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

Date & Time Details: Check-in is from 3:00-5:00 on the first day of the retreat. The retreat will close mid-morning on the last day of the retreat. (Learn more)

PRICE: We offer a sliding scale structure. Scholarships are available, see below. Prices for this retreat range from $1,470-$3,850 (not including teacher dana and add-on items). (Learn more)

DANA: This is a dana-based retreat. (Learn more)

SHUTTLE SERVICE: Shuttle Service is available for this retreat. (Learn more)

NOBLE SILENCE: This retreat will be held in noble silence. (Learn more)

SCHOLARSHIP: Scholarships are available on a limited basis for Hemera, BIPOC, and Needs Based. (Learn more)

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Application for Affectionate Awareness as a Path to Liberation

With Michele McDonald and Jesse Maceo Vega-Frey

August 1 - 15, 2024

During this intensive silent retreat, participants will learn to develop their heart’s capacity for liberatory clarity and pervasive tenderness with a unique integration of Vipassana (insight) and Metta (lovingkindness) practices. Michele and Jesse are enthusiastic about supporting practitioners with a depth of both technical rigor and spacious ease.

Guests will be supported by daily instruction periods with time for questions and answers, individual interviews with both teachers, nightly dhamma talks, a vigorous schedule of sitting and walking meditation, as well as free time in the afternoons to silently explore the beauty of the landscape on their own.

Come experience the richness of quietude in the beautiful Vallecitos wilderness while cultivating the wisdom of Vipassana and the tenderness of the four Brahma Viharas: Unconditional Love, Compassion, Appreciative Joy, and Equanimity.

Prerequisite:  Practitioners must have done at least three separate 9-day retreats of silent Vipassana meditation to be eligible. If you do not meet this criteria, we would be happy to help you find another Vallecitos retreat.


APPLICATION PROCESS: (Please read until the end.)

Registration for this retreat is by application.  Within the application review process we are curating additional variables to encourage greater equity, diversity, inclusion, and access for our many popular retreats. To create an optimal retreat container, some of these factors include affinity group membership, age, gender balance, and experience level.  

Registering for a lottery or completing an application does not ensure a space in the retreat.  Applications received after February 5th are automatically placed on the waitlist and will be notified of availability on a rolling basis. Notifications often move quickly so we recommend checking your email regularly. Please note that you will be asked to complete your registration details and pay your retreat fees within 48 hours of your offer to attend. If you are in need of financial assistance to attend, you will be invited to complete a scholarship application once you have been accepted and completed your registration.

We recognize that this is an imperfect system and we have carefully considered valuable feedback from many of you in designing our registration system for this year.  If you have questions about this new registration process, please contact Jan at or by calling 505-469-9017.


COVID Safety Measures: Please review our current COVID Safety Measures, which are subject to change.


Michele McDonald
Michele McDonald has taught Insight meditation since 1982 and teaches extensively throughout the United States, 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…
Learn more about Michele McDonald
Jesse Maceo Vega-Frey
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…
Learn more about Jesse Maceo Vega-Frey