Letter to the community June 4th

During the past week, I have been stirred with emotions of grief and anger. In the midst of this, it’s important for me to make this commitment: I will re-call your names: George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Sean Reed, Tony McDade, and Manuel Ellis. I will re-call the names of black transpeople, women, and men whose names we don’t yet know, who have been brutalized and killed by police and white vigilantes. I will stand with your families and communities in our commitment to work to end systemic racism in our country, and white supremacy in our very own hearts.


This has led me to ask the question: What does Vallecitos have to do with these tragic, senseless losses and the unrelenting violence that black, brown, and indigenous communities face day-in and day-out in this country?


Everything and nothing.


Nothing… Vallecitos is a secluded retreat center on Ute and Jicarilla land. Set far, far away from the civil unrest, ripping grief, confusion, outrage, and the crushing injustice raging across our cities.


And everything… Separateness is a distortion of right view. And Right View is one of our values and you’re going to see more action from us on this. This is something I’ve learned so much from the Dharma about. This is what it means to awaken.


As Guiding Teacher and a white, straight, cis-woman with unearned class privilege who has the joy of being in deep relationship with BIPOC, my daily life still stands in stark contrast to the lives of many of our sangha members of color, those who are trans, non-binary, queer, poor, (self-identifying) fat, disabled, and/or immigrants. My responsibility to dismantle white supremacy is different than yours, and I have more privilege to redistribute. All of that is true.


And it’s also true, that as the Buddha taught, separateness is an illusion. Much of my commitment to dismantle the racist infrastructure that enacts violence on black and brown bodies, comes from the dissonance between the freedoms I enjoy and the freedoms my black, indigenous, and friends of color can’t. I’m also inspired to act by the possibilities that are nurtured in the flagship Belonging Retreat we hold, diverse teaching teams, and the relationships that continue to grow out of our shared ground in the Dharma of liberation.


And, if I’m committed to the truth of things, I’ll admit that the majority of our practitioners are white. We are committed to being an increasingly racially awake community through curating community care resources, through continuing to cultivate deep relationships with teachers of color, through continuing our staff and leadership’s un-learning of white supremacy, and raising-up the colonial history and indigenous stewardship of the land upon which Vallecitos rests. You’re going to see more from us here.


In this moment of tragedy, confusion, facing ignorance, and the burn-out that can ensue, let’s turn towards Ruth King’s teachings in Mindful of Race. In her book, Ruth presents her rendering of Michele McDonald’s RAIN which she calls “Working with racial distress.” It may just be a source of release and relief for you.


Recognize: What’s Happening?,
Allow: Can I be with What’s Happening?,
Investigate: How am I relating to what’s happening?, and;
Nurture: How do I care for this distress?.  


“With RAIN, we are investigating the unfinished business of the heart through the body. We are transforming our conditioning by seeing behind, beneath, and beyond the object of racial distress in service to freedom.”


Might Ruth’s guidance be of service to you, to your loved ones, and to your community in this time? I know her teaching supports my unfolding. Here is an unparalleled offering for you.


Finally, we at Vallecitos are curating an ongoing list of community care resources. All the while acknowledging that you and I (and the next sangha member) occupy different realities. In this spirit of recognition, we offer them to you.


In deep care,
Erin Treat, Guiding Teacher


P.S. These recent events are deeply tragic, and what’s really tragic is that they’re not new. I am not here to send you this letter to look good. I am here to voice our commitment to what you know we’re already committed to: Dharma in the service of liberation for all beings.


Ibram X. Kendi on How to Be an Antiracist



Updated: May 13

It’s a disorienting time. Many of you are concerned for your health and the wellbeing of your friends, (chosen) family, and communities. You’re still staying close to home and physically-distancing. Some of you are facing sickness and even death.


This…while state and federal governments are talking about “opening-up” again. Restarting the economy. All the while, human lives, particularly BIPOC, disabled, elderly, and immunocompromised folks, are hanging in the balance.


Know that all of us at Vallecitos, care for you. 


And as a member of the wide, dispersed-to-the-wind Vallecitos sangha, you know the truth of interdependence. So it probably won’t come as a surprise to you that we are cancelling all retreats on the land this season. It breaks our hearts, but we know that this decision is motivated by sila (ethical action).


Within the next few weeks registered and wait-listed folks will receive an email regarding your cancelled retreat. If you are experiencing financial hardship and need a refund immediately, please get in touch with Melissa at If you are in a position to donate all or a portion of your retreat fees to Vallecitos, we will graciously accept your support during this trying time.


