Building Buddha Body - A Meditation & Movement Intensive

Salt Spring Island

14 reviews
Jun 16 - 22, 2022
Group size: 1 - 25
Building Buddha Body - A Meditation & Movement Intensive
Salt Spring Island

14 reviews

Jun 16 - 22, 2022
Group size: 1 - 25

About this trip

Building Buddha Body - A Meditation and Movement Intensive

Stowel Lake Farm

June 16-22nd, 2022

6 night retreat

with Melissa Berry Appleton and Jill Bodak

Join Melissa and Jill this June for an annual retreat on Salt Spring Island. Stowel Lake Farm is a thriving organic farm, retreat center, and community, located on 100 acres of mixed forests, fields, rocky outcrops and rolling hills. The food, the facilities and the land are an exceptional venue for 'Building Buddha Body.' Our time together will include a blend of sitting and silent practices with the study of movement, breath and sound. The research will be done in our own bodies!

Jill and Melissa met through their connection with Michael Stone sitting long meditation retreats at Chapin Mills Zen Centre.  They both have a love for practice and the ways it shows up in our lives and our bodies. 

Jill is an Osteopath from Toronto, a soon-to-be parent, a dog lover and a writer. She has a passion for sharing her understanding of human anatomy in a way that helps soothe an ache we all share... "How do I live in this body?"

Melissa is a Buddhist Chaplain, yoga teacher, mother of baby birds who have mostly flown the nest and a current graduate school student with a long history of teaching and guiding retreats. She is a master student of the domestic monastery and the body as the wisest resource.

Together we will explore what it means to 'Build Buddha Body.' Through the study of a Buddhist text on 'intimate attention to breath' as well as the mechanics of breathing as they show up in structural anatomy, movement, stillness and sound. We will sit a little, move a little and listen a lot. We will do the hard work to come home to this Buddha Body, which is our own true nature and is right here already, alive and available. 

The first four days of retreat offer an immersive daily schedule of sitting, chanting, movement, farm work, rest and good food. The fifth day of retreat offers a lighter schedule with wide open free time to explore the island and connect with new and old friends.

This retreat welcomes diversity in gender, race and form.  There will be four bursaries offered to people of the BIPOC and LGBTGQ+ community as a means to remove financial barriers to participation for those whose lived experience is perpetually laced with institutional bias and discrimination.  We are grateful for the generosity of former retreat guests who make this possible.  An application for bursary is available here: (link) and completed forms can be sent to our retreat coordinator,  Naomi Moses (@.....). Individuals representing marginalized people who are actively engaged in outreach or social justice initiatives are highly encouraged to apply, in the hopes that these teachings may ripple out to the communities in which you serve.

For more information on Melissa's work and teaching visit
For more information on Jill's work and teaching visit Anatomy on Purpose OR IG:@anatomyonpurpose

We would love to share this time with you. 
May it benefit all beings. 

Melissa and Jill

Nourished by the Farm

Our incredibly talented kitchen team provides a seasonally inspired farm to table experience, featuring our own fresh organic produce. In direct collaboration with our farmers, retreat meals are prepared simply and beautifully to feature the natural flavourful vitality of fresh whole food ingredients. Meals are served buffet style including options for dairy free, gluten free and vegan. This is one of the many things that keeps people returning to retreat year after year.


Our charming & cozy accommodations are all located close to the main facilities. Well built, beautifully crafted, and maintained. Guests will enjoy clean, comfortable bedding with duvets and towels. The yurts have heat and power. 

Getting To Stowel Lake Farm

Stowel Lake Farm on Salt Spring Island is just beautiful.  Check it out here ~

You are probably travelling by ferry my friends - possibly by bike, foot or car.  If in the event you leave your car behind, we can pick you up and drop you off at the ferry.  We will arrange pick up times one month prior to retreat.

What to Bring

- Bring layered clothes for varying temperatures inside and outside - last June was hot!

- Swim suit for ocean dips.

- Flashlight

- Journal and pen.

- Hat, sun screen.

- Loose, comfortable and modest clothing.

- Outdoor wear for helping on the farm.

- Darker shades of clothing without logos and print for meditation (black, navy, grey, brown).


A deposit of 500 dollars is refundable up until April 1st, 2022.  There will be no refunds on all payments past April 16th 2022.  If there is a waitlist for retreat, or someone to take your place, you will receive a refund minus a 100 dollar administration fee.  If you can't attend retreat for a serious medical condition, you will be refunded 80 percent of your payment with the presentation of a formal medical doctor's note.  This would include things like Covid, broken bones and surgery dates.

Melissa Berry Appleton Seikai

I am a Buddhist Chaplain trained at Upaya Zen Centre, student of Roshi Joan Halifax and lay-ordained in the Soto Zen Prajna Mountain Order.  Chaplaincy guides me to consider how I might come along side the ways people suffer, while supporting the restoration of goodness in their body, heart/mind, and world.  I have 20 years of Yoga training as a teacher.  My classical training in Iyengar and Ashtanga has morphed like a jazz musician through time into a creative practice to meet our 21st century bodies.  I gather the resources of my life, the generosity of my teachers and 2500 years of wisdom through lineage to consider what might serve.  

