Embodying Buddhism: The Anatomy of Enlightenment

August 11 - August 13, 2023

Aaron 'Water' Piepszny

Michael G. Burbank

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 conduct 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.
ScheduleFriday, 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 teachin...

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 year...



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