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BIPOC Retreat – Nourishing Our Roots

May 8 @ 2:00 pm May 12 @ 2:00 pm PDT

Nourishing Our Roots

May 8 – 12, 2024
Deer Park Monastery
Escondido, California

Statue of Thay & MLK, Jr. at Magnolia Grove Monastery

Deer Park Monastery is hosting a BIPOC Mindfulness Retreat as an expression of our continuing commitment to creating a nourishing, healing, and empowering space for members of our spiritual family who self-identify as BIPOC. 

We understand that BIPOC people face specific issues due to their racial/ethnic identities and that cultivating affinity spaces is a necessary step and offers a beautiful opportunity for nourishment and healing, rest and restoration, and the cultivation of clarity and joy.

Accommodations and Cost:

  • 3-bed dorm: $600 (total cost for 4-nights) – Accommodation full
  • 6-bed dorm: $440 (total cost for 4-nights) – Accommodation full
  • Bring your own tent to camp: $340 (total cost for 4-nights)
  • Commuter: $340 (total cost for 4-nights)

We are also partnered with Hemera, an organization that is offering fellowships for individuals to attend retreats. For more information or to apply, please click here.

If you do not qualify for a Hemera fellowship, please contact us via email for more information about available discounts.

During this retreat, our time together will focus on firmly rooting ourselves in the practice of self-care as self-love; building kinship with each other; celebrating our diverse historical roots and spiritual ancestors; and embracing the Dharma as a foundation for our stability, liberation, and “love in action.”

BIPOC practitioners, new or more experienced, are welcome to join us at Deer Park Monastery on May 8-12, 2024. Deer Park is home to about 66 monastics, the majority of whom are BIPOC of Vietnamese descent.

Statue of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh at Magnolia Grove Monastery
Statue of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh at Magnolia Grove Monastery

The struggles for social justice and the search for the “beloved community” espoused by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. continue to serve as brilliant North Stars. His deep spiritual friendship with our Teacher continues to inspire many generations of monastic and lay practitioners; through deep spiritual practice, this journey can be sustainable, empowering, and liberating right in the present moment, starting with ourselves.

Come celebrate the 20th anniversary since Thầy (teacher) hosted the first POC retreat in 2004 at Deer Park! 

BIPOC Retreat - Mountain
POC Retreat, Deer Park Monastery, 2012

About Thich Nhat Hanh

Thich Nhat Hanh, a Zen Master, prolific author with over 100 books, poet, gardener, and peacemaker, played a pivotal role during the Vietnam War. He founded the School of Youth for Social Service and spearheaded the Engaged Buddhism movement. He initiated the European Institute of Applied Buddhism in Germany and received a Nobel Peace Prize nomination from Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr.

“…this gentle Buddhist monk from Vietnam…is a scholar of immense intellectual capacity. His ideas for peace, if applied, would build a monument to ecumenism, to world brotherhood, to humanity.” 

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., in nominating Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh for the Nobel Peace Prize in 1967

Thay with Lamp

The Practice

These are some of the practices that we will engage in during this retreat:

  • Live Dharma talks, panel sharings, presentations & a question and response session offered by BIPOC monastics & lay disciples of Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh
  • Sitting meditation together
  • Outdoor walking meditation & hiking to the mountains as a community 
  • Mindful meals in silence – taking the time to truly enjoy the food and the company of other practitioners 
  • Dharma Sharing in small groups – practicing loving speech and deep listening, sharing our experiences with the mindfulness practice 
  • Deep Relaxation – learning how to rest and relax our body and our mind
  • Mindful Service – working together in harmony and with ease
  • Noble Silence – observed from after the evening activity until after washing up for breakfast
  • Be-in, celebrating cultural diversity – You are invited to bring clothes, musical instruments, photographs, and/or objects that you may identify as your cultural inheritance or your cultural association. An ancestral altar will be available for you to place your special photographs or sacred objects on.
Morning Exercise, POC Retreat 2012, Deer Park Monastery
BIPOC Retreat
POC Retreat 2012, Deer Park Monastery

Dharma Teachers & Speakers

Brother Chân Pháp Dung was ordained on February 4th 1998 as a member of the “Apple” family at Plum Village France. He received full bhikshu ordination on December 18th 2001, and received the Lamp Transmission from Thầy and became a Dharma Teacher in 2004. He is the former abbot of Deer Park Monastery in California, from 2001 to 2010.

