Spirit of Zen - Meditation & Yoga Retreat

Salt Spring Island, BC, Canada

Melissa Berry Appleton
  • Facebook verified
8 reviews
Jun 24 - 30, 2021
Group size: 1 - 22
Spirit of Zen - Meditation & Yoga Retreat
Salt Spring Island, BC, Canada

Melissa Berry Appleton
  • Facebook verified
8 reviews

Jun 24 - 30, 2021
Group size: 1 - 22

About this trip

Spirit of Zen  -  Meditation & Yoga  - A Six Night Retreat

with Komyo Sofia Forman and Seikai Melissa B Appleton

June 24th - 30th, 2021

It was just so incredible to retreat together in October.

So we've decided to gather in practice again.

We explored the Heart Sutra at our last gathering.

Something new will surface for us to study in April.

Join Melissa and Sofia for a retreat at Stowel Lake Farm.  A thriving organic farm, retreat centre, and community on Salt Spring Island. Located on 100 acres of mixed forests, field, rocky outcrops and rolling hills.

Melissa and Sofia invite you to a round retreat.  A practice period for us to taste a gentle well-round experience of silence, community connection, seated meditation, yoga movement, time in nature, ritual, nourishing food and contemplative inquiry.  How do our bodies and nature nourish our innate goodness?  What can we learn about our nervous system, our senses, deep interconnectivity, and the political sphere where we include parts of our humanity which are sometimes quiet, dark, and left behind?  What is our fullest capacity for change?

The past year has revealed a lot of unknown territory for most everyone.  We've been challenged in ways we never imagined.  Many are working with deep questions that don't have clear answers, and yet we need stable anchors to stay with this magnificent inquiry if we aim to create a world that sees, includes, and extends kindness to everyone.

Sofia and Melissa met through their dear friend Michael Stone and have been supporting each other through practice and studies as Dharma sisters over the years.  They are women in Zen exploring what it means to live a householder life - to work, engage in community, family, diversity, and love, looking far beyond the edges of conformity.

This retreat welcomes and must include diversity in race, gender and form.  We vow to work diligently to make this possible to the very best of our ability.

*Please note that Stowel Lake has increased their prices for 2021.  


This retreat is offered in the spirit of Dana.  Registration fees cover the cost of accommodations, food, and simple administration at Stowel Lake Farm.  

In honour of our Buddhist lineage and teachers, we offer the teachings freely because they are considered priceless.  

In the Buddhist tradition we practice dana, or generosity, by making monetary offerings for the teachings. Dana is not payment for goods or services rendered; it is given from the heart. Your generosity is a gift that supports not just the teachers, but also the Sangha, the larger Dharma community, and your own practice.

On the last day of retreat you will have an opportunity to express generosity by way of donation to Melissa and Sofia.




3-5 pm  ||  arrival

5 pm  ||  orientation

6 pm  ||  dinner

7:30  pm  ||  Stretch - Nervous Systems - Meditation Instruction 

8:30 pm  ||  meditation

9 pm  ||  closing chant

Tuesday - Saturday

7 am  ||  meditation (silent morning)

8 am ||  breakfast

9 am  ||  meditation

10:30 am ||  yoga

12:30 pm ||  lunch  (silence ends after blessing and the first bell)

1:30 pm ||  work practice - feeling the reciprocity of farm life.

2:30 pm ||  free time

5:00 pm  ||  Dharma Story

6:00 pm  ||  Dinner

7:30 pm  ||  Nervous System Exploration - Restorative

8:30 pm ||  Meditation

9 pm ||  Closing Evening Chant


7 am  ||  meditation

8 am ||  breakfast

9 am ||  open

10 am  ||  closing circle

12 pm  ||  lunch


Working Towards Health & Safety Together

Stowel Lake Farm along with Melissa and Sofia have taken great measures to work towards our greatest possible health and safety.  Here are a few simple simple guidelines.

- We are not able to accommodate any sickness on retreat.  In the event that anyone becomes sick, they will need to return to home.

- Daily sanitation practices are thorough.

- Personal hand sanitation is available on all sites.

- You will receive a set of clean props that will remain at your mat for the full duration of our retreat.  They will not be used by anyone else.  Each practice mat will have a distance of six feet from the next.

- The number of retreat attendees has been reduced to provide additional space on retreat.

-  We are not able to accept registration from any outside of country people at this time, but very much look forward to a day when this is possible.

Refund Policy

A full refund will be provided in the following circumstances.

-  A Province wide call for a second period of physical distancing.

-  If you become sick and provide a formal doctors note.

Otherwise all registrations are final 30 days prior to retreat start date.   No refunds will be provided 30 days prior to retreat.  If you find someone to take your place you are welcome to arrange.

Stowel Lake Farm and Travel

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


You are probably travelling by ferry my friends.  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.

Komyo Sofia Forman

Sofia’s spiritual journey began with a taste of Buddhism on a high school trip to Japan. Enticed by the Ancient teachings, she traveled to Tibet and China to dive deeper into her study of Eastern philosophy.  In 2008 she landed in Mysore, India and met her first love for yoga -- the Ashtanga practice. It was the intensity of the poses, the flow of fire in the body that was able to dissolve daily stress and anxiety. It was through this physical practice of asana, that she discovered the ripple effects on her mindscape and the power of meditation. 

