Read our report of the 2012 retreat here

Read one Artmonk’s take on the 2011 retreat here

  • What: Artmonk Retreat. 8 days, 8 nights, part silent meditation retreat, part transformational art ritual. Meditation, Gregorian chant, musical improvisation, ritual theater, group exercises, and more, in an incredible setting.
  • When: Friday, February 10th, to Saturday, February 18th, followed by a concert in the Diego Rivera Gallery at San Francisco Art Institute, 800 Chestnut Street, San Francisco.
  • Where: The Briarcombe House, near Bolinas, CA
  • By Whom: world-renowned contemplatives Dr. Joel and Michelle Levey
  • For Whom: Artists* (*Everyone is an artist.)
  • How much: $995

This winter, the Art Monastery Project curated an exciting new piece of social sculpture that explored the living interaction among contemplation, creativity, and community.

Part meditation retreat, part transformational creative ritual, the 2012 Artmonk Retreat was indeed a work of art. Through it, participants elevated their creative practice to new levels of clarity, depth, impact and connection. Our guides Joel and Michelle Levey led participants through an 8-day transformational ritual designed to help them train their minds, access rich levels of personal and creative insight, and share their discoveries with the world. Whether meditating silently, chanting joyously, working on their own projects diligently, or collaborating deeply participants found that the Artmonk Retreat is a container with just the right mix of inward silence and outward movement, with beautiful moments of improvisation distributed throughout a very intentionally structured score.

“Only when you drink from the river of silence

shall you indeed sing”

—Kahlil Gibran


  • cultivated a foundation of concentration
  • cultivated mindfulness and clear presence
  • integrated artistic sourcing & expression

This was a primarily silent retreat (with opportunities for reflection and sharing as appropriate) and our practice generally took the form of sitting in meditation. That said, there was some somatic practice/movement meditation and a vocal practice. Retreat music director Phoebe Jevtovic Rosquist led Gregorian chant and improvisations. We learned to chant on the first day, followed by scheduled singing throughout the week. Toward the end of the retreat, there were opportunities to spend more time bringing the sense of presence participants had developed to various art forms, both individually and as a group.

Below is an excerpt from the concert following the 2011 retreat.

Be inspired by our teachers, Joel and Michelle Levey, whose pioneering work spans many disciplines including

  • integral mindbody medicine
  • noetic mind sciences
  • contemplative education and transformational learning
  • social neurobiology
  • collective wisdom
  • cyberphysiology, neurofeedback and clinical biofeedback training
  • mind-fitness, peak performance training and extra-ordinary human potential
  • transformational leadership development and change resilience
  • developing healthy high-performing organizational teams and cultures
  • multidimensional medicine work, and
  • r/evolutionary interactivational practices necessary for communities to resonantly align with their highest potentials amidst the creative complexity of our times.

Be inspired by Gregorian chant teachings from Phoebe Jevtovic Rosquist, a soprano who sings with the baroque ensemble La Monica and medieval ensemble Cançonièr.

Be inspired by your fellow Artmonks-in-training, people who are as passionate as you are about living life as a work of art, and with whom you can share this life-changing experience.

Be inspired by the award-winning architecture of our temporary Art Monastery, a space created by artists for artists in one of Northern California’s most serene locales. The Briarcombe House near Bolinas, CA feels as much like an elven haven—a warm nest for creativity sprouted organically from the forest—as it does an artist’s residence.

Be inspired by delicious vegetarian meals cooked by our chef Isa Jacoby, a virtuosic culinary artist in her own right, and perhaps learn a thing or two by helping out in the kitchen.

Be inspired by artists who are living the life of the artmonk. Meet Betsy McCall, co-founder of the Art Monastery Project, whose artwork takes the form of meditative “breath” paintings, large-scale pattern-based drawings, and animated mandala abstract videos, and has been exhibited from San Francisco and New York to Amsterdam and Rome.


Whether you are a well-established artist or looking to discover and unleash your inner artist, our third annual Artmonk Retreat is your chance to enhance your connection with your inner creative spirit.


The third-annual Artmonk retreat began with dinner on Friday, February 10th, 2012 and finished with brunch on Saturday, February 18th, followed by a concert in the Diego Rivera Gallery at San Francisco Art Insitute, 800 Chestnut Street, San Francisco.

Where? What is Briarcombe?

