"I wanted to go on retreat because I wanted to dive deeper into my practice with Melissa, after studying with her for over a year in both yoga and meditation classes. It couldn’t have come at a more needed time because I was in a rehabilitative stage of an ankle injury and emotionally because of where I’ve been in the last year — loss, pain, transition. My injury had stopped my whole life and after not moving at all for 3 months, I was worried that the yoga would be too intensive but it wasn't. Melissa’s movement practice is so healing that you can feel her true passion for nurturing the body come alive in the most challenging movements.
The week was full in many ways. There’s been a growth from seeds that were already planted — years of being really curious about dharma, meditation, and Buddhism in general — and finally having the means to understand it and let things develop.
I’ve developed a confidence that I can receive the teachings. I’ve been reading lots of literature for many years and I’ve been practicing yoga since the 1990s, but I’ve had an insecurity in my ability to put complete teachings into my whole practice. The one thing I was most afraid of was to sit, and now it’s the thing that I want to do the most. That’s the most powerful connection I’ve made.
Brian is a really clear teacher, and his storytelling is so vivid that it’s easy to remember what he’s saying. Melissa’s sense of being so alive and so "ready to see you" was the first feeling and reaction I had the moment I was in a room with her. Coming on retreat with her was the hugest gift.
Brian and Melissa have a child-like quality that is super inclusive. They’re in touch with their inner child and they have the capacity to see other people’s inner child as well. That’s a really important quality in a teacher. The two of them together are a powerhouse of inclusivity."
- JACLYN GUILLOU
- SHANNON KIMBLE
"I work in an 8:30am-4:30pm environment, in an office, in a cubicle. I have a daily meditation practice and sometimes I’m not as disciplined. Retreat is a time to step aside from daily work and busyness to fill myself up. To do it even just one week during the year, it’s my time.
Retreat puts space into my daily life. With Melissa’s retreats, there’s this great study and it takes the Buddhist beliefs and brings them into the everyday world. It gives me a toolbox I can carry back into my everyday life.
Melissa and Brian are a fabulous team, and are carrying on Michael Stone’s legacy of building community and bringing spiritual teachings into everyday life. They have a way of creating a very safe environment where you feel protected. If you needed to speak with them, they’re available. They’re amazing facilitators."
"The connections on this retreat have been easy and there’s been spontaneous playfulness and childlike joy. It’s bringing those qualities back alive inside myself.
Brian and Melissa role model presence and respect in their language, in their way of being. I’m a nurse and I’ve worked with people my whole life; I consider myself someone who’s very respectful of people. So to meet two people who are on a whole other level, I really appreciate it a lot. That’s where I want to be.
I like the way they offer things. They rarely make a direct instruction or command; it’s always an invitation. There’s a lot of consciousness about inclusivity. I think we’re evolving as a global community to at least awareness that inclusivity is where we should be directing ourselves but they seem to already embody it."
- ARLINDA MICHAEL
"Retreats are a chance to come home to myself. I was feeling particularly lost, so this retreat was a chance to do a reset, refocus and set my intentions for what I want. The bonds you form with people on these retreats are so monumental. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen anyone exude pure joy like Melissa does. There’s nothing that comes out of her mouth that’s not thoughtful and kind, even if it’s a correction. Her style of teaching yoga is accessible for every level. This is the first time I’ve experienced the spiritual side of yoga. I met Brian 16 years ago on retreat in Oregon. To see Brian become a dharma teacher gives me such joy. He’s the most calm, joyful, funny human being. He brings such a light to the practice as well as integrity and inclusivity. You could be of any gender or race and feel included and taken care of."
- STACEY JENNINGS
"I wasn’t sure what to expect because I had never been on retreat before. The schedule appealed to me because it wasn’t so intense that every moment of every day was packed with activity. It allowed me time to contemplate and integrate, ask questions, and then be prepared for the next day.
I’m looking forward to taking what I learned here and continuing on. I feel inspired to make some changes with my work schedule and my self-care. I’d like to do more yoga, meditation, reading. Those changes will have an impact on my practice and will make me more human to my patients.
The whole idea about mindfulness or meditation is to cultivate the ability to focus and be present, whether it’s with a loved one, family member, friends, the person behind the counter at Starbucks or your patients. It really makes a difference."
- DR. DAVID KATES
"As a lawyer and social justice advocate with a hectic life, I signed up for Brian and Melissa’s Costa Rica retreat in the hope of finding quiet refuge in a warm and beautiful natural setting. On many occasions during this retreat, I was deeply moved by the ways that both Brian and Melissa fostered awakening by creating a supportive environment where community healing could take place. Brian took steps to support my mental well-being as time for reflection inevitably brought long buried pain to the surface. He was present, attentive, and profoundly kind.
Under Melissa’s careful and gentle teaching, I found myself awakening in this body for the first time in many years. I very much appreciated her invitational and trauma-informed approach to teaching, after years of listening to yoga teachers tell me I “should” be able to move in certain ways or have a certain kind of body. It was so healing to be supported in Melissa’s thoughtful movement practice after a decade spent away from yoga and usually sitting in a chair, hunched over books and screens. Brian and Melissa collaborated in a wonderful way on this retreat to create a caring space where I could begin to heal. I am so grateful to both of them for this magical experience."
"I learn a lot on retreat, both from the planned program and the people who attend. Some retreats are about rest, some are more about being in community. They’re always about taking a break from daily life to build skills, rest, and work on things in an intentional way without distraction.
I love Melissa’s style and energy, and how inclusive her yoga teaching is. Brian’s meditation has been very helpful. I had an active meditation practice but there are a lot of different ways to meditate. I improved my understanding of meditation as well as a lot of the Buddhist teachings. It was challenging; longer sits than I’m used to. But I’m happy I was able to get through them and I see the benefit.
As you go through life, things you learned come back to you as another layer. And then you learn new things that enhance what you learned previously, and that’s what I felt with Brian.
Going on retreat gives me more tools to cope with different challenges in my daily life. I lost my husband two years ago, and going on retreat has helped me work through that and to accept my present situation. It’s a place to be quiet and you feel very safe. Although you’re sharing things that are deep and emotional, you feel very supported by the people who are here, both the teachers and participants. The connection is something you carry with you after the retreat."