The Universe is My True Body:

A Five Elements Retreat for BIPOC Practitioners


Kate Johnson & Dawn Mauricio

August 29 - September 1, 2024

Villa St-Martin
Pierrefonds, QC

Mindfulness of the body is a core practice on the Buddha’s path to liberation. One of the ways we can work with this practice is through contemplations on the five elements – earth, water, fire, air, and space/ether. These elements exist both within and beyond our bodies, and they can be known directly through our loving awareness. Being with the elemental nature of our bodies and of the world around us is a way to connect deeply to our physical experience in the present moment, and can help us tap into a felt sense of interconnection with all things.

As practitioners who are Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (including Asian, Middle Eastern, Pacific Islander, and/or Latinx people of color), practicing with the elements can be deeply restorative and healing. It can feel like coming home. Colonization, enslavement, imperialism, and patriarchy have all used violence to try to separate us from the natural world, because our connection with nature makes us too powerful to dominate. Let us reconnect with the elements, in affinity space, and tap into the wisdom nature holds about how to liberate ourselves and live together in a beloved community.




Kate Johnson is a meditation teacher, facilitator, writer and mother. She has practiced Buddhist meditation in the Insight lineage since her early 20’s, and was authorized as an independent dharma teacher through Spirit Rock Meditation Center’s four-year retreat teacher training. Kate began facilitating organizational training and retreats after co-founding the Meditation Working Group at Occupy Wall Street. She later joined the faculty of MIT’s Presencing Institute, and went on to work at Buddhist Peace Fellowship, where she designed online programs integrating spiritual and political education and practice. She is the author of the book Radical Friendship: Seven Ways to Love Yourself and Find Your People in an Unjust World.

As a consultant, Kate works with leaders and organizations committed to equity, sustainability, and wise relationships, using awareness-based and embodied practices to support communication, strategy, and culture. As a meditation teacher, she offers courses and retreats integrating relational spirituality, social justice, somatics and creativity. Kate also coaches a handful of dedicated meditation practitioners in private study to deepen their formal and daily life practices of liberation. In her off hours, she can be found exploring Philly with her kid, sipping tea with friends, and looking for all manner of good trouble. Website:


Dawn Mauricio, Meditation Teacher


Dawn Mauricio (she, her) has been practicing and studying Insight Meditation since 2005, and has graduated from the first teacher development group of True North Insight, and Spirit Rock's Mindfulness Yoga and Meditation Training, Dedicated Practitioners' Program, and 4-year Retreat Teacher Training. She is known to teach with a playful, dynamic, and heartfelt approach, and leads daylongs, retreats, yearlong programs, and mindfulness workshops in Canada and the US for Spirit Rock, True North Insight, and for teens with Inward Bound Mindfulness Education. Dawn is also the author of “Mindfulness Meditation for Beginners.” For more information, visit


Registration Information


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LOCATION: 21269 Boul Gouin O, Pierrefonds, QC H9K 1C1, Canada.

Villa Saint-Martin is an Ignatian Spirituality Centre that welcomes retreats accomodating the needs of a wide audience, including Dharma organizations. Please note there are Christian symbols on the site.

All of the rooms at Villa St-Martin are single rooms with a sink. Washrooms are shared. 


ARRIVAL TIME: 3:30-5 pm, Thursday, August 29. The retreat will conclude by lunch on Sunday, September 1. Everyone is welcome to stay for lunch. The teacher requests that you plan to attend the entire retreat – please arrive on time and stay through the closing talk.


COST: TNI is dedicated to offering affordable rates to all. TNI retreat fees are on a sliding scale basis that allows participants to pay according to individual means. Fees do not include compensation for the teachings, and teachers rely on the generosity of retreatants for a sustainable income. There is an opportunity to offer dana (donations) to the teachers at the end of each retreat. 

A deposit of 50% of the base rate is required to register to the retreat. The deposit is included in all of our fees. 


Sliding Scale:
  • Benefactor: $1 170
  • Sustaining: $750
  • Base: $600
  • Reduced: $525
  • Scholarship: upon request (limited number of scholarships are granted)
  • You Choose Rate: at or above $55 per night ($165 minimum total).
    So that TNI can offer this form of financial assistance to as many as possible, please be as generous as you can when choosing your rate.

◆ Deposit : $300


The Benefactor rate provides the opportunity to offer more substantial support for TNI.

The Sustaining rate represents the actual cost to TNI to operate our programs. If you can afford this level or higher, you assist our efforts to offer lower sliding-scale rates and ongoing financial subsidies.

The Base rate covers 82 % of what is needed to run our organization. To balance our budget and to wisely steward our resources, donations must supplement our registration income.

Payment at the Reduced rate covers only 71 % of what is needed to run our organization. To balance our budget and to wisely steward our resources, donations must supplement our registration income.

TNI offers scholarships of up to a 50% reduction of the base rate on our sliding scale to those who request it. Limited number of scholarships are granted.



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