We know there’s little we can do to support you from afar. Please accept these humble offerings as a gesture of our care:
  1. Join “Evening Dharma” with beloved Vallecitos teacher Brian Lesage on Sunday, May 31st at 5 Mountain / 4 Pacific / 7 Eastern.
  2. Awakening a Fierce Feminine Buddhism: A Four Week Intensive for Practicing in Daily Life with Pamela Weiss, Tuere Sala and Jozen Gibson
  3. Awake in the Wild: A Supported Home Retreat with Mark Coleman and Christine Lustik
Thank you for being in this with us. Because of you, our beloved sangha, Vallecitos will weather this storm. Thank you for your practice, your support, and more than anything else, being there for one another.


Deep bows,
Erin Treat, Guiding Teacher
Jessica Denison, Executive Director

Updated: May 7th

Recently we made the tough choice to cancel retreats through June 27th. Sometimes it’s hard for me to hold these two truths… First, we can’t be on the land. And in the same breath, the land still holds us.


In my heart, I hold the land and, sometimes, I can feel the land of Vallecitos holding me. The land of the Ute and Jicarilla Peoples. The land that is home to so many beings that are coming alive this time of year – the herons, the osprey, the deer, elk and wild horses to name a few.


While we can’t be on the land, we can still come together for these upcoming online offerings.


“Evening Dharma” with beloved Vallecitos teacher Brian Lesage, Sunday, May 31st at 5 Mountain / 4 Pacific / 7 Eastern. Join the talk here.


Or, dial by your location:

+1 346 248 7799 US (Houston)

+1 669 900 6833 US (San Jose)

+1 253 215 8782 US (Tacoma)

+1 312 626 6799 US (Chicago)

+1 929 205 6099 US (New York)

+1 301 715 8592 US (Germantown)

Meeting ID: 835 9797 8525


Mark Coleman and Christine Lustik will be offering a 4-day Awake in the Wild: Meditation in Nature At Home retreat online from June 18th – 21st for those of you interested in a supported, home retreat. Details and Registration Here.


Wishing you, our beloved sangha, much peace and protection now and in the days to come.


Wild and deep blessings,

Jessica Denison, Executive Director

Updated: April 15


Thank you for your compassionate patience. I’ve felt your support while crafting a wise response to this unfolding crisis. 


Vallecitos is cancelling retreats on the land through June 27th. We are in conversation with each teaching team about offering alternatives. For some there may be an invitation for a radical pause. For some, it may look like a daylong, or even a home retreat. 


Within the next few weeks, registered and wait-listed folks will receive an email regarding your cancelled retreat. If you are experiencing financial hardship and need a refund immediately, please get in touch with Melissa at If you are in a position to donate all or a portion of your fees to Vallecitos, we will graciously accept your support during this trying time.


For alternative offerings open to the whole sangha, we’ll send you an email or you can check our website.


In the meantime, we are deeply grateful to share “Evening Dharma” with beloved Vallecitos teacher Sebene Selassie, April 26th at 5 Mountain / 4 Pacific / 7 Eastern. Sebene will be teaching from within her reality living in Brooklyn, New York during the Covid-19 pandemic. There will be an opportunity for hearing voices of the Vallecitos sangha and a short sit.


Dial by your location:
Meeting ID 947 0304 9937
    +1 669 900 6833 US (San Jose)
    +1 346 248 7799 US (Houston)
    +1 929 205 6099 US (New York)
    +1 253 215 8782 US
    +1 301 715 8592 US
    +1 312 626 6799 US (Chicago)


In it with you,
Erin Treat, Guiding Teacher


PS: If you are looking for a practice opportunity, check out next week’s Spirit Rock online retreat with Vallecitos teachers Erin Treat, DaRa Williams, and Yong Oh – Connection, Compassion, and Courage in the Midst of the Global Pandemic


Updated: April 6th

As we face the uncertainty of the Covid-19 pandemic, we connect when we move in the direction of  practice, stability, and vulnerability. We are actively seeking out the latest public health advice, and consulting with our Board and other trusted advisors in preparation to modify the retreat schedule. We anticipate changes, but are not yet ready to make decisions.

For those of you registered (and on waitlists) for retreats, we will email you regarding the status of your retreat as we know more. We will also be posting updates on retreats, online dharma offerings, and events here.

We want to stay connected with you during this time. Stay tuned for more Wednesday Evening Dharma with Vallecitos teachers and sangha. Subscribe to our listserve to receive announcements.

Vallecitos is a place like no other. We exist to provide refuge that grounds you, connects you with Mother Earth, and supports liberation of body, heart, and mind. Retreats at Vallecitos are a vital support for the well-being of so many, and we want to ensure safety and health for all. Thank you for your support and your practice.

With gratitude,

Erin, Jessica, and the Vallecitos Team