May 2-6, 2024, 5-Day Meditation Retreat – KEEP CALMLY KNOWING CHANGE: Embodying the 3 Truths

Peterkin from the sky

~ A summary of the entire practice of meditation, from master and scholar Bhikkhu Analayo

For thousands of years, meditation masters throughout the world have told us that if we can tap into a deep, experiential knowledge of what is often called emptiness, or sunyata, we can understand the entirety of the Dharma, the whole thing – and discover the Maha-Sukha, the Great Bliss.

And the good news is: this profound freedom isn’t far away, or unattainable – it can be tapped into in every moment, if we know how to look for it.

Vipassana (Insight) meditation – the oldest form of Buddhist meditation practice – shows us how to do this.

The root meaning of vipassana is “to see things as they are,” which means to know and experience our entire universe and everything in it as constantly and forever changing – including ourselves.

During this 5-day meditation retreat, we’ll explore how we can use our practice to begin to “see things as they are,” and experience a taste of the Great Bliss that comes with letting go. Along with the crucial teachings of the 5 Remembrances, we’ll do this through an exploration of the 3 Truths of Life: impermanence (annica), suffering (dukkha), and interdependence, or no-self (annata).

Our time together will include daily dharma talks, guided meditation, silent meditation, walking meditation, and q&a sessions about these transformative practices. In order to nurture a sense of stillness and deep listening, silence will be maintained throughout the retreat.

Check-in will begin at 4 p.m. Thursday, and the retreat will end at 12:45 p.m. on Monday, followed by lunch.


Shell Fischer, founder and guiding teacher of Mindful Shenandoah Valley, offers more than 30 years of extensive mindfulness practice and study. She is a Buddhist teacher, trained in the Tibetan Vajrayana tradition at Naropa University – the nation’s leading contemplative university – and in the Theravadan Vipassana (Insight) tradition by Dr. Tara Brach – one of the world’s foremost Insight teachers. She is also a graduate of the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction teacher-training program led by Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn, founder of MBSR and the Stress Clinic at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center. Prior to teaching, Shell wrote about mindfulness and yoga for national magazines.

Shell’s main focus as a teacher is on metta (loving-kindness) practice. Her hope is to guide her students in nurturing even more kindness and compassion for themselves, and for all the situations they find themselves in throughout their lives, through the practice of meditation and mindfulness – which she believes everyone can learn.


Peterkin Camp & Conference Center, 286 Clubhouse Rd., Romney, WV

Nestled in a valley of unsurpassed natural beauty, and surrounded by the South Branch of the Potomac River, the sprawling campus at Peterkin offers a refuge of quiet, serenity, and peace amid the rush of our everyday lives.

Located near historic Romney, WV, Peterkin boasts 1,400 acres of forest with clean mountain streams and miles of hiking trails. It is about 60 minutes from Winchester, VA, and about 2 hours from Washington, D.C. Along with many trails and open spaces, overlooking the mountains, there is also a beautiful outdoor walking pavilion, 200-year-old poplar trees, trails right along the river, and a walk to The Falls.

This serene, secluded retreat center includes comfortable beds in shared rooms (2-4) with shared bathrooms. The sunny sanctuary on campus holds about 85 people.

The food service staff will provide nutritious, vegetarian meals, and special dietary needs can be accommodated with notification prior to the retreat.

Peterkin sanctuary


I have attended five-day retreats with Shell in three different locations. All have been transformative in their own way, but the last retreat I attended at Peterkin was by far the most beautiful experience. The location is truly heavenly. I have always considered myself an ocean versus a mountain person, and the beach is usually my happy place; Peterkin has changed my mind. The flowing stream, incredible forests, starry nights, and overall peaceful feel made me aware of each moment. When I was leaving the retreat center, I longed to return. I cannot recommend this center or any retreat with Shell more highly. If you want to deepen your practice, this is the right place.” ~ Sandra Pinney

Peterkin is a wonderful place to steep in silence and in nature. The campus is quiet and peaceful, and each day is greeted with birdsong, the sound of running water, and the fresh smell of the woods. I live in a rural area, so being in nature is really important to me. This retreat center offers acres of it, and the cadence of the natural world is a perfect metronome for meditation practice. Because it has historically been used by people seeking community and higher purpose, there are decades of good spirit lingering there. The chapel meditation hall is mostly unadorned, so you notice how the natural light through the windows changes the color of the interior wood as the day progresses. When I meditate at home now, I often “go there,” and recall the peacefulness I felt there.” ~ Charlotte Fremaux

This past fall, as the retreat at Peterkin progressed, I found myself so profoundly calm, content, and unburdened from agitation for the first time in many years. This is something I credit in large part to the unspoiled beauty and tranquility of this retreat location. In particular, the serene setting provided the perfect backdrop for a deepening of my walking meditation practice. I experienced such a deep sense of peace listening to the surrounding natural sounds while practicing this form of meditation. In the evenings I would often sit on a rocking chair on the porch and reflect on the day while watching the sunset over the mountains. This was an unforgettable experience – I’m already planning my return to Peterkin! “ ~ Ela Flynn

Peterkin is an incredibly special space in a pristine natural setting, where decades of people have felt safe to share their hopes, dreams, fears, and vulnerabilities. As home to one of the few unpolluted streams in the region, this tranquill center has long been known as a place of respite and renewal, life-long friendships, and peace; a place that offers a slower, more basic way of life … if only for a few days.” ~ Nate Smith, one of Shell’s co-managers, who grew up attending retreats at Peterkin (and creates the bonfires for us!)


REGISTRATION: $725 for Room & all meals.  (*Registration does not include teacher dana

*Dana (generosity) offerings at the end of a Vipassana Insight retreat is an ancient, ongoing tradition that helps support the teacher. You can read more about it here.

A 50% deposit is required: You have the option of paying the full fee upfront, or making a 50% deposit to reserve your place at the retreat. Full payment is due April 11, three weeks prior to the retreat.

Refund Policy: The administrative fee for cancellations made up to 3 weeks prior to the retreat is $200. We are unable to offer refunds – for any reason – for cancellations made less than 3 weeks prior to the first day of retreat. We are unable to offer credit or transfers to other retreats.

For more information prior to registering, please visit Frequently Asked Questions