My current work explores The Domestic Monastery, community life, ritual/ceremony, cultural anxiety, trauma, addiction, consumption of information technology, time, and the greater impact on the future of our world.  How does self-care and spiritual formation serve as a collective 'we care' ultimately unfolding our greatest aspirations for parenting, partnership, intimacy, ecological connection, social justice, meaningful work, and influence on generations moving forward.
I teach a weekly class and bi-annual meditation practice periods at MODO Kelowna and specialize in workshops and retreats in Canada and Internationally.  I am a Chaplain in Residence with Third Space Charity and Counselling to support University graduate Interns from the Masters of Social Work, Psychology and Clinical Counselling Programs.  I am also a graduate student in the Masters of Clinical Counselling and Social Justice Program.  

As you might have guessed, I love the art of collaboration and have the honour of working with amazing community leaders, Buddhist Practitioners, Clinical Counsellors, Yoga & Movement Specialists, and Wilderness Guides.

I am married, have three teens (two off to University), a big black lab and a home tucked into the woods with chores that are never complete.  I used to work as a Music & Recreation Therapist, Addiction Counsellor, and Director of a charity,  but then everything changed.  Everything is still shifting and moving today.

What’s included

  • 6 nights accomodation
  • 3 fresh vegetarian meals
    per day
  • ferry pick up
    and drop off
  • daily meditation
    zafus, benches and chairs. gentle Sotto Zen Form with trauma informed care.
  • movement practice
    yoga, functional, restorative, and somatic movement
  • education
    meditation, structural anatomy, breathwork, body mechanics
  • joining the farm
    an opportunity to join the residents of stowel lake to help work on the farm
  • dharma stories
    Melissa & Jill weave Buddhist stories with contemporary times and our bodies
  • free time
    each afternoon and one full day on the last day of retreat

Available Packages

private room

Private room just for yourself.

Shared Bathroom with 2 others located in the hall.

Deposit: C$500
Delux Shared Double Occupancy

Two double beds with an in-room bathroom.

Share with a friend or someone new.

Deposit: C$500
Shared Double

Two beds.

A bathroom in the hall shared with others.

Share with a friend or someone new.

Deposit: C$500
Private yurt

A yurt, all to yourself.

Shared bathroom and shower house.

Deposit: C$500
Shared Yurt

Shared yurt.

Two single beds.

Shared bathroom and shower house.

Share with a friend or someone new.

Deposit: C$500
Bring your tent

Bring your tent and enjoy a sleep out on the farm.

Use the beautiful bath house for showers and toilette.

Deposit: C$500

Your Organizer

Melissa Berry Appleton
14 reviews
Melissa is a Buddhist Chaplain (Soto Zen), lay ordained by Roshi Joan Halifax, Upaya Zen Centre. She is a Master Clinical Counselling Psychology Candidate, meditation, yoga and somatic movement teacher. Currently a Chaplain at the University of British Columbia Okanagan, educator with Third Space graduate interns, and provides support groups for physicians of Interior Health BC. Her work takes deep interest in care providers and centres around burnout, stress, trauma, moral despair and system theory resilience and flourishing. ​​


This was a wonderfully nourishing experience. Melissa and Suniti's teachings and energy provided a good reminder of all that is important in life. I have been able to 'return to my cushion' with regularity and greater resolve...... the outcome being that I am more present in relationships and daily life. The retreat center was beautiful with stunning gardens and architecture, the delicious meals were freshly prepared (much of it grown on Stowel Lake Farm) and the other participants were a joy to get to know. I would highly recommend a retreat with Melissa and Suniti!
By maria z for Spirit of Zen - Meditation & Yoga Retreat on Oct 09, 2023
The essence of this experience; the practices, the farm, the people, the birds and bunnies, all are continuing to live and breath in me. The opportunity to rest in the sunny fields, help out on the farm, be fed by food and spirit, and practice sitting and moving together was transformational. Attending Spirit of Zen with Melissa and Suniti is a gift.
By Jessica E for Spirit of Zen - Meditation & Yoga Retreat on Sep 26, 2023
Melissa and Suniti created a great container in which to retreat, grow and learn. Thoughtful, supportive, challenging. I unreservedly recommend them if you're considering going on a future retreat.
By Susan M for Spirit of Zen - Meditation & Yoga Retreat on Sep 19, 2023
This is my second time at Stowel Lake Farm Retreat with Melissa. The food is truly a highlight of staying at the Farm. The grounds are gorgeous and tranquil, the accommodations warm and comfy, and there is plenty of time and space to be alone. This retreat is the perfect balance between silent meditation, contemplation and somatic movement to embody practice and regulate the body. Really value attention to fostering an inclusive, safe community. Evening Dharma talks are provocative. Perfect week of attention to mind, body and spirit under the guidance of two fabulous teachers.
By Lynn B for Building Buddha Body - A Meditation & Movement Intensive on Sep 19, 2023
Had such a beautiful experience on this retreat with Brian and Melissa. It was a true vacation for the mind, body, and spirit. Friendship is the whole practice. Much gratitude to all of you, and especially to Brian, Melissa, and Jenn.
By Naomi M for True Nature - A Meditation & Yoga Vacation Retreat on Oct 04, 2022
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I’m so grateful to Melissa for the thoughtful and powerful way she leads retreats, meditation, and movement practice. I particularly appreciate her trauma-informed approach to yoga. I’ve learned so much from her and I look forward to what the future will bring. I treasure Melissa as a wonderful and highly skilled teacher, chaplain, and leader.
By Naomi M on 08 Jul, 2021