Inside Passages

Teaching Mindfulness. In Person. In Place.

2019 Alaska Retreats

For the 2019 summer retreat season in Alaska, we are offering three retreats.

  1. The first retreat will be a writer's retreat that will incorporate guided meditation, yoga, and daily kayaking into the practice of creative writing. Based out of Keene Channel Lodge, this retreat is scheduled for the week of July 13-20, and will be co-led by Kurt Hoelting and poet Holly Hughes.

  2. The second retreat, scheduled for July 27 - Aug. 3, is especially designed for tech professionals, and will bring us back in touch with a core of inner presence that is often missing from the fast-paced realities of the tech world. Joining Kurt as co-leader on this retreat will be San Francisco-based executive coach and mindfulness teacher David Perls. Weather permitting, this retreat will include a two-night kayak camping experience in the Castle Islands of Duncan Canal.

  3. The third retreat will be open to all-comers, and is scheduled for the week of Aug. 10-17. Drawing upon the combined power of guided meditation, yoga, and silent paddling in the heart of the majestic Tongass National Forest,

Each of these retreats offer a rare opportunity to reconnect with our own inner depth, vitality and resilience, in the context of Alaska's sublime wild landscapes. In a time of extraordinary cultural and ecological change, our capacity to be agents of healing, for ourselves and others, depends on our ability to navigate these changes with skill and with heart.

Mindfulness gives us the practical tools for doing this. Alaska's majestic Tongass National Forest gives us a spacious container for rediscovering the vastness of our own inner life. Mindful kayaking gives us access to that wilderness, both inner and outer, in ways that enliven the body and that call forth a necessary spirit of adventure for the work ahead. All these elements together, held in the embrace of practicing community, can be life-changing.

All Inside Passages trips operate under Special Use Permit, USDA Forest Service, Tongass National

Core values of Inside Passages Trainings and Retreats

  • Relationship Matters. Human beings are profoundly relational creatures. We learn best, and live most fully, when we function within a matrix of meaningful and supportive relationships. Mindfulness offers powerful tools for building authentic community; for fostering collaborative, adaptive leadership; for cultivating empathy and compassion toward ourselves and others on our complex, often challenging, shared human journey. This happens best in direct, personal connection with others who share these intentions and aspirations.

  • Place Matters. As human beings, we are inseparable from the places we inhabit. But many of us have forgotten how deeply bound we are to the living earth, for the physical and emotional nutrients that literally sustain our lives. All humans are embedded in deep evolutionary time, offspring not only of other humans, but of the places we call Home. Mindfulness roots us back in Place through the cultivation of presence, grounded in real time, and attentive to the living fabric of our immediate physical surroundings. At a time when online trainings and apps have come to dominate the mindfulness world, it is more important than ever to reclaim the ancient lineage of in-person, real time connections, rooted in a practice of place, as antidotes to the disembodied nature of online communities, and the isolation that can attend our growing dependence on social media as a primary context for community.

  • Practice Matters. Realizing the true depth of our own inner life is a prerequisite to our capacity to connect with others. It also lies at the heart of our deep, intrinsic bonds with nature. Realizing the truth of our interdependence - with self, with others and with nature - requires practice. The tools for building these connections are readily available to all, and in fact already lie within us. But we forget, because this truth runs counter to our culture of busyness and distraction, and counter to the fast-paced nature of our increasingly tech-driven lives. Our intrinsic core connections need to be uncovered and nurtured. Building a stable practice of mindfulness happens best within a community of practice, with the guidance of skilled teachers, and with attention to the importance of our physical bodies as essential allies in the quest for a more embodied wholeness. On Inside Passages retreats, daily kayaking serves to bring us into our bodies, and to bring our bodies into the presence of nature, in direct and visceral ways that further deepen our practice. Keene Channel Lodge offers an environment of beauty and natural silence that limits distractions, and that directly supports the development of a practice-based life. In this sense, it functions as a kind of "monastery in the wild", extending the boundaries of Self-exploration to include the wider domain of ecological belonging.

  • Training Matters. All Inside Passages teachers are highly experienced mindfulness practitioners. As mindfulness programs proliferate within mainstream culture, the depth of teacher training matters more than ever. All our collaborating teachers have years of training in both the traditional lineages of Buddhist meditation, and extensive silent retreat work under the guidance of master teachers, primarily from the Zen and Vipassana traditions. All have, in addition, experience in the emerging secular domain of mindfulness within evidence-based training models like Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR). Inside Passages retreats are built upon a commitment to integrity and depth of training for all its instructors. Over the years, we have been privileged to collaborate on our Alaska retreats with respected teachers from both traditional and secular lineages, including Zen poet Gary Snyder, MBSR founder Jon Kabat-Zinn, Zen teachers Norman Fischer and Nelson Foster, Vipassana teachers Rodney Smith and Mark Coleman, as well as Western religious leaders like Rabbi Rachel Cowan, Rabbi Sheila Weinberg, and Fr. Gordon Peerman, who are bringing mindfulness training into the core of their own faith traditions.