Opening the Heart in the Divine Abodes

Thursday, Jul 19 to Monday, Jul 23 (4 nights)


$610 (or $510 camping)
Please note this does not include dana.

During this silent 5-day retreat, we will explore the Brahma Viharas, or Divine Abodes – four practices that open and nurture the heart.

In the Buddhist teachings, these four practices – loving-kindness, compassion, sympathetic joy, and equanimity – are considered the highest qualities of heart and emotional wellbeing.

On our retreat, we’ll not only begin to sense into these qualities of heart, but practice abiding and dwelling in them as well. Over time, these practices can become our true home, as well as the atmosphere in which we deepen our mindfulness practice and intimacy with life.


Pat Coffey, MEd, began his meditation practice over 30 years ago and has taught meditation since 1996. He studied with numerous Asian and Western teachers in the Theravada, Tibetan, and Zen traditions. Pat is founder of the Insight Meditation Community of Charlottesville, co-founder of the Meditation Teacher Training Institute, and co-founder of the Blue Ridge Prison Project. Pat was selected and trained as a meditation teacher in the joint teacher training program of the Insight Meditation Society in Massachusetts and Spirit Rock Meditation Center under the tutelage of Jack Kornfield and Joseph Goldstein. Down-to-earth, real-world, practical dharma is the hallmark of his teaching. The father of two children, owner of several businesses, and holder of several patents, he draws on his varied and rich life experience to articulate the dharma.

Shell Fischer, founder and guiding teacher of Mindful Shenandoah Valley, is a full teacher with the Insight Meditation Community of Washington, D.C., and offers more than 25 years of mindfulness practice and study. She trained in the Theravada tradition in the 2-year Meditation Teacher Training Institute of Washington, D.C., with Tara Brach, Jonathan Foust, Hugh Byrne, and Pat Coffey.  In 1994, Shell received her master’s degree from Naropa University, a Tibetan, Shambhala Buddhist-based university in Boulder, CO. Prior to teaching, she wrote about meditation for national magazines. Her intention is to share her own experience of the teachings from a place of deep honesty and heart, and with a touch of humor.


Sevenoaks Retreat Center is located on 120 acres of secluded forest land in Madison, VA, in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, with walking trails in the woods and gardens.

The property is expansive, largely wooded, bordered by the Rapidan River, and surrounded by views of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Shamans who have regularly visited Sevenoaks describe the land as “spiritually seasoned.” Simply put, it feels good to be at Sevenoaks.

The retreat is about 90 minutes from Winchester, less than two hours by car from D.C., and 30 minutes from Charlottesville.

Set near 300-year-old oak trees, the 5 spacious guest buildings look out onto the expansive grounds, and the Blue Ridge Mountains.

The comfortable rooms are multiple-occupancy, with 2-4 twin beds and shared bathrooms. There is also camping available.

The featured, central building is the Lighthouse, which offers a unique, 52-foot-diameter circular meditation hall. (This retreat can accommodate up to 80 people.)

MealsSevenoaks offers gourmet dining, with both vegetarian and non-vegetarian menus, and can accommodate most special dietary needs.

REGISTRATION: This retreat is being sponsored by the Insight Meditation Community of Washington, D.C. (IMCW). Registration will open Mar. 19, & will likely fill quickly.

If you’d like to learn more or get on a Pre-Registration Interest List, to receive notifications about this retreat, please contact Shell Fischer.

FEES (includes full 5-day retreat – room & board, plus retreat):
Shared room (2-4 per room): $610
Camping: $510
* 50% deposit required to reserve your space

Limited scholarships will be available when registration opens March 19. 

DANA: In keeping with the Buddhist tradition, the teachers and retreat managers receive no payment. The cost covers room and board only.

Donations offered by students at the end of the retreat are appreciated and support the teachers and retreat managers in continuing to make the teachings available to all. Dana offerings are tax-deductible.


NOTE: The retreats listed here have been entered by the retreat organizers. For any questions, use the contact information listed on the retreat page. Please do not contact the Buddhist Insight Network.