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Seven Day Retreat with Susan Mickel

Opening to Pure Awareness: A Foundational Retreat

White Heron Sangha Invites You to a Seven-day, In-person,
  Non-residential Retreat with Susan Mickel

Recognition of the wise, compassionate and powerful true nature of our minds, and cultivation of dwelling in it, is the practice of the essence meditations in Indo-Tibetan Buddhism. Like clouds that obscure the openness of the sky and the radiance of the sun, our habits of identifying with our personal experience obscure pure awareness of true nature.

This is an entry level weeklong retreat that is open to everyone. We begin with concentration/ mental stabilization, from an awareness perspective. By settling the mind in this way, we prepare for meditations that explore how the mind constructs our world, including the self, phenomena, and time. With some experience of these “emptiness” meditations, we move naturally into meditations emphasizing non-dual pure awareness, both as it manifests in the mind active with emotion and phenomena, and in a still mind.

This retreat will include in each session: step-by-step guided meditations, group discussion of meditation experience, and individualized instruction within the group setting. Group discussion allows participants to learn from each other. The group will be capped at 30 people. This in-person-only retreat is open to all. Participants are expected to attend all sessions. The sessions will not be recorded, but a summary recording will be provided at the end of the retreat.

Susan Mickel MD, PhD, has been meditating for over thirty years, first in the Christian tradition, then in the Burmese mindfulness tradition, more recently in the Tibetan Mahamudra and Dzogchen traditions. She was authorized to teach Vipassana by Mary Jo Meadow, PhD.  Susan first taught Theravada Vipassana retreats with Resources for Ecumenical Spirituality, which offers Christian-Buddhist retreats. Later, she was authorized by Daniel Brown, PhD of Pointing Out the Great Way to teach his adaptation of Indo-Tibetan essence meditations; she taught with that organization until 2015. Her root teacher, Rahob Rinpoche Thubten Kalsang, encouraged her to teach the texts and practices he had transmitted to her and in 2018, she completed three years of intensive home meditation practice following a curriculum traditional for a Nyingma 3-year retreat and guided by her teachers. Currently her main teacher is Tulku Sang-ngag Rinpoche. Other teachers who have influenced her are Khenpo Karthar Rinpoche, Tulku Dawa Rinpoche, Ayang Rinpoche, and Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche.

Susan has wide interests in psychology including neuropsychology, attachment, geriatrics, trauma, personality development, and multicultural issues in psychology. In 2019 she retired from active practice of neurology and psychology. She enjoys spending time with her grandchildren and adult children, gardening, meditating, and participating in activities and teachings related to racial justice.

Important Details:

  • This retreat is limited to 30 participants and is expected to fill quickly.
  • Registrants will be required to show a negative Covid test before entering the center on both Sunday, February 11th and again on Tuesday, February 13th. 
  • Please carefully check your schedule to confirm you will be able to attend both the morning (9-11:30am) and afternoon (2-4:30pm) sessions of each of the 7 days (Sunday 2/11 through Saturday 2/17 ) of this retreat. Since each session builds upon the previous session, it is absolutely necessary to attend all sessions.
  • Full retreat fee (see Cost below) is due at the time of registration or within 14 days of registering.  If a payment plan is required, please contact Sharon Rippner at
  • To support those in attendance during this retreat, the Meditation Center will remain open daily from 8:30-5:30 for meditation or personal reflection. 



Sunday, February 11 through Saturday, February 17, 2024 

9:00am - 11:30am AND 2:00pm - 4:30pm each day (Must attend both sessions each day)


  • This retreat will be held in-person only (not on Zoom) at the White Heron Sangha meditation center in Avila Village behind the Woodstone Marketplace, near the Bob Jones Trail.
  • Parking is available alongside the buildings with overflow parking behind Blue Heron Realty. Please do not park in front of the Woodstone Marketplace! See the arrows for parking in the Avila Village Aerial View - the WHS meditation center is circled.
  • Meals will not be provided. Tea will be available during the day. Please make arrangements for your lunch and snacks.



For this event, the teacher will be paid a fee in lieu of dana.  Your registration covers all expenses for the retreat.  No dana will be expected or requested.

$400 - Supported Rate 
$700 - Basic Rate
$900 - Supporter Rate


  • If you are a member, make sure to log in to the WHS website before registering. 
  • Registration and payment can only be completed online. Click the green "Click To Register" button above.
  • When you get to the payment screen, enter your current payment amount.  Payment balance will be due within 14 days of your registration.
  • A waitlist with 10 spaces has been created for this retreat. When/if the retreat fills an "Add Me to Waitlist" button will be visible on this page. If you would like to be placed on the list, click the button, follow the prompts and your name will be added based on when your request is received. You will be contacted via email when a space opens and you will have 24 hours to register for the event before your name is removed from the list. If you no longer want to be on the list, please contact Sharon Rippner at and your name will be removed.
  • Registration closes on February 8th and the retreat is expected to fill before that time. 
  • You will receive an email confirmation which will include important information. Please save that email.
  • If you need to cancel, the registration fee can be credited to your account or refunded in full if notice of cancellation is received by January 28th, 2024. No refunds will be issued after this date. Send request for refund to Stephanie Kolm at


WHS Retreat questions, please contact Sharon Rippner at
Retreat Content questions, please contact Susan Mickel at

More information about White Heron Sangha retreats

Sunday, February 11, 2024, 9:00 AM until Saturday, February 17, 2024, 4:30 PM Pacific Time (US & Canada) (UTC-08:00)
White Heron Sangha Meditation Center
6615 Bay Laurel Pl.
Avila Beach, CA  93424

Additional Info:
Sharon A Rippner
Registration is required
Payment In Full In Advance Only
Available Slots: