Online Holiday Retreat in the Plum Village tradition:

Celebrating Our Togetherness

Join the monks and nuns from Magnolia Grove, Deer Park and Blue Cliff Monasteries for this unforgettable first-ever online Holiday Retreat.

Wednesday December 30, 2020 to Sunday January 3, 2021

Transform your home into a healing refuge.

Enjoy the peaceful, smiling presence of the monastics. Join us in the meditation hall for early morning sitting meditation. Create the atmosphere of a retreat center in your own home. Listen to inspirational Dharma talks. Feel the joy, peace and serenity that is possible when we stop running, embrace our fears and come back to the present moment. Celebrate the New Year as part of a spiritual community. As 2020 comes to a close, we come together to celebrate our connection, new growth and life.

We are here for you.

Senior Dharma teachers Sister Hỷ Nghiêm, Brother Pháp Dung, Sister Đẳng Nghiêm, Brother Pháp Huy, Sister Thần Nghiêm, Sister Quỳnh Nghiêm, Brother Pháp Lưu, and other monks and nuns from our Plum Village mindfulness practice centers in North America will offer timely teachings on how to practice mindfulness in a period of change and uncertainty, how to reconcile with ourselves and others, and how to create conditions for happiness and peace in our ourselves, our family and the world.

‘If you love someone, the greatest gift you can give them is your presence’ – Thich Nhat Hanh

The monks and nuns are here for you; here to guide you in the basic practices of mindfulness, to provide safe spaces of sharing where we listen deeply to each other and have a chance to connect with others. This is a space to grow, learn and heal. To let go of the past and to look towards the future as we learn to dwell happily and solidly in the present moment.

We are all the leaves of one tree

Together we will practice mindfulness, enjoy sessions of guided sitting meditation in the magnificent Rising Tide Meditation Hall of Magnolia Grove, practice the art of walking meditation, enjoy guided relaxations, listen to Dharma talks, take part in Dharma sharing circles, prepare for and celebrate the New Year together, and learn about the Five Mindfulness Trainings – the Plum Village guidelines for a global ethic and the foundation for a life of mindfulness.

An unforgettable New Year’s celebration

Featuring guided meditations, Dharma talks, Dharma sharing circles, a ceremony to welcome the New Year together, reconciling with our loved ones, a Five Mindfulness Trainings Transmission and applying mindfulness to our daily lives.

A unique opportunity for connecting with monastics and each other

Sharing from  the heart, listening deeply, and being there for each other

Inspirational talks, questions and responses for the New Year from senior Dharma teachers

Streamed live from our North American centers: Magnolia Grove, Deer Park and Blue Cliff Monasteries

Connect to community

Experience true togetherness and community in a time of lockdown and social distancing. Feel the power of the collective energy of mindfulness.

There is no way to happiness,
happiness is the way.

On the eve of the New Year, we look back at all that has happened in the past year and we see our resilience, our capacity to ride the waves in difficult times. We see that in spite of all the fear, loss and change, we are still alive and that we have more than enough conditions for happiness right in the present moment. This is a reason to celebrate. To build hope and faith. To celebrate life, to nurture our ability to grow, learn and adapt, and to deepen our relationships, with ourselves, with others and with the world around us.

Being there for each other.

Never before has the need for connection been so great.

Now is the time to come home to ourselves and learn how to take good care of ourselves. When we know how to take good care of ourselves, we will be able to take good care of others, and the world around us. What is the way out? The way out is in. The way out leads home. Let us celebrate together as we reconnect with ourselves, and build connection and community. Together we are one. Together healing is possible. Together we can build a happy future.

“Sometimes your joy is the source of your smile, but sometimes your smile can be the source of your joy.” – Thich Nhat Hanh

About us 

Magnolia Grove Monastery Monastics

Magnolia Grove Monastery is a residential practicing community of about 30 monks and nuns in Batesville, Mississippi. For this retreat we are joined by senior monks and nuns from our other North American monasteries: Deer Park Monastery in Escondido, California, and Blue Cliff Monastery in Pine Bush, New York. We are a part of the international Plum Village tradition, founded by the world-revered Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh with more than 10 residential monastic communities around the world and thousands of practicing lay sanghas. We practice mindfulness in everything we do. Mindfulness is the key to cultivating peace, joy, and freedom in our daily life. Right here, right now. As soon as we start to practice mindfulness we are already on the path to freedom.

Please join us for our first ever Online Holiday Retreat as we celebrate our togetherness and the coming of a new year full of new possibilities and new life.

Who is this retreat for?

Anyone, whether a newcomer to the practice of mindfulness and meditation or a seasoned practitioner. People of all ages, religions, ethnicities and genders. Anyone who would like to get in touch with the present moment, with themselves and with others.