We have been blessed with a new venue for the Artmonk Retreat: Briarcombe House near Bolinas, CA. Our temporary Art Monastery is a stunning 3-house property with comfortable, communal-type, dorm-style accommodations. This award-winning house was custom-built by artists, for artists, and is wonderfully bright and spacious!
[AFG_gallery id=’1′] One unusual layout feature of the house is that none of the bedrooms have doors. We are grateful to be offer comfortable, beautiful accommodations, though they may be unusual. At Briarcombe, participants will be sleeping in the Main House, Bridge House, and the Cottage, in an assortment of beds, couches, futons, and air mattresses. As you can see, some of the beds don’t have any floor space around them (loft/nook beds), and others are in large rooms to be shared with the people on the couches and floor. Briarcombe is our sacred space, a sort of temporary monastery – so when attending the retreat we ask that you arrive with a spirit of renunciation and simplicity. To foster this spirit of simplicity and letting go, we ask retreatants to undertake several traditional practices, including “Taking Any Residence.” We ask participants to take the accommodation offered and practice with whatever situation they find themselves in. Please tell us your preferences and we will work with you (you must send in your deposit to reserve your choice). Let us know if you can share a bed or not, if you can’t be on the floor due to back problems, etc. Do to the communal nature of the house, earplugs may come in handy. We’ve done dorm-style sleeping in past years and always had a delightful time!

By Whom?

A Glimpse of the Life-Work of Michelle & Joel LeveyJoel & Michelle Levey have devoted their lives to exploring the disciplines that awaken extra-ordinary human potentials for wisdom, compassion, and creative intelligence.The Dalai Lama, an advisor and supporter on a number of the Leveys’ projects, blessed them in their work-teachings saying:

“You are presently engaged in work that has great prospects for bringing the Dharma (the inner sciences and technologies of human development and transformation) to a very wide section of people who may not under ordinary circumstances come into contact with these teachings.”

His Holiness also wrote an inspiring foreword for their book Living in Balance ~ a book-of-the-month club main selection. Michelle and Joel are dedicated to the study, practice, and teaching of many of the world’s great wisdom traditions. They have been fortunate to study intensively with many of the most revered contemplative teachers of our time, and have been blessed and encouraged to keep these wisdom traditions alive through teaching others. They are active in inter-spiritual community work with a diversity of other leaders from faith traditions and social justice movements in the NW US and in Hawaii. Their combined 60 years of intensive contemplative practice draws inspiration from many of the world’s great wisdom traditions. Their teachers include: His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Kalu Rinpoche, Zong Rinpoche, Zazep Rinpoche, Chagdud Rinpoche, Gen Lamrimpa, Lama Tharchin, Geshe Ngawang Dhargyey, Lama Thubten Yeshe, Dipama, Sakya Dagmola Kusho, Robert Thurman, Rina Sircar, Krishnamurti, Brother David Steindl-Rast, Reb Shlomo Carlbach, Reb Zalman Schacter Shalomi, Ram Dass, Sogyal Rinpoche, Thich Nhat Hahn, Faisal Muqaddam, Venerable Deshung Rinpoche, S.N. Goenka, Munindra-ji, Venerable Taungpulu Sayadaw, His Holiness the 16th Karmapa, David Chethlahe Paladin, Genki Roshi, Sasaki Roshi, Seung Sahn Soen-sa, Pir Vilayat Khan, Postneshin Jelaleddin Loras, Dhiravamsa, Jack Kornfield, Sharon Salzberg, Joseph Goldstein, Stephen and Ondrea Levine, and Vimala Thakar. During their 40 years of intensive meditation practice Joel and Michelle have been fortunate to devote a number of years of their lives to intensive silent contemplative retreat, including a one-year silent meditation retreat in the Tibetan tradition. They have also been intensively involved with psychophysiological research on meditation, consciousness, and extraordinary human performance, and were recognized by the Institute of Noetic Sciences–for whom they have participated in numerous research colloquiums and conferences–as leading contemporary “teachers of transformation.”

