Cultivating Joy :: Yoga & Meditation Retreat with Melissa & Jen

Ithaca, Greece

Melissa Berry Appleton
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Sep 15 - 22, 2018
Group size: 12-20
Cultivating Joy :: Yoga & Meditation Retreat with Melissa & Jen
Ithaca, Greece

Melissa Berry Appleton
  • Email address verified
  • Facebook verified

Deposit: $500
Sep 15 - 22, 2018
Group size: 12-20

About this trip

Going on retreat has a way of shifting habitual patterns, uncovering what deeply matters in our hearts, and provides take-home tools to support daily life in meaningful ways.

Join Melissa Berry Appleton and Jen Newman on an island retreat set in a place of outstanding natural beauty, a five-minute walk from the closest beach and perfect place to explore the Cultivation of Joy as it relates to all of life.

Allow the Mediterranean landscape, culture and extraordinary 108 Itha Retreat Centre to breathe vitality and fresh perspective into your life alongside useful practices to support daily living.

This retreat explores our capacity to experience joy, weaving traditional Buddhist teachings of the Brahma Vihara – Good Abiding, inters pursed with modern explorations on Joy throughout daily yoga and meditation practices.

Here is what people reported from a recent retreat led by Melissa Berry Appleton -

'As a yoga teacher who has been teaching for 20+ years, I attended the Pause Yoga & Meditation Retreat with a beginner's mind. It felt relaxing to be a student and not only did I learn new movements but I was able to take my practice to a deeper level with the meditations and thought provoking topics. Melissa and Bill are fabulous leaders and we're a nice balance of masculine & feminine energies. They really excelled in teaching to a group of students with varying abilities and experience! A bow of gratitude for a memorable experience. 🙏 Namaste, R.C.Luna(SantaFe, N.M.)

'I could not have stumbled upon a more perfect retreat experience.  AHKI centre is a stunning retreat nestled in the middle of the forest with delicious healthy food and beautiful rooms.  The balanced combination of meditation, Dharma talks and Yoga led by our incredibly knowledgeable teachers was perfect, and left me feeling completely fulfilled and energized to move forward in my life.  It was the exact reset button that I needed.' Robin Duncan, San Diego, California.


Known as "Among the most beautiful retreat centers in Europe", Itha108 combines elegance with natural beauty and is located on the Island of Ithaca, which lies between the mainland of Greece and Kefalonia. This small island charms visitors with its lush greenery, pristine beaches and uniquely peaceful energy.

Respectfully built into the hillside with panoramic views of the Ionian Sea, Itha108 is an idyllic place for personal renewal. The retreat's stunning architecture creates seamless indoor/outdoor living for dining, bathing on sun-drenched terraces and relaxing in shady, quiet spots. This gives guests space to enjoy personal time, as well as the opportunity to connect with others and with nature.

A typical day on retreat

  • Each morning will start with noble silence and simple meditation practice.
  • After breakfast we will move into an invigorating, creatively sequenced vinyasa flow practice.  All levels welcome.
  • 2 Optional afternoon hikes led by Melissa & Jen.
  • Long afternoons are yours to explore daily walks to one of three beautiful beaches, all just 5 minutes away by foot. Spend your time swimming in the sea, sunbathing or taking a personal excursion to Kioni or Vathy - one of the picturesque Island villages for shopping and cafes, or perhaps take a water taxi to explore another island and Greek Villages. There is also the opportunity for hiking or you can simply relax at Itha108 - read, relax, and receive massage. 
  • Homer’s Walk: an amazing walk through what are believed to be the ruins of Odysseus’ home as told by Homer in The Iliad and the Odyssey. This walk starts at the main square in Stavros on the island of Ithaca, where we first visit an archeological museum, and then wanders through the town and ends at the ruins where excavations have taken place to prove that the island really is Homer’s Ithaca.
  • Evening sessions will include slow, nurturing and deep restful postures close to the ground and simple silent meditation.  One evening will be unscheduled for you to explore dinner in a nearby village.
  • Sessions include explorations on the Brahma Vihara a discourse taught by the Buddha on Good Abiding interspersed with modern reflections on Cultivating Joy to inspire reflection, discussion and personal writing.
  • We will alternate practice between an outdoor platform overlooking the sea, shaded by trees and an indoor yoga studio built into the surrounding rocks. Mats and props are provided, but of course feel free to bring your own mat if you prefer.