He was born in Vietnam in 1969, came to the US when he was nine years old. He received a professional BA in Architecture from the University of Southern California, and worked as an architect/designer before becoming a monk. He enjoys playing, learning and sharing mindfulness with children of all ages. Brother Pháp Dung helped to establish Deer Park Monastery and other US centers, creating meditation programs and retreats for children, teens, families, and young adults, as well as planning its halls and infrastructures. He has led mindfulness retreats in North and South America, China, Hong Kong, India, Bhutan and Germany. He is most inspired by meditation as a method of examining and cultivating the mind, of the individual and of the collective; and by community building as a method to heal and develop society.

Sister Dang Nghiem, MD, (“Sister D”) immigrated to the United States at the age of seventeen with her brother. She earned a medical degree from the University of California – San Francisco. She was ordained a nun in 2000 by Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh, and given the name Dang Nghiem, which means adornment with nondiscrimination. She is the author of a memoir, Healing: A Woman’s Journey from Doctor to Nun (2010), and Mindfulness as Medicine: A Story of Healing and Spirit (2015). Her newest book, Flowers in the Dark, (2021) is a deeply thoughtful guidebook to healing trauma with mindfulness practice.

Sister Bội Nghiêm, True Pearl (pronouns she/her), ordained in 2005 at Plum Village, France. She loves and cherishes the present moment deeply because it’s the moment that helps her understand the past and be more loving and caring for the future.

Sister Peace is an ordained nun in Thich Nhat Hanh’s Order of Interbeing. She appears in the 2017 film “Walk With Me” under her monastic name—Sr. An Nghiem—and was profiled in Lion’s Roar by Zen teacher Koun Franz.

Born in Washington, D.C., and educated in Catholic schools, Sister Peace graduated from Georgetown University. She built up a successful nail salon business and entered local politics, working on Anthony Willams’ campaign for mayor of Washington and in his administration.

Practicing with the Washington Mindfulness Community, she met Thich Nhat Hanh when she assisted with a meditation retreat he led for the U.S. Congress. In 2006, she went to Plum Village to deepen her understanding of what a nun’s life entailed, and her ordination took place in 2008.

She has had many roles in the Plum Village community including organizing retreats in Europe, Asia, Liberia, South Africa, and the US, as well as press and PR for the community.

Sister Chân Kính Nghiêm

Sister Kinh Nghiem is a senior Dharma teacher in Thich Nhat Hanh’s international community of Engaged Buddhism. She ordained on Februray 4, 1998 at the age of 15. As Thich Nhat Hanh’s personal attendant for over 15 years, she has traveled around the world leading mindfulness and meditation retreats for communities, schools, universities, and business corporations. She received full ordination on December 18 in 2001 and the Lamp Transmission in 2006. She currently resides at Deer Park Monastery in southern California, where she enjoys picking wild sage, studying deep Buddhism, and sharing tea and laughter with her sisters and brothers.

Larry Ward is a senior teacher in Buddhist Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh’s Plum Village tradition, the author of the book America’s Racial Karma, and co-author with his wife, Peggy, of Love’s Garden: A Guide To Mindful Relationships. 

Dr. Ward brings forty years of international experience in organizational change and local community renewal to his work at the Lotus Institute. He holds a PhD in Religious Studies with an emphasis on Buddhism and the neuroscience of meditation, and has trained at the Trauma Resource Institute. Dr. Ward has taught courses at Claremont Graduate University and the University of the West. As a teacher, Dr. Ward interweaves insights with personal stories and resounding clarity that express his Dharma name, “True Great Sound.”

Valerie Brown is an author, Buddhist-Quaker Dharma teacher, facilitator, and executive coach specializing in leadership development and mindfulness practices with a focus on diversity, social equity, and inclusion. A former lawyer and lobbyist, Valerie transformed her high-pressure, twenty-year career into serving leaders and nonprofits to create trustworthy, authentic, and compassionate workspaces.

She is an ordained Buddhist Dharma teacher in the lineage of Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh and the Plum Village tradition and facilitates national and international gatherings and retreats for nonprofits and corporations and leads an annual pilgrimage to El Camino de Santiago, Spain to celebrate the power of sacred places. 

