September 20, 2019 – September 22, 2019 all-day

Journey Toward Wholeness, A Courage & Renewal® Retreat
September 20-22, 2019 at Omega, Rhinebeck, NY

Based on the work of activist and writer Parker J. Palmer, this Courage & Renewal® retreat explores issues of transition and vocation, relationships and aging, passion and purpose, and more. Through reflection and connection, we examine ways we can live in alignment with our deepest values and develop the courage to act with integrity and authenticity.

In a safe and confidential environment, we share periods of quiet self-reflection and group discussions, as well as laughter and lightness. Guided by the belief that everyone has an inner teacher and an inner source of truth, we engage in contemplative practices to support personal and societal transformation.

We use seasonal themes and metaphors to explore poetry, prose, music, gentle movement, videos, journaling, stories from wisdom traditions, mindfulness meditation practices, and the natural beauty of Omega’s campus. Clearness Committees, a Quaker process of discernment, is the capstone of the retreat.

What You’ll Learn in this Retreat…

Discover your ‘inner teacher’; and learn how to listen and trust this source of inner guidance

Identify your core values and the courage to act on them

Learn deep listening skills to transform you and your relationships

Discover deeper connection with life passion, purpose, and meaning

What People Are Saying…

“I learned nothing new and everything new.”

“It was deepwater…”

“I’m delighted – feel so much more cogent. Patience and love allowed me to go to a place of disclosing, feeling vulnerable, a place of delight… I really felt safe.”

“So much of my day is in front of a computer or device – but this was all about being in the present moment – our attention makes a difference.”

Cost and Registration:

Cost: $395 (Covers cost for the workshop and time spent in class.); Enrollment is limited for this program; register early.

Continuing Education Credits are available for $25.

About the Venue: 

Located 90 minutes from New York City, Omega Institute, a serene haven, is a pioneer in holistic studies – helping people and organizations integrate personal growth and social change. Serving local, mostly organic, sustainable, nutrient-dense, artisanal, and whole-food meals, is a hallmark of the Omega experience. Recreational opportunities abound, including 80-acre, Long Pond.


4:00 p.m.–7:00 p.m. Check In (Rooms available after 5:00 p.m.)
7:30 p.m.–7:50 p.m. Welcome & Orientation
8:00 p.m.–10:00 p.m. Workshop
9:00 a.m.–Noon Workshop
2:30 p.m.–5:00 p.m. Workshop
9:00 a.m.–Noon Workshop
1:00 p.m. Check Out

The above schedule is subject to change at the discretion of the faculty.

The Children’s Program is generally available during standard workshop hours only. Contact Omega registration at 877-944-2002 for details.

Dining Hall Hours (Meals begin with dinner on arrival day and end with lunch on departure day.):
Breakfast: 7:00 a.m.–8:45 a.m.
Lunch: Noon–2:00 p.m.
Dinner: 6:00 p.m.–7:15 p.m.

Daily Open Classes in meditation, yoga, tai chi, or movement (subject to availability): 7:00–8:00 a.m., 12:15–1:00 p.m., 5:30–6:15 p.m., 5:30–6:30 p.m.

Meet the Teachers

Valerie Brown is an international retreat leader, writer, leadership coach, and chief learning officer of Lead Smart Coaching, LLC, specializing in application and integration of mindfulness and leadership. She is a Courage & Renewal® Facilitator trained by the Center and Parker J. Palmer, American Quaker and educator. She is author of The Mindful School Leader: Practices to Transform Your Leadership and School.

Brown transformed her high-pressure career as a lawyer-lobbyist to human-scale work with leaders and teams to foster trustworthy and authentic connections. She lead an annual pilgrimage to El Camino de Santiago, Spain to celebrate the power of place.

Chris Grygo is a leadership and organizational development practitioner, Gestalt-trained coach, and retreat facilitator prepared by the Center for Courage and Renewal. He works in social justice philanthropy and is passionate about partnering with others to create community, resilience, and reflective practice.

Retreats & Facilitation Services

Coaching & Consulting Services

Conflict Resolution & Mediation Services

Named one of the best courageous books of 2014 by the Center for Courage & Renewal, this book is for educational leaders who feel overwhelmed, stressed, and exhausted, and offers explicit practices to help readers avoid burnout and become the mindful, poised, effective leaders they were meant to be. Loaded with real-time encouragement with portraits of educational leaders who are incorporating mindfulness practices, like attentive breathing, mindful walking about the school building, or calming pauses in the office throughout the school day, this book is a must-have guide.

Valerie Brown and Kirsten Olson. Corwin, December 2014. 344 pages.

The Road that Teaches: Lessons in Transformation through Travel.

Not your average travel guidebook, this book explores some of the world’s great pilgrimages, destinations, and the author’s reflections on the lessons she learned from them. Read this book to discover how travel can be transformational, how to be more mindful while traveling and every day, the adventures of traveling alone, the delights of encountering new people and places, ancient pilgrimage journeys and sacred travel worldwide.

Valerie Brown. QuakerBridge Media, 2012, 152 pages. Also available from QuakerBooks.

Heartfulness: Renewing Heart, Mind, and Spirit on Retreat and Beyond Valerie

Valerie Brown guides readers toward renewal of mind, heart, and spirit by encouraging them to take time away from the busyness of their lives through retreat. Drawing on her experience as a retreatant and retreat leader, she introduces readers to opportunities for personal restoration within a variety of focused retreats. She wonders how Friends experience of expectant waiting influences the retreat process and how retreats influence expectant waiting. She encourages the “big questions”—What has meaning and purpose in my life? What am I avoiding? What brings me most alive?—and offers specific practices for retreatants to cultivate in everyday life.

Valerie Brown. Pendle Hill Pamphlet #421.

Quakers are advised to begin worship by “centering down.” This is the first step in a Friend’s intention to wait in “holy expectancy,” to be drawn by the Light into communion with God. Centering prayer is also a practice used by Christian mystics to prepare for contemplation, and “centering” describes the meditation of a Buddhist in pursuit of that deep awareness called “mindfulness.” Valerie Brown is an explorer and teacher of centering practices, a Buddhist, and an active Friend. Drawing upon her own experiences and wide studies, she describes for Friends how these various traditions can offer us a better understanding and preparedness for our precious, elusive, mysterious, and simple practice of centering into worship. Discussion questions included.

Valerie Brown, Pendle Hill Pamphlet #407. 2014.