Clarifying the Mind - A Month-Long Vipassana Practice Period (2021)

08/06/2021 02:00 PM - 09/03/2021 04:00 PM HT


Online Retreats


  • $90.00  -  1 Weekend
  • $180.00  -  2 Weekends
  • $270.00  -  3 Weekends
  • $360.00  -  4 Weekends
  • $20.00  -  1 Weekend (scholarship)
  • $40.00  -  2 Weekends (scholarship)
  • $60.00  -  3 Weekends (scholarship)
  • $80.00  -  4 Weekends (scholarship)




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


Clarifying the Mind

A Month-Long Practice Period

in the Four Foundations of Mindfulness

~ August 6th - September 3rd, 2021 ~

in 4 Weekend ONLINE Sessions

~ August 6-8, 13-15, 20-22, 27-29 ~


or 4 Weeklong ONLINE Sessions

~ August 6-13, 13-20, 20-27, 27-Sept 3 ~


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


Clarifying the Mind is a month-long practice period that will take place in the during the month of August 2021.

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

  • Weekend yogis are invited to 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, supported by interviews and Q&A sessions. Yogis can sit in this supported self-retreat format for any of the 4 weeklong periods within that month or for the entire 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 so-called "Four Foundations of Mindfulness"

The Buddha taught his students to train the mind on the direct observation of all phenomenon that can be directly experienced. Through this observation, we come to see that all conditioned experiences are impermanent, undependable, and without essential selfhood. These insights into the nature of reality are what lead to the disentanglement and liberation of mind and heart.

But it is hard to observe all this phenomena clearly! So the Buddha broke down the training into 4 spheres of observation: body, feeling-tone, mind, and dhammas. Body (kaya) consists of all the direct experiencs of physicality, often classically observed in terms of the descriptive elements of earth, air, fire, and water. Feeling-tone (vedana) is the mental quality of pleasant, unpleasant, or neutral that arises in concurrence with each physical or mental sensation. Mind (citta) is the experience of all that is non-material: emotions, thoughts, knowing, imagining, etc. Dhammas are categories of phenomena that are often understood as describing how all these experiences are related to one another and form a chain of causal events that lead to our sense of "me" and "mine" - and the way out of it.

Our time will consist of an array of approaches to practicing in these various fields of awareness - bolstered by the power of the brahma viharas - love, compassion, appreciative joy, and equanimity.

Weekend Program Schedule will Be:

All Times Hawaiʻi - All sessions will be recorded and available for later viewing


  • 2pm evening Dhamma Talk


  • 6am Walking Meditation
  • 8am Sitting Meditation
  • 10am  Sitting with Instructions
  • 2pm  Q&A Session
  • 3:30pm  Metta Chanting and Sit


  • 6am Walking Meditation
  • 8am Sitting Meditation
  • 10am  Sitting with Instructions
  • 2pm  Sitting, Talk, Q&A
  • 3:30pm 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 - with some flexibility for yogis in distant time zones)
  • 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

Please Note: We are limiting each full week to a maximum of 20 yogis and protecting spaces for those that can register for multiple weeks. If a weeklong session is full at the time of your registration, please let us know of your interest - and if spaces open up because of fewer month-long yogis, we will let you know.

The Basic Program Schedule will be as follows:

August 6-8 (and following week)



August 13-15 (and following week)



August 20-22 (and following week)



August  27-29 (and following week)



September 3rd (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.

Darine Monroy has been a student of Michele McDonald and Steven Smith since 2011. She has taught for Mindful Schools and has completed the Hakomi Comprehensive Training. Darine was born and raised in Mexico, and meditation retreats have been among the most meaningful experiences of her life.


All fees for the program will go to sustaining the basic needs of the organization. NO ONE WILL BE TURNED AWAY FOR LACK OF FUNDS.

You may pay the full price upon registration OR register for a scholarship amount that matches your budget. IF YOU REGISTER WITH A SCHOLARSHIP, PLEASE CONSIDER ADDING AN ADDITIONAL DONATION AT THE END OF THE REGISTRATION PROCESS. Please be aware that this open-payment system is an experiment and a risk for us. It will certainly require those who can afford to pay more than the base price do so in order to expand our ability to provide Dhamma to those who cannot.

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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