The main house offers ensuite rooms with a/c and there is a larger ensuite room in the stone house. Spacious Mongolian yurts are arranged on a winding walkway between rocks and trees. Each room and yurt have their own private outdoor space. The shared social and quiet spaces include a shaded pergola with traditional Rajasthani sofas and coffee tables, an al fresco dining area with far-reaching views of the Ionian sea and the hills of Kefalonia, two antique Rajasthani swings, a sunset view roof terrace and a cool library letting in the sea breeze and housing Indian artifacts, family photographs and paintings, board games and music.

There are six luxury double bedrooms in the main house and three Mongolian yurts that are staggered up between rocks, forestry and winding walkways. All bedrooms are en-suite and air-conditioned with mosquito nets, coco-mat mattresses, wood paneled ceilings and views across the Ionian sea towards Kefalonia. Each bedroom has a unique identity. The three Mongolian yurts are light and airy inside, sleeping between one to four people. 


BEAUTIFUL meals are locally sourced, vegetarian and Mediterranean infused. Breakfast is self-served for those who need a bite to eat before practice, a yummy (and substantial) brunch, an afternoon snack and dinner every day (except one evening dinner is not scheduled to allow space to explore a local restaurant). All served under a sunny pergola or starry sky.  Filtered water, tea and biscuits are provided throughout the day.

Alcohol won’t be served with meals, is generally not customary on retreat, but is available.  We recommend practicing the ‘middle way’, finding balance and joy in what you love.

What's included

  • Early morning noble silence and meditation practice.
  • Morning Vinyasa Yoga.  
  • Evening Yoga practicing close to the ground and closing with silent meditation. (two evenings are unscheduled practice).
  • THREE Yoga rooms for practice. Gorgeous outdoor shala shaded by trees and overlooking the sea.  Circular higher outdoor shala with amazing views and morning sun.  Beautiful, quiet, sacred indoor shala, perfect if the weather is cooler or for deeply restorative sessions without any distraction.
  • Two optional afternoon hikes led by Melissa & Jen.
  • Three organic, locally sourced meals daily (one dinner out is not included).
  • Infused olive oil soap: Basil, Lavender, and Sage, and Calendula face balm (made by the owner Ingrid!)
  • Daily housekeeping
  • Beach towels
  • All yoga mats, gear, including bolsters, etc. Itha108 is perfectly equipped with PLENTY of props and gear unlike many other retreat locations! It’s a total joy for everyone to have two blocks, two straps, bolsters and blankets!
  • Internet throughout the retreat center and in all bedrooms/yurts

What's not included

  • All transportation to retreat location
  • All local transfer costs
  • Alcohol/wine at meals is additional  (available onsite)

Things to bring

  • Water bottle for refills

  • Sunscreen, 
sun hat, 
swim suit

  • Toiletries

  • Simple slip-on shoes

  • Mosquito repellent

  • Some cash in Euros for massages / additional boat trip / excursions
  • Journal and pen

Getting here

  • The neighboring island of Kefalonia has the closest airport with a range of direct flights from Europe and indirect flights via Athens on the Greek mainland.
  • There are a range of affordable flights from London with Easyjet, Ryanair and Thomas Cook. Travel via London is also an option worth exploring for International travellers. We recommend booking early to get the best deals.
  • From Kefalonia, you will take a 40-minute ferry ride to the island of Ithaca! A beautiful journey! 

The ferry to Ithaca will leave the port of Sami at 2:45 p.m. on September 15th.

A shuttle will transport you from the ferry arrival to Itha108 Retreat Centre.

This leg of you transportation is included in your retreat and will not incur further payment. 

We are not able to accommodate other arrival times.

  • Transport to Sami ferry port is arranged by you independently. 

Selection of websites for flights to Kefalonia: (a good comparison website for all flights)

Cancellation & refund policy

The $500 deposit is non-refundable. Cancellations prior to 12 weeks will receive a refund of monies paid, less the $500 deposit. Cancellations within 12 weeks of retreat date are non-refundable, with any outstanding balance fully payable. Since last minute injuries, illnesses, work emergencies, or deaths in the family unfortunately do happen, we HIGHLY recommend travel insurance.

About your retreat leaders

Melissa Berry Appleton

Melissa keeps study and practice company with Everyday Zen's Norman Fischer, and is currently enrolled in Buddhist Chaplaincy Training at Upaya Zen Centre under Roshi Joan Halifax.  She is a student of Zen Buddhism and enjoys the company of a socially engaging modern Buddhist and yoga community.