Michelle & Joel are founders of the International Institute for Meditation in MindBody Medicine, and the International Center for Contemplative Inquiry and Dialogue. They serve as faculty for Bastyr University’s new Center for Science, Spirituality, and Medicine, where they are directors of the new “Meditation and Medicine: Exploring the Vital Role of Contemplative Disciplines in Integral Medicine & the Healing Arts” program. Joel & Michelle are also on the clinical faculty for the Center for Spirituality and Health at the University of Minnesota Medical School, adjunct faculty at the Institute for Religion and Health at the University of Texas Medical Center, and graduate faculty in the Contemplative Education and Transformational Learning program at Mahidol University in Thailand. They have also served as faculty at Antioch University, the Indian Institute of Management (IIM) in Ahmedabad India, the International Center for Organization Design, and the World Business Academy. They are beloved elders in the Oracle Gathering Tribe and the Communiversity Creationship scene in the N.W., and have led meditations at CoSM with dear friends Alex and Allyson Grey.Joel and Michelle are co-founders of: WisdomatWork.com; InnerWork Technologies, Inc.; SportsMind, Inc.; and The International Center for Corporate Culture & Organizational Health. Their work in the world has lead them to work with leaders and teams in over 200 leading organizations around the globe including: NASA, M.D. Anderson Cancer Research Center, HP, Intel, Intuit, Microsoft, Group Health Cooperative of Puget Sound, MIT, and Stanford Research Institute International. They were honored to serve at the Clinton Global Initiative as facilitators of dialogue among world leaders seeking to find solutions to the great challenges of our times. They are adept at carrying the medicine of these profound teaching into very powerful and conservative organizations where transformation in the hearts, minds, and values of people is so essential.Joel Levey, Ph.D., directed clinical programs in Biofeedback, Stress Management, Pain Management, Psychophysiological Therapy, and Hospice Training for Group Health Cooperative of Puget Sound. Michelle Levey, M.A., directed similar programs at Children’s Medical Center in Seattle. Their pioneering work in Complementary & Alternative Medicine (CAM) education, Meditation and Medicine, Integral Medicine, Mind-Science & Medicine, and “Ethics, Psychophysiology, and the Sacred,” has inspired faculty and students at dozens of medical and nursing schools.Michelle and Joel’s published works have been translated into 9 languages and include: Luminous Mind: Meditation and Mind Fitness; Living in Balance: A Dynamic Approach for Creating Harmony & Wholeness in a Chaotic World; A Moment to Relax; The Fine Arts of Relaxation, Concentration, and Meditation: Ancient Skills for Modern Minds; Simple Meditation & Relaxation, and Wisdom at Work. They have contributed chapters to many anthologies including: Voices on the Threshold of Tomorrow; Buddhism Through American Women’s Eyes; Be the Change; Intuition at Work; Community Building in Business; Rediscovering the Soul in Business; and The New Bottom Line.Joel & Michelle Levey live in Seattle and steward The Kohala Sanctuary, an organic permaculture farm, learning center, and zone of peace on the northern tip of the Big Island of Hawaii.

To learn more about their work, we invite you to explore:







“The presence of Joel and Michelle Levey in our life has inspired our creative spirit and will surely inspire others.” Alex and Allyson Grey http://cosm.org, http://alexgrey.com

“It has truly been a blessing to know Joel and Michelle Levey. These teachers walk in grace and offer wisdom with every word. They offer their generous spirits to all who cross their path. We are grateful for the gift they bring to our Mother Earth, who is calling us all to love THIS big” .. / —Alli Chagi-Starr, Arts Activist, Cultural Arts Director for the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights’ Reclaim the Future Program and Ashel Eldridge, music and meditation facilitator with Art in Action – Youth Leadership Program in Oakland http://artinactionworld.org/index.php?key=bios

“To my fellow Burning Man devotees: Few people in my life have touched my life in such a positive way as Joel and Michelle Levy. The depth of their understanding, compassion and love inspires me in every creative endeavor I undertake. I highly recommend their workshops to anyone wanting to go deeper into their spiritual practice and creative source. Joel and Michelle are the real deal original gangsta’s of meditation. Should their paths cross yours, count yourself as one of the blessed.” —Sidney Genette, www.watersines.com

“When I think of the type of people I want to surround myself with Joel and Michelle come to mind. They truly walk their talk. The love and grace these two radiate, continues to inform my daily practice, their endless giving and care for others, their passion for the advancement of humanity, serves as deep inspiration for my own work. I feel truly blessed to consider these two my mentors.” — Nina von Feldmann, oraclegatherings.com

