Welcome to the Artmonk Retreat: Hosting the Muse

July 16-21, 2019

Welcome to a week of contemplation and creativity on the banks of the Connecticut River at the Art Monastery’s home in Vermont.

We will draw inspiration and teachings from Buddhist philosophy (with strong influence from Shambhala and Zen traditions), shamanism, mindfulness, authentic movement, and the natural world. Part meditation retreat, part transformational art experience, our time will feature deep listening and discovery, meditating on the grassy hills, exploring the forest, swimming in the river, and inviting inspiration from the full spectrum of life. From a place of silence and stillness we will create and explore together, aiming to open the doors to a new perspective on ourselves.

During the retreat you can expect locally-sourced and lovingly-prepared food, guided group creative sessions, solo time to dig into your creative practice, guided and silent meditation, daily yoga and movement, guided nature explorations, stunning natural environments and a deeply caring and supportive group. One of the most beautiful pieces of this retreat will be the container you enter into here. We set as a deep priority in our work the art of caring for each other and being gentle with ourselves.

Your retreat will be led by Artmonks Betsy McCall (Abbess and Co-Founder), Neva Cockrell (Movement Specialist and Co-Director), Qayyum Johnson (lay-ordained Zen Buddhist monk and Co-Director), and Raphael Sacks (Nature Specialist and Co-Director), and . Our bios are available on the retreat page.

Arrivals and Departures

Please arrive on Tuesday, July 16 between 2 and 4 PM. Arrivals may be arranged outside of this window if needed with prior arrangement.

Please plan to depart on Sunday, July 21, at 11am, unless you are staying for the subsequent week of the Silent Art Residency. Note: There are still a couple of spots available in the Silent Art Residency—just send an email to info@artmonastery.org if you’d like to add it on.

Location and Transportation

We are located at 2315 Connecticut River Road, Springfield, VT 05156. You are welcome to drive your own car and park it on site during the retreat at no additional charge. Public transportation is available from Boston and NYC.

Buses are also available arriving directly to Springfield Plaza in Springfield, VT. Wanderu.com is a great resource for planning your travel here. Please take a look at https://www.artmonastery.org/directions for more info about how to arrive. Please let us know if I can be of service in helping you to plan your travel logistics.

Sample Schedule

Here is a schedule overview of what you can expect when you arrive and what a sample retreat day will be like:

Arrival Day

2:00 – 4:00 Arrivals

4:30 – 6:00 Orientation

6:30 – 7:30 Dinner & Intro Circle

7:30 – 8:30 Break

8:30 – 10:00 Opening Ceremony w/ short sit & learning chant

Sample Day

6:00-6:20 Morning Swim (optional)

6:30-7:15 Morning Sit and Chant

7:30-8:30 Yoga

8:30-9:00 Breakfast

9:30-10:15 Contemplative Session with instruction

10:15-10:30 Break

10:30-12:00 Guided Creative Session

12:00-1:00 Break

1:00-1:30 Lunch

2:30-3:00 Rest

3:00-3:30 Afternoon Sit

3:30-5:30 Solo Creative Session

5:30-6:00 Creative Share (optional)

6:45-7:15 Dinner

8:00-9:00 Evening Sit and Chant

Emerge: Post-Retreat Artshare

The retreat culminates by inviting the public to hear the music we have been singing together all week. We invite retreatants to share additional pieces that were developed during the retreat. You are encouraged to invite your friends and family to attend this free public sharing, called Emerge.

Emerge: Post-Retreat Artshare

Saturday, July 20 at 8pm

2315 Connecticut River Road

Facebook event

Please don’t let Emerge create any pressure whatsoever on your creative process. Sharing the music we’ve been singing together all week provides the backbone to the share. Some retreatants will want to share what they’ve created during the week, while others will choose not to.

Your Creative Project

We invite all retreatants to bring a solo creative project to work on while you are here with us. We have found that the ideal situation is that you arrive with an idea that you can default to working on (including longterm ongoing projects, or something as simple as wanting to try out a new medium), but leave yourself free to follow whatever inspiration may spark while you’re here. All creative practices are welcome.

Resplendent Opportunity for Transformative Action

As with all Art Monastery programs, we encourage active participation in co-creating the container of the retreat. As such, we ask all participants to take responsibility for a ROTA (Resplendent Opportunity for Transformative Action). That translates to helping out in the kitchen or garden for one hour each day! 🙂 We will assign tasks when you arrive and you’ll have the same task every day so that you can get into a rhythm. If there’s any task that’s problematic for you, please just say the word and we can change up your ROTA.

Accommodations and Spaces at the Art Monastery

Our temporary monastery takes the form of a farmhouse, our zendo the sloping lawn and barn-turned-dance-studio.

Work Space

The Art Monastery hosts visiting artists of all disciplines. We offer shared alternative work spaces for noisemaking and for quiet, visual art and movement, in addition to the excellent outdoors landscape of our Vermont location. We will work with each retreat participant to set you up with the space you need to work! Let us know of any special requests you have for creative space ahead of time.


We will be eating lovingly prepared meals sourcing local, organic food whenever possible. We offer vegetarian options. We accommodate any dietary preference and food allergies provided on the forms. If anything has changed for you, please let us know. Coffee, tea and snacks, such as fresh fruit and nuts, are available throughout the day.

Silence & the Internet

One of the rare and beautiful offerings of this retreat is the opportunity to completely unplug and to allow ourselves to blossom in the sweetness of silence. This is a gift we offer each other and ourselves. As such we invite you to leave your computers and other electronic devices at home. We understand that it can be tricky to travel without a cell phone, but we invite you to power it down and bring an alarm clock & flashlight with you.

Forms and Packing List

Please see the  packing list for what to bring with you. Please download the liability waiver and sign it. We appreciate if you have a chance to fill those out in advance of your arrival.


Please go online to www.artmonastery.org/donate to pay your remaining retreat fees on or before arrival on July 16

Our retreat leaders and chef work as volunteers! You will have the opportunity to make a donation to support the hosting team at the end of the retreat. Those donations can be made by cash, check, Venmo, or Paypal.

Please contact us at your convenience if you have additional questions or wish to discuss further. We’re happy to help!

In gratitude,

The Artmonks

Betsy, Raff, Neva, and Qayyum

Art Monastery Project

Neva: 646.897.4117