Invigorating our Hearts - A Month-Long Practice Period in the Brahma Viharas

01/08/2021 02:00 PM - 02/05/2021 04:00 PM HT


Online Retreats


  • Free




A month-long practice period with options for Full-Time Intensive Retreat and Weekend Retreats



Invigorating our Hearts

A Month-Long Practice Period

in the Brahma Viharas

~ January 8th - February 5th, 2021 ~

in 4 Weekend ONLINE Teaching Sessions

~ January 8-10, 15-17, 22-25, 29-30 ~

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


Invigorating our Hearts is a month-long practice period that will take place in the beginning of 2021.

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

  • Weekend yogis are invited register for any OR all of the 4 Weekend sessions.
  • Full-Time Intensive Retreat yogis are invited to continue the weekendʻs teachings into the week and sit on self-retreat during the entire month (OR, if there is room, for any of the 4 weeklong periods within that month).

The Full-time Intensive Retreat option is 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 Theravadan lineage.

The Brahma Viharas are a series of practices and teachings that ecompass the most highly regarded spiritual emotions in our lineage: Metta (lovingkindness), Karuna (compassion), Mudita (appreciateive 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 Viharas 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


  • 7am  Walking Meditation
  • 10am  Sitting with Instructions
  • 2pm  Q&A Session
  • 4pm  Metta Chanting and Sit


  • 7am  Walking Meditation
  • 10am  Sitting with Instructions
  • 2pm  Sitting, Talk, Q&A
  • 4pm Metta Chanting and Sit


  • Recorded Instructions will also be available

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 be otherwise self-directed during the weekdays

The Basic Program Schedule will be as follows:

January 8-10 (and following week)



January 15-17 (and following week)



January 22-24 (and following week)



January 29-31 (and following week)



February 5th (Full-Time 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 Theravadan 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.


If you are experiencing financial hardship and need scholarship support, please contact us. Scholarships are available upon request. No one will be turned away for lack of funds. We look forward to supporting you in the ways we know best during these challenging times.

Teacher Dana

In accordance with tradition, all Vipassana Hawai’i internationally respected teachers offer their teachings free of charge and are supported through the freely-offered generosity of students and supporters. Costs associated with retreats cover the growing expenses associated with online services, online storage, broadcasting equipment, and website administration - 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. They do not collect salaries in keeping with the time-honored tradition of sharing openly the chance for peace. 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 strive to give back in any for - 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 by mailing a check at the end of the retreat or online here.

Cancellation Policy

If you cancel less than 14 days prior to the event, unfortunately we cannot afford to offer a refund. Last-minute cancellations are costly and usually mean that others whom we have already turned away can no longer attend the retreat. 

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