How to Breathe with a Tree - 6-30-2024

Half-day Retreat

How to Breathe with a Tree

with Gina Siepel and Bernadine Mellis

Sunday June 30, 2023, 9:30am-12:00pm

In-person at Macleish Field Station (on forest and pasture land in Whately MA, owned by Smith College)

PLEASE NOTE: If all the registration spots fill (and you're not able to register below), please email [email protected] with subject line: "Waiting List for June 30" and we'll let you know if we have any cancellations.

This offering is in-person and involves a two-mile walk through uneven terrain. Please bring a mat to sit on. There is limited parking at the site; we encourage sangha members to carpool. There is bathroom access at the site.

We will do a walking meditation to the site of Gina Siepel’s ongoing exploration, “To Understand a Tree”, a multi-disciplinary project that focuses on the dignity of a living tree, its network of eco-systemic relationships, and the ubiquity of the material of wood in design and daily life. Gina will introduce us to the tree that has been the focus of her inquiry for the past four years, and we will both learn about the history of her project and engage in some of the practices she has developed to explore and deepen the relationship between human and forest. 

To Understand a Tree has been developed by Siepel as an artist in residence at the MacLeish Field Station, sponsored by the Arts Afield program, an initiative of the Center for the Environment, Ecological Design, and Sustainability at Smith College.

Suggested donation: $20-45 registration + teacher donation (we encourage you to consider giving teacher dana equal to or greater than what you gave for registration)*

Gina Siepel is an interdisciplinary artist, designer, and woodworker, based in Greenfield MA (Pocumtuc land). Their artistic practice reflects an engagement with place, history, queer experience, and ecology, and their work integrates conceptual concerns and craftsmanship with a focus on wood as a natural and a cultural material. Gina’s works have been shown in museums and galleries nationally, she is currently a MacLeish Field Station Artist-in-Residence at Smith College, and a 2023 recipient of a Teaching Artist Cohort Grant from the Center for Craft. Her solo exhibition, "To Understand a Tree," is currently on view at the Museum for Art in Wood, Philadelphia. 

Bernadine Mellis believes in the possibility of sangha as a true refuge for all who seek it, and works - through Dhamma-based mediation, facilitation, and teaching - to help manifest that reality. She serves as a teacher and staff member at Insight Western Mass (IWM), where she has been generously nurtured and mentored over many years by members of the Teachers Council, including Jean Esther and Tara Mulay, among others. At IWM, she co-facilitates White & Awakening in the Dharma, the Queer & Trans Affinity Sangha, and Saturday Sangha (for families and everyone), among other offerings. She completed her training as a Community Dharma Leader in 2022 through True North Insight, with deepest gratitude to the beautiful cohort and teaching team: Daryl Lynn Ross, Dawn Mauricio, Jozen Tamori Gibson, and Jill Davey. Bernadine is currently a participant in Sacred Mountain Sangha’s Dharmapala program and a student in Harvard Divinity School’s Buddhist Ministry Initiative, where she studies with Charles Hallisey. 

*In keeping with the Buddhist tradition of dana (generosity), the suggested registration amounts for our classes and retreats do not include any payment for the teacher. The teachers are paid entirely out of the students' generosity. Please consider giving a donation to the teacher in order to support their ability to continue to share the dharma. We encourage you to consider teacher dana equal to or greater than the amount you gave for registration. You may give a donation at the time of registration and/or give later donations through our teacher dana link or in-person at the course/retreat. Everyone is welcome to all of our offerings regardless of ability to donate.

You can give online, in-person, or send checks to Insight Western Mass, 116 Pleasant Street, Suite 242, Easthampton, MA 01027. FYI: we check for mail once per week.


Max Per Order:19

Registration Option $45

Max Per Order:19

Registration Option $32

Max Per Order:19

Registration Option $20

Max Per Order:19

No one turned away for lack of funds. Please consider giving teacher dana as you are able.

Max Per Order:19

Donate by check

Send checks to: Insight Western Mass, 116 Pleasant Street #242, Easthampton, MA 01027. When sending a check, please specify how much is for registration and/or teacher dana.

Max Per Order:19