeklong periods within that month, according to space available.

The Full-time Intensive Retreat options are only open to yogis who have previously sat multi-day in-person retreats with Vipassana Hawaii teachers.


This retreat period will focus primarily on the practice of the four Brahma Viharas – the Divine Abodes – as taught by the Buddha and in the traditions of the Theravada lineages.

The Brahma Vihara are a series of practices and teachings that encompass the most highly regarded spiritual emotions in our lineage: Metta (loving-kindness), Karuna (compassion), Mudita (appreciative joy) and Upekkha (equanimity). Together they form a comprehensive and perfectly balanced system of mind-cultivation: one that conditions the mind to be imbued with good-will and peace for all beings in the world (including ourselves) and all their range of joy and sorrow without hesitation or restraint. It is a coherent path that has the ability to develop the full range of love and wisdom necessary for the project of awakening.

We will offer a range of approaches to the Brahma Vihara to allow for a range of entry points according to individual conditions. Helping people both into the doorway of pure concentration as well as a more integrated approach that includes the sense-experiences and wisdom-inclined method of our vipassana practice are of the highest priority for our teachers.

Weekend Program Schedule will Be:

All Times Hawaiʻi – All sessions will be recorded and available for later viewing


  • 2pm evening Dhamma Talk


  • 4am Sitting Meditation
  • 6am  Walking Meditation
  • 8am Sitting Meditation
  • 10am  Sitting with Instructions
  • 11am Q&A Session
  • 2pm  Dhamma Talk
  • 4pm  Metta Chanting and Sit


  • 4am Sitting Meditation
  • 6am  Walking Meditation
  • 8am Sitting Meditation
  • 10am  Sitting with Instructions
  • 11am Q&A Session
  • 2pm  Dhamma Talk
  • 4pm  Metta Chanting and Sit

Intensive Retreat Yogis:

~ Will be invited to join each of the weekend programs

~ Are expected to be mainly in silence – on a period of intensive retreat – during their chosen period.

~ Will be offered 2 interviews each week with a teacher (Tuesdays and Thursdays between 11-1pm Hawaiʻi Time)

~ Will be offered a Q&A Session as a group each week with a teacher. (Wednesdays at 2pm Hawaiʻi Time)

~ Will have access to recorded instructions.

~ Will have access to open online Dhamma Hall.

~ Will be otherwise self-directed during the weekdays

The Basic Program Schedule will be as follows:

January 7-9



January 14-16



January 21-23



January 28-30



February 5th (Full Time Intensive Retreat Yogis only)


Please contact Vipassana Hawaii with any questions you may have regarding your participation.


Michele McDonald co-founded Vipassana Hawai’i in 1984 with Steven Smith. She has taught Insight meditation for thirty eight years. Beyond her commitment to the Vipassana Hawai’i Sangha, she teaches extensively throughout the United States, in Canada, Burma, and various locations around the world. Michele has been a quiet pioneer having being the first woman to teach a formal retreat in Burma, side-by-side with a senior monastic figure, Sayadaw U Lakkhana, Abbot of Kyaswa Monastery. Having worked with a wide range of Asian and Western teachers, Michele is most inspired by her practice with Dipa Ma and Sayadaw U Pandita and more recently in Burma with the Mya Taung Sayadaw. She appreciates teaching at many levels of practice and has enjoyed teaching three-month retreats for experienced students as well as developing meditation retreats for youth. Her style of teaching emphasizes helping individuals find entry points into stillness that are natural for them. She encourages an understanding of the path of insight and a gentle strengthening of mindfulness and concentration so that, ultimately, people can access the peaceful depths of their experience in every moment. Michele is thrilled when students begin to love their practice as their own.

Steven V. Smith 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 Sayadaw U Lakkhana, Abbot of Kyaswa Monastery. This partnership helped usher in the beginnings of Vipassana Hawai’i’s Fusion Dhamma approach combining traditional and contemporary teaching styles in the same retreat. Anchored in the Theravadan Buddhist Burmese lineage of Mahasi Sayadaw since 1974, he was trained and sanctioned as a teacher by revered monk and meditation master Sayadaw U Pandita. Steven divides his time teaching Vipassana and the Divine Abodes (loving-kindness, compassion, joy, equanimity) meditation retreats around the world, and assisting Burmese refugee communities along the Thai-Burma border. His long term vision for preserving the Dhamma is culminating in the beginnings of the Hawai’i Insight Meditation Center (HIMC) on the Big Island of Hawai’i’s remote North Kohala coast.

Jesse Maceo Vega-Frey’s teaching aims to inspire the skills, determination, and faith necessary to realize the deepest human freedom. He is a student of Michele McDonald and his approach is rooted in the tradition of Mahasi Sayadaw of Burma. As a teacher of Vipassana (insight) meditation within the broader context of Theravada Buddhism his teaching encourages an exploration of the relationship between ethics, insight, and action. Perpetually intrigued by the dynamics between inner and outer change, Jesse is a writer of numerous essays and author of Insurgent Heart: A Vipassana Manual for the Guerrilla Yogi. Links to his writing can be found on his website: as well as links to his weekly musical radio show, Mind to Mind: The Transmission. He is a spoon carver who loves to teach people about how to work with their hands and explore the relationship between labor, ownership, and kamma. He is the resident teacher for Vipassana Hawai’i and teaches around the world.

Darine Monroy has been a student of Michele McDonald and Steven Smith since 2011. She has taught for Mindful Schools, has completed the Hakomi Comprehensive Training, and is studying herbal medicine. Darine was born and raised in Mexico, and meditation retreats have been among the most meaningful experiences of her life.


The cost of this program is $90 per weekend / $180 per week for Full-Time Intensive Retreat Yogis. These fees help Vipassana Hawaii cover the numerous administrative expenses of its operation. If you can contribute more than that, we ask that you make a donation at the end of the registration process to help support the ongoing work of Vipassana Hawaii and to help cover the expenses for those who cannot afford it.

A scholarship option is available to all who need it, without request. The scholarship level is $20 per weekend / $40 per week for Full-Time Intensive Retreat Yogis (plus any additional donation). This fee covers only the per-person expense of our online retreat platform. If you choose this option, we ask that at the end of the registration process, you please donate any amount above that you can in order to support the expenses and ongoing work of the organization.

We are in continual exploration of how to make these teachings as widely available to as many people as possible – regardless of financial realities.

Teacher Dana

In accordance with tradition, all Vipassana Hawai’i teachers offer their teachings free of charge and are supported through the freely-offered generosity – Dana – from students and supporters. Costs associated with retreats cover the growing expenses associated with online services, online storage, broadcasting equipment, website administration, and a range of other organizational expenses – but do not support teacher time, training, effort, or energy. We believe that this commitment helps keep the purity of the teachings alive and thriving, as it has for millennia.

This allows us to keep our registration fees as low as possible, but also means that the livelihood of our teachers is precarious. As a result, we encourage giving back in any form – including monetarily – so that they may continue their endeavors and share their wisdom. Vipassana teachers must be supported in this way if we are to keep this tradition alive, healthy, and with integrity in the modern era. Dana, or generosity, can be offered online here,  or by mailing a check at the end of the retreat.

Cancellation Policy

If you cancel less than 7 days prior to the event, unfortunately we cannot afford to offer a refund. Last-minute cancellations are costly, difficult for us to manage staff-wise, and usually mean that others whom we have already turned away can no longer attend the retreat. Because the materials will be available online for over a month after the program, we are glad you will be able to make use of them on your own time.