• Heal Your Mind & Body at Dewa Spa

  • Study with World-Class Teachers

  • Practice in One of Our Unique Venues

  • Expand Your Awareness with Meditation

  • Go Hiking in the Catskill Mountains

  • Enjoy Delicious Nourishing Farm-to-Table Cuisine

  • Menla is a Project of Tibet House US,

    the Dalai Lama’s Cultural Center in NYC

  • Deluxe Queen – $1,040.00
  • Deluxe Double (Shared Room) – $898.00
  • Camping – $514.00
  • Commuter – $488.00
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Embodying Buddhism: Somatic Mindfulness

With Aaron 'Water' Piepszny and Michael G. Burbank

August 11 - 13, 2023

Examining and practicing Buddha’s Foundations of Mindfulness, we will find connection and ease within the pristine natural environment of Menla. Exploring the Buddha’s words and teachings from the original source text, the Mahasatipatthana Sutra, we will find our own unique pathway of presence, relaxing in our bodies and with our breath. In the serene setting of the Catskills, we will connect our feeling bodies to the trees, earth, and streams, finding the wisdom and power of these elements illuminating our true nature. Rather than marathon meditation sessions, we will favor short bursts of depth explorations of breathing, relaxation, and awareness. We will then shorten these explorations with the goal of being able to access in body ease with no preparation or planning, just choice, in any moment of our lives. 

Menla’s Executive Director Michael Burbank will share an introduction to mindfulness practice as found in the original sutra Friday evening. Presencing with nature, grounded in Buddha’s Foundations of Mindfulness, we will commune with the powerful energies of the mountains, forest, and streams to explore our whole being. This immersive Gaian experience will foster rejuvenation, inspiration, and ease throughout our time together. We will refine our sensitivity through Chi Gung, awareness of breath, meditative walks, and sitting with the vital, living landscape of the Catskills.


Friday, August 11

  • 3 – 6 pm Arrival & Check-in
  • 6 – 7 pm Dinner
  • 7:30 – 9 pm Intro to the Mahasatipatthana Sutra with Michael Burbank

Saturday, August 12

  • 7 – 8 am Beginning: Contemplating The Body
  • 8 – 9 am eating in the present moment/ breakfast
  • 9 – 10 am Beginning: Contemplating The Breath
  • 10 – 11 am Beginning: Continuing With ‘Relaxation’ Aspect
  • 11 am- 12 pm Outdoor Walking Meditation: Sitting At The Roots of Trees
  • 12:30 – 1:30 pm Lunch
  • 2 – 2:15 pm Journaling
  • 2:15 – 3 pm Chi Gung
  • 3 – 4 pm Water Contemplation
  • 4 – 5 pm Ecology Walk
  • 6 – 7 pm Dinner
  • 7:30 – 9:30 pm Bonfire or Evening for Relaxtion

Sunday, August 13

  • 7 – 11 am Check-out of Rooms
  • 7 – 8 am Chi Gung
  • 8 – 9 am Breakfast: Eating in Mindfulness
  • 9:30 – 10 am Walking Meditation
  • 10 am – 12 pm Sitting With The Elements: Journaling & Reflections
  • 12:30 – 1:30 pm Lunch & Departure

*Please note that schedule is subject to change. 


Aaron ‘Water’ Piepszny
Aaron Water Piepszny’s bodily presencing is profound and palpable. He draws on 25 years of somatic awareness practices as a professional dancer and educator, Buddhist studies, meditation immersions, multiple Vipassana retreats, and a wide variety of Chi Gung schools and teachings. A lifetime lover and student of nature, he was raised on a rambling few acres of yard forest in Western NY where he ate fresh pears endlessly, marveled at the powerful cottonwoods, adventured through the woods, and stared in respect and wonder at the bunnies. He has certified with NLP master and author Jerry Stocking, Chi Gung Grandmaster Fu…
Learn more about Aaron ‘Water’ Piepszny
Michael G. Burbank
Michael G. Burbank has been a student of Robert Thurman and HH the XIV Dalai Lama for over 25 years, since his undergraduate years at Columbia University. In February of 2002 he was invited to help the Thurmans and Tibet House start the newly acquired Menla retreat. Over the years, he worked variously as Menla’s dishwasher, housekeeper, Front of House Manager, and Assistant Director, and since 2013 he has served as Menla’s Director. Michael received the Kalachakra Tantra initiation from His Holiness the Dalai Lama twice–in 2003 and 2017–in Bodh Gaya, India. An avid life-long student and practitioner of Buddhism,…
Learn more about Michael G. Burbank


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375 Pantherkill Road, P.O. Box 70 Phoenicia, NY 12464