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  • Shared Dormitory: Bottom Bunk – $775.00
  • Private Dormitory – $775.00
  • LGH: Full Bed – $775.00
  • LGH: 2 Twin beds – $775.00
  • LGH: Queen Bed – $775.00
  • (All prices include $775.00 base amount)

Availability of complimentary accommodations is determined by the order of booking. Price includes 3 daily meals, 2 daily yoga classes, and 3 daily group meditations.

Financial Aid: Financial Aid is available.
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Equity Discount
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Equity Discount and Financial Aid are limited and granted on a first come first served basis. If there aren't any Discount/ financial aid spots available, we will let you know of the availability in similar programs.

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With Awareness Comes Choice

with David J McKay

March 28 - 30, 2025

We suffer from that which we cannot see. We each have been trained to accept automated processes of thought within our minds, and the self-defeating ‘reality’ which these thought patterns create. The result is that we suffer in separation from our authentic nature. Someone who is ‘unconscious’, who identifies with these thought patterns and cannot see the resulting illusion, experiences no real choice. That person will simply feel, think, and do what their programming determines that they will feel, think, or do.
This is the dilemma we are working to escape through spiritual practice. In order to think and experience freely, to live spontaneously, and embody our authentic nature, we need to be aware of the processes by which we are made to experience ourselves as separate from the natural unfolding of each moment. With awareness comes real choice, including the profound choice to live beyond our assumptions and to look for ourselves to see who and what we actually are and what our lives truly call us to.
Over the course of this weekend retreat we will explore the simple, practical, and powerful tools of awareness practice; how to use these tools to let go of unconscious thought patterns and move into present moment awareness; and how to apply these tools to the particular circumstances of our everyday lives.

During this Program Explore:

  • Friday Evening:
    • What is “Spiritual Practice”? What are we actually practicing?
    • Meditation instruction
  • Saturday Morning:
    • Working with attention and awareness
    • What is “conditioned mind”? How to be aware of and let go of conditioned mind.
    • The Five Process Tools, part 1
  • Saturday Afternoon:
    • The Five Process Tools, part 2
    • How to practice and embody heart-centered awareness and self-compassion
  • Sunday Morning:
    • How to apply the tools and techniques in our everyday lives
    • Setting intentions
    • How to create support and accountability back home


“I have been working with David McKay for several years. He has been a wonderful guide along my path of being/staying in the present moment using Zen Buddhist principles along with some psychology. His work is to help people end suffering. He offers daily morning meditation, group sessions with a meditation piece twice a week, silent retreats, 1:1 phone sessions and frequent classes via zoom. All offered by donation (except for retreat facilities). Classes delve into aspects of Zen Buddhism and topics like compassionate communication. David is amazing the way he stays so present in each situation, and in group, he can facilitate the discussion with amazing ease, drawing on his ability to stay present with insights dropping in—insights he shares in the interactions with participants as they share their experiences. David has a true gift; his gift needs to be shared more widely so that others might have these tools to help them move from suffering to real contentment.”
— Gretchen Inglis

“I have known David McKay since he left the monastery where he practiced for almost 20 years. I have attended several silent retreats led by David. David is a masterful retreat leader. Every physical detail was taken care of so that each participant could fully focus on being present to connect to themselves in ways that are difficult in our world. David is as skilled a facilitator as anyone I encountered in the corporate world where I worked for over 40 years. David is the most authentic human being I have ever known and has been a tremendous help in deepening my spiritual practice with lasting effect. I would highly recommend him as a retreat leader.”
— Judy Lyons

“I met Dave 10 years ago while doing a bike trip with a few of my buddies. One of our tires blew out, and he stopped to see if we needed help. We ended up talking for a while, and he mentioned that he had been a monk for 25 years. I was impressed with the way he held eye contact, his world view, and his ability to engage in conversation. He mentioned to me that he did coaching and asked if I would be interested. Following that conversation, we did coaching calls weekly. I have also done a few of the silent retreats he has facilitated. Dave is a great leader with good intentions. He has always remained true to his values and continues to practice what he preaches. He is a relationship I cherish dearly. I know I can talk to him without fear of judgement, and I know I will always get honest, direct feedback. I admire him as a human being and consider myself lucky to have crossed paths with him.”
— Nicholas Augustino


David J McKay
David McKay entered a Zen Buddhist monastery at the age of twenty-nine and spent the next eighteen years training there in silence. Over time he became a skilled facilitator and counselor, offering retreats and workshops at the monastery and across the country. David left the monastery in the fall of 2014 to further explore life and practice back in the world. He currently resides in the mountains of North Carolina, where he offers and supports awareness practice in the form of online and in-person meditation and discussion groups, workshops, one-on-one guidance, and retreats.
Learn more about David J McKay

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