It wasn’t until 2010 when Sofia embarked on an 8-year mentorship with the late Buddhist teacher Michael Stone, that her meditation practice unraveled its true depth. During her study, Sofia wove together a strong personal practice informed by Buddhism, yoga asana, psychology and many silent meditation retreats. She assisted Michael Stone with local and international retreats, and moved to New York City to study at Columbia University and the New York Zen Center for Contemplative Care. 

In 2015, Sofia was formally lay ordained in the Maezumi lineage under Koshin Paley Ellison. Her dharma name is Komyo which means little seedling. Her journey into Zen Buddhism continued with a year-long training at the San Francisco Zen Center, a formative experience in her understanding of practice as a powerful tool to understanding ourselves and reality. Sofia’s current offerings as a holistic counselor, yoga and meditation teacher are guided by her roots in Buddhism. 

Today, Sofia teaches gentle hatha and restorative yoga where she can weave guided mediation instructions into reclined poses. She has included meditation and yoga in her work with children in Richmond, California, many of whom have experienced extreme trauma. She also brings her mindfulness practices to her work with elders doing home visits for those 65 and older who are either house and/or bedbound. It is her personal journey through these healing modalities that she would like to share yoga asana, seated meditation, psychotherapy, and art practice. 


Seikai Melissa B Appleton

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.  I also practice with Norman Fischer from Everyday Zen and am a member of the Mountain Rain Zen Centre, Vancouver.   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.  

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, meaningful work, and influence on generations moving forward.

I teach a class at MODO Kelowna each week and specialize in workshops and retreats in Canada and Internationally.  Most recently, I accepted a position as Chaplain in Residence with Third Space Charity and Counselling to support UBC students and graduate Interns from the Masters of Social Work 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, 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 and Addiction Counsellor, but then everything changed.  Everything is still shifting and moving today.


What to Bring

- Bring layered clothes for varying temperatures inside and outside.

- Flashlight

- Journal and pen.

- Loose, comfortable and modest clothing.

- Outdoor wear for helping on the farm.

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

Available Packages

Private Room
only 2 left

Beautiful room..
One bed.

Shared Bathroom.

Shared Delux - Private Bathroom
only 2 left

Two separate beds in one room.

Private Bathroom.

Private Yurt
Sold Out

With heating and shared bathroom.

Shared Yurt
Sold Out

With heating and shared bathroom.

only 2 left

A place for you to pitch your tent out on the farm.

Closest to nature.

Bathrooms and showers at your service.

Sold Out

Your Organizer

Melissa Berry Appleton
8 reviews
I am a Meditation, Yoga, Trauma Informed Mindfulness Teacher, and Buddhist Chaplain trained in the Soto Zen lineage by Joan Halifax. I work with healthcare professionals, parents, university students, women in addiction recovery, retirees, not-for-profit leaders, innovators, artists and activists. I am also a mother of three teens and deeply connected to my home community. My specialty is leading transformative retreats! Come to my website and read a little more. www.melissaberryappleton.com ​​


We had a fabulous retreat at Stowel Lake farm. Melissa was nothing short of incredible! The food, accommodations and the entire facility was first class. Highly recommend this
By Michele C for The Heart of Harvest - A Yoga & Meditation Retreat on 01 Oct, 2021
What a wonderful trip we had to Stowel Lake Farm! The retreat was a lovely balance of meditation, yoga, quiet time and socializing. There was a superb presentation on Plant Based Eating and time to be involved in the therapy of farm work. The food at Stowel Lake Farm was healthy and delicious with the majority of it grown right there. Refreshing dips in the ocean, a moonlight fire pit, time to visit the Ganges market, and the connection of warm and friendly people helped to make this trip unforgettable!
By Deana H for The Heart of Harvest - A Yoga & Meditation Retreat on 25 Sep, 2021
This was a wonderful retreat in a beautiful place. The accommodations and food at Stowel Lake are always superb. I treasure both Melissa and Sofia as skillful and wise teachers and leaders.
By Naomi M for Spirit of Zen - Meditation & Yoga Retreat on 08 Jul, 2021
I have been very fortunate to attend 3 retreats with Melissa. Each of them have been an incredible source of wisdom, an opportunity to dive deep within myself and to pause from a busy life to find stillness. Her teaching and guidance of meditation (walking, sitting, standing) and movement practices (yoga, somatic work, sometimes dancing!) weave effortlessly and skillfully in a way that make me hungry for more in my own practice each time we close a retreat. The community that gathers together on these adventures is remarkable and it is such a joy to leave making new dharma friends. The location of the retreats are always breathtaking and healing with terrific food (Stowel Lake Farm, Costa Rica). She really knows how to pick em!
By Jaclyn G for Spirit of Zen - Meditation & Yoga Retreat on 08 Jul, 2021
This was an extraordinary experience at an exquisite location. The meditation schedule was ideal for both first-time retreaters as well as seasoned practitioners looking for a gentle reset. Both instructors brought a different flavour to the teachings and balanced each other well as we worked with our own minds and bodies in movement and in stillness. The food was perfect- local, fresh, organic and vegetarian and the rooms at the farm were simple and charming. I highly recommend this retreat and these teachers to anyone looking to make contact with movement and meditation in an accessible way- but also push themselves to try something just a bit outside their comfort zone. I loved it and will surely return.
By Jill B for Spirit of Zen - Meditation & Yoga Retreat on 02 Jul, 2021
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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