Melissa has been a student of yoga for 18 years and has received extensive teacher training from senior teachers in Ashtanga (Michael Stone), Iyengar (Karen Sprute Francovich), Anusara (John Friend, Sienna Sherman, Desiree Rumbaugh, Ross Rayburn, Amy Ippolitti), Restorative (Judith Hansen Lasiter), Trauma Informed Practice Training (Molly Boeder Harris), Tantra Shaivaism (Paul Muller Ortega) and Meditation (Vipassana, Buddhist) teacher training from Michael Stone. Her personal practice is informed by Buddhism, personal recovery, intelligent alignment, creative movement, the breath, love, relationship to ground and the process of gravity.

Melissa holds a Bachelor of Music Therapy and post-graduate diploma in Human Resources. Her experience spans work within geriatric cognitive impairments, palliative care, addiction counseling, and raising three children.  Melissa has a family, a lover (her husband), a black lab, hikes, makes pottery, and is a bit of a rebel.  She doesn’t spend time creating a fancy house but loves inviting people to her dinner table.

In 2014 Melissa and Michael Stone founded ENSO Society for Contemplative Engagement (Canadian registered charity). Formerly known as Toronto Centre of Gravity Buddhist Association, Michael transferred his registered charity to serve Western Canada. Today Melissa is the Executive Director of ENSO, and Program Developer for Dharma-Inspired Wilderness Expeditions serving both teens and adults. She works with a pretty incredible board of directors, alpine crew, and loves collaboration/building education and projects with renown Dharma, Yoga, Counsellors and Wilderness teachers.

Melissa deeply loves the Bodhisattva vows, is humbled by the precepts, continues to work with her sometimes anxious breathing, is making friends with her mind and better relationships with all of life.


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Jen Newman

Jen is a lifestyle entrepreneur, Joy Junkie, who is passionate about inspiring more health and happiness in the world through practices that cultivate healthy addictions. As a former Olympic hopeful in artistic gymnastics, and 2 time 70.3 Ironman triathlete, Jen believes like any sport takes practice to become better, in order to be happier we need to practice happiness. Her practices are based on her personal journey of Resilience, and the science of Positive Psychology, Flow States, and Mindfulness.

Jen is an international speaker, has a successful home-based wellness business, and has grown a global community of people sharing and creating lifestyles built on freedom and well-being. Through contribution, integrity, purpose, transformation and fun, they are freeing people from physical and financial pain all around the world.

Jen has been a student of Yoga for over 15 years, and received her teacher training from Vibrant Living Yoga in 2009 that included inspiration from a multitude of Yoga styles. Jen uses Yoga, and other movement practices, as a platform for experiential learning at workshops and retreats held around the world. These practices can be adopted into everyday living to cultivate joy states that positively influence all areas of our lives.

Jen’s personal journey has included experiential learning with Tony Robbins, Lisa Nichols, Peak Potentials, Landmark Forum, and she is a Master Trainer with Amplified Living. Jen has a current practice in Zen Meditation with Melissa Berry Appleton inspired by Michael Stone.

Jen offers instruction in: Vinyasa Yoga, Guided Meditation, Creative Visualization, Laughter

Yoga, Creative Movement and Intermittent Fasting.

Available Packages

Villa bedrooms - double occupancy

There are 6 bedrooms in the main villa: India, Jungaal, New York, White Room, Mango and Rass. Each room has its own bathroom and its own balcony with breathtaking views of the Mediterranean Sea.

Deposit: $500
Villa bedrooms - single occupancy

There are 6 bedrooms in the main villa: India, Jungaal, New York, White Room, Mango and Rass. Each room has its own bathroom and its own balcony with breathtaking views of the Mediterranean Sea.

Deposit: $500
Stone house - couples' suite

Private studio on the lower level of the main villa with a double bed, indoor and outdoor shower, and private seating leading up to beautiful views of the sea. Please note that while pricing below reflects the per person pricing, this option MUST be booked as shared occupancy with two participants on the same reservation.

Deposit: $500
Basic yurt - double occupancy

There are 3 Mongolian-style yurts on the property nestled between the olive trees with stunning views of the Sea. They are spacious and very cozy.

Deposit: $500
Basic yurt - single occupancy

There are 3 Mongolian-style yurts on the property nestled between the olive trees with stunning views of the Sea. They are spacious and very cozy.

Deposit: $500
Luxury yurt - double occupancy

There are 3 Mongolian-style yurts on the property nestled between the olive trees with stunning views of the Sea. They are spacious and very cozy.

Deposit: $500
Luxury yurt - single occupancy

There are 3 Mongolian-style yurts on the property nestled between the olive trees with stunning views of the Sea. They are spacious and very cozy.

Deposit: $500
Deposit: $500

Villa bedrooms - double occupancy

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