“Joel and Michelle are radiant embodiments of compassion, love and evolution in action. They are emissaries of peace and their vibrations are felt beyond words or actions. If you have the blessed opportunity to meet them, you will never forget the light of these two incredible beings.” —little woo, Vancouver BC Canada, http://www.littlewoo.org

“I strongly encourage anyone who has the opportunity to experience the collective wisdom field facilitated so compassionately and expertly by Joel and Michelle Levey. Their loving light shines through all that they do, and is so clearly grounded in decades of inner work and being in service to such a vast diversity of groups and organizations. If you are seeking to move into the heart of a collective issue or exploration, these are the two who can guide you there with true grace and feeling.” —Jeet-Kei Leung, Vancouver, BC, DJ/Musician http://www.myspace.com/mazeguider

“Joel & Michelle Levey express and exude a deep hearted Authenticity and Grace that simply feels good to be around! I find them to be wonderfully inspiring in their genuineness.” —Kenny Telesco, Theatre Artist

“Joel and Michelle Levey shine the brightest light. Whenever I’m around them I feel nurtured by the warmth of their glow, profound but gentle presence, deep wisdom, and pure love. The stunning result is that my own heart and spirit are activated, my own vibration rises, and I find myself reflecting back to the universe the deepest and brightest essence of my creative nature. The Leveys are potent in their ability to inspire us to share our own luminance, and in helping us clear the noise that obstructs that self-expression. I’m deeply grateful for opportunities to experience their catalyzing gifts.” — Gwen Williams, Designer/artist, http://www.spacetransform.com

How much?

8-day retreat: $995

To help make it easier to attend, we’ve found a way to try to make this year’s cost more similar to last year’s. If you bring a friend to the retreat (someone who has never attended an Artmonk Retreat before), you each get $100 off the $995 price. If you bring 2 friends, you get $200 off your price, and the next friend gets $100 off, and so on. You can split your multiple discounts among you and your friends if you like.

Full Retreat = $995/person

You and a friend = $895 each ($100 off)

You and 2 friends:

  • each friend pays $895 ($100 off)
  • you pay $795 ($200 off)

You and 3 friends:

  • each friend pays $895 ($100 off)
  • you pay $695 ($300 off)


Please send a check for $995, made payable to “Art Monastery,” to:

Art Monastery Project

681 Oberlin Ave.

Kensington, CA 94708

or via paypal with the buttons below. (We have added an additional $59.70 to the $995 retreat cost to cover the paypal service fee.)


This retreat is not structured in order to make a profit, but only to cover the costs. Everyone running the retreat is a volunteer. We appreciate your support! There will be an opportunity to offer dana to teachers and retreat staff at the end of the retreat. Please consider making an additional offering (e.g. $100-500). How much you give depends on the value of the teachings, your desire to support the teachers and retreat staff in continuing to offer these teachings, and how much you can afford.

To make a full payment for the 8-day retreat (995 + paypal fee):


It’s time to go monk!

Email retreat@artmonastery.org with your questions.


Items to Bring

  • earplugs
  • notebook or journal and writing/drawing utensils
  • acoustic instruments (preferably quiet) for participation in later expressions
  • art supplies for participation in later expressions
  • meditation cushion
  • meditation wrap
  • warm, loose, comfortable clothing
  • warm socks or slippers (shoes are prohibited indoors)
  • warm coat and shoes for outdoors
  • rain coat or umbrella
  • comfortable walking shoes or sandals
  • camera
  • flashlight
  • water bottle

Below is an excerpt of an improvisation during the concert following the 2011 retreat by (from left to right) Annette Bauer, eO, and Rachael Bouch.

“I love the intention of the Art Monastery, which I interpret to be an invitation to find the spiritual through expression and sharing, as much as in meditation. And being aware, overly perhaps, of the mood and intention of my surroundings, I so relish being among like-intended people, finding a mood of warm safety and invitation that opens the creative heart. The retreat at the Integratron was truly wonderful and I am eager to rejoin my new friends in new surroundings for new adventures. At long last I feel I know what is worthy and valuable in this, our wacky world, and I am happy to now be an Art Monk. I send my deep appreciation for those who conceived and made the Art Monastery live.” ~ William Dailey, proprietor of Hacienda Hot Springs, rare books collector, 2010 & 2011 Artmonk Retreat participant


For more information, email retreat@artmonastery.org.



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