Juliet Hwang, MD (she/her/hers) graduated medical school from the Humanities in Medicine Program at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City.  Afterwards, she trained in pediatrics at Long Island Jewish-North Shore Hospitals in New York. During residency, she encountered meditation at the first people of color retreat at Deer Park Monastery in Escondido, California.  She then moved to Los Angeles to start a fellowship in pediatric hematology/oncology at Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles. It was a life-changing experience and she learned to value each moment we have alive. After her clinical year, she decided to return to general pediatrics and focus on preventing illness.  Simultaneously, Juliet devoted more time to cultivating a spiritual practice to respond to suffering and hardship, experienced both personally and by her patients. She has been practicing meditation for over 15 years and was ordained in the Order of Interbeing, in the tradition of Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh and the Plum Village Community of Engaged Buddhism. She has taught meditation to physicians, nurses, hospitals staff, medical students, family practice residents, ALS caregivers, university administrators, and homeless men and women going through addiction recovery. She now facilitates a mindfulness meditation group for families in Long Beach with her husband and two children.

Diane Little Eagle is an Alaska Native, Canadian Native, and Austrian. She Started meditating in the early 70s, studying with Maharishi, learning Transcendental Meditation and receiving advanced training. In the early 80s she started studying with Thich Nhat Hanh and became a Dharma teacher in 2018. Diane has also studied with Khentrul Rinpoche, Garchen Rinpoche, The Dalai Lama, Tukulu Yeshe and her Elders…they have taught her so so much. Diane is a traditional singer, Certified Classical homeopath, Herbalist, and Medical Qi Gong teacher in practice for more than 40 years.


It is our hope to make this retreat accessible to our BIPOC friends. We do not want the cost to prevent you from attending our retreats. If you cannot attend a retreat due to cost, we strongly encourage you to ask for a reduction. Please write to the registration office here with the subject BIPOC Retreat if you need financial assistance and your request will be reviewed case by case.

Dharma Sharing Group from POC Retreat, Deer Park, 2014


Deer Park Monastery understands that BIPOC practitioners are in different places in their journey of healing from racial discrimination. BIPOC members of our spiritual family will guide or facilitate all practices.

Please be advised that non-BIPOC monastics & lay residents will be present on the monastery grounds during the retreat. They are our spiritual siblings, and the monastery is their home. Some are engaged in monastery projects like construction and ground maintenance, while others work in the office or provide background support for the retreat through tasks such as cleaning and registration, etc. All non-BIPOC monastics have offered their support by preparing meals for the entire retreat, and they will also have their own separate activities. We appreciate your understanding and support. 

Unfortunately, the children’s and teens’ programs will not be offered at this retreat. If you need to bring your children, please ensure full responsibility for their supervision. We suggest considering the Family Retreat or Teen Camp during the summer for a more suitable experience. 

We ask that the spaces in this retreat be reserved for those who self-identify as Black, Indigenous, and/or People of Color (BIPOC).

We invite white allies and anyone who does not self-identify as a member of the BIPOC community to join us for a retreat at another time. This specification is not intended to harm, hurt, or exclude. It emphasizes the importance of respecting BIPOC mindfulness practice opportunities. Honoring such spaces is a practice that cultivates wholesome intentions of generosity, compassion, and altruistic joy, while also fostering the capacity to recognize, reckon with, and gain insight into systemic racism and oppression. Racial oppression has led to implicit and explicit biases, racial trauma, violence, and inequality. BIPOC affinity spaces provide retreatants with opportunities for deep reflection, rest, and healing.

We recognize that racial/ethnic identity can be complex and fluid, and the term BIPOC may not be universally known or globally used. If you are uncertain, we welcome a Zoom or telephone conversation.  Please write to us at deerpark.ot@deerparkmonastery.org and we are happy to arrange a call with you.

The first BIPOC retreat in the Plum Village Tradition, fully supported and participated in by Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh, occurred in 2004. Planners expected around 70 participants for the “Colors of Compassion” retreat, but it drew an attendance of 400 people. For more information on this retreat, refer to the interview with Kaira Jewel Lingo here. Additionally, you can access the Dharma talks from 2004 & 2007 here.

Certainly. Magnolia Grove Monastery in Mississippi organized a BIPOC Retreat in 2022. Deer Park Monastery and Blue Cliff Monastery have hosted BIPOC retreats in 2007, 2012, 2016, and 2017. Each BIPOC retreat has been an opportunity for learning, growth, and collective healing.

If you want to support BIPOC spaces at Deer Park Monastery, please consider donating to help fund scholarships for BIPOC practitioners who may lack the financial means to attend. 

On Designate To, choose “Deer Park Scholarships”, click “Add Comment” to specify that you would like your donation funds allocated to the Deer Park BIPOC Retreat Scholarship Fund. 

BIPOC and non-BIPOC donors are all welcome.


POC Retreat, 2014, Deer Park Monastery, Ocean of Peace Meditation Hall
POC Retreat, 2014, Deer Park Monastery, Ocean of Peace Meditation Hall

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