  • Singles, couples, and families with children are all welcome. We are very pleased to offer a special program for teenagers aged 13 -17.
  • We regret that we are unable to offer a children’s program at this time but hope this may be possible in the future.]
  • We also wish to offer safe sharing spaces for BIPOC,  LGBTQIA+, and young adults aged 18-35. There will be a sharing group for Vietnamese speakers.  Please mark your preferred Dharma Sharing group (‘circle’ sharing) during registration.




Retreat Schedule 

Note that all times listed are Central Standard Time (Chicago, UTC-6)

The schedule is also available in Google sheet for you to view.


How much does it cost?

We offer different payment options in the hope of making the retreat available to all. If you are able to support someone else to attend the retreat, please choose the “Sponsor” option. Your generosity and compassion will be greatly appreciated.

If you need financial support (for students, unemployed, pensioners etc) you can select the “Scholarship” option. If you would like to attend but none of the options listed are suitable for your situation, please write to us at online@magnoliagrovemonastery.org. If you would like to make an additional donation towards our Monastic Healthcare Fund you may do so during the registration process, any contribution would be greatly appreciated.


Prices for Single Participants:

  • Magnolia (Full Price) – $240
  • Oak (Donor’s Price) – $360
  • Pine (Reduced Price) – $120

Prices for Families (2-4 people):

  • Cedar (Full Family Price) – $400
  • Maple (Donor’s Family Price) – $600
  • Dogwood (Reduced Family Price) – $300

Register for the retreat below:

Retreat Rate:

Retreat Start Date:

Retreat End Date:

Questions about the program

How much time do I need to follow this retreat?

This is a 5-day retreat, Wednesday evening to Sunday afternoon (See tentative schedule here). Ideally, it is best if you can clear your days from other commitments so you can fully participate and savor the peaceful energy of the retreat, even when you are not following a scheduled session.

Please note that you can choose to opt-in or opt-out of the four “Dharma sharing” sessions. If you opt-in, we ask that you commit to join all four sessions, on time, so the group can have a strong collective experience. To avoid disturbing the group, we will not be able to admit people to the Dharma Sharing sessions once they have started.

What do I need to join this retreat? Do I need to install anything? Do I need any special equipment?

This retreat will be delivered to you through the Zoom app. When following the live events and Dharma Sharing (the smaller breakout groups), you will need to install the Zoom software and you will need a webcam on your computer or tablet, so people can see you (just as you will see others). It is also preferable to have headphones, ideally with a microphone.

If I can’t join one of the sessions, can I still follow the other sessions?

To get the most out of the retreat, we encourage you to join as many of the activities as possible. To support the collective shared experience and to maximise your benefit from the sessions, we highly recommend you watch the Dharma talks before the Dharma Sharing sessions. This will allow you to experience the session more profoundly and connect with others on a deeper and more personal level.

If I can’t join a session live, can I watch it later?

Yes, we try to post recordings of all sessions to the retreat video platform within a few hours. The recording of this livestream will remain available afterwards.

I don’t have a very stable internet connection. Can I still join the retreat?

It depends how unstable. Your viewing quality is similar to watching something on YouTube. So if that is a pleasant enough experience, then yes you can join this retreat. But for Dharma Sharing others might find it difficult to hear you. You can ask permission to turn off your camera, so others can hear you better.

Can I join the retreat from my phone?

Yes, when you subscribe you will receive an email with instructions and telephone numbers to join us via Zoom. You will only be able to follow the live sessions; it is not possible to join Dharma Sharing sessions from a phone.

Do I have to turn my camera on or can I join just with audio?

In order to create a safe environment for everyone during the Dharma sharing sessions, we ask everyone to turn their cameras on. This also helps everyone feel seen and heard and facilitates a sense of connection.

Will I be able to save and keep the recordings after the retreat?

All the recordings will be available afterwards on our platform. You will not be able to download them.

What is “Dharma Sharing” or “breakout groups”?

In this retreat, the Dharma Sharing is a smaller break-out group of 15-20 participants, led by a monastic. It gives us a chance to listen deeply, to speak from the heart, and benefit from each other’s insights and experience of practicing mindfulness. We can share our experiences, our joys, our difficulties, and our questions relating to the teachings in the retreat, and the mindfulness practices we are following together.

How are the “breakout groups” formed? Can I choose which breakout group to join?

If you self-identify with one of the specific breakout groups offered and have opted to join one of them, we will do our best to assign you to that group (BIPOC, LGBTQIA+, Wake Up – ages 18-35). Teens will have their own breakout sessions. Everyone else will be assigned by the monastics, based on our experience of creating diverse yet balanced groups. It is not possible to assign you to a chosen facilitator. If you are joining the retreat with someone in the same household and are sharing the same screen, you should ask to be in the same group. Conversely, if you really want to be in a separate group to your partner or housemate, you may request to be in separate groups. We will do our best to meet these special requests.  or to be in a group with friends.

What do I need to prepare before joining this retreat?

Please organise your time and commitments, so you have space from Wednesday morning at 10  am Central time to Sunday afternoon at 6 pm Central time to fully participate in the retreat. A few days Two weeks before the retreat starts, you’ll receive a digital package with information and resources on how to prepare yourself and your environment so you can really enjoy the retreat. Please allow an hour or two before Wednesday morning to familiarize yourself with these materials and set up your computer correctly. You’re invited to prepare a room or corner in your home where you can be online, undisturbed. It is important that you are not interrupted during the various sessions, so you may like to communicate with loved ones, or other people you live with, to ask for their support in this. If you are participating in the Dharma Sharing groups, it will be important for you to log on from a private space where you can share without others hearing you.

If I have a question about the teachings given during the retreat, where / when can I ask it?

The Dharma Sharing break-out groups are the ideal time to ask questions from the heart about the teachings you have heard and practices we are following together. You can also write a question in the comments below the video of a particular talk. The teachers on Saturday will do their best to address questions that have arisen during the first few days.

Will I be able to interact with the monastics directly? Eg. Can I ask them a question and get an answer?

The Dharma Sharing break-out groups offer a rare opportunity to join a circle facilitated by a monastic. If you are interested in connecting with the monastics, we strongly encourage you to make the commitment to opt-in to the four Dharma Sharing sessions. Our teacher, Thich Nhat Hanh, taught us that Dharma Sharing break-out groups are the most powerful way to learn from the experience of others and to grow in our mindfulness practice. Please note that these sessions are not direct question-and-answer sessions, but a group where questions are addressed collectively and insights and experiences are shared. In addition, on Friday evening, we are offering group consultations with monastics on specific themes. The number in the group depends on how many people sign up for that topic.

I live with other people. Can I still join the retreat?

Yes, you do not need to be in a hut on a mountain to enjoy this retreat. So long as you have a quiet corner or room where you can be undisturbed, and perhaps have space to stretch and do the mindful movements, you will be able to enjoy the retreat fully. You may need headphones, and if you are joining Dharma Sharing, somewhere in the house where you can speak without being heard by others. You can explain to those you live with your intention in joining the retreat and ask for their support. The idea is not to cut yourself off from them, but to generate a strong energy of mindfulness, peace and presence, during the sessions, that you can bring to your in-person interactions off-screen over the course of the weekend. You will be able to apply many of the teachings on deep listening, mindful eating and so on, right away!

Is this retreat appropriate for all ages? Can children or teenagers join?

We are offering a special program for teenagers aged 13-17 during the retreat and we encourage you to invite your teen(s) to join the activities available for them. The rest of theis retreat is designed as an adult learning experience, but anyone is welcome to join the meditations, talks, movement and relaxations. Please note that in the Dharma Sharing breakout groups themes may spontaneously arise that are not appropriate for teenagers or children, and so it is not possible to register participants under 18 for the Dharma Sharing groups. You may want to plan activities that your children can engage in on their own so that you can take part in retreat activities without too much disruption or dispersion.We are currently exploring how we can offer a different, more tailored experience for children online. Please check our events listing for future announcements.

I haven’t done a retreat before. Will I be able to follow this one?

This retreat is accessible to those new to the practice, and will be a refreshing and deepening experience for those who have been practicing mindfulness for some time. It is a precious chance to connect directly with our spiritual community, and to meet like-minded people.

I’m not in the Americas. Can I join from a different time zone? Will I miss anything?

Please see the schedule and convert the times into your time-zone. If you are in a later time-zone, you may still be able to follow the morning meditations, exercise, and teachings, relaxations and Dharma sharing (and simply miss the evening session, which you could watch the next morning). We have designed this retreat primarily for the Americas, as our centers in Europe and Asia are offering online events in their region. This is still an experiment and we are open to learning, so please do send us your feedback.

What language will the retreat be given in?

The retreat will be offered in English, though one Dharma sharing break-out group will be offered in Vietnamese. As we expand our experience and technical capacity, we hope to offer translation into more languages in the future. Thank you for your patience and understanding.

Is there any translation for the live sessions?

The talks  and live sessions – except for one Dharma sharing – will only be available in English.

What if more than one person in my household is joining the retreat?

Each person should register separately for the retreat, and we recommend that you use separate devices/computers for the Dharma Sharing break-out sessions so that each person can participate fully. You may like to enjoy watching the Dharma talks together as a family.

Is there a refund option if I need to cancel my registration?

We can offer a full refund within 30 days of your payment.

If I cannot afford the lowest scholarship fee, can I apply for a further reduction?

We hope to make this retreat available to all. If you want to attend this retreat and your budget does not allow for you to pay the lowest scholarship fee at this moment, please email us at online@magnoliagrovemonastery.org to apply for a further reduction.

What is my registration fee paying for?

Your contribution will go towards supporting food, lodging and healthcare for our community of 700 monastics worldwide in 10 mindfulness practice centers. It also supports our investment in technical infrastructure in terms of internet, cameras, and equipment to allow us to offer more teachings live, online, and to facilitate direct contact between monastics and lay practitioners. Without your support, we would be unable to sustain our community or offer the Dharma online.