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Listening & Speaking from Silence: A Deepening Exploration of Relationality

Residential Program
Dates: Feb 23, 2023 - Feb 26, 2023
Days: Thursday - Sunday
Number of Nights: 3 nights

Instructor(s): Peace Twesigye, Janet Surrey, Brent Beresford

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Program Description:

We can awaken together. We can recognize our shared humanity and touch the mutuality of the heart’s longing for freedom. Yet we know relationships can also become a source of painful conflict, disconnection, and loneliness. During this program, as we explore the relational meditation practice of Insight Dialogue, the transformational and joyful potential of relationship can blossom. We will study early Buddhist texts which emphasize kalyana mitta–beautiful or spiritual friendship–as necessary and integral to the path of awakening. Insight Dialogue supports the conditions for this wholesome pathway to compassionate release and freedom from suffering. 

Insight Dialogue is a relational meditation practice that brings together the power of the meditative qualities of the body-heart-mind, the wisdom teachings of the Buddha, and our inherent capacity for relatedness. In this program, we will offer the guidelines of Insight Dialogue–pause, relax, open, attune to emergence, listen deeply, and speak the truth–as a foundation for the cultivation of meditative listening and speaking that emerges from silence. While we learn and develop these practices in a retreat setting, Insight Dialogue supports a whole life path of true community and service.

This program, intended for both beginners and those with prior experience of Insight Dialogue, will support a deepening of relational practice. This program will be held in Noble Silence with periods of silent meditation, relational meditation, and dharma contemplation in small groups. We invite you to join in this exploration and experience the potential of listening and speaking deeply in meditation!  

In order to create a diverse student body, at least 1/4 of the spaces will be held for BIPOC participants until two months before the program opening. At that time, held spaces will be opened to any participants on the waiting list. You are encouraged to join the waiting list even if the program appears to be full.

View Brent Beresford's invitation on YouTube.

Noble Silence:
This program includes dedicated periods of both wise speech and noble silence. Some contemplative exercises may involve mindful speaking and listening. Noble silence is to be upheld at all other times.

Experience Level:
Suitable for beginning and experienced practitioners.


Some prior meditation experience is suggested.

    About the Instructor(s):
  • First introduced to Buddhist teachings from the writings of Thích Nhất Hạnh as a teenager, Peace is now the Director of Buddhist Studies and the Thích Nhất Hạnh Program for Engaged Buddhism at Union Theological Seminary. Peace Twesigye assists in designing and overseeing curriculum in Buddhist Studies, supports and creates spaces for contemplative practice that serve as a basis for students’ active engagement and service in community, as well as supporting academic advisement and dharmalogical reflections with Buddhist students. Peace Twesigye organizes and manages public and private conversations and events as part of the Thích Nhất Hạnh Program for Engaged Buddhism to further expand its public offerings in socially engaged Buddhism. Being a part of the second Teacher Development Cohort cultivating skills of offering Insight Dialogue has supported a path of practice and understanding that surfaces relationality as central. Peace is also currently serving on the board of Lion's Roar.

  • Janet Surrey, PhD is an Insight Dialogue Teacher. She teaches Insight Dialogue retreats worldwide and leads a longstanding practice group in the Boston area. She has practiced in the Insight tradition  for over 30 years, and trained as a Community Dharma Leader at Spirit Rock. Since 2007, Jan has worked intensively with Gregory Kramer and is currently serving on the Teachers Council of the Insight Dialogue Community. Jan is a practicing clinical psychologist and founding scholar of the Jean Baker Miller Training Institute at the Wellesley Centers for Women. She is on the faculty and board of the Institute for Meditation and Psychotherapy. She is the author of The Buddha’s Wife: The Path of Awakening Together.

  • Brent Beresford identifies as gender non-conforming, preferring they/them pronouns, and is a person of mixed racial heritage. Their greatest teachers are their children, showing them how unreasonable their expectations are and encouraging the practice of relationship and community. Their work has been in engaging the power of relationships, accompanying individuals and groups since 2002. They have endeavored to transmit the teachings of the Dhamma in various forms since 2015 through mindfulness-based approaches and the practice of Insight Dialogue. Brent aspires to lean into the darker places, finding “how the dark too blooms and sings.”