Discover a Deeper Way of Living Vallecitos Mountain Retreat Center offers a retreat for almost everyone. Our schedule carries a...

Date & Time Details: Sunday Afternoon, August 28th - Friday Morning, September 3rd

OFFERING: We offer a sliding scale structure. Offerings for this retreat range from $0-$870. Teachers will accept offerings and financial support at the end of retreat.

SHUTTLE SERVICE: Shuttle Service is available for this retreat.

SCHOLARSHIP / FELLOWSHIP AVAILABILITY: Scholarships are available for this retreat.

SAFETY: We are committed to providing a safe environment for gathering. We have created multiple precautions to hold our time together. (Learn more)

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Retreat as Ceremony: Mindfulness and Indigenous Presence for Wellness and Healing, A Retreat for Indigenous Peoples

With Bonnie Duran (mixed race Opelousas/Coushatta), Elvina Charley (Diné) and Syra Smith (Choctaw-Chickasaw)

August 28 - September 3, 2022

What you need to know :

  • open to all Indigenous Peoples (including folks from outside the Ute and Jicarilla Apache Territories) with special attention given to those who actively work inside Indian country
  • no prior meditation experience necessary
  • ceremony, talking circles and periods of silent mediation will occur during this 6 night retreat
  • bedding, towels, and bath products provided
  • shuttle from Albuquerque and Santa Fe provided
  • offered on a sliding scale (you choose) $0-870
  • must be fully vaccinated to attend
  • have questions? See our FAQs for the IP retreat here or contact us
  • Our Community Organizer, Kelzi Montepetit (mixed race Kanien’kehá:ka and Anishinaabe), will be contacting the first group of applicants in May!


This retreat is open to Indigenous people from around the world. 

This residential retreat will provide a conceptual framework and practice guidelines for Mindful “Indigenous Presence” meditation—a way of coming into harmony with the present moment and our world—and provides space for acceptance, and the cultivation of clarity, confidence, resilience and strength.

This practice maps the fundamental wellness-optimizing characteristics of Indigenous Ceremony onto the methods and outcomes of another ancient traditional expression of sacred presence, that of mindfulness and lovingkindness meditation.

This retreat will be instructional and experiential. Together we will explore the techniques of mindfulness/insight meditation and come to understand the strength-based and resilience optimizing characteristics of retreat as Ceremony.

This retreat will open and close with talking circles, and group practice meeting will be offered throughout the 5 full days. For most of the retreat, however, attendees will be entering into the practice of Wise Speech, and expected to abide by the retreat precept of “ Noble Silence”.

We all have two knowledge systems—

  • One knowledge system is conceptual and based on thoughts and ideas— we count things and name things, think about things and create ideas. Many of those ideas are based on greed, delusion and aversion.
  • Our second knowledge system; Intuitive/Wisdom Awareness, is where we go in Native Ceremony (Sun Dance, Sweat Lodges, NAC Meetings, etc). Intuitive awareness is not based on concepts, but rather lets mindfulness “collect” data as we objectively watch our thoughts, emotions, body sensations, etc, and allows wisdom to ripen and arise. This non-conceptual “insight” is a true source of healing and happiness for us all.

Reading and writing are discouraged. We will use this opportunity to go deep into “Intuitive awareness” to ripen insight and wisdom, to hear our ancestors and other helpers,  and to heal our historical and current suffering and ignorance.

We are contacting the first round of applicant and we are now collecting applications for the waitlist. If you wish to join the waitlist, please complete this application to be reviewed for a possible space on this retreat.  For those who are invited to attend, we will email you with a registration link to sign up for the retreat if a space becomes available.

We require all people who visit the land to be fully vaccinated. We will require a copy of your vaccination card prior to arrival. Vallecitos reserves the right to modify, cancel or close at any time.



Bonnie Duran (mixed race Opelousas/Coushatta)
Bonnie Duran, PhD met the Dharma in 1982 when she sat a month in Nepal and learned Vipassana in Bodh Gaya India. Since then, she has taken teachings from many western teachers as well as Thai, Burmese, and Tibetan Monastic teachers. Bonnie attended the very first People of Color Mediation Retreat at Vallecitos decades ago and we are proud to have her sit on our Teachers’ Council today. Bonnie is a core-teacher of the IMS Teacher Training Program, the SRMC Dedicated Practitioners Program and is on the SRMC Guiding Teachers Council. Bonnie teaches long and short retreats at IMS, Spirit…
Learn more about Bonnie Duran (mixed race Opelousas/Coushatta)
Elvina Charley (Diné)
Elvina Charley, Ed.S. is Diné (Navajo) school psychologist practitioner and integrates mindfulness as a part of serving children and youth. Charley has been practicing mindfulness since 2013, introduced to her by Bonnie Duran, Ph.D. as a way to heal from historical trauma. She found parallels between her Diné philosophy of life – Sa’ah naaghái bik’eh hózhóón and Buddhism. Charley continues to cultivate her practice through people of color retreat programs through the Insight Meditation Society and Vallecitos Mountain Retreat Center. Charley received training through Mindful Schools to bring back mindfulness to reservation schools.
Learn more about Elvina Charley (Diné)
Syra Smith (Choctaw-Chickasaw)
Syra Smith is an artist, facilitator and mindfulness educator interested in deep ecology and manifesting a culture where we can turn toward fearless abundance and generosity. Her grandmothers are Choctaw-Chickasaw and include those among the first freed black African women to own land in her country. Syra’s studies and practices are deeply rooted in the heart and awakening more fully to the truth of freedom in our lives. A lifelong meditator and SF Bay Area native, Syra began her meditation practice as a teen in 1988 and has been practicing in the Theravada Buddhist tradition since 2009. She graduated East…
Learn more about Syra Smith (Choctaw